Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peregrine take approved in Florida

Photo: Go to MyFWC.com/Newsroom and click on the headline for this story.

FWC approves rule to allow peregrine falcons for falconry in Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule allowing falconers to take peregrine falcons for the sport of falconry at its meeting in Clewiston on Wednesday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines the number of falcons that may be taken over a broad range of states. It is estimated fewer than five falcons will be allocated to Florida in 2010. Under the new rule, falconers must receive a permit for the take of peregrine falcons for falconry. The FWC will randomly select applications and issue permits annually based on the number allotted to the state. Priority for receiving a permit will be given to Florida residents.

Peregrine populations plummeted because of the use of DDT since the 1940s in the United States. After DDT use was restricted in the 1970s, populations significantly increased. The USFWS took the peregrine off the endangered species list in 1999, and the FWC delisted the peregrine falcon in June 2009, making it one of conservation’s greatest success stories. Today, scientists estimate there are at least 3,100 breeding pairs in the United States.

“This is a historic moment for falconers, and we strongly approve staff’s recommendation,” said Eric Edwards of the Florida Falconers Association and North American Falconers Association. “It has been a privilege working with FWC staff through this process.”

The peregrine is a highly valued bird by falconers for its nearly 200-mph dives for prey. Falcons have been used by people for hunting for more than 1,000 years.
“Falconers contributed to the successful conservation of the peregrine by providing birds for captive breeding so peregrines could be reintroduced,” said Robin Boughton, the FWC’s avian coordinator. “Many falconers will now have the opportunity to again use the birds in the sport of falconry.”

Seven speakers, including members of groups such as the Florida Falconry Association, North American Falconers Association, Audubon of Florida and Defenders of Wildlife, spoke at the meeting.

“Audubon views the peregrine as an iconic species, and we have concerns regarding lack of monitoring in Florida to help ensure no future decline in this species,” said Julie Wraithmell of Audubon of Florida. “We hope the Commission will help promote conservation of the species by funding monitoring projects.”

The FWC met with stakeholders, including falconers and conservation groups, as the agency developed a management plan for the peregrine, which was approved in June. Staff continued working with stakeholders through the process of creating the rule to allow harvest of the peregrine for falconry.

Peregrines migrate as much as 18,000 miles per year, and on average, 1,790 peregrines migrate through the Florida Keys in the fall as they move between northern breeding grounds and wintering areas in Central and South America. Some peregrines stay the entire winter in the state, but they do not breed in Florida. They can be spotted in the fall and winter over open terrain, particularly near coastal shorelines and wetlands.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Migration Studies of Peregrines

The longest running peregrine falcon migration studies have been done by a group of falconers.
Here is their website:

I just spoke with Bill Seegar, Ph.D. He is one of the group who just finished their 40th year of migration studies of peregrines. We were both agreeing as to how anyone involved in the peregrine recovery program were falconers at some time in their lives. I sort of say, once a falconer, always falconer, whether currently practicing or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lead issues with birds of prey and wildlife

Emerging research is finding that lead from ammunition and fishing tackle is causing problems in our environment. Now, I'm very pro-hunting, and support all forms of hunting. The Peregrine Fund held a conference and issued the proceeding on lead and wildlife. (www.peregrinefund.org). Here is an article in the latest issue of the International Hunter Education Association Journal, which I'm a member. (www.ihea.com). As a hunter, I want to take the targeted species, not have to worry about secondary poisoning of wildlife and scavengers. Ammunition manufacturers are seeking alternatives to lead in our ammunition projectiles and have some good alternatives for shotguns. Rifle ammunition still is being researched. The fishing industry is also seeking alternatives. Another secondary threat to our wildlife with fishing tackle is fishing line entanglements. When I got my lure stuck on an object under water, I started to cut the line. My brother told me NOT to do that, pull steadily on the fishing line and it will break or come undone at the snag, not leave a long amount of line in the water to entangle wildlife. It worked well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The First Passage Falconry Peregrines Trapped in 35 years!!!!

What Great News!!!!!

Dear NAFA Members,

Sorry to report back so quickly, but as my longtime friend and NAFA's General Counsel, Frank Bond points out, "these are historic moments". After 35 years, it's time to savor this long fought for success and keep the info flowing a bit. I just received an update from Andrew Bullen on the trapping in Virginia. An excerpt from Andrew's message is below.

