Indiana took the peregrine falcon off the state endangered species list Sunday, even though the birds were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999.
Habitat loss and pesticide use almost wiped out the peregrine falcon population in the 1960s and there weren’t any birds east of the Mississippi River by 1965. Indiana wildlife officials began trying to reintroduce the bird in the early 1990s.
Now those conservation efforts are paying off. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources removed the falcon from the state endangered species list Sunday.
Still, Indiana University Environmental Sciences Professor Vicky Meretsky says the reintroduction of peregrine falcon shows conservation efforts can work.
“I think the country is sometimes a little bit skeptical about whether endangered species ever get better,” Meretsky said. “And this is a case in point where we had a fairly clear signal of what was wrong. The signal was fixed, the situation was fixed, a fair bit of effort went into helping the birds, and it worked.”
State biologists have found and banded record numbers of falcon chicks recently – 46 this year and 38 last year.
Indiana University Research Biologist Jonathan Atwell says falcons are important because they’re what’s called “keystone” predators.
“Not too many natural predators left in a lot of ecosystems. Putting them back helps control the populations of smaller birds and rodents.”
The Department of Natural Resources says future efforts to monitor nesting falcons will be lessened, but biologists will maintain relationships with managers who have nest boxes on their buildings.