Management Plan for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius (Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius) in Canada - 2015 [Proposed]

Species at Risk Act
Management Plan Series

Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius

Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius


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Document Information

Cover photo

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2015. Management Plan for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius (Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iv + 27 p.

For copies of the management plan, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC status reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public RegistryFootnote 1.

Cover illustrations: © Raymond Ladurantaye

Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Plan de gestion du Faucon pèlerin
anatum/tundrius (Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius) au Canada [Proposition] »

Content (excluding illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

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The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at RiskFootnote 2 agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of management plans for listed species of special concern and are required to report on progress five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius, and has prepared this management plan as per section 65 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Wek'eezhii renewable resources boards, the Tlicho Government, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT), the Ehdiitat Renewable Resource Council, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NorthSlope), the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee Board.

Success in the conservation of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of the many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this plan and will not be achieved by Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this plan for the benefit of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius and Canadian society as a whole.

Implementation of this management plan is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

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This management plan was written by Mark Dionne and François Shaffer of the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada (EC) in the Quebec Region. The plan was improved by technical input, advice and comments from Andrea Norris, Pam Sinclair, Ian Parnell (EC-CWS, Pacific and Yukon Region), Randi Mulder (Yukon Conservation Data Centre), Geraldine Pope (Kluane First Nation), David Trotter (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of British Columbia), Michael J. Chutter (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Government of British Columbia), Todd Powell (Environment Yukon, Government of Yukon), John Elliott (EC-Science and Technology, Pacific and Yukon Region), Deborah Simmons and Catarina Owen (Sahtu Renewable Resources Board), Natalka Melnycky (Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board), Boyan Tracz and Jody Snortland Pellissey (Wek'eezhii Renewable Resources Board), Ryan Fisher, Mark Wayland, James Duncan, Donna Bigelow, Lisa Pirie and Samuel Haché (EC-CWS, Prairie and Northern Region), Diane Casimir (Parks Canada Agency, Prairie and Northern Region), Joanna Wilson and Suzanne Carrière (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of Northwest Territories), Gordon Court (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Government of Alberta), Ken De Smet (Department of Conservation and Water Stewardship, Government of Manitoba), Manon Dubé (EC-CWS, National Capital Region), Robert Bellizzi and Rachel McDonald (Department of National Defence, National Capital Region), Kevin Hannah, Mike Cadman and Élizabeth Rezek (EC-CWS, Ontario Region), Jay Fitzsimmons (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Government of Ontario), Marie-José Ribeyron and Charles Clavet (EC-CWS, Quebec Region), François Fournier and Junior Tremblay (EC-Science and Technology, Quebec Region), Martin Chiasson and Élizabeth Boivin (The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, Quebec Region), Pierre Bérubé, Jean Lapointe and Antoine Saint-Louis (Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Government of Quebec), Christine Zachary-Deom (Mohawk Council of Kahnawake), Josée Brunelle and Caroline Girard (Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee), Maureen Toner (NB Department of Natural Resources), Jessica Humber (Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador), Mark Elderkin (Department of Natural Resources, Government of Nova Scotia), Peter Thomas and Jen Rock (EC-SCF, Atlantic Region).

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Executive Summary

The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is a medium-to-large falcon that breeds in Greenland and throughout continental North America as far south as northern Mexico. In Canada, this falcon breeds in all Canadian provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island. The species winters from southern Canada, throughout the United States and as far as South America. Its population in Canada has been increasing since 1970. The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius was listed as Special Concern in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) (S.C. 2002, c. 29) in 2012.

The main threats to the species are the use of organochlorine pesticides and toxic chemicals.

The objective of this management plan is for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population to be self-sustainingFootnote 3 throughout its Canadian range within the next 10 years.

The broad strategies and conservation measures required to achieve the management objective are presented in Section 6. In addition to supporting existing measures, this management plan proposes a number of conservation measures aimed at reducing threats and evaluating their impacts, conservation and, if possible, protection of nesting sites, improving knowledge of Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius populations, with an emphasis on populations located in northern regions, and participation of northern communities (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in activities related to conservation of the species.

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1. COSEWIC Footnote * Species Assessment Information

Date of Assessment - April 2007

Common Name (population):
Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius
Scientific Name
Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius
Special Concern
Reason for Designation
Continental populations of this species have shown continuing increases in population size since the 1970s, reaching near-historic numbers. Population thresholds for downlisting have been achieved for both the tundrius and anatum subspecies. This recovery has been the result of reintroductions across much of southern Canada, and natural increases in productivity following the ban in Canada of organochlorine pesticides (e.g. DDT). These compounds were the primary factor responsible for the historic decline. These pesticides continue to be used on the wintering grounds, and continue to be found in peregrine tissues, albeit at levels that do not significantly affect reproductive success. The unknown effects of new pesticides regularly licensed for use in Canada are also a concern.
Canadian Occurrence
Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
COSEWIC Status History
The Peregrine Falcon in Canada was originally evaluated by COSEWIC as three separate subspecies: anatum subspecies (Endangered in April 1978, Threatened in April 1999 and in May 2000); tundrius subspecies (Threatened in April 1978 and Special Concern in April 1992) and pealei subspecies (Special Concern in April 1978, April 1999 and November 2001). In April 2007, the Peregrine Falcon in Canada was assessed as two separate units: pealei subspecies and anatum/tundrius. Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius was designated Special Concern in April 2007.