Both Shoshana and I trapped tiercel peregrines on Friday September 24th on the Eastern Shore of Virginia ...It appears that Jim Seeger, long time falconer and NAFA member, trapped a falcon on Thursday September 23rd, which may well be the 1st falcon taken since “prohibition”. In any event, the Virginia season is now closed as their allocation of 4 peregrines has been filled. Shoshana and I are really thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such willing partners (they’re real gems!).

Again, a real milestone in American falconry, and NAFA has been THE DRIVING FORCE behind this success, working diligently to for the past 35 years to allow it to happen.

Based on Andrew's message above, it sounds like congratulations are also in order for NAFA members Shoshana Datlow and Jim Seeger on their successes! I'm sure there is a lot more exciting information will be coming from NAFA members from numerous beaches and fields over the next couple of weeks. Personally I look forward to hearing more details and information about when and where the various passage tundra birds were trapped. To everyone who is out there enjoying this historic moment, whether it's the first or the 36th peregrine, I wish you the best of luck and every success in your quest. Keep those notices coming about your adventures and successes, I love to hear about this stuff!

My friend and NAFA's Central Director, Lance Christensen, told me many months ago that he hopes that we will be able to capture many of these experiences in a special NAFA publication, and I couldn't agree more--we need to celebrate our successes! Passage peregrine trappers, please keep some notes, take some photos and write an article for NAFA. Share your experience with fellow NAFA members.

With my announcement about the success with the passage peregrine take several hours ago, I'm already getting requests from some of our European members, who hope to be able to use NAFA's success in allowing a wild peregrine take of passage birds (as well as eyas birds) in the US as a model to present to their governments to follow. Days like this reinforce my belief that, as an American falconer in 2009, I'm enjoying falconry second to none in the world and perhaps in history!

To all of our NAFA members on six continents around the globe, thank you for your continuing support of NAFA.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Peregrine FWC meeting, Sept 9th, 2009

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009, 2:28 PM

Another good FWC meeting!!!

Yesterday, myself and Spence Wise spoke, once again, in front of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to support a peregrine harvest. The commissioners were asked to accept a draft rule for the harvest of passage peregrines. This rule was derived from the last stakeholder's meeting and fortunately for us, the commission is taking a simplistic approach.

If adopted the following rule will be added to our existing falconry rule.

"New 68A-9.005 (9)(f)
The take of peregrine falcons is prohibited except

as authorized by permit from FWC and consistent

with the rules and regulations adopted by the

United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The

Commission shall randomly select applications and

issue permits annually. Priority for receiving a

permit shall be given to Florida residents. Only one

application may be submitted per applicant."

In addition to Spence and I speaking in support of the harvest there were several speakers speaking against a harvest. Audubon of Florida, Humane Society of the US, Defender's of Wildlife all spoke out against the harvest and asked for many additional restrictions. One individual spoke about a few issues, she didn't seem to be against a harvest but suggested that the birds be released in the spring and that the FWC continue the monitoring in the Keys, suggesting that falconers pay for it.

A few common theme's coming from the animal rights groups were:

Monitoring of peregrines in the Keys. I spoke adamantly that the harvest of a handful of peregrines by falconers does not necessitate a monitoring program, that falconers have no impact and should not be required to pay for the $25,000 monitoring plan.

Release in the spring. All the groups seem to have attached onto this one as well. They stated that they're against peregrines being held "indefinitely" in captivity and that if they are allowed to be taken they should be released in the spring. A few commissioners asked the staff if any other states required such action and the answer was "NO".
The commissioners listened to all the information and decided to move forward with the draft rule, as written. The next, and last, step in the process will be at the December Commission meeting where the staff will ask the commissioners to accept a final rule. I do not suspect that there will be any changes to the draft when it goes into final language. I suspect the December meeting will be mostly a formality. But, I still encourage anyone that can to attend the meeting and speak.

The next battle will come in 2010 when the commission begins the process of revising our falconry regulations to comply with the new federal regulations. This process is scheduled to be completed by 2012 and I suspect the same groups that are opposing the peregrine harvest will be there to protest our sport. One of the major issues we will have to confront is a new fee for a Florida falconry permit. If permit fees are issued to cover the cost of peregrine monitoring that would equate to a $200 per year permit.

