Restoration of Aplomado Falcons Expands to West Texas
1 July 2002The restoration of the Aplomado Falcon will expand into west Texas when 16 falcon chicks leave Boise on Tuesday, 2 July 2002. The young falcons will be transported by plane from The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and flown to Van Horn, Texas. Eleven will be released on the Means Ranch and five will be released on the Miller Ranch.
"The habitat in south Texas is very close to reaching carrying capacity so the expansion into west Texas is essential" stated J. Peter Jenny, Vice President of The Peregrine Fund. "The habitat in west Texas is excellent for this species and we are very excited to have the opportunity to release falcons on the Means Ranch and Miller Ranch," concluded Jenny.
The Aplomado Falcon is the one remaining falcon on the Endangered Species List and a top priority of The Peregrine Fund. It had been gone from the United States from the 1950s until 1995 when a pair of falcons raised and released by biologists from The Peregrine Fund nested. At the end of 2001, 33 pairs were known to exist in the wild, all in south Texas. This success is due to the reintroduction of captive raised Aplomado Falcons by The Peregrine Fund with the cooperation of the private sector, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Additional information on the project can be found on The Peregrine Fund's web site (www.peregrinefund.org).
"This is a positive step forward in our efforts to recover the Aplomado Falcon," said Dale Hall, Southwest Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Pioneering releases in west Texas through collaborative partnerships provides a direct path to successful conservation of the falcon."
The release of Aplomado Falcons is being conducted under a "Safe Harbor" agreement. The agreement is between landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Peregrine Fund. The agreement encourages private landowners to participate in the restoration of the Aplomado Falcon by exempting additional provisions or liabilities applicable under the Endangered Species Act. Property owners maintaining a baseline of Aplomado Falcons and agreeing to the release of Aplomado Falcons would be free to use or develop other areas of their property, even if the use results in "incidental take" of an Aplomado Falcon.
As of 1 July 2002, land owners in 42 west Texas counties are eligible to sign the Safe Harbor Agreement. Counties included are: Andrews, Brewster, Cochran, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Dawson, Dimmit, Duval, Ector, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Gaines, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kinney, La Salle, Loving, Martin, Maverick, McMullen, Mendia, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrel, Terry, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, Webb, Yoakum, Winkler, Zatata, and Zavala.
"The great thing about the Safe Harbor approach is that it can protect many landowners in west Texas, whether they are falcon reintroduction partners or neighboring landowners," said Gary Graham, Ph.D., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Director. "Safe Harbor agreements have worked well for landowners in the south Texas reintroduction project. Even with the release of hundreds of falcons over the past several years there, I'm not aware of a single problem involving private property owners. Now we have a chance to repeat that success in west Texas, helping both falcons and landowners," finished Graham.
"As ranchers we are looking forward to having Aplomado Falcons back in west Texas," stated John Means. "Our partnership with The Peregrine Fund will enable us to begin working toward the restoration of this beautiful falcon," finished Means. The Means family has been ranching in west Texas for five generations.
The restoration of the Aplomado Falcon is a cooperative project with support from Houston Endowment, State of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Kleberg Foundation, ExxonMobil, Engelhard Foundation, Burlington Resources, American Electric Power, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Tapeats Fund, Peter Toot, and several others.
The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 at Cornell University in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon throughout much of North America. The efforts to save this species resulted in breakthroughs in the field of endangered species research. In addition to the Peregrine Falcon and Aplomado Falcon, The Peregrine Fund is involved with conservation projects around the world with species such as the California Condor, Philippine Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Mauritius Kestrel, Orange-breasted Falcon, `Alala or Hawaiian Crow and Hawaiian forest songbirds, and other species. In addition, The Peregrine Fund has numerous other programs around the world that focus on preserving endangered environments (e.g. forests, wetlands, etc.) and improving local people's conservation ability.
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