Baxter’s Pinnacle and Descent Gully Closed for Nesting Peregrine Falcons

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Date: May 9, 2014
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

Baxter's Pinnacle and its southwest descent gully are currently closed to public entry due to an active peregrine falcon nest. A pair of falcons first established a new nest near Baxter's Pinnacle in 2011, making this the fourth year that a temporary closure has been levied to protect both climbers and nesting peregrines at this site. Baxter's Pinnacle is a popular climbing route in Cascade Canyon at Grand Teton National Park. A nearby climb called No Perches Necessary remains open. 

Peregrine falcons generally lay their eggs in early May, so this is a crucial time for the nesting birds at their aerie near Baxter's Pinnacle. Falcons are sensitive to human disturbance and will abandon a nest to defend their territory which can lead to nest failure and low reproductive success.

 

Peregrines are territorial and aggressive birds especially while nesting and incubating eggs; they become even more protective after their chicks hatch. Baxter's Pinnacle will remain closed until the young birds have fledged or biologists determine there is no longer a risk to either climbers or the birds.  

The peregrine falcon is among the world's fastest birds, flying at 40-55 mph and diving at more than 200 mph while defending territory or striking prey. This poses a safety risk to climbers who might be knocked off their route and injured as falcons swoop repeatedly overhead. 

 

Peregrines were delisted from the endangered species list in 1999, but remain a species of concern in Grand Teton National Park where only three other nesting pairs exist.

 

Seasonal and temporary closures for wildlife protection are common in Grand Teton as a means to protect both wildlife and park users. Entering a posted wildlife closure is a violation under the code of federal regulations that can result in a citation and fine.

Did You Know?

Tetons from the north, photo by Erin Himmel

Did you know that a large fault lies at the base of the Teton Range? Every few thousand years earthquakes up to a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale signal movement on the Teton fault, lifting the mountains skyward and hinging the valley floor downward.

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