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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Moxie, mother of 4 peregrine falcon chicks, dives at DNR biologists on the top of One Summit Square.

Falcons removed from endangered species list as they thrive in Indiana

– Make a note of it, they’re off the list.

On Sunday, peregrine falcons will come off Indiana’s endangered species list. Fifty years ago, decreased reproduction resulting from pesticides and natural habitat loss put the birds on the edge of extinction.

By 1965, none of the falcons nested east of the Mississippi River, and western populations declined by 90 percent. In response, Cornell University established the Peregrine Fund in 1976 to study, breed and restore peregrine populations.

The first U.S. reintroduction projects began in 1974.

Over a four-year period beginning in 1991, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources released 60 young falcons in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville.

Hoosier DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said officials are pleased.

“The purpose of the reintroduction project is creating situations like this where success is achieved,” he said. “We will maintain our monitoring,” but on a far less intense level.

John Castrale is a DNR non-game biologist who spearheaded the state’s peregrine reintroduction program. To say he is satisfied with the effort’s outcome would be an understatement.

“With the delisting of peregrine falcons in Indiana we celebrate their dramatic population recovery and expect them to continue to thrive in the future,” Castrale said in a statement Friday.

Indiana’s initial goal was to establish four nesting pairs in the state. It took six years to reach that mark, and the numbers have grown ever since with 10 or more successful nesting pairs for 12 consecutive years.

The delisting allows Indiana to change falconry regulations, which will now allow one or two young falcons migrating from Arctic regions to be captured annually by licensed falconers for use in that sport.

“Although this takes the peregrine falcon off the state endangered list, it’s still a species of special concern,” Castrale said, “and will have the same protections enjoyed by other migratory birds under state and federal laws.”