Peregrine falcons on rise

Copyright 1998 Indianapolis News
September 3, 1998

   The comeback of the peregrine falcon in this country didn't happen by accident.

It took a partnership between the government and the people to fund and put together a workable plan to nurture the falcons and bring them back to the edge of survival.

The national endeavor to save the falcons has been successful enough to prompt the federal government to consider removing the bird from the endangered species list.  But in Indiana, at least, the birds still are not out of danger.

As reported by staff writer Skip Hess, there are only eight nesting pairs of peregrine falcons in Indiana, and this year 15 chicks fledged from seven nests.  While this record shows some progress - there was only one nesting pair in the state in 1991 - the birds still require protection in this state.

The stately birds, which mate for life, measure about 20 inches and can reach more than 200 mph when diving for prey.  They became endangered in the 1960s after the application of the pesticide DDT became popular.  The chemicals made the birds' egg shells so thin that they wouldn't hatch, thus sending the falcon's population into a tailspin.

The government banned the deadly DDT and began a falcon program.  Since 1974, more than 4,000 of the birds have been released, with more than 1,500 breeding pairs taking up residence in this country and Canada.

Those who have volunteered their time to the program attest to the benefits of saving the falcons.  Not only is there satisfaction in restoring a species, but also there is simple joy in watching the beautiful birds go about their nesting and hunting.

The successful falcon program is a sign of hope for everyone.

It demonstrates that with a little work, there can be a balance between human beings and wildlife.

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