The popular climbing area of the Roaches in Britian saw a sad turn of events last week as the chicks of Peregrine Falcons nesting there were stolen from an area closed to climbers for the good of the birds. It is assumed to be the work of professional nest robbers.
It’s falcon nesting season at cliffs across the Northern Hemisphere again. In several climbing areas in Canada there are important closures so that the birds can nest and breed undisturbed. The bird was almost wiped out in the 20th century by the pesticide DDT and has now recovered enough in Canada to be downgraded from the Endangered Species to the Special Concern list. Climbers are often treated to spectacular displays of its dives, during which it clocks up to 300 km an hour.
Although climbers are respectful of the bird and in many Canadian climbing areas have assisted in its propagation and preservation, a main threat to the falcon now comes from its desirability for falconry. The use of peregrines for sport is 3,000 years old and in places, falconry is protected as a UNESCO cultural activity Yvon Chouinard, a major American climbing pioneer and conservation champion started climbing to collect eggs.. There is no need even for falconers to steal eggs, however, since even in the US, a limited number of wild eggs are legally collected for falconry and the bird is bred successfully in captivity. A demand remains, however, especially in Arab countries, for the wild eggs, which can fetch tens of thousands of dollars a piece. Jeffrey Lundrum, an British thief who also stole eggs in Canada, rented helicopters and hired climbers to help him, and when arrested had 14 eggs worth $ 100,000.