We have considerable time to work on this issue, Spence and I talked to several staff members at the meeting and I feel we can come up with a compromise solution.

After the meeting I was interviewed for an article by the Orlando Sentinel, here's the link if interested.


I have seen a few other article posted online by other newspapers and one blog post from the Sentinel that I responded to.

And below is the press release issued by FWC.

If I can answer any questions feel free to contact me any time.

Eric Edwards
Florida Falconers' Association

For immediate release: September 9, 2009

Contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

Photo: Go to MyFWC.com/Newsroom and click on the headline for this story.

FWC approves draft rule to allow peregrine falcons for falconry

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) moved one step closer to allowing falconers to take peregrine falcons for the sport of falconry. At the meeting in Howey-in-the-Hills on Wednesday, the Commission directed staff to finalize the rule that authorizes the take of peregrine falcons for falconry with a permit issued by the FWC.
Seven speakers, including members of groups such as the Florida Falconry Association, North American Falconers Association, Florida Audubon of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife and Humane Society of the United States, provided input to the Commission on the draft rule. Those opposed to the falconry rule requested that the Commission find a way to fund a raptor-monitoring program that includes peregrines in the Keys.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a plan for peregrine management for falconry in December 2008. The plans allows for 36 peregrine falcons to be taken for falconry anywhere east of the 100th meridian. This area includes states from Maine to Florida to Texas to North Dakota. Florida is eligible for a small portion of that number, which will be allocated among the states that allow harvest.

“Falconers contributed to the successful conservation of the peregrine by providing birds for captive breeding so peregrines could be reintroduced,” said Robin Boughton, the FWC’s avian coordinator. “Many falconers would now like the opportunity to again use the birds in the sport of falconry.”

The peregrine is a highly valued bird by falconers for its 200-mph dives for prey. Falcons have been used by people for hunting for more than 1,000 years.

The USFWS took the peregrine off the endangered species list in 1999, and the FWC delisted the peregrine falcon in June, making it one of conservation’s greatest success stories. Today, scientists estimate there are at least 3,100 breeding pairs in the United States.

The FWC has met with stakeholders, including falconers and conservation groups, as the agency developed a management plan for the peregrine, which was approved in June. Staff has continued working with stakeholders as it drafted the rule to allow harvest of the peregrine for falconry.

Based on the allocations from 2009, Florida would most likely receive five or fewer permits for peregrines for falconry in 2010. Permit applicants would be randomly selected, with preference given to Florida residents.

Peregrines migrate as much as 15,000 miles per year, and on average, 1,700 peregrines migrate through Florida, including the Keys, in the fall as they move between northern breeding grounds and wintering areas in Central and South America. Some peregrines stay the entire winter in the state, but they do not breed in Florida. They can be spotted in the fall and winter over open terrain, particularly near coastal shorelines and wetlands.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nest Boxes for raptors

The Florida Wildlife Federation is selling Cypress nest boxes for birds. From small wren and bluebird size to kestrel, and barred owls sized birds. The cypress is the BEST wood to use. It is extremely durable and bug proof. The Florida Wildlife Federation is one of the oldest wildlife stewardship and conservation organizations in the United States. They are pro-hunting and sustained use (including supporting the take of passage peregrines in Florida). www.floridawildlifefederation.org

Thursday, July 9, 2009

International Festival of Falconry


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flame Retardants - The Next DDT?

There has been a decline of kestrels across the US. One way we can help is put up nest boxes and not use lawn chemicals on our property. That means NO herbicides, NO insecticides, and very, very little fertilizer. Use natural decaying plant material instead. If there are no bugs and grubs in the grass there are no food sources for our birds. Not the mention the run-off into our streams and waterways. Remember, everyone lives downstream.


Peregrine Managment Meeting June 29th, 2009

I went to Tallahassee to the peregrine management meeting. The purpose is to discuss the approval of a template for a managment plan for a 2010 take of passage peregrines. Eric Edwards, NAFA SE Director, American Falconry Conservancy Director, Florida Falconry Association and Florida Hawking Fraternity member and the other falconers present also suggested that the plan adopted in Texas is a well-thought out and would be a good model for Florida falconers as well. The next meetings are in September. So, we will be working out the final details for a 2010 take.

