With peregrine falcons once again staking out their nesting territories in Acadia National Park, it's time for park officials to enforce some temporary trail closures to give the raptors some peace.
Park officials and volunteers recently began noticing falcons engaging in courtship and pre-nesting behavior along the Precipice and Valley Cove cliffs in the park. With nesting and fledging running into mid-summer, trails that run through these areas will be closed to human traffic until about five weeks after the chicks start testing their wings.
The closure at the Precipice includes the popular Precipice Trail on the east face of Champlain Mountain. The mountain section of the Orange & Black Path (formerly the East Face Trail) and the cliff face around these two trails are closed, as well. The closure at Valley Cove includes the Valley Cove Trail (formerly the north section of the Flying Mountain Trail) and the entire cliff area directly west of Valley Cove and below St. Sauveur and Valley Peak. The closed trails are clearly marked with signs that identify the reason for the closure, the dates, and a map that delineates the area of the closure.
The park will announce the reopening of the closed areas and trails when the park biologist and the State Endangered Species biologist determine that human activities will not disturb the young birds. This usually happens in late July or early August.
Peregrine falcons are identified as a Maine Endangered Species. Mount Desert Island's falcon pairs have become the foundation of Maine's peregrine falcon recovery program with the fledging of more than 90 chicks over the last 19 years.