Species Assessment Footnotes

Definition Footnote *

COSEWIC – Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

Return to Definition footnote * referrer

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2. Species Status Information

Over 60% of the North American breeding range of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is in Canada (Figure 1). The species was listed as a species of Special Concern on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) (S.C. 2002, c. 29) in 2012. The species is a member of the family Falconidae, which is not included in Article I of the Migratory Birds Convention. It is protected under all existing provincial and territorial wildlife legislation, but the scope of protection varies across the country. Table 1 presents the status of the species in those provinces and territories where the status is defined. Table 1 also provides the status rankings by NatureServe at the subnational level. These rankings range from S1B (Critically Imperiled) to S3B (Vulnerable) (NatureServe 2013).

Figure 1. Breeding range of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius in North America (map: © modified from White et al. (2002). (Chikoski and Nyman 2011; Tremblay et al. 2012; Government of the Northwest Territories 2014; R. Mulder, pers. comm. 2014).
Breeding range of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius in North America (map: © modified from White et al. (2002).
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the widespread distribution of the species in North America and southern Greenland. In Canada, in the southern portion of the Prairie Provinces, southern Ontario, southern and northern Quebec, northern Newfoundland and Labrador, southern New-Brunswick, Northern Nova Scotia. In the United-States, the species is found in the northern half of Alaska, parts of southern Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Vermont, New York, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. It is also found in north-western Mexico.

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Globally, the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius, both species and subspecies, is ranked G4T4 (Apparently Secure). The species is rated N3N4B in Canada, meaning that it is ranked between Apparently Secure and Vulnerable (NatureServe 2013).

Table 1. NatureServe rankings and Peregrine Falcon designations in each province and territory Footnote 4(NatureServe 2013)
NatureServe Rank Note a

NatureServe Rank Note a

NatureServe Rank Note a

Designation by Province/Territory

Designation by Province/Territory

Designation by Province/Territory

British ColumbiaS2?BSUM-Red List NotebUnknown-
AlbertaS2S3SNRThreatened Note c, Noted
SaskatchewanS1B, S4M, S2NSNR
ManitobaS1BS1BS1BEndangered Note c, Notee
OntarioS3BSNAS3BSpecial Concern Note c, Notef
QuebecS3S3S3S4BVulnerable Noteg
LabradorS3BSNRSNRVulnerable Noteh
New BrunswickS1BSNREndangered Notei
Nova ScotiaS1BSNRVulnerable Notej
Prince Edward IslandSNASNR
Island of NewfoundlandS2MSNRVulnerable Noteh
YukonS3BS2BSNRSpecially protected
Northwest TerritoriesS3S4BSNRS3S4B

Table 1 Notes

Note a

S1 – Critically Imperiled; S2 – Imperiled; S3 – Vulnerable; S3S4 - Vulnerable to Apparently Secure; S4 –Apparently Secure; S5 – Secure; SU – Unrankable; SNR – Unranked; SNA – Not applicable; B – Breeding population; N – Non-breeding populations; M – Migrant transient population; ? – Uncertain.

Return to Table 1 Note a referrer

Note b

A species is assigned to the Red List or Blue List based on the conservation status provincial rank (SRank), which is determined by the provincial conservation data centre. These lists can be used to designate official statuses under British Columbia's Wildlife Act (RSBC 1996, c. 488).

Return to Table 1 Note b referrer

Note c

Subspecies not specified.

Return to Table 1 Note c referrer

Note d

Alberta Wildlife Act (R.S.A. 2000, c. W-10).

Return to Table 1 Note d referrer

Note e

Manitoba Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act (C.C.S.M. c. E111).

Return to Table 1 Note e referrer

Note f

Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 (S.O. 2007, c. 6).

Return to Table 1 Note f referrer

Note g

Quebec Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species (R.S.Q., c. E-12.01).

Return to Table 1 Note g referrer

Note h

Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act (S.N.L. 2001, c. E-10.1).

Return to Table 1 Note h referrer

Note i

New Brunswick Endangered Species Act (S.N.B. 2012, c. 6, 2013-38 & 39).

Return to Table 1 Note i referrer

Note j

Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act (S.N.S. 1998, c. 11).

Return to Table 1 Note j referrer

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In Canada, the species is not protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (S.C. 1994, c. 22). In the United States, the anatum (USFWS 1999) and tundrius (USFWS 1994) subspecies were removed from the federal endangered species list. The species is protected under the Migratory Birds Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712).