Personally, I've only seen one 'Beach' peregrine in my lifetime. It was 'Honeycomb'. It was the late Alva Nye's lovely bird which he flew for 15 years.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Return of the Peregrine

Available from The Peregrine Fund: http://www.peregrinefund.org/rcProd1.asp?id=9&c1=1&c2=21

Be sure to sign up for their e-newsletter.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Peregrine Delisting in Florida

From Eric Edwards:


Today was a historic day for Florida Falconry, the commission voted to accept the final peregrine falcon management plan, delisting the peregrine. Spence Wise and I attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the plan and asked that the commission allow a harvest of peregrines in 2010. There were two groups that spoke in favor or the plan & delisting but oppose a harvest (Audubon of Florida & Defender's of Wildlife).

After public comment several of the commissioners made very positive comments regarding their desire for a harvest. Several stating that they personally want to see a harvest in 2010, that falconers should be "rewarded" for their efforts in the recovery of the peregrine. I feel very good about our chances for a harvest in 2010.

The next step will be the stakeholder's meeting at the end of this month. In this meeting we will work on the peregrine harvest rules. We need to work out things like how the lottery will be conducted and who will be able to apply for a permit, as well as non-resident take issues. I can assure you, I will attend this meeting to ensure the broadest liberties possible.

2500 Year Old Falcon Nest


Friday, June 5, 2009

Peregrine take plan for Florida, June 29th

This is an important meeting for ALL stakeholders. If falconers and falconry supporters. can attend, please do. I have my place available for camping, (FULL RV Hookups available), staying overnight, carpooling.

Peregrine falconry rule stakeholder meeting

June 29, 10am to noon (arrive early, rooms will be ready at 9:30 am)

Four video-conference locations: South Regional office ( West Palm Beach ), FWRI Headquarters ( St. Petersburg ), NE Regional office ( Ocala ) and the larger conference room in Bryant Building ( Tallahassee )..

At the April FWC Commission meeting staff was instructed to move forward in drafting a peregrine falcon (PEFA) falconry rule. FWC staff on the PEFA falconry rule team include the management plan team plus representatives from Law Enforcement, Hunting and Game Management and Permitting. This team has begun discussing the draft rule.

Using stakeholder input, the team will draft a rule for PEFA take for falconry in Florida . This draft rule will be presented to the Commission who will decide whether or not to approve the rule to allow PEFA take for falconry. We recognize there is not consensus on whether to allow take of PEFA in Florida but we need your help in developing the best possible rule for falconry should the Commission decide to allow PEFA take.

Our stakeholder meeting will be a concise two hours. Be prepared to stay on topic. We will focus on developing a falconry rule and the permitting and application process for take of PEFA for falconry. At our previous meetings we spent considerable time discussing falconry practices and issues. The team has reviewed this input with an eye towards what is safe, practical and enforceable.

Interested citizens or groups that want to debate take of PEFA for falconry will have an opportunity to speak to Commissioners at the Commission Meeting when the draft rule is presented.

The anticipated timeline is:

Stakeholder meeting – June 29, 2009
Present draft rule at Commission meeting - September 9-11 (Mission Inn Resort & Club, Howey-in-the-Hills)
If instructed by Commission in September, present final rule at Commission meeting - December 9-10 (John Boy Auditorium, Clewiston)

Please RSVP to Kristina with your location if you are going to join us June 29. All stakeholders will receive a detailed agenda closer to the meeting time. As in the past, if cannot join us you may contact me with your comments for the stakeholder meeting and I will make sure they are presented.

We appreciate your input in this process and look forward to you joining us at the video conference.

Thank you!


