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

August 28, 2009 |  1:01 pm

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