The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is protected under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) (S.C. 1992, c. 52). The purpose of WAPPRIITA is to protect Canadian and international plant and wildlife species threatened by overexploitation for illegal trade. It accomplishes its objectives by regulating international trade and interprovincial transportation of certain wild plants and animals, or their parts or derived products. This act is a product of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Peregrine Falcon is listed in Schedule 1 of CITES, which means that international trade in Peregrine Falcon is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Permits are required for exports and imports.

3. Species Information

3.1 Species Description

The Peregrine Falcon is a medium to large falcon (comparable in size to a crow) with long, pointed wings. Adults have bluish-grey or darker upperparts, a variable-width blackish wedge extending down from eyes, and whitish, greyish, or buff-coloured underparts, with variable amounts of blackish spotting and barring. The sexes are distinguished by size, with females being 15–20% larger and 40–50% heavier than males (White 1968; White et al. 2002).

3.2 Population and Distribution

The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius breeds in Greenland and across continental North America south to northern Mexico (White et al. 2002). In Canada, the species breeds in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island (COSEWIC 2007). It has a disjunct distribution, and its boundaries have yet to be described (COSEWIC 2007). The species winters from southern Canada and the United States (White et al. 2002) to South America.

National surveys of Peregrine Falcon breeding populations have been carried out every five years in Canada since 1970 (Holroyd and Banasch 2012). These surveys indicate that the number of sites occupied by the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius has increased Footnote 5, surpassing the size of the known historical population in some regions (COSEWIC 2007; Holroyd and Banasch 2012). In 2005, the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population occupied 556 sites, whereas in 2010, it occupied approximately 610 sites (Holroyd and Banasch 2012; A. Franke, pers. comm. 2013) (Figure 2). Because the national surveys are primarily carried out at known breeding sites, the upward trend does not necessarily reflect the total Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population in Canada (Holroyd and Banasch 2012). At a local scale, the trend may be different than that detected in national surveys, as in the case of inland Labrador (Brazil 2005). These population estimates are lower than the true population size since the breeding area extends over a vast northern landscape that is mostly unsurveyed, where there could be several thousand falcons (COSEWIC 2007; USFWS 2008a). These individuals likely constitute the majority of the Canadian population.

Figure 2. Number of territories occupiedFootnote 6 by the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius from 1970 to 2010, based on national survey data. The 2010 data are preliminary results (Holroyd and Banasch 2012; A. Franke, pers. comm. 2013).
Number of territories occupied by the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius from 1970 to 2010.
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 2 is a bar-graph which shows the progressive increase in occupied sites for the species as follows: 1970 = 25 sites, 1975 = 50 sites, 1980 = 100 sites, 1985 = 150 sites, 1990 = 300 sites, 1995 = 350 sites, 2000 = 400 sites, 2005 = 550 sites, 2010 = 600 sites.

The upward trend observed in national surveys between 1970 and 2010 is supported by data from migratory bird observatories in North America, which also show an increase in the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population from the 1970s to the early 2000s (Farmer et al. 2008).

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3.3 Needs of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius

The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius breeds in a wide range of habitats, from Arctic tundra to coastal islands, and major urban centres (Cade 1982). Peregrine Falcons generally nest on cliff ledges or crevices. Cliffs ranging from 50 to 200 m high are preferred (Cade 1960; White and Cade 1971). The species is highly adaptable in nest site selection. It can nest on top of pingosFootnote 7 on the tundra, on escarpments, in quarries, in trees and on various anthropogenic structures (e.g., transmission towers, skyscrapers, churches, bridges, open-pit mines, industrial stacks) (COSEWIC 2007; Buchanan et al. 2014). It also successfully breeds in nest boxes installed in these habitats to create conditions conducive to nesting (Cade et al. 1996).

The Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius breeds in habitats with access to sufficient prey (White et al. 2002). Given that it feeds primarily on birds captured in the air, it prefers sites located near seabird colonies, shorebird and waterfowl staging or nesting areas, or sites with large numbers of pigeons or songbirds. In inland Labrador, the Peregrine Falcon is known to often feed on small mammals (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, unpubl. data). At the landscape level, suitable nest sites are patchily distributed, but can be common locally (COSEWIC 2007).

Peregrine Falcons are solitary breeders and highly territorial. Although the number of breeding pairs may be high in some locations (COSEWIC 2007), local density may be limited by the species' territorial behaviour. The species also demonstrates a high degree of breeding site fidelity (Beebe 1974; Ambrose and Riddle 1988).

Predation is not known to be a significant limiting factor for the Peregrine Falcon. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) are the main avian predators (COSEWIC 2007). The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is also a known predator (Rowell 2002). Mammals can also have an impact on the food resources of the Peregrine Falcon. For example, the introduction of Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus) to an island in British Columbia resulted in a reduction in the size of seabird colonies, on which the Peregrine Falcon feeds (Taylor et al. 2000).

