The northern aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) was once fairly common in the savannas of southern Texas and in other parts of the American Southwest but virtually disappeared by the 1950s north of the Mexican border. It was federally listed as endangered in 1986. The Peregrine Fund established a captive breeding program based on 25 nestlings obtained from eastern Mexico during 1977–1988. Following a pilot release project in 1985–1989, a full-scale release effort in the southern Texas plain began in 1993 employing techniques similar to those we developed for the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). We produced 923 fledgling aplomado falcons, of which 812 were released in Texas on both federal wildlife refuges and private property. We observed released falcons breeding in the wild for the first time in 1995, and by 2002, 37 pairs were known and at least 87 wild young had fledged over an 8-year period. Predation by raccoons (Procyon lotor) was a frequent cause of nest failure, and the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) was the principal source of death in fledglings at hack sites, a factor that may limit aplomado falcon recovery in some areas of its former range. Enrollment of more than 5,500 km2 of private land under federally mediated “Safe Harbor” agreements encouraged landowner goodwill and cooperation and provided essential access to private property by affording relief from potential liability associated with the Endangered Species Act.
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