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Humans have a long history together. For over 3000 years, it has been a favourite species of falconers, and historical records show that the Peregrine has long been held in high esteem in many cultures around the world. Unfortunately, a few hundred years ago attitudes changed for the worse, and the Peregrine along with most other birds of prey became widely persecuted. For many years they were hunted with reckless abandon. Later, through the use of harmful pesticides, humans unwittingly dealt an even more severe blow to Peregrine populations. Only in the past couple of decades have humans again started to help rather than hurt Peregrines and because of this, they are making a slow yet noticeable comeback.

Populations began after a problem was identified, resulting in no accurate population counts prior to the 1960s. However, the 1960s and early 1970s were periods of critical population decline for Great Lakes Ospreys. Along much of the Atlantic coast of the United States, Osprey numbers also crashed at this time. Elsewhere in Canada declines occurred, but were less dramatic, particularly in remote northern areas.

A single pesticide, DDT, appears to have been largely responsible for the dramatic population declines in Ospreys and many other bird species. Although other toxic chemicals may also have caused biochemical and physiological stress to Ospreys at this time too, their sub-lethal effects are less clearly understood than for DDT.

The mid-1970s represents a turning point for Ospreys in the Great Lakes basin, and in other parts of North America. Since 1972, DDT use had been severely restricted, and Ospreys have been able to increase their reproductive output to above the break-even point of 0.8 young per pair. These levels of production have been sustained generally in many parts of the Great Lakes basin and have often reached average values of 1.0 - 1.2 young per pair in some areas. Consequently, Great Lakes Osprey populations have increased dramatically up to the present day.

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