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4. Threats

4.1 Threat Assessment

Table 2. Threat assessment table
ThreatDescriptionLevel of Concern Note kExtentOccurrenceFrequencySeverity Note lCausal Certainty Note m
PollutionUse of organochlorine pesticides Note nHighWidespreadHistoricContinuousHighHigh
PollutionUse of organochlorine pesticides Note nMediumLocalizedUnknownSeasonalModerateHigh
PollutionUse of toxic chemical productsMediumWidespreadCurrentContinuousModerateMedium
Use of biological resourcesHarvest for falconryLowLocalizedCurrentRecurrentLowLow
Use of biological resourcesPoachingLowLocalizedUnknownRecurrentLowLow
Disturbance or damageRecreational activitiesLowLocalizedCurrent / AnticipatedSeasonalLowMedium
Disturbance or damageExploration and development of natural resourcesLowLocalizedCurrent / AnticipatedContinuousLowMedium
Disturbance or damageConstruction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructureLowLocalizedCurrent / AnticipatedContinuousLowMedium
Accidental deathCollision with infrastructure or means of transportationLowLocalizedCurrentContinuousLowLow
Climate and natural disastersClimate changeLowWidespreadCurrent / AnticipatedContinuousModerateMedium

Table 2 Notes

Note k

Level of Concern: signifies that managing the threat is of (high, medium or low) concern for the conservation of the species, consistent with the management objectives. This criterion considers the assessment of all the information in the table.

Return to Table 2 Note k referrer

Note l

Severity: reflects the population-level effect (high: very large population-level effect, moderate, low, unknown).

Return to Table 1 Note l referrer

Note m

Causal Certainty: reflects the degree of evidence that is known for the threat (high: available evidence strongly links the threat to stresses on population viability; medium: there is a correlation between the threat and population viability, e.g. expert opinion; low: the threat is assumed or plausible).

Return to Table 1 Note m referrer

Note n

Given that the characteristics of this threat have changed considerably over recent decades, its assessment includes its historical characteristics followed by its current characteristics.

Return to Table 1 Note n referrer

4.2 Description of Threats

Threats are presented in descending order of concern.

Use of organochlorine pesticides

The use of organochlorine pesticides, most notably 1,1,1-trichloro-2-2 bis (p-chlorophenyl) ethane (DDT), from the late 1940s through to the 1970s, with subsequent bioaccumulation Footnote 8 within the food chain, was the primary factor causing the collapse of Peregrine Falcon populations (White et al. 2002). DDT was banned in Canada and the United States in the early 1970s (COSEWIC 2007), but it is still allowed in some countries within the species’ winter range, such as Venezuela (Van der Berg 2009; White et al. 2002; Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 2014).

The current impact of residual organochlorine pesticides on Canadian Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius populations--which are present throughout the species range--is not well known. In British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a region where DDT was heavily used from the 1950s to the 1970s, residual concentrations remain high and could affect the reproductive capacity of the Peregrine Falcon (Elliott et al., 2005). In Alberta, DDT residues measured in Peregrine Falcon eggs show a downward trend (Alberta Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team, 2005). Pressures to once again allow its use to control malaria and other insect-borne diseases (Raloff 2000; Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 2014) make it a threat to the Peregrine Falcon and its prey that winters in South America and will have to be monitored.

Use of toxic chemical products

The discovery of the assimilation of significant quantities of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) Footnote 9 by Peregrine Falcons and other raptors in the early 2000s raised concerns about the possibility of a new crisis similar to that created by dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane DDT (Lindbergh et al. 2004; Guerra et al. 2012). Legislative measures designed to limit the impacts of these chemical compounds have since been adopted by the Government of Canada (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers Regulations, SOR/2008-218). In the United States, restrictions vary by state. Future research will make it possible to determine whether the implementation of these measures will lead to a reduction in PBDE concentrations in Peregrine Falcons.

With new chemical compounds and substances being developed and used across the range of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius, it is possible that Peregrine Falcons may be affected by bioaccumulation or biomagnification Footnote 10 of other contaminants. The toxicity of the products that will eventually be used to replace PBDEs will have to be monitored. There are also concerns about neonicotinoids, Footnote 11 neurotoxic insecticides known to have the potential to cause behavioural effects in birds (Hallmann et al. 2014).

The pesticides to control species considered pests (e.g., pigeons, starlings, rodents) also pose a threat to the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius. The ingestion of prey contaminated with pesticides such as 4-amino-pyridine (Avitrol®), strychnine or fenthion may result in shock and death of adult birds and juveniles (Mineau et al. 1999; Campbell 2006).

Although legislation governing the use of pesticides exists, there are no specific regulations to reduce the risk to Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius. However, the Government of Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) distributes a memorandum to pest control agents requesting that they avoid the use of chemical bird control methods within areas identified as supporting a Peregrine Falcon territory (OMOE and OMNR 2008).

Heavy metals can also pose a threat to the Peregrine Falcon, particularly mercury, which can adversely affect the nervous and reproductive systems (Wolfe et al. 1998; Bennett et al. 2009).

