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In the News: U of M faculty help bring peregrine falcon back from the brink

Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via Flickr

According to the Minnesota Daily and Star Tribune, the Midwest peregrine falcon population has been on the rise over the past three decades, thanks in large part to two University of Minnesota faculty members.

In the 1960s, the peregrine falcon was placed on the endangered species list, mainly due to overexposure to pesticides. Since 1982, Pat Redig, D.V.M., Ph.D., the founder and former director of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota and Harrison “Bud” Tordoff, Ph.D., former director of the Bell Museum of Natural History, worked tirelessly to remove it.

The team, along with colleagues, began breeding the falcons in captivity and releasing them along the Mississippi River. Now, the peregrine population has surpassed the number of falcons that existed before they became endangered.

“No matter how you look at it, the peregrine falcon is just one of the most amazing creatures on the face of the earth,” Redig said.

The efforts haven’t come cheap. The process of releasing falcons, known as hacking, runs about $2,500 a bird. Over the years, the project has cost $3.2 million. But thanks to Tordoff’s fundraising efforts before he passed in 2008, most of the money came from private donations.

“I would say he was the heart and soul of the whole thing,” Redig said. “He made a lot of stuff happen.”

The success of the duo has led others to wonder if this type of process could be replicated for other species.

“People create the problem; people can fix the problem,” said Redig.

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