That time of year again, great climbing conditions and blanket closure season for raptors. (Granite Mtn-Feb1, Rockfellow Dome March1)
I love falcons, I mean who doesn't, they are such a cool animal. I have also worked in Yosemite conducting falcon surveys for a season. But I really struggle with these closures. Species is no longer endangered or threatened or even a concern, yet they receive the highest level of protection. Am I to believe that Rockfellow Dome is the only place they could nest, that is ridiculous. The same goes for the Indian Creek-Cat Wall/Res Wall closure, there's cliff habitat everywhere out there. My view is that the bird can adapt to human presence, and will choose alternative territories (when available). The main thing is once a nest is established the birds area extremely territorial, as many climbers have experienced. I would just like to see the closures managed better; in YNP monitoring efforts allowed the blanket closures to be refined once the nests had been surveyed and territories documented. In my experience, this keeps climbers on board with conservation efforts rather than closing entire areas for 6 months every year. Obviously budget restraints are hindering monitoring efforts, but I feel no closure is better than blanket closures with no monitoring efforts.
It all comes down to funding and agency capacity. The AZ post-delisting program started a few years late, just fyi, so AZGFD/USFWS may not feel as ready as other states to loosen restrictions on potentially falcon-harming activities.