1970's, environmental groups, universities, governments and private donors began
mobilizing worldwide to prevent the extinction of the peregrine falcon. DDT and
other pesticides were removed from the North American market. Programs to raise
falcons in captivity were initiated to rebuild the natural population.
The Macdonald Raptor Research Centre, now known as the ASCC,
was one of three breeding centres officially recognized in Canada by the
National Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team of which David M. Bird is a member. Beginning in
1976, as a way of harmonizing their effort, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the
Saskatchewan Cooperative Falcon Project, the Avian Science and Conservation
Centre (ASCC) of McGill University and various provincial wildlife agencies
undertook to raise young falcons in captivity with the hope of re-establishing
the species in southern Canada.
Special techniques, including artificial
insemination, artificial incubation (shown below) and hand-rearing of young
falcons were developed to help the young falcons reach adulthood. They were
then released from special cages that gradually permitted them to acquire their
freedom. Meanwhile, the ASCC conducted surveys of the tundrius
subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon in Ungava Bay to ascertain that the
population was healthy.
In the south between 1976 and 1990, 249
falcons raised in captivity were released into the wild along the St. Lawrence
River. At the same time boxes for nesting were installed on the roofs of
Montreal skyscrapers to send falcons the message that they were welcome. In 1983 a pair raised two young falcons in the Francon Quarry in the
east end of Montreal and the following year a pair began nesting
successfully on the Montreal Stock Exchange Building (Place Victoria) in
downtown Montreal. Since 1992, the nest has been constantly video-taped on a
big-screen television in the lobby for the general public. It is part of a
collaborative work with the law firm Martineau Walker, who, with the assistance
of the ASCC, has set up The Peregrine Falcon
Information Centre to educate the public on endangered birds. The species
can now "fly" on its own.
Today, most of the nesting pairs in
southern Canada and in the eastern United States come from falcons raised in
captivity, and the presence of healthy young falcons in the wild proves that it
is possible to prevent the disappearance of a species.