2019 Climbing Closure for Nesting Falcons

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Adult peregrines train their young to hunt by dropping food to them while in flight.
NPS / Lucas Barth

Climbing routes on the west face and southwest shoulder of Devils Tower National Monument are temporarily closed to protect nesting Peregrine and Prairie Falcons.  The closure is implemented to provide the falcons with an undisturbed nesting location during this critical courtship and nest-selection period.  The temporary climbing closure is an annual occurrence at Devils Tower.  There are 47 climbing routes affected by the closure between “Good Holds for Godzilla” and “Accident Victim.”  Over one hundred climbing routes remain open for climbing.  A complete list of closed routes can be found on the park’s website.

Climbing routes will remain closed until the young falcons fledge and are no longer dependent on the nest location or if the nesting falcons move to another location on the Tower.

“The closure is strictly enforced,” said Alex Heyer, Chief Ranger. “All climbers are required to register before beginning their ascent.” Climbers can register at the kiosk in front of the visitor center.

The closure is implemented not only to protect the falcons, but also to protect climbers, as falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests. 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. Climbers are asked to report any defensive falcon behavior to park staff.  Park biologists monitor falcon activity, and the closure area may be moved, extended, or rescinded depending on nesting and fledgling activity.

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