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Category: Falconry

Florida to allow capture of peregrines for sport of falconry

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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Eastern Sierra hikers asked to keep eyes peeled for Karma, the red-tailed hawk

Karma the red-tailed hawk Hikers, birders and other visitors to the Eastern Sierra are encouraged to be on the lookout for Karma, an adult male red-tailed hawk that for the past two-plus years had resided at the Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care facility in Bishop.

The majestic raptor was believed to have been kept illegally as a pet before it was abandoned in the wild. It could not fly when it was discovered floundering and suffering from heat prostration and brought to the center, which cares for injured and abandoned critters.

But Karma learned to fly at the facility and was regularly driven afield for brief falconry-type flights. He always returned to his handlers, but last Thursday in the Keough Hot Springs area west of Highway 395, he dipped behind an outcropping and disappeared.

Cindy Kamler, who runs the facility, told Outposts that people have been scouring a two-square-mile area but have not spotted the bird, which is wearing black leather bracelets on both legs and might be trailing a short orange cord. 

It's feared that Karma will be unable to fend for himself or find his own food, but Kamler is hopeful and cites a few instances where the bird captured and killed sparrows that had entered its enclosure.

Interestingly, it had recently begun communicating with wild hawks during its flights, notably a juvenile red-tailed hawk that was present during Karma's last controlled flight. Could Karma simply have answered the call of the wild and sought freedom?

Kamler concedes it's a doubtful scenario, since the bird had been raised in captivity. "It'd be unique," Kamler says, "but not impossible."

Anyone who spots the hawk is urged to call the center at (760) 872-1487.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo of Karma the red-tailed hawk courtesy of Chris Morrison

National Hunting and Fishing Day -- do you approve of this celebration?

An angler casts a fly into the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday and I'll celebrate by stalking trout on the shores of some Eastern Sierra creek. I can't wait.

In the extended-entry field below is President Obama's official proclamation.

The first such proclamation was made in 1972 by President Nixon, who said: "I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in inspiring their proper management for the benefit of future generations."

In Obama's version are these words: "If not for America's great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue these sports."

The landscape has changed vastly since Roosevelt's time, to be sure. Obama must have known he'd wind up in the cross hairs of critics who don't hunt or fish, and who oppose both pastimes on mere principle.

In an L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog post, for example, it was pointed out that Obama's proclamation was being issued "on the eve of that special season when so many Americans blast migrating ducks out of the sky and blow large holes in the side of fleeing deer."

The words of an anti-hunter are often harsh. But the truth is, hunters and fishermen are closer to the Earth and place more value on the environment than most of their critics. And they contribute more toward conservation.

Ducks Unlimited, to cite one example, is the world's leader in waterfowl and wetlands conservation. Simply, there would not be nearly as many ducks filling our flyways were it not  for this organization. Trout Unlimited, likewise, has done more to conserve fisheries than any animal rights group that I know of.

As for wildlife management, states accomplish this via hunting, and as of yet nobody has come up with a better means of controlling animal populations -- a necessity in an age when civilization is increasingly encroaching into wilderness.

Hunting and fishing, additionally, are an economic force worth billions annually. Much of the money spent by hunters and anglers is used toward conservation of wildlife and fisheries. National Hunting and Fishing Day is about recognizing these contributions and more; it's about traditions dating to our ancestors.

So I'll venture out Saturday in support. I hope I catch some fish but that will be secondary to the fact that I'll be among the conifers and critters, far from the bustle and grind. That's what fishing means to me.

Here is the president's proclamation:

Continue reading »

Peregrines' comeback in East prompts return of limited capture for falconry

Falcon With the comeback of the northern peregrine falcon along the East Coast comes the limited return of opportunity for hunters to capture the birds for use in falconry.

"We are restoring a prized opportunity that was taken away from falconers several decades ago," said Jim Ozier, a wildlife program manager with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. "We believe opportunities for traditional, regulated and sustainable wildlife uses should be permitted and safeguarded when possible."

This week the Georgia Board of Natural Resources approved regulatory changes allowing the capture of no more than five migrating juvenile peregrines along the state's coast this fall.

That's part of an allotment of 36 northern peregrines that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies approved for capture in the Eastern U.S. The raptors breed in Canada, Alaska and southern Greenland, and winter in South America.

Though animal rights groups will squawk, the limited capture program is not expected to affect the breeding population of peregrines. 

Georgia's five lucky falconers will be picked in a drawing and will have one month, beginning Sept. 20, to capture a migrating bird. Limited trapping also is being allowed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Peregrine falcon; credit: Idaho Statesman


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