Alberta taking new steps to protect endangered hawk

The Government of Alberta has announced an updated plan to try and protect the ferruginous hawk — a bird listed as endangered under Alberta’s Wildlife Act.

In an update Wednesday, the province says it is rolling out its new plan to protect and support the growth of the hawk, as previous efforts have failed to increase its numbers.

The province says under the original plan, which was made in 2014, the hawk’s population has slowly grown and is showing signs of increasing, however, it notes that an updated approach is needed for long-term recovery.

In the new plan, the province will be working with various partners including Indigenous communities, industry, conservation groups, landowners, and other stakeholders, to protect and support the habitats of the hawk.

This will include the protection of nest structures and prey that the hawks need to survive.

“Ensuring grasslands are maintained for species like ferruginous hawks is crucial. These hawks are often embraced by landowners as a natural means to help control ground squirrel numbers, with many encouraging the endangered species to establish a nest on their land,” said Brad Downey, a senior biologist with the Alberta Conservation Association. “Continued support and collaboration from landowners, along with society’s desire to see ferruginous hawks thrive, provides a promising future for this and other species as long as we maintain intact grasslands.”

The province also says additional steps will be taken in the near future, which include reducing human disturbance at nest sites and limiting the impacts of predators.

“This plan represents a collaborative, multi-year conservation effort between Environment and Protected Areas and multiple partners. While still not where they need to be, numbers of ferruginous hawks appear to be moving in the right direction, thanks to these efforts. These large, conspicuous hawks are an iconic species in our grasslands and play an important role in our province’s ecosystem,” said Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas.

This recovery plan was developed with input from Indigenous communities, industry, conservation groups and other stakeholders that have played vital roles in recovery efforts for Alberta’s ferruginous hawk population.

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