ST. GEORGE — Climbing routes on cliffs used by nesting peregrine falcons will be temporarily closed in Zion National Park beginning Monday.
According to a press release issued by the park, 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 2001-2020 regarding the peregrines’ arrival time to their nesting cliffs in the park.
The following cliffs will be closed to climbing beginning Monday: Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, The Great White Throne, 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 and Mount Kinesava. All other cliffs will remain open to climbing, according to the statement.
Park wildlife biologists and park volunteers from the Zion Climbing Coalition will monitor the nesting activity of peregrine falcons throughout the 2021 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.
The park is home to a high concentration of breeding peregrine falcons each spring and summer. These magnificent 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, according to the statement.
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. 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 of the closed cliffs and to download the 2021 Guide to Zion National Park’s Seasonal Raptor Closures, visit Zion National Park’s website. Climbers are responsible for checking the specific maps of the closed areas. The website will be continuously updated as cliffs are reopened.
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