Falcon Ownership Laws: The Legal Requirements and Responsibilities for Falcon Keepers

Wildlife law Dec 22, 2023

Falconry is the ancient art of hunting with birds of prey, and it is also a rewarding hobby for many enthusiasts. However, owning and keeping a falcon is not a simple matter. There are many legal requirements and responsibilities that falconers must follow to ensure the welfare of their birds and the conservation of the species.

falcon law

We will focus on the legal aspects of falcon ownership in the United States, where falconry is regulated by both federal and state laws. We will also provide some tips on how to become a licensed falconer and what to expect from the process.

Federal Laws

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the federal agency that oversees the protection and management of migratory birds, including falcons. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is illegal to capture, kill, possess, or transport any migratory bird or its parts, nests, or eggs without a valid permit from the USFWS.

To obtain a federal falconry permit, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 years old and a citizen or legal resident of the United States.
  • You must have at least two years of experience in the care and handling of raptors, either as an apprentice under a licensed falconer or through a recognized education program.
  • You must pass a written exam that tests your knowledge of falconry laws, regulations, techniques, and ethics.
  • You must have suitable facilities and equipment to house and care for your falcon, which must be inspected and approved by a USFWS agent or a state wildlife official.
  • You must submit an application form and pay a fee to the USFWS.
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Once you obtain your federal permit, you must follow certain rules and regulations, such as:

  • You must keep accurate records of your falcon’s acquisition, disposition, health, and hunting activities, and report them annually to the USFWS.
  • You must band or microchip your falcon with a unique identification number provided by the USFWS.
  • You must notify the USFWS within five days if your falcon dies, escapes, or is lost or stolen.
  • You must not sell, trade, barter, or transfer your falcon to anyone without a valid permit.
  • You must not use your falcon for commercial purposes, such as entertainment, advertising, or breeding.

State Laws

In addition to federal laws, each state has its own laws and regulations regarding falconry. Some states may have more stringent or specific requirements than the federal ones, such as:

  • Limiting the number and species of falcons that you can possess or take from the wild.
  • Requiring additional permits or licenses for hunting with your falcon or for importing or exporting your falcon across state lines.
  • Establishing seasons and quotas for hunting with your falcon or for taking wild falcons.
  • Setting minimum standards for falconry facilities and equipment.
  • Prohibiting certain practices or methods of falconry, such as using live bait or trapping during nesting season.

Therefore, before you apply for a federal permit, you should check with your state wildlife agency to find out what their requirements are and how to comply with them. You should also keep yourself updated on any changes or updates in the state laws that may affect your falconry activities.

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Responsibilities

As a falcon owner and keeper, you have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure the well-being of your bird and the protection of its natural habitat. Some of the responsibilities that you should fulfill are:

  • Providing adequate food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and enrichment for your falcon.
  • Training and handling your falcon regularly and humanely.
  • Respecting the rights and property of other people and wildlife when hunting with your falcon.
  • Following ethical and sustainable hunting practices that do not endanger or deplete the prey population or damage the environment.
  • Educating yourself and others about falconry history, culture, and conservation.

Falcon ownership is a privilege that comes with many legal requirements and responsibilities.

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