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The Peregrine Fund praises Tenth Circuit's ruling as the best route to recover endangered Aplomado Falcons


BOISE, Idaho – A recent federal appeals court ruling gives the endangered Northern Aplomado Falcon its best possible chance at recovery in New Mexico, where the colorful bird of prey disappeared as a breeding population in the 1950s.

Last week, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the New Mexico District Court's dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to release the falcon as a nonessential, experimental population under the Endangered Species Act in New Mexico and Arizona. 

"By this designation, we are able to re-introduce Aplomado Falcons in areas where they no longer occur without disturbing current land use practices and with the wonderful cooperation of private land owners," said J. Peter Jenny, president and CEO of The Peregrine Fund. 

As part of a non-essential experimental population, the Aplomado Falcon receives protection under the ESA as a threatened species. 

"It was a very well-reasoned, unanimous decision of the Tenth Circuit rejecting plaintiff's claims," said Frank Bond, a New Mexico lawyer and member of The Peregrine Fund's board of directors. Bond represented The Peregrine Fund in the case.

For more than 20 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has collaborated with The Peregrine Fund, private landowners, and state and federal agencies to return the Northern Aplomado falcon to its historic range in New Mexico and Texas. In 1993, The Peregrine Fund began breeding captive Aplomado Falcons and releasing them to the wild. The recovery project began in South Texas, where there appears now to be a sustainable population. The program was expanded to West Texas in 2002 and to New Mexico in 2006.

"The Aplomado Falcon is an excellent example of our extraordinary native Southwestern wildlife species. Our goal is to eventually establish a self-sustaining resident population of Northern Aplomado Falcons," said Benjamin Tuggle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Regional Director. "The Peregrine Fund has been an outstanding partner in helping us move forward to achieve that goal, as have local landowners and other state and federal agencies."

Did you know?

  • Northern Aplomado Falcons were put on the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1986. 
  • Aplomado Falcons once were widespread in the American Southwest, from southern Texas to eastern Arizona. By the 1950s their range was restricted, most likely due to the combined effects of habitat changes, pesticides and human persecution.
  • Aplomado is a Spanish word for dark grey, the color of the bird’s back. Adults have a long banded tail and a black cummerbund, contrasting with a white upper body. A distinguishing characteristic is a white dash above each eye. They are 15-17 inches in length and weigh 9-14 ounces.
  • The falcons live primarily on small birds and insects caught in the air. They require open grasslands and savannahs where tall cacti, tree yuccas and taller pines and oaks grow in open stands.
  • Aplomado Falcons nest in old stick nests of hawks and other birds and lay usually two or three eggs.

For more information, contact:

Erin Katzner
Director of Global Engagement
Main Phone:     208-362-3716
Direct Phone:     208-362-8277

Additional contact:

Susan Whaley, public relations coordinator
(208) 362-8274 direct
(208) 860-2641 cell
(208) 362-3716 main