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Legal harvesting for falconry

The harvesting of Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius for falconry is currently banned in most of Canada. However, Saskatchew Footnote 12 has allowed a small harvest of juvenile passage migrants since 2001 (Rowell 2002). The recent delisting of the anatum subspecies in the United States has resulted in the lifting of the ban on the harvesting of falcons in some parts of the country Footnote 13 (USFWS 2008a). An unknown number of falcons are also harvested for falconry in Mexico (G.L. Holroyd, pers. comm. 2009). Harvesting of Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius for falconry is prohibited in Greenland (K. Burnham, pers. comm. 2013).

Population modelling results suggest that the allowed harvest limits in the United States will not have a significant impact on the size of the population and that available estimates of vital rates justify a harvest rate of juvenile Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius in North America of up to 5% of annual production (Millsap and Allen 2006). The model will have to be validated, however, to ensure that the harvest does not compromise the species’ recovery. The USFWS proposed monitoring the number, sex and geographic distribution of captured falcons. Falcon population and harvest data in Canada, the United States and Mexico will be reviewed every five years, or at the request of the flyway councils, to reassess the allowed harvest limits (USFWS 2008b).


The Peregrine Falcon may be the target of illegal poaching of eggs and chicks for purposes of falconry (COSEWIC 2007). It is difficult to assess the overall significance of this threat. A case reported in 2003 in northern Quebec suggests that this threat persists (A. Saint-Louis, pers. comm. 2014). The illegal shooting of Peregrine Falcons is a practice that still exists.. The Union québécoise de réhabilitation des oiseaux de proie (UQROP) has reported several cases of bullet wounds to Peregrine Falcons in recent years.

Recreational activities

All Peregrine Falcons, including anatum/tundrius, can be affected by disturbances caused by certain recreational activities, particularly rock climbing and, to a lesser degree, hiking, bird watching and all-terrain vehicle use. The effect of disturbance depends on its timing relative to the reproduction cycle and the proximity and frequency of its occurrence. The most critical periods for the reproductive success of Peregrine Falcons are those when they are establishing territory and immediately before egg-laying (Fyfe and Olendorff 1976). During incubation and chick rearing, disturbances can have an impact by forcing adult falcons away from the nest for prolonged periods, resulting in undesirable cooling or heating of the eggs or chicks, and in a reduction in the amount of time adults can spend foraging and feeding their young (Ontario Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team 2010). The impact of recreational activities is mostly localized in inhabited or nearby areas.

Some area managers have developed guidelines aimed at reducing recreational activity at certain sites where the risk of disturbing the species during nesting periods is high (Cade et al. 1996; Richardson and Miller 1997; Manning, Cooper and Associates 2003; Buissière 2010; Ministry of Environment 2013). Those measures include prohibiting certain recreational activities or requiring a minimum distance from nests (COSEWIC 2007; Ontario Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team 2010).

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Exploration and development of natural resources

The exploration and development of natural resources (e.g., mining, forestry, wind energy development) could have negative impacts by disturbing Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius during nesting, destroying nests or discouraging the species from nesting in a particular area (Fyfe and Olendorff 1976; COSEWIC 2007). The effects of disturbances are comparable to those identified for recreational activities. The conservation of Peregrine Falcon nesting sites must remain a high priority given the species’ nest-site fidelity (Cade et al. 1996).

Peregrine Falcons that nest in areas where there is little human activity tend to be more sensitive to disturbances (Pyke 1997; White et al. 2002). The expansion and intensification of natural resource exploration and development in northern regions could therefore become a significant threat to the species, particularly given that the majority of the Canadian population of Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius may nest in these regions.

Various natural resources exploration and particularly development activities are subject to an environmental screening or environmental assessment before they can proceed. In many cases, it is thus possible to avoid--or where not possible minimize--adverse effects on the species. Several provinces have adopted legal or administrative measures to protect the nests or habitat of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius. Other jurisdictions encourage industry to follow best practice guidelines to minimize impacts on Peregrine Falcons and their nests.

Construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure

Construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure (e.g., bridges or buildings) can have negative impacts by disturbing Peregrine Falcons during nesting or by destroying nests (COSEWIC 2007). The effects of disturbances are comparable to those identified for recreational activities. The impact of infrastructure renovation and maintenance activities are mostly located within inhabited areas or areas near them. In contrast, the construction of tall structures (buildings, pylons, communication towers) or the presence of quarries can benefit the species by providing suitable nesting sites.

Some managers of infrastructure on which the species nest regularly have developed management plans in order to minimize the negative impacts related to maintenance (e.g. installation of artificial nest boxes in the immediate vicinity, egg harvestings for hatching in captivity and release of the young). By law, some construction, renovation and maintenance activities must undergo an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 or provincial or territorial legislation before they are carried out. In many cases, this process forces the proponent to avoid adverse effects on the species and, when this is not possible, to minimize the effects.

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Collisions with transportation or other infrastructure

Peregrine Falcons are sometimes injured or killed when they strike human structures, such as building windows or wires. They can also collide with aircraft (Sherrod 1983; Stepnisky 1996; White et al. 2002). According to a study conducted in northeastern North America based on 160 documented cases, collisions with buildings, vehicles, aircraft and transmission lines account for 36%, 9%, 8% and 8% of the observed cases, respectively (Gabhauer et al. 2015).

