Climbers and Falcons Press

Over time, climbers have adapted their practice to the presence of peregrine falcons on climbing sites. The latter seem to have benefited from this concern: year after year, several falcons hatched, grew and flew.

Posted at 11:30 p.m.

Mary Tyson

Mary Tyson

“We’re definitely doing well because we have falcon cubs, even though we keep parts of the site open,” said Nicholas Rodrigue, a Quebec Mountain and Climbing Federation (FQME) volunteer for site development and monitoring. falcons. He is, in particular, responsible for the Gross Morne area in Schoeder-Appalachian. “This is the best indicator of efficiency, which is proof that living together works. »

Peregrine falcon is a vulnerable species in Quebec, although its population is on the road to recovery. When it comes time to nest, he especially likes rocks. In 2010, the FQME and the Québec Oiseaux Regroupement published a climbing management manual for the protection of birds of prey. “FQME was at the forefront,” said Mr. Rogrig, an environmental inspector by profession.

The right balance

The idea was to find the right balance: not to disturb the falcon during the delicate nesting period while mountaineering. Over the years, it has become clear that it is not necessary to close the whole area when a pair of hawks are courting and looking for a place to nest.

“By collecting data, we get an idea of ​​where they will nest,” says Mr. Rodrigo. There are always one or two sites that they maintain year after year. So we put ourselves in surveillance mode to see which sector we will close as a result. »


Watch the peregrine falcon for the climbing wall.

Both visual and hearing impairments should be considered. At some distance it is minimal. In addition, falling into a rock can very well be a visual and sound screen. Studies have also shown that the falcon is more annoying to what is above the nest. For these birds, the threats come mainly from the sky: other birds of prey or crows, which are always ready to lay an egg or falcon with their beaks.

A gazebo on the wall can be more problematic than climbing under a nest.

Nicholas Rodrigue, a volunteer with the Quebec Mountaineering Federation

Site managers take all this into account. This is how we decided to allow climbing on the Weir Climbing Site in Lawrence this year, which we usually closed completely during the nesting season. On the other hand, we limit the allowable height: at some point, hop, we have to go down.

“If we close the wall completely, we may have more people who do not follow the instructions 100%,” said Mr Rodrigue. While there, we close the sector for a while. When it reopens, it will be cool, people will make tracks. »

Managers have also developed areas not popular with falcons to provide additional options.

Tell the climbers

Nicholas Rodrigue notes that not all site owners have the same idea about the escalation and disruptions that this can cause. The Quebec Public Institutions Society (SEPAQ) has a different mission than the private reserve, the private owner has a different point of view. And then, the hawks themselves have individual differences in tolerance. Some falcons settle in quarries and do not seem to be too worried about the noise and activity of these places.

Website managers strive to inform climbers as much as possible through on-site posters and social media posts. There is also a form of mutual observation between climbers. “Many volunteers are involved in the facilities. If they tell people to follow instructions, the messages are very well received because they are local people, not someone from the Department of Natural Resources or a police officer. »

FQME and local clubs also want to keep climbers informed when falcons finally fly away, usually in July or August. This is a way to cheer up the troops for next season.

Perhaps climbers could be involved in finding names for falcons: a little falcon named Musketon would be cute, wouldn’t it?

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