Zion National Park closes climbing routes during peregrine falcon nesting season

A peregrine falcon prepares to fly | Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Climbing routes on cliffs used by nesting peregrine falcons in Zion National Park have been temporarily closed.

Closures are implemented due to the falcon’s sensitivity to disturbance during the nesting season. If disturbed, the nesting pair may abandon their nest site and not nest again until the following year. The closure date is based on analysis of data collected from 2001-2019 regarding the peregrines’ arrival time to nesting cliffs in the park.

Zion National Park is home to a high concentration of breeding Peregrine Falcons each spring and summer.

These birds of prey were listed as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act. Their decline was primarily due to the effects of DDT, an insecticide which caused the birds to produce thin-shelled eggs that were easily broken, killing the developing embryo inside. Thanks to the U.S. ban on DDT in 1972, as well as the success of captive breeding programs, peregrine populations have recovered across North America, and the species was delisted in 1999.

The following cliffs closed as of March 1: Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, The Great White Throne (beyond single and double-pitched climbs), Isaac (in Court of the Patriarchs), The Sentinel, Mountain of the Sun, North Twin Brother, Tunnel Wall, The East Temple, Mount Spry, The Streaked Wall, Mount Kinesava and the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek. All other cliffs will remain open to climbing.

Peregrine falcons in Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of James McGrew via the National Park Service, St. George News

Park wildlife biologists will monitor the nesting activity of peregrine falcons throughout the 2020 breeding season. Cliffs that have been closed but are not being used for nest sites this year will be reopened when nest locations have been determined, typically by late April or early May.

Those cliffs being used for nest sites this year will be monitored until the chicks fledge, usually in late July, and then will be reopened to climbing.

Zion National Park has been and continues to be an important sanctuary for peregrines and many other wildlife species.

For up-to-date information on the status and maps of the closed climbing cliffs, please check the Zion National Park website. Climbers are responsible for checking the specific maps of the closed areas. The website will be continuously updated as cliffs are reopened.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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