A few weeks ago I posted a story about the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA. The other day I received an email from Mary Linkevich, Communication & Grants Manager of the Sanctuary saying that some of my facts were not quite correct. Rather than paraphrase what Mary said, I requested and received permission to share her email with my readers.
“Hi Alan and greetings from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary!
I recently came across your blog about seeing our volunteer Lyle at the Farm Show and wanted to take the time to correct a few errors that came across. If you’d like more information about Hawk Mountain I would be happy to send you an information packet, and maybe you can visit the Lookouts sometime this spring, summer or autumn. This is our 75th anniversary year, so there is no better time to visit than the present!
I think your blog is quite wonderful and hope to keep up on your recent ‘wanderings’ in the future!
STATEMENT: Did you know that a hawk can fly from Vermont to Tennessee without ever flapping its wings?
CORRECT: Hawks do use updrafts to save energy during migration, and soaring flight is one strategy used by migrants, but all hawks flap during migration. There is no bird that soars from Vermont to Tennessee. Some hawks are heavy flappers, others less so, but all birds flap when migrating.
STATEMENT: In total, there are over 300 species of birds of prey that frequent the sanctuary.
CORRECT: There are 16 species of birds of prey that typically PASS Hawk Mountain during migration. Raptors that ‘frequent’ Hawk Mountain could include among others the Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Black and Turkey Vulture and American Kestrel. I have also seen Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawk and Northern Harrier.
STATEMENT: No pets are not allowed for the safety of the raptors.
CORRECT: The biggest reason we don’t allow pets is to protect the fragile ecology of the forest, as well as improve overall visitor relations. More detail below — I like to take the time to explain this one because people are often upset not to bring his/her dog here:
Research has shown that dogs have a greater impact on wildlife activity and abundance than people. For example, wildlife in areas with trails used regularly by dogs show different behavior and lower abundances, as wild mammals avoid areas with dog smells.
We have studies that show even abandoned trails inhibit small mammal movement as long as 30 years after abandonment. If we allow one dog, we allow X number of dogs per 60,000 visitors a year, so the matter is not small.
Other points to consider:
- The inevitable walking around rocks that dogs do, even on a leash, means a wider swath of our forest becomes disturbed.
- Dogs by nature will disturb and eat ground nests and chase small mammals
- Other pets–cats, ferrets, snakes, have impacts on wildlife as well particularly when they escape and become feral…all of which is possible if they are allowed to visit.
- Limited width on our trails coupled with large visitation means dog-dog and dog-person interactions will occur. Big dogs may frighten both people and smaller dogs.
- For visitor safety and to protect the forest, visitors are asked to remain on the trail at all times. One slip of the hand can create an incredible disturbance as an owner tries to control his/her pet.
- Our hiking safety tips urge visitors to wear a daypack carrying any personal belongings, water, snacks, etc, and to have both hands free to negotiate more rugged trails. This is impossible to do if holding a leash.
- Many people don’t realize that the hard rugged rocks can cut and bruise a dog’s paws, and in general, it is not easy for most dogs to walk the rockier trails.
Sanctuary versus Park
In summary, our mission is to maintain Hawk Mountain as a model observation area and wildlife sanctuary, and as such, we even limit areas that are open to people. Hawk Mountain Members support this approach and a large portion of Hawk Mountain is closed to the public and maintained in its natural state. Parks have a recreational approach, and are designed to endure traffic and visitor diversity including that of dogs.
I hope you find this information of interest — again, have a great weekend and hope to see you on the Mountain sometime soon,
Mary Linkevich, Communication & Grants Manager
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
1700 Hawk Mountain Road
Kempton, PA 19529
Celebrating 75 years of raptor conservation, 1934-2009.”
Just a couple more things from The Pennsylvania Wanderer:
- I apologize for any misinformation I may have provided you, my readers.
- I apologize to Lyle Russell for misunderstanding when he told me that nearly 300 species of birds have been spotted in the history of the Sanctuary.
- Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a great place for a picnic. Pack your picnic backpack and head out for a great day in the outdoors.