JEROME - Four fledgling peregrine falcons are calling the Camas Prairie home after taking flight this past week on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
The four falcons are part of a reintroduction project to establish the once common avian predator to its formally occupied range. This is the second year for this project. Once established in the Fairfield area, they will range from Salmon to the Boise Valley.
Peregrines once could be found in much of Idaho. In the late '60s and early '70s falcons suffered catastrophic population declines attributed primarily to the now banned insecticide DDT. Two of the three peregrine falcon subspecies in North America were listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973).
Most uses of DDT were banned in the United States in 1972, mainly because of its adverse effects on birds and other wildlife. Idaho was not immune from the population declines of peregrines. In 1975, what was thought to be the last wild American peregrine falcon nest in Idaho was identified in a remote area near Salmon.
With the banning of DDT, wildlife biologists began reintroducing falcons in the lower 48 states. Approximately 6,000 captive bred peregrines were released throughout the United States.
In 1999, after years of steady population gains throughout much of the reintroduction area, American peregrine falcons were removed from the Endangered Species List. Other listed subspecies, which occurs primarily in northern Canada and Alaska, were removed from the list in 1994.
Although no longer listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission lists the American peregrine falcon as a protected nongame species. It is illegal to collect, harm, or otherwise remove protected nongame species from their natural habitat.