Environment

Researcher who brought birds of prey to Boise, helped save falcons dies at 91

The Peregrine Fund helps conserve raptor species around the world

Monica Pittman, assistant curator at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, shares the Peregrine Fund mission for conserving birds of prey around the world.
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Monica Pittman, assistant curator at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, shares the Peregrine Fund mission for conserving birds of prey around the world.

A prominent Boise biologist and conservationist died last week, nearly 50 years after founding a nonprofit that helped save a species on the brink of extinction.

Tom Cade, who started The Peregrine Fund in 1970 to save the falcons, died Feb. 6. He was 91.

Cade founded the nonprofit at Cornell University to help boost the population of a then-endangered bird. The organization relocated its headquarters to Boise in 1984, when the World Center for Birds of Prey was built.

The group worked to ban the use of DDT, a pesticide that decimated the falcons’ numbers, and created captive breeding programs that helped lead to the species’ delisting from the Endangered Species Act in 1999.

“Tom’s work to save the peregrine falcon not only led to the delisting of the species ... but also inspired the state of Idaho to name the peregrine falcon as our state raptor and place the iconic bird on our quarter,” said Erin Katzner, director of global engagement for The Peregrine Fund.

Cade went on to work as director of raptor research at Boise State University. The Peregrine Fund has since worked with more than 100 raptor species, including the California condor and Mauritius kestrel.

“The world of wildlife conservation has lost a pioneer and champion today,” said Rick Watson, president and CEO of The Peregrine Fund, in a news release. “Tom fought for peregrines and practical conservation solutions, and mentored generations of passionate individuals. His reach extended around the globe to inspire raptor research and conservation on virtually every continent and on behalf of hundreds of species.”

Closer to home, the effects of Cade’s work are easy to spot.

“Because of Tom, today we have peregrine falcons living and raising their families in downtown Boise, on the black cliffs near Lucky Peak State Park, and in the Snake River Canyon,” Katzner said. “We get to enjoy this species and our environment is healthier because of Tom Cade.”

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors and insight reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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