Nearly 50 climbing routes on and around Devils Tower National Monument are closed until further notice to clear the way for the successful breeding of two types of falcons, the National Park Service said this week.
The closure of the 49 trails at the monument, located in Wyoming about 110 miles west of Rapid City, is an annual effort to protect the nesting and breeding sites for the prairie falcon and the peregrine falcon, the service said in a release. The temporary trail closures started on Tuesday, and is done to allow the birds of prey to have an undisturbed location for nesting.
The park service points out that keeping people way from nesting sites will not only help the birds survive and thrive, but will also protect visitors from falcons that may try to protect their home turf.
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"The closure is implemented not only to protect the birds, but also to protect climbers, as falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests,” said Tim Reid, monument superintendent. “The presence of climbers near or above falcon nests can be distressing to parent birds and disturbance from climbing activities may force falcons to abandon eggs or chicks.”
While more than 100 other climbing routes remain open, visitors are reminded that the closure of routes will be taken seriously, and that climbers are required to check in to the Climbing Registration Kiosk prior to embarking.
For more information, visit nps.gov.