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Ranger issues rare tickets for climbing at falcon nest site

The cliffs of Poke O Moonshine Mountain near Keeseville attract rock climbers, and falcons. (Photo provided by DEC)

KEESEVILLE — For the first time since the early 2000s, a state forest ranger ticketed rock climbers for ignoring falcon protections.

On April 11, Forest Ranger Sarah Bode cited two rock climbers for failure to obey a DEC sign at Poke O Moonshine, a mountain near Keeseville famed for its sheer cliffs. The tickets were written to a 31-year-old man from Bernardsville, New Jersey, and a 32-year-old woman from New York City for climbing closed routes.

DEC wildlife staff closes certain cliffs and climbing routes to allow peregrine falcons to breed and to encourage the birds to return to their nesting sites. Once nesting has begun, DEC wildlife staff work with forest rangers and other DEC programs in notifying the climbing community and public of these closures and may open climbing routes that can be used without disturbing the nesting falcons and their young. After the young falcons have fledged, climbing routes are opened. The rock climbing community has been cooperative with DEC’s efforts and climbers have volunteered to be observers, monitoring falcons and nesting activity.

DEC last issued tickets to climbers for climbing on the closed routes in the early 2000s, DEC reported.

A peregrine falcon perches on a cliff. (Photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Lost hikers found

Forest rangers also found two lost hikers in the Saratoga County town of Hadley.

On April 19 at 8:51 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting two lost men on Hadley Mountain. The coordinates provided by 911 placed the hikers about one-half-mile off the trail. The 28-year-old and 24-year-old from Saratoga and Glenville did not have equipment other than their cellphones.

Forest Rangers Joe Hess and Tony Goetke responded to their location. At 10:20 p.m., Hess started in from the trailhead and was able to make verbal contact with the hikers. Once located, Hess escorted the pair back to the trail and out to the parking lot. The hikers declined further assistance.

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