Kristina Jackson

Florida FWC, Northeast Regional Office

Office (352) 732-1225 Ext. 101

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peregrine Delisting in Florida

Florida FWC will be de-listing the pergrine falcon. The final management plan will be presented on June 17th in Crystal River. It looks favorable for passage falconry peregrines again in over 40 years.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hawk Mountain Celebrates their 75th Year

Hawk Mountain was well-known for the concentration of migrating raptors. Shooters (I DON'T call them hunters). Would shoot raptors by the thousands. It was considered 'good' conservation practice back then. It was distressing to see in the book: "Hawks Aloft: The Story of Hawk Mountain" the dead and dying raptors lined up like sardines. I'm so glad that that this misguided and sad era is now over in the United States. But, such practices are still around in regions of Europe, which is so distressing to hear about. Austria, Sweden, Malta are among several countries where legal hawk killing and persecution still occur. Falconers are striving to stop the practice.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some peregrine trapping history

The following link has some fascinating comments about the history of trapping the 'beach' peregrines.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

De-Listing Meeting in Tallahassee, 4/15/09

The meeting went well. There will be no passage take in the fall of 2009. But, the peregrine will be de-listed in Florida. A management plan which includes a fall take of peregrines by falconers will be developed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Peregrine Decline and Recovery Timeline

Peregrine Falcon Timeline:

>>> 1947 - DDT introduced for use as a pesticide in the U.S.
>>> 1962 – ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson is published
>>> 1970 - Two of the three subspecies of peregrine falcon (American and Arctic) are classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1969
>>>1972 - The Environmental Protection Agency outlaws DDT as a pesticide due to its link to the thinning of eggshells in peregrines and other raptors; greatly reducing hatching success.
>>>1975 - Survey indicated only 324 nesting pairs exist in North America, compared to approximately 3,875 prior to DDT usage.
>>>Between 1980-1990, the number of known pairs on territories in North America tripled from 499 to 1540.
>>>In the western U.S., 2,722 peregrines were released from 1974 to 1994.
>>>1994 - Arctic peregrine falcon is de-listed due to recovery.
>>>1999 - American peregrine falcon is de-listed due recovery.
>>>One of the most successful species recoveries in the world.
>>>DDT continues to be used in many Latin American countries where some peregrine falcons and their prey migrate to in the winter.

Peregrine Breeding History Timeline

I think it is important to point out that if it were not for the visionary leadership and contributions of falconers along with their sacrifice and hard work, none of the release programs would have been possible. In addition, all the large peregrine (and most successful) release projects were founded and managed by falconers, the Peregrine Fund being the largest of them all. FYI: The Peregrine Fund has a consistent high rating by www.charitynavigator.com

Here is the story behind the breeding of peregrines in captivity. In 1967 the most famous falconer of the 20th century, Frank Beebe, managed to be the first to breed a pair of peregrines in captivity in North America (Hawk Chalk, 1967 April & August issues). The following year, David Hancock and Larry Schramm - both having been falconers - also were successful in breeding peregrines (North American Falconers' Association (NAFA) Journal 1968). Frank Beebe and David Hancock instructed Professor Heinz Meng – Ph,D in ornithology as well as being a falconer - of New Paltz, NY, how to breed peregrines. He was successful as well and he taught Dr. Tom Cade - also a falconer as well as founder of the Peregrine Fund - how to breed them in captivity. Dr. Cade led the charge in releasing peregrines and instructed other falconers in breeding peregrines. These falconers then initiated new organizations for release of peregrines such as the Predatory Bird Research Group, Santa Cruz, CA; led by the late falconer Brian Walton, who started the project with his own monies. The Raptor Center at the Univ. of Minnesota, By Dr. Pat Redig, DVM, Ph.D. -- also a falconer. This is the chain of events that has led us to this moment in time where the peregrine is being considered for delisting in Florida, which also has occurred in several other States.

Falconers did not play a minor role in the recovery of peregrines; they were the leaders, and the primary players in the success of the recovery of the peregrine. No other interest group comes even remotely close to what falconers did for this species. Of course there were many volunteers who helped yet were not falconers, but they merely assisted falconers - they didn't lead the way. Therefore, it becomes evident that no other interest group has more at stake or has a greater concern or interest in the maintenance of a healthy population of peregrines. I feel that the Management Plan needs to reflect this fact so that interests groups opposed to falconers, might better understand the debt this country owes to falconers. Perhaps if they knew the truth, maybe they would express appreciation to this dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts rather than opposing this sport. It demonstrates that user groups have far more to lose than groups that have incidental interests, such as the birding community.

