Project overview: Continue monitoring peregrine falcon nests, implement targeted climbing-route closures to protect young falcons, and share this inspirational conservation success with climbers and visitors.

How your support helps: In the mid-20th century, North America’s peregrine falcon populations plummeted toward extinction. Thanks to DDT bans and widespread recovery efforts, the fast-flying raptor has rebounded, including in Yosemite, where peregrines now hunt, soar, and nest on and around the park’s granite cliffs, domes, and spires. 

Since that remarkable comeback, the park has been working to safeguard the long-term health of its peregrine population while making sure rock climbers — who played a direct role in the bird’s recovery by replacing DDT-thinned falcon eggs with healthy, lab-hatched chicks — can continue to access the world-famous walls. 

Our donors first funded peregrine recovery work in Yosemite in the 1990s and have since supported many years of falcon-focused surveys and management. The park’s peregrine-focused efforts — honed over decades — balance wildlife management with recreational access to ensure climbers can safely share the cliffs with peregrines. Biologists monitor peregrine nest sites and use their observations to set and lift temporary closures on specific climbing routes. 

Through that adaptive, responsive approach, the park can prevent climbers from disturbing peregrine nest sites and give young falcons the best possible chance at survival, while closing no more than 5% of climbing routes at a time. Without support from Conservancy donors for this program, the park would likely have to issue much more widespread, extended climbing-area closures. 

Since the park implemented this method in 2009, the number of breeding peregrine pairs in Yosemite has doubled. Last year, a short video was produced about the park’s peregrine success story and shared with tens of thousands of viewers. 

This year: In 2024, researchers will commence daily peregrine surveying and nest monitoring, as well as implement and regularly update protection measures at active peregrine nest sites. They’ll monitor nest sites to determine current nesting status; work with climbing rangers to delineate, enforce, and lift climbing closures based on current survey findings; and share this inspirational story with climbers and visitors through digital media and in-person outreach efforts.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park and James McGrew

Sarah Stock

Wildlife Biologist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Our goal is to provide nesting peregrine falcons adequate space to raise their young while maximizing access for climbers."