Nesting Raptors In Rocky Mountain National Park

Red-tailed Hawk photo courtesy Ann Schonlau

Rocky Mountain National Park.

Additional climbing closures have been implemented on the Left Book, The Bookmark, and Bookmark Pinnacle in the Lumpy Ridge Area of Rocky Mountain National Park. Peregrine falcons have been observed displaying continuous aggressive territorial behavior toward climbers in the vicinity of an active nesting area. Peregrine falcons can dive at speeds of over 200mph and may cause bodily harm to humans when defending their territory. If disturbance pressure from climbers is sustained near a nesting area, falcons will abandon their nest causing chick mortality. For the safety of both visitors and this federally protected wildlife species these additional climbing closures have been put in place. Closures will be monitored regularly and lifted once breeding activity is no longer observed.

Each year to protect raptor nesting sites, Rocky Mountain National Park officials initiate temporary closures in areas of the park. To ensure that these birds of prey can nest undisturbed, specific areas within the park are closed temporarily to public use during nesting season and monitored by wildlife managers. Due to high nesting activity last year closures began earlier this year on February 15, rather than March 1. These closures will continue through July 31, if appropriate. These closures are actively monitored and may be extended longer or rescinded at an earlier date depending on nesting activity.

Closures that have been in place since February 15 include Cathedral Wall in the Loch Vale area. The areas above the Loch Vale-Sky Pond Trail are closed to off trail travel. In the Lumpy Ridge area closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Sundance, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, The Book, and Twin Owls, Rock One and now also include Left Book, The Bookmark, Bookmark Pinnacle. These closures include the named formations. Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. Check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/area_closures.htm for updated information on raptor closures.

 The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey. If nest sites are located or territorial behaviors such as aggressive divebombing/vocalizing or birds fleeing nest sites due to human disturbance are observed, please report the location to ROMO_Information@nps.gov.

The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers. The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.

For further information on Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

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