Peregrine falcons have been confirmed nesting the South Dakota Black Hills. These are the first nesting locations to be confirmed in the state in the last fifty years.
The peregrine falcon was put on the National Endangered Species List back in the 1970's. Though the national population has stabilized since then, the peregrine is still an endangered species in South Dakota.
Casey Heimeral is a wildlife biologist for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. She says the decline of peregrine falcons in the state and nationally can be contributed to the overuse of the pesticide DDT.
"Kind of a nasty pesticide in that it could easily enter the food chain and the peregrines were accumulating this DDT by feeding on birds that had eaten contaminated seeds or insects so they would accumulate this toxin. And if affected their eggshell production where they were laying eggs with really thin shells. So that when they sit on these eggs to incubate them it would crack them, so they had very poor reproduction," Heimerl says
Heimerl says DDT is now highly regulated, leading to peregrine populations rising across North America. She says the two pairs of peregrines in the Black Hills may be from other states or a result from GFP's restoration efforts.
"Back in 2011 through 2013 our Game, Fish and Parks kind of headed a project with the state wildlife grants to release peregrines in Rapid City. Over those three years we had just under sixty sixty birds that were released from these sites in Rapid City. So it's possible that these could be resultant from those releases," she says.
Heimerl says the GFP plans to continue monitoring the two new nests to see if they stay successful for the next several years. She says GFP will also continue looking for new nest throughout the state.