Jay Sumner is the executive director of the Montana Peregrine Institute. He has been studying Peregrine Falcons and other raptors for over fifty years. Jay has coordinated the Montana Peregrine Falcon Survey for the past 18 years. He has also worked on grizzly bear population studies in Yellowstone Park, the Scapegoat wilderness, and the Bob Marshall wilderness.
The Peregrine Falcon, considered by most authorities to be the fasted animal on this planet, was almost extinct in Montana in the early 1980’s. The Peregrine Fund, in conjunction with Federal, State, and private organizations, introduced over 600 young peregrines into Montana. This introduction kick-started the recovery of our peregrine falcons. In 1999, Jay Sumner and Ralph Rogers, bringing combined raptor research experience of over 80 years, and with the help of federal and State biologists, initiated intensive surveys of the Montana Peregrine Population. Documented over the last 18 years through the efforts of our not-for- profit organization, Montana Peregrine Institute (MPI), data have shown that the population of the Peregrine Falcon in Montana has expanded from 18 nesting pairs in 1998 to over 100 nesting pairs in 2017. However, that the Peregrine is an apex predator feeding primarily on riparian birds must be considered. Because of migratory behavior, general mobility, and proximity to water, these prey species tend to encounter more environmental toxins than do mammals, and Peregrines accumulate these more than do other raptors. Further, limited data indicate that the migratory destinations of many Peregrines lie south of the American border in regions of the world where regulation of pesticides, including the chlorinated hydrocarbons, is virtually unknown. Plainly, immediately identifying any major downward flux in populations is crucial, lest infamous history repeat itself.