The recovery of peregrine falcons is one of the great success stories of conservation. Now their population in Florida has rebounded enough to remove them from the state’s endangered species list.
Upon approving their removal from the list, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called the combined efforts of wildlife managers and individuals to save the species “one of the best examples of wise conservation practices.”
The birds of prey were nearly killed off entirely by 1975 due to the widespread use of DDT and other pesticides. In just around 35 years, their population dropped from 20,000 to only 650. It was the near demise of species like the peregrine falcon which led to the outlawing of DDT, and due to sound conservation practices and education there are now between 2,000 and 3,000 breeding pairs of American peregrines throughout North America.
Despite the good news, threats still remain for the species. The range of many birds stretch into Central American countries where pesticide contamination is still a big problem, and where regulations are often absent.
Peregrines are the fastest birds in the world, reaching over 200 miles an hour as they dive for their prey. They also mate for life and continue to breed in the same area for life too, which is part of what makes them so sensitive to harmful changes in their local ecosystem. Although the falcons do not breed in Florida, thousands of birds pass through the state every autumn during their seasonal migration.
Image Credit: David Forster on Flickr under a CC License