[Tweeters] In defense of Falconry and Hunting
markbordenmd at gmail.com
Thu May 26 13:50:45 PDT 2022
I will preface this statement by reminding you that I am a Falconer.
Testing requirements, license fees, and facilities construction and maintenance make Falconry a challenging sport. It is a sport to which one must be dedicated 365 days a year.
As a master Falconer of over 40 years, my licensing fees alone accumulated would fund an entire wildlife conservation program.
Birders should be aware, that Falconry is the least efficient method of hunting. Whereas a (gun) Hunter can sometimes return with a limit, a single duck captured is considered an excellent day for a Falconer. Most Falconer‘s are lucky to catch a few ducks in an entire season. Almost every winged species that is pursued by a trained bird of prey, is faster than that bird of prey in almost every circumstance.
Several years ago I spoke to the wildlife officer in charge of the Okanogan region of Washington. At the time I was endeavoring to capture a wild Turkey with a trained great horned owl. Eleven years of pursuing that goal and I have still not found success. He was particularly concerned that I might accidentally capture a Sharp Tailed Grouse. I reassured him that I would have a better chance of winning the lottery without purchasing a ticket, than of capturing a Sharp Tailed Grouse with my owl. Only a handful of Falconer’s with the most highly trained and fittest Falcons, and the best pointing dogs, ever manage to catch a grouse.
The Houbara Bustard is a challenging quarry, and thus is treasured by the Falconer’s of Saudi Arabia. A brief Google search will reveal that programs are in place to protect and restore the bustard, and that as in our own country, those programs are funded mainly by hunters and Falconer‘s. It is far more likely that a Falconer seeing the report would attempt to observe the bustard than to capture it.
Falconry is considered by many to be “the ultimate birdwatching.“ Even the casual birder will experience an occasional thrilling moment when he/ she hears an alarm call, and sees a bird of prey attempt to capture a prey species. As Falconer‘s we are privileged to hear those alarm calls, and witness the birds of prey in an intimate association. Many Falconer’s try for years before capturing their first prey with a trained Raptor. Along the way most will learn to identify many birds, spend thousands of hours observing them in their natural settings, and develop a deep love for the birds and the places that they inhabit.
Falconers should be considered a resource for the birding community. Remember the recovery of the Peregrine? Falconer’s were responsible.
If there are birders on this list that are interested in learning more about Falconry, I would be glad to talk with them. The Washington Falconer’s Association has several annual field meets at which you would be welcome. At these meets you will see many trained raptors pursue game, but let me warn you ahead of time that you will see very few game animals captured!
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