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Florida to allow capture of peregrines for sport of falconry

December 10, 2009 |  9:56 am
Peregrine Florida in 2010 will allow the capture of a limited number of  peregrine falcons for the sport of falconry.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the rule Wednesday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines the number of falcons that can be taken on a state-by-state basis. Florida's number is likely to be small -- perhaps as few as five. The state will issue permits randomly but give residents priority.

Peregrine numbers throughout the U.S. nosedived beginning in the 1940s because of the use of the pesticide DDT, but the swift birds have rebounded steadily since the late 1970s and were removed from the endangered species list in 1999.

Though there's likely to be some opposition to the rule allowing the capture of falcons, the Florida commission's Robin Boughton said in a news release, "Falconers contributed to the successful conservation of the peregrine by providing birds for captive breeding so peregrines could be reintroduced. Many falconers will now have the opportunity to again use the birds in the sport of falconry."

The remarkable birds of prey, which can reach speeds of about 200 mph, have been used for hunting for more than 1,000 years.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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