A good article to read about Dr. Tom Cade and his recovery efforts can be found in "Peregrines Fly Out of Peril" Cornell Focus, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1999. For access to Hawk Chalk and the NAFA Journal, please contact The Archives of Falconry at www.peregrinefund.org/american_falconry.asp

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Study Showing that Falconry Techniques Improve Survival of Raptors

This is an important reference to use to counter the anti-falconry crowd:
From the Journal of Avian Medicine & Surgery, March, 2006.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Letter from Wild Raptor Take Conservancy on Florida Peregrine Delisting

Peregrine Falcon Management Plan Comments
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Northeast Region
1239 SW 10th St.
Ocala, FL 34471-0323 March 24, 2009

To whom it may concern:

WRTC would like to congratulate FWC for its support in protecting peregrine
populations when it was in need of protection, and the current effort in de-listing this bird – an
excellent example of the success of the Endangered Species Act. The peregrine populations are
now substantially above the de-listing mark established by the Fish & Wildlife Service. It is
through the joint efforts of public and private forces that real change can be accomplished.
We would like to point out that many people are not aware of the fact that falconers
were the first to recognize the problem and took an active role in establishing the listing of the
anatum peregrine as endangered. In addition, many people are not aware of the fact that it
was falconers who discovered the means to breed peregrines in captivity and who released
them back into the wild with the monetary support of State wildlife agencies and donations
from citizens and falconry clubs.
An important point to be aware of: Throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s when wildlife
managers and the birding community saw nothing wrong in shooting or pole trapping
raptors, falconers were speaking out against their destruction (it was the falconer Jim Rice who
first went to Hawk Mountain – before Mrs. Edge bought the property and turned it into a
sanctuary in 1934 – with Boy Scouts to stare down those who were shooting hawks, making
them so uncomfortable that the shooters would leave: Source, Robert Berry of the Peregrine
Fund and Brian McDonald, zoologist). Wildlife managers saw raptors as competitors to
hunters in their pursuit of upland game and waterfowl and therefore shot raptors – including
peregrines – on a regular basis; and many birders saw raptors as predators taking their song
birds. As a group, falconers were the only ones advocating the protection of raptors. It wasn’t
until the late 1960s that wildlife managers and the birding community came out in full force
advocating the protection of raptors, and, when this finally came to pass, falconers were elated
to receive this long overdue support to protect all raptors.
Whenever a species is de-listed and consequently opened for regulated harvest, it
demonstrates the success of the Federal and State endangered species acts as workable
management programs that all interest groups can join forces in implementing and managing,
in spite of fundamental philosophical differences of opinion regarding the use of natural
resources (one can certainly assert that no recovery plan implemented under the ESA is
complete until managed take is incorporated at the time of de-listing). In order to continue this
united front, all interest groups must benefit from it: falconers must have access once again to
this classic falconry bird, which they historically referred to as the “noble” peregrine, unique
of all falcons used in the sport; and the birding community must have access to sighting their
“iconic” peregrines wherever they might be found. If any stakeholder group is marginalized
or punished due to some powerful majority interest, endangered species acts around the
country are weakened substantially by such anti-democratic use of power. The opinions and
personal preferences held by a majority must never be allowed to harm the values and
personal beliefs of a minority group. Subjective moral value systems must not be allowed to
spill over into the larger State or national population. It must be contained within the interest
group that maintains the tenets of their faith. They have every right to demand that their
members abide by a set of established subjective rules, but they don’t have the right to
demand that individuals outside their ranks abide by the same set of subjective rules. This
would provide for arbitrary and capricious powers to be asserted against all American citizens
from every sector of society.
It is ironic, now that the peregrine has been saved by an unrecognized interest group
– a group that expended more time and effort than all other interest groups combined – there
are those who would attempt to deny access to that bird; a bird which provided the very
motivation, the impetus, necessary to start and finish a project a few decades in duration in
order to save this bird so that someday falconers might once again be able to take wild
peregrines for use in falconry. The peregrine is the falcon that provides the most classical style
of falconry in the Western hunting tradition.
Given the fact that most of the peregrines used in the various peregrine release
projects came from falconers, it is unreasonable to deny falconers access to wild populations. If
not for access to wild populations, there would have been no peregrines in the hands of
falconers to donate to the release projects. Even more fundamentally: If falconers did not have
access to wild populations, we would never have discovered how to breed them in captivity
and therefore, release projects would have been impossible.
At the January 28th, 2009 Florida Peregrine Falcon Stakeholder’s Meeting, there were
objections raised and points made that are deserving of comment:

