In 1970, two schoolboys collected a small amount of money and sent it to Peregrine Fund founder Tom Cade at Cornell University to help him save the endangered Peregrine Falcon from extinction. That simple act snowballed, and eventually The Peregrine Fund produced and released more than 4,000 falcons to the wild. The recovery of the Peregrine Falcon is one of the most successful conservation projects in history.
Today, the adaptable falcons can be found nesting on tall buildings in cities or on steep cliffs in their historic habitat. With impressive speed (more than 250 miles per hour!) and agility, these aerial acrobats are thrilling to watch in flight.
The Peregrine Fund is proud to celebrate 40 years of conservation work around the world. From Panama to the Philippines, from Maine to Madagascar, nearly 90 raptors species in 61 nations have benefitted from field research and hands-on recovery by The Peregrine Fund.
At the first Peregrine Conference in 1965, biologists concluded that the Peregrine Falcon was in serious decline in many places around the world. Unprecedented population crashes in Europe and North America coincided with the widespread use of DDT and other pesticides. Concerned enthusiasts in the sport of falconry believed that breeding Peregrines in captivity would be a way to keep some of the birds alive, should the wild ones become extinct.
After a second Peregrine meeting at Cornell University in 1969, the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico were asked to do whatever was in their power to protect the remaining populations of Peregrine Falcons. In 1970 the U.S. Department of Interior listed the Peregrine as endangered. The use of DDT was banned in 1972. Congress approved the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
The first breeding season in the new breeding barn at Cornell University occurred in the spring of 1971. Eventually more than 4,000 captive-produced Peregrine Falcons were released to the wild. Once extinct east of the Mississippi River, they now breed naturally in at least 40 states across the United States. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.
In 1974 Bill Burnham joined The Peregrine Fund to head up a new program of captive breeding and reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons in collaboration with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. He was elected to the board of directors in 1977 and was named President in 1986, a position he held for two decades before his death in 2006.
In 1983 the organization decided to merge the eastern program at Cornell University and the western operations in Colorado. At the same time the board of directors expanded the mission of The Peregrine Fund to embrace recovery of birds of prey worldwide. In 1984 the World Center for Birds of Prey opened on a hilltop overlooking Boise, Idaho, home of the late raptor expert and Peregrine Fund board member Morley Nelson.
The Peregrine Fund's Velma Morrison Interpretive Center opened in 1994 as the centerpiece of the organization's education effort. The center puts the world of birds of prey on display through interactive displays and multi-media shows and up-close demonstrations with hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls. Visitors may observe California Condors, Harpy Eagles, and other endangered birds that are unable to return to the wild. Each year, 45,000 people participate in the center's outreach and education programs.
The successful recovery of the Peregrine Falcon encouraged The Peregrine Fund to expand its focus and apply its experience and understanding to other conservation projects for birds of prey. From Panama to the Philippines, from Maine to Madagascar, nearly 90 raptor species in 61 countries have benefitted from field research and hands-on recovery efforts by the organization. In 2009, the organization was involved in raptor research, graduate studies, and conservation projects in Panama, Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, and India.
In the United States, The Peregrine Fund is leading two endangered species recovery programs within the United States: California Condor and Aplomado Falcon. The captive breeding facility at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise produces young birds each year to establish self-sustaining wild populations of these rare species.
In 2004, Peregrine Fund research, published in the journal Nature, identified the veterinary drug diclofenac (an analgesic and anti-inflammatory for domestic livestock) as the cause for the sudden, catastrophic die-off of Asian vultures that fed on contaminated carcasses of domestic livestock. India, Pakistan, and Nepal banned the drug in 2006. The Peregrine Fund continues to be involved in efforts to rebuild endangered vulture populations.
In 2008, The Peregrine Fund held the first conference of its kind to explore the potential effects of exposure to lead from spent ammunition on wildlife and humans. The conference grew out of The Peregrine Fund's experience with California Condors, which were becoming sick and dying of lead poisoning after scavenging on animals killed with traditional lead ammunition. Peregrine Fund research showed that hundreds of tiny fragments of lead could disperse widely through an animal, raising concerns about health effects on both humans and wildlife. The conference drew participants from all over the world -- more than 150 biologists, scientists, health professionals, and representatives of the shooting sports industry. The proceedings were published in a landmark compilation of papers, presentations and research on the effects of lead fragments from traditional ammunition in animals and the environment.
In early 2011, we convened an international conference focused on climate change and its effects on Gyrfalcons, ptarmigan, and other wildlife in the Arctic. More than 120 researchers, scientists, and other conservationists from Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia, and other nations discussed the status and future of the Arctic region.
|Public Relations Coordinator|
Named President and CEO in November 2006. Previously, he was Vice President for 18 years. His work with The Peregrine Fund began in 1970 in the eastern Canadian Arctic where he collected some of the first Peregrine Falcons to be used for captive breeding. After graduating from the University of Montana with a zoology degree, he pioneered the organization's involvement in the Neotropics with research on the Orange-breasted Falcon. A staunch advocate of cooperative approaches and private sector participation, he helped design and implement a Safe Harbor Program to recover the endangered Aplomado Falcon on private land in Texas.
Became Vice President in May 2007. He joined The Peregrine Fund in 1990 to start up new projects in Africa and in 1998 was promoted to direct the Fund's conservation work internationally. He graduated from the University of Bangor in North Wales with a degree in Marine Zoology and later earned a doctorate in raptor ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He conducted post-doctoral research in Namibia, followed by a variety of field positions in the United States.