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Climbing rocks closed to protect falcons’ nests

Two popular rock faces in Pisgah National Forest will be closed to climbing, rappelling and hang gliding in order to the rare Peregrine falcons that nest there.

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Wildlife biologists in the state have been working since the 1980s to help recover Peregrine Falcons, which dwindled to only one mating pair in North Carolina in the 1950s. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the recovery of the species is nesting success. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
In Pisgah National Forest, closed rock faces are Looking Glass Rock (north face) and Cedar Rock (north face, Morning Glory portion). Others are:
• Appalachian District - Whiterock Cliff and Buzzard’s Roost.
• Grandfather District - NC Wall and Shortoff Mountain (in Linville Gorge), Big Lost Cove Cliffs.
• Nantahala District - Whiteside Mountain and Pickens Nose (east face).
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Southern Appalachian Raptor Research monitored the falcons in 2017. As a result of this monitoring, the closed areas have been adjusted this year. Victory Wall on the Pisgah Ranger District will no longer be closed. However, sections of Cedar Rock and Pickens Nose will now be closed.
Closure of the cliffs where Peregrine Falcons are nesting to climbing activities is necessary to limit disturbance during critical reproductive seasons. Young chicks who have not learned to fly will run off the edge of the cliff to escape if threatened. Entry into an area after chicks have hatched is likely to produce this response. Climbers should be aware that both the adults and newly fledged chicks remain in the vicinity of the nesting site and may fly or dive near climbers.