Hawk Mountain

  • Nature, Animals & Parks
  • 1934

Hawk Mountain is regularly mistaken for a public park, whereas it’s actually a classic example of a concerned citizen taking action on her own. A series of ridges in the eastern Appalachians of Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain enjoys thermal currents that draw thousands of migrating birds every year, particularly raptors. But in the early 1930s it became a shooting range, as the Pennsylvania Game Commission began paying $5 for every goshawk killed, in an attempt to protect chicken farmers. Bounty shooters killed hundreds of hawks as they passed lookouts at eye-level in great concentrated streams. Philanthropist Rosalie Edge saw photos of the carnage, tried in frustration to find allies who would help stop it, and eventually acquired most of the mountain herself in 1934. She forbade bounty hunting on her 1,400 acres. Edge brought in wardens and opened Hawk Mountain to the public the next year as a bird-watcher’s paradise. The world’s first refuge for birds of prey, Hawk Mountain today remains the oldest and largest member-supported raptor-conservation organization in the world. It now extends over 2,600 acres, and visitors travel from far away to see its wonders. In addition to its bird viewing there are trails, a garden, a visitor center, a facility for conservation training, and a multimillion-dollar research program on raptors.

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