Our Response - Page 3
A similar increase in Peregrine numbers is supported by migration counts across the country, especially along the east coast along the Atlantic Flyway.
Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Peregrines counted at Hawk Mountain averaged 61.6 per year. A second classification of large “unknown” falcons were observed with an average of 10.8 per year for a five year average total of 72.4 falcons per year just from the one observation point. Approximately 95% of the Peregrines migrating autumnally through Pennsylvania are F. p. tundrius, and the vast majority of approximately 82% pass through between mid-September and mid-October. Table A shows all observation sights across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, average migrants per year and number of years of data for each observation sight.
As a follow-up to delisting, USFWS published a Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) in 2004 to allow a harvest of nestling Peregrines in western states and an FEA for migrant Peregrines across the U.S. in 2008. The 2008 FEA essentially replaced the 2004 FEA, and allows a conservative annual harvest of up to 1% (36 individual birds collectively in all states east of the 100th meridian) of a conservatively estimated population of Peregrines with a harvest goal of up to 5% in the near future in conformance with general sustainable harvest levels for other raptor species implements a harvest strategy to ensure the 1% allowance will not be exceeded, and harvest of Peregrine subpopulations will be minimal. It also encourages states to work with the Flyway Councils to distribute the harvest allotment in an equitable way. The strategy includes limiting harvest to the time slot September 20 through October 20, when migrants are predominated by Tundra Peregrines. An added protection layer has been included in new federal Regulations, modified concurrently with the 2008 FEA, wherein it is required that previously banded raptors, including Peregrines, must be released upon capture.
The delisting of Peregrines from ESA did not affect their protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The FWS has the legal authority and obligation to regulate take of Peregrines under the MBTA. The Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to determine if, and by what means, the take of migratory birds is allowed and to adopt suitable regulations permitting and governing the take (16 U.S.C. § 704). The MBTA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Parts 20 and 21) prohibit take (see regulations for definition of take). Regulations at 50 CFR 21.28 and 21.30 authorize the issuance of permits to take, possess, transport and engage in commerce with raptors for falconry and for propagation. Other regulations authorize the issuance of permits for scientific collecting (50 CFR 21.23), special purposes such as rehabilitation or education (50 CFR 21.27), and depredation (50 CFR 21.41). Permits are issued if certain criteria are met, including a requirement that the issuance will not threaten a wildlife population (50 CFR 13.21(b)(4)). In addition, issuance of raptor propagation permits requires that we consider whether suitable captive stock is available and whether wild stock is needed to enhance the genetic variability of captive stock. Since delisting, there is renewed interest in taking Peregrines for falconry. Thus, in cooperation with State wildlife agencies, the FWS is analyzing the effects on Peregrine populations of taking wild Peregrines for falconry, and has developed guidelines for falconry take.