Climate change

The adult Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is vulnerable to extreme weather conditions during fall migration (Franke et al. 2011). The climatic indicators used in that study, namely North Atlantic Oscillation data,Footnote 14 account for 35% of the temporal variation in the adult survival rate. The chicks are also affected by weather conditions, as evidenced by the fact that between 2008 and 2010, over one-third of nestling mortality in the Rankin Inlet (Nunavut) study area was caused by rainfall. The increase in the frequency of heavy rain is an important factor in explaining the decline in productivity of that population (Anctil et al. 2013). This threat could become even more significant in the future since extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall, are expected to increase with climate change (Min et al. 2011).

The species could also be indirectly affected by the effects of climate change on food availability. Large-scale climate phenomena, such as El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation, can affect the survival and productivity of seabirds and shorebirds (Sandvik et al. 2012; Galbraith et al. 2014), on which the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius preys.

Northern regions are likely to sustain the most significant impacts associated with climate change (Screen and Simmonds 2010). Given that a significant proportion of Canada’s Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population breeds in these northern regions, the effects on the species could become of greater concern.

Conversely, this species may also benefit from climate change. The warming observed in the Arctic could allow the Peregrine Falcon to expand its range. Over the last 20 to 25 years, the Peregrine Falcon has expanded its breeding range in northern Greenland as a result of more favourable weather conditions (Burnham et al. 2012). It also shows an ability to adapt by breeding earlier in the season in the Northwest Territories (Carrière and Matthew 2013).

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5. Management Objective

The objective of this management plan is for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population to be self-sustainingFootnote 15 throughout its Canadian range within 10 years of the publication of the final version of this management plan.

In general, Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius populations have made a remarkable recovery in the last two decades because of the ban on DDT and the success of reintroduction programs (Kiff 1988; Enderson et al. 1995; Millsap et al. 1998; Holroyd and Bird 2012). Although the observed increases can be partly explained by increased monitoring activity, the population appears to have reached and, in some cases, surpassed the historical pre-collapse numbers (COSEWIC 2007).

Natural nesting habitat is still available, and the species also has anthropogenic structures for nesting that it already uses or that it may use in the future. It is therefore reasonable to believe that the upward trend in Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius numbers could be maintained and even increased through existing and new conservation measures.

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6. Broad Strategies and Conservation Measures

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

The assessment of the Peregrine Falcon as a species at risk in Canada dates back to 1978 (Martin 1978). Since that time, many recovery activities have been carried out in all provinces and territories. The following list is not exhaustive, but is intended to illustrate the main areas in which work has been or is being done.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • Evaluation of the species’ status in Canada by COSEWIC in 1978 (anatum and tundrius separately), 1992 (tundrius only), 1999 and 2000 (anatum only), and 2007 (anatum/tundrius) (COSEWIC 2007).
  • Status reports produced by Quebec (Bird 1997), Alberta (Rowell and Stepnisky 1997) and British Columbia (Cooper and Beauchesne 2004).
  • A national five-year Peregrine Falcon survey (1970–2010) of population trends and productivity (Rowell et al. 2003; Chikoski and Nyman 2011; Holroyd and Banasch 2012; Carrière and Matthews 2013; unpublished data from some provincial and territorial governments).
  • In addition to the national five-year survey, a number of provinces, territories and protected areas carry out their own surveys in selected regions (COSEWIC 2007).

Conservation and management

  • DDT use gradually phased out in Canada in about the mid-1970s. Withdrawal of registration of all DDT uses in Canada in 1985. Today, the sale or use of DDT in Canada is an offence under the Pest Control Products Act (Environment Canada, 2014).
  • From 1975 to 1996, captive breeding and release of over 1,500 Peregrine Falcons at various locations in Canada (Holroyd and Bird 2012).
  • Development and application of provincial recovery plans, including Quebec (Comité de rétablissement du Faucon pèlerin au Québec 2002), Ontario (Ontario Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team 2010), Alberta (Alberta Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team 2005) and Manitoba (Wheeldon 2003).
  • Best practices guide developed in British Columbia (Manning, Cooper and Associates 2003; Ministry of Environment 2005, 2013), in the Northwest Territories (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 2011) and Yukon (Energy Mines & Resources 2014), including minimum setback distances for raptor nests.
  • Restrictions or ban on mountain climbing near known nesting sites, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia (Del Degan, Massé et associés inc. 2010; EROP 2009; M. Chutter, pers. comm. 2014).
  • Administrative agreement on the protection of nesting sites located on public lands, particularly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec (FAPAQ and MRN 2002; K. De Smet, pers. comm. 2014).
  • Recommendations by the Ontario government on the required setbacks from nests during the use of avicides to control pest birds (OMOE and OMNR, 2008).
  • Development of standardized guidelines for petroleum industry activities (Scobie and Faminow 2000).
  • Involvement of a private company in the mitigation of the loss of a nest following the destruction of an anthropogenic structure used as a nesting site. The company funded the captive rearing of young Peregrine falcons, followed by release to the wild and the creation of alternative nesting sites (G. Court, pers comm. 2014)

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6.2 Broad Strategies

To meet the management objective, the conservation measures will be organized according to the following five general strategies:

  • Reduce threats and assess their relative impacts
  • Conserve and, if possible, provide legal protection of the species’ nesting sites
  • Improve the state of knowledge on northern populations of the species in Canada
  • Encourage the participation of northern communities (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in conservation activities carried out in northern areas
  • Regularly assess the Canadian population trend and its productivity

The reduction of threats to the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is key to achieving the management objective, along with the assessment of impacts of significant or lesser-known threats.

