Big Bend National Park will close several areas of the park in the coming month in order to protect the nesting habitats of Peregrine Falcons, which are listed as an endangered species in the state.
In Texas, park officials say there are less than a dozen known nesting pairs of Peregrine Falcons. The bird is considered endangered, so ensuring its nesting habitats go undisturbed is high priority for Big Bend biologist Raymond Skiles.
“Knowing we’re protecting them from disturbance of impacts that could cause them to fail in their nesting effort is also important,” says Skiles.
The park has been taking these precautions for years now. That’s because the birds are known to nest in the Trans-Pecos region, which includes Big Bend National Park, as well as the Chisos, Davis, and Guadalupe mountain ranges. Skiles says the birds are attracted to region’s “foraging habitat” — things like, trees and vegetation, which attract the smaller birds peregrines feed on. Skiles says the “second thing [Peregrines] need is something high, like a cliff for them to nest high up in.” A high perch, according to Skiles, gives Peregrines an aerial advantage over the smaller birds they hope to feast on.
The Peregrine falcon was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999, but remains listed on the state’s endangered list.
The sites at Big Bend National Park, which will remain closed to the public from Feb. 1 to May 31st, are:
- The Southeast Rim Trail and a portion of the Northeast Rim Trail from the Boot
Canyon/Southeast Rim junction to a point just north of Campsite NE-4.
- All Southeast Rim campsites as well as Northeast campsites 4 and 5 are closed
during this period.
- Additionally, technical rock climbing on rock faces within 1⁄4 mile of known peregrine eyries, as posted, will not be allowed between February 1 and July 15.
The park says it does not plan to close other areas, but restrictions may change if Peregrines are discovered in different areas of the park.