With another successful nesting season in the Precipice Cliff area of Acadia National Park, the area's trails, including the Precipice Trail, have reopened to the public.
The Precipice Cliff area, the Precipice Trail, and the Orange and Black Path on Champlain Mountain in the park reopened to the public on Friday. The peregrine falcons that have occupied this nesting territory since March have successfully raised and protected the fledgling chicks, which have been flying for a little more than five weeks, according to park officials.
The trails were closed on April 3 to support ongoing recovery efforts for peregrine falcons in Maine, where they are listed as an endangered species under the Maine Endangered Species Act.
The fledglings that began flying in June have become less dependent on the cliff and their parents over the last few weeks and are unlikely to be disturbed by visitors or park staff working on trails found on the cliff.
Research has shown that nesting falcons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance originating immediately above the nesting area or directed at the nest site. Continued disturbances can lead to chick mortality or complete nest failure, which further slows the recovery of the species in Maine.
The closures of the trails during the nesting season have proven to be successful, with more than 110 chicks fledging from all cliffs within Acadia National Park over the last 22 years. About 60 of these chicks have fledged from the Precipice.
Biologists within Region 5 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been opening nesting areas on cliffs approximately five weeks after the last chick has been documented to have fledged, or begun flying, from the nest. Research in other states has found that fledglings become less dependent on the adults or their natal cliff area at or after five weeks of being able to fly.
Although the falcons, both adults and juveniles, are expected to stay in the vicinity of the Precipice Cliff and are likely to be observed by hikers and climbers, those activities are not expected to create disturbances that will harm the adults or the juveniles.