To ensure successful reproduction of the Peregrine Falcon, the implementation of conservation and stewardship measures at the various nesting sites must be promoted. Such measures can be implemented by various stakeholders (governments, land use managers, non-governmental organizations, citizens). In some cases, the competent authorities could consider legal protection measures.

Special attention should be given to northern regions, where some threats (e.g., climate change) give rise to concern, particularly as the majority of the Canadian population nests in these regions. Gaps in knowledge regarding northern populations, such as their distribution, abundance and productivity, as well as the relative importance of the threats affecting population dynamics, will also have to be filled.

The participation of northern communities (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) will have to be encouraged in order to benefit from their traditional knowledge of the environment and the species. Their involvement, both in monitoring activities and in the other planned conservation measures, will be a definite asset for the conservation of northern populations of the species.

Finally, regular monitoring of the Canadian population of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius is critical, particularly for assessing the effectiveness of the measures implemented and the progress made in achieving the management objective. Monitoring based on a rigorous and joint protocol should be carried out in as many regions of Canada as possible.

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6.3 Conservation Measures

Proposed conservation measures and a schedule for implementing the recommended general strategies are presented in Table 3. This table also includes a number of conservation measures for which implementation is already in progress.

Table 3. Conservation Measures and Implementation Schedule
General strategyConservation MeasurePriority Note oThreats or
Concerns Addressed
Reduce threats and assess their impactsCarry out research on the direct and indirect effects of toxic chemicals on adult survival and reproductive successHighUse of toxic chemicals.2020
Reduce threats and assess their impactsSupport initiatives in Central and South America to ban the use of organochlorine pesticidesHighUse of organochlorine pesticides.2020
Reduce threats and assess their impactsPromote specific control measures for the Peregrine Falcon on the use of pesticides in urban and agricultural environments.HighUse of toxic chemicals2020
Reduce threats and assess their impactsConsider the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius as a valued ecosystem component Note p in various environmental assessment processesModerateExploration and development of natural resources; construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure.In progress
Reduce threats and assess their impactsEncourage research in order to gain a better understanding of the level of tolerance of Peregrine Falcons to human disturbance and to the cumulative impacts of human activities carried out near its nesting sites.ModerateExploration and development of natural resources; recreational activities; construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure.2020
Reduce threats and assess their impactsContinue to raise awareness among natural resources developers, owners and managers of species’ nesting sites and prepare best practices guides to help infrastructure managers avoid impacts on the species during maintenance and repair activitiesModerateExploration and development of natural resources; recreational activities; construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure.In progress
Reduce threats and assess their impactsContinue to raise awareness among outdoor recreation enthusiasts who could disrupt the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius during the nesting period and encourage them to participate in the species’ conservation (e.g., identifying new breeding sites, finding alternative sites for recreational activities)ModerateRecreational activities.In progress
Reduce threats and assess their impactsParticipate in the assessment of effects of authorized harvesting in the United States, Canada and Mexico on the North American Peregrine Falcon populations and promote a reduction in the harvest.LowHarvesting for falconry.2020
Conserve and, if possible, legally protect the species' nesting sitesPromote the application of protection measures for nesting sites included in existing legislation and regulationsModerateRecreational activities; exploration and development of natural resources; construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure.In progress
Conserve and, if possible, legally protect the species' nesting sitesPromote the implementation of nesting site conservation and, if possible, legal protection measures by provinces and territories that have not yet implemented such measuresModerateRecreational activities; exploration and development of natural resources; construction, renovation and maintenance of infrastructure.2020
Improve knowledge regarding northern populations of the species in CanadaFill knowledge gaps on the abundance and location of northern populationsHighKnowledge gaps; climate change; exploration and development of natural resources.2020
Improve knowledge regarding northern populations of the species in CanadaAssess the impacts of climate change on populationsMediumKnowledge gaps; climate change.2020
Encourage participation of northern communities (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in conservation activities carried out in northern areasDevelop and implement an information and outreach program for affected northern communities (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) and promote information exchange between government authorities and northern communities.HighClimate change; exploration and development of natural resources.2020
Regularly assess the trend of the species' Canadian population and its productivityReassess and modify, as needed, the inventory methodology to support the National Peregrine Falcon SurveyHighMonitor management of the species.2015
Regularly assess the trend of the species' Canadian population and its productivityContinue the National Peregrine Falcon Survey every 5 years, encouraging stakeholders from the provinces, territories, protected areas and non-governmental organizations to take part in it.HighMonitor management of the species.In progress
Regularly assess the trend of the species' Canadian population and its productivityDesign and implement the research that is required to develop population viability models to assess the self-sufficiency criteriaModerateMonitor management of the species.2020

