Raptor seasonal closures RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Park Implements Seasonal Closures to Protect Raptors

ESTES PARK, COLORADO — In a move to safeguard the nesting sites of raptors, parts of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) have been temporarily closed. These closures, which began on Thursday, are aimed at protecting the cliff-nesting habitats of various raptor species, including hawks, owls, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons. Recognized as some of the highest-quality nesting habitats in the Western United States, these areas will remain off-limits to the public until July 31, potentially extending based on the nesting activities observed.

The park has identified specific regions within the Loch Vale area, such as Cathedral Wall and the territories above the Loch Vale-Sky Pond Trail, as restricted zones. Additional closures in the Lumpy Ridge area affect popular climbing and hiking spots like Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, and Twin Owls, among others. These measures include the prohibition of all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes, and climber access trails to the named rock formations.

The National Park Service urges visitors to report any sightings of nest sites or territorial behaviors, such as aggressive divebombing/vocalizing or birds fleeing nest sites due to human disturbance, to ROMO_Information@nps.gov. The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals has been highlighted as crucial for the success of raptor nesting in the park.

Understanding Raptor Disturbances

Disturbances to raptors can vary widely, from subtle increases in pulse rate to more obvious reactions like abandoning a nest site. The impacts of such disturbances might not be immediately visible; for instance, following human intrusion, a male raptor may prioritize nest defense over foraging, leading to potential chilling, overheating, or starvation of the chicks. Raptors’ tolerance to disturbances can differ significantly by species and even by individual within a species, making it imperative to adhere to designated closures and recommendations from wildlife experts.

Wildlife-Related Leave No Trace Tips

To further protect our feathered friends and their habitats, consider these wildlife-related Leave No Trace principles during your outdoor adventures:

  • Observe Wildlife from a Distance: Avoid getting too close to animals or disturbing their natural behaviors.
  • Keep Pets Controlled: Leash pets or leave them at home to prevent them from chasing or harassing wildlife.
  • Avoid Wildlife During Sensitive Times: Nesting, mating, and birthing seasons are particularly critical times to steer clear of wildlife.
  • Do Not Feed Wildlife: Feeding animals can alter their natural behaviors and make them dependent on human-provided foods.

 

By respecting these closures and following Leave No Trace principles, visitors can help ensure that RMNP remains a sanctuary for raptors and other wildlife. For more information on the park and its seasonal raptor closures, please visit Rocky Mountain National Park’s official website.

As we venture into the beauty of RMNP, let’s remember our responsibility to protect its inhabitants and their homes. Together, we can make a difference in conserving the park’s majestic wildlife and their ecosystems for generations to come.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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