After much discussion, voting at the CITES conference today opposed the downlisting of Peregrine falcons from the stringent regulation of Appendix I to Appendix II, which allows limited trade in the species. Downlisting of a species can be a good thing, and in fact is the goal of conservation science as populations recover. Peregrine falcons were significantly impacted by DDT poisoning in the 1950s and 60s, with additional impacts from habitat loss. Peregrine falcon recovery since then has been strong in the US, where it was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999, and in many other countries. Wild peregrine pairs in Chicago hatched 25 chicks this past breeding season! It can be dangerous to downlist a species too soon, however, if the animals are still threatened in some parts of their range. The peregrine falcon occurs in more than 200 countries, with differing status and threats in different countries. The Species Survival Network, a consortium of more than 80 conservation groups, recommended rejecting this proposal due to the remaining unregulated take of wild peregrines for falconry, with most of these birds transported to the Middle East. In an end of session vote, with only 121 countries present, this proposal failed with 52 countries in favor, 57 opposed and 12 abstaining. This proposal will now go back to committee for additional discussion, and will likely be raised again at the next CITES conference.
By Marie Levine