Table 3 Notes

Note o

"Priority" reflects the degree to which the measure contributes directly to the conservation of the species or is an essential precursor to a measure that contributes to the conservation of the species. High priority measures are considered those most likely to have an immediate and/or direct influence on attaining the management objective for the species. Medium priority measures may have a less immediate or less direct influence on reaching the management population and distribution objectives, but are still important for the management of the population. Low priority conservation measures will likely have an indirect or gradual influence on reaching the management objectives, but are considered important contributions to the knowledge base and/or public involvement and acceptance of the species.

Return to Table 3 Note o referrer

Note p

A valued ecosystem component is an environmental element of an ecosystem that is identified as having scientific, ecological, social, cultural, economic, historical, archaeological or aesthetic importance. Valued ecosystem components that have the potential to interact with project components should be included in the assessment of environmental effects.

Return to Table 3 Note p referrer

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7. Measuring Progress

The performance indicators presented below propose an approach for defining and measuring progress towards the achievement of the population and distribution objectives. Success in implementing this management plan will be evaluated every five years on the basis of the following performance indicators:

  • By 2025, the entire Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius population will continue to grow and its range will be maintained.
  • By 2025, known Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius nesting sites will continue to be occupied on a regular basis and the number of fledglings will be sufficient to ensure a self-sustaining population.

The population will be measured using the results of national surveys carried out every five years as well as the result of bird counts performed by raptor observatory networks in Canada and the United States.

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8. References

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Appendix A. Effects on the Environment and Other Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program ProposalsFootnote 16. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or achievement of any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’sFootnote 17 (FSDS) goals and targets.

Conservation planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that implementation of management plans may inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the management plan itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

While this management plan promotes the conservation of the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius, it will clearly benefit the environment. The Peregrine Falcon is a symbol of species at risk conservation, and its gradual recovery is an oft-cited example of the feasibility of species-at-risk recovery. The information gathered and the conservation measures implemented could also be used to conserve other birds of prey. As well, since the Peregrine Falcon is a top predator, it could also act as an indicator of the effects of pollution. Information collected on the impacts of climate change in northern regions on the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius could also benefit other species in these regions. Lastly, the Peregrine Falcon could contribute to the control of overabundant birds in urban areas. An increase in the Peregrine Falcon population could have a local adverse effect on its prey populations, including songbirds, colonial seabirds, shorebirds and small mammals (MacKinnon et al. 2008). An increase in the population could also have an adverse effect on other raptor species, such as the Prairie Falcon, with which it competes for nesting sites. Given that the Peregrine Falcon is a generalist species that feeds on a wide range of prey, predation pressure should be spread among all available prey. In addition, the local impact of an increase in predation by this species is limited, in part, by the availability of nesting sites and its territorial behaviour during the breeding period.

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Footnote 1

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Footnote 2

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Footnote 3

A population that on average, remains stable or demonstrates a positive population growth in the short term and is large enough to withstand random events and persist in the long term without the need for permanent active management intervention.

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Footnote 4

It is important to note that the assigning of the NatureService rank or designation by the territories and provinces, with combining the anatum and tundrius subspecies has not been done in all territories and provinces.

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Footnote 5

These increases are primarily the result of the ban on DDTs in Canada in the early 1970s and the success of the reintroduction program (COSEWIC 2007).

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Footnote 6

Number of occupied territories: number of sites where one or two territorial adults are present (Holroyd and Banasch 2012).

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Footnote 7

Large hillock in the shape of a dome--generally 30 to 50 m high and 400 m in diameter--which form under or in Arctic permafrost.

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Footnote 8

Bioaccumulation means the capacity of a living organism to gradually absorb and concentrate a contaminant or toxic substance that is present in the environment.

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Footnote 9

Brominated flame retardants.

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Footnote 10

Biomagnification means the increase in the concentration of a pollutant in a living organism as it moves up the foodchain.

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Footnote 11

A group of insecticides with a chemical formula similar to that of nicotine, that kills insects by their action on the central nervous system.

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Footnote 12

Two Peregrine Falcons have been harvested under a permit authorized by the Government of Saskatchewan since 2005.

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Footnote 13

Since 2009, the United States has allowed the capture of 130 chicks and first-year birds that are capable of flying during the nesting period until September 1, west of 100° longitude west, including Alaska. It is also permissible to capture 36 migrants in their first year from September 20 to October 20, east of 100° longitude west.

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Footnote 14

North Atlantic Oscillation (better known by its English acronym NAO) refers to a phenomenon that affects the North Atlantic weather system.

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Footnote 15

A population that, on average, remains stable or demonstrates positive growth in the short term and is large enough to withstand random events and persist in the long term without the need for ongoing active management intervention.

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Footnote 17

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