• Falconry has no impact on wild raptor populations, including the peregrine; therefore there
would be no justification in prohibiting take. There is no sound scientific or legal justification
in such a prohibition; only subjective opinions by those who have a unique perspective on the
interaction between mankind and wildlife.
• There was comment on social concerns for wildlife values that peregrines should remain in
the wild. This argument is asserted by all those protectionists who believe mankind should not
touch wildlife. Fish & game departments would no longer be needed if States were to
eliminate take of wildlife. In addition, there is the issue of citizens’ rights to access and use of
natural resources.
• It was suggested that because anatums are still listed in a couple of provinces in Canada,
Florida should not allow for a take of peregrines. Yet in Canada peregrines are presently being
taken for falconry. Is it acceptable that Canadian falconers are allowed to take peregrines, but
U.S. falconers are not?
• Protecting habitat and minimizing mortality is the greatest good the State of Florida, as
well as the nation, can do for peregrines.
• There was comment on economic cost of issuing permits for falconry and LE related
permits – i.e. cost-benefit analysis of permit fee. It must be remembered that the primary
purpose for any fish & game agency’s existence is to provide access to our natural resources
for citizens’ use in perpetuity. It is not necessary that each endeavor bear the cost of that
particular activity. Permit fees in general must support all management activities so that one
group is not disenfranchised due merely to its size, lack of money, and lack of representation.
• Questions of funding a monitoring plan were raised. Since the peregrine does not breed in
Florida and all three subspecies have healthy and rapidly increasing populations, the primary
effort that can be put forth is hawk-counts and banding. This is presently done by private
individuals who are associated with falconry groups or raptor related organizations. As
occurred with falconers’ breeding and releasing peregrines, perhaps the birding community
can contribute their part to the continued management of peregrines by participating in
counting and banding of peregrines and reporting their findings to FWC. This would
demonstrate their true commitment to their beliefs as asserted in their comments. Those who
feel they have a say in this matter, should be willing to contribute their resources to the cause
they believe in.

Falconers continue to do their part in monitoring the peregrine on well known
migratory routes such as, but not limited to, Lake Michigan, Padre Island and Assateague
Island. Falconers have a vested interest in monitoring peregrine populations throughout
North America given the amount of resources they invested into them. One group of falconers
established a study whereby a few peregrines were radio-tagged in the Canadian arctic and
were monitored throughout their migration to South America. An Illinois falconer, Rob Sulski,
who is banding peregrines along Lake Michigan is extracting a breast feather from each
captured peregrine and will have these feathers stable-isotope analyzed to determine the
origins of these birds – again, from private funding by falconers. In addition Bob Anderson,
another falconer/peregrine breeder, monitors breeding peregrines along the Mississippi River
bluffs in the Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota breeding range. What other group of private
individuals is willing to invest their resources into such endeavors? In addition, what other
group of private individuals has the knowledge necessary to pursue such projects? Even the
USFWS is not pursuing such studies!
Another important point to consider: It was falconers that set up the falconry
permitting system with USFWS. The limits placed on falconry were self-imposed. Falconers
established the rule that only first year immature birds could be taken for the sport so that
mature birds were not removed from the breeding population; and that master falconers could
possess only three wild birds and could take only two birds from the wild per year even
though raptor populations could sustain far greater take than this. This was not forced upon
the sport; this was a conscious decision due to the love falconers have for raptors. No other
group has such affection and attachment to raptors as do falconers. To suggest falconers be
punished because it is not popular in certain protectionist circles is to encroach upon that
sector of society that offers raptors the greatest representation in conservation efforts.
Under these circumstances, total population data and other information gathered by
falconers observing, trapping, banding and monitoring peregrines can make a significant
contribution to the continuing management of the peregrine at no cost to the rest of society.
The value of the information contributed by falconers will far outweigh the minor costs
incurred in administering a limited harvest program. Forty plus years ago, it was the unpaid
and voluntary efforts of falconers that alerted the world to the peregrines plight. The
information provided by falconers will continue to be of equal value in properly monitoring
and managing this falcon. Approving a legal falconry harvest of migrant peregrines will
enhance and ensure the future health of all peregrine populations in North America.


James M. Ingram III MD
President, WRTC
17909 N. Reflection Circle, Bennington, NE 68007