If you’re looking for an exciting and unique outdoor activity in Alaska, falconry might be just what you’re looking for. Falconry is the art of hunting with birds of prey, and it has a small but devoted following in Alaska. The Alaska Falconers Association (AFA) is a non-profit organization that aims to improve, aid, and encourage competency in the art and practice of falconry among interested persons in Alaska.
Understanding falconry is essential before you get started. It is a highly regulated sport that requires a lot of time, patience, and dedication. Falconers must have a deep understanding of the behavior, training, and care of their birds. In Alaska, there are strict regulations on falconry, and it is essential to obtain the necessary permits and licenses before you start practicing.
- Falconry is a unique and exciting outdoor activity in Alaska that involves hunting with birds of prey.
- The Alaska Falconers Association is a non-profit organization that aims to improve, aid, and encourage competency in the art and practice of falconry among interested persons in Alaska.
- Falconry is a highly regulated sport that requires a deep understanding of the behavior, training, and care of birds, and obtaining the necessary permits and licenses is essential before you start practicing.
If you’re interested in the art of falconry, it’s important to understand the basics of this ancient practice. Falconry is a hunting method that involves the use of trained birds of prey, such as falcons, hawks, and eagles, to hunt wild game. It’s a highly regulated sport that requires a great deal of knowledge, skill, and dedication.
Falconry is all about the relationship between the falconer and the bird. The falconer must train the bird to hunt and return to their glove on command. This requires a lot of patience, time, and effort. The bird must also be well taken care of, with proper housing, food, and veterinary care.
Birds used in falconry are typically wild-caught, but captive-bred birds can also be used. The most commonly used birds in falconry are falcons, hawks, and eagles. These birds are known as raptors or birds of prey. They have sharp talons and beaks, and are adapted for hunting small animals.
Each species of bird has its own unique hunting style, habitat, and range. For example, the peregrine falcon is known for its incredible speed, which can reach over 200 miles per hour when diving to catch prey. Meanwhile, the red-tailed hawk is known for its adaptability and can be found in a wide range of habitats across North America.
It’s important to note that falconry is a highly regulated sport. In Alaska, for example, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulates falconry through the Alaska Falconry Manual. This manual outlines the rules and regulations for obtaining a permit, caring for birds, and hunting with birds of prey.
Falcon Species in Alaska
Alaska is home to a diverse range of falcon species, as well as a wide range of bird species in Alaska. Here are some of the most common species you can spot while practicing falconry in Alaska:
The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most iconic birds of prey in Alaska. It is a large, powerful bird that can reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour when diving for prey. Peregrine Falcons are found throughout the state and are known for their distinctive black “sideburns.” They are also known for their loud, piercing calls.
The Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon species in the world and is a popular bird for falconers in Alaska. These birds are highly prized for their strength and agility, and they are known for their striking white plumage. Gyrfalcons are found throughout Alaska and are often seen hunting over open tundra.
The Northern Goshawk is a powerful bird of prey that is found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their fierce hunting skills and are often used in falconry. Northern Goshawks are larger than most other hawks and have a distinctive dark head and back with a lighter underside.
The Golden Eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in the world and is found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their powerful talons and are often used in falconry. Golden Eagles are typically brown with a lighter underside and are known for their distinctive “golden” nape.
Red-Tailed Hawks are found throughout Alaska and are a common sight in the state’s forests and grasslands. These birds are known for their distinctive red tail feathers and are often used in falconry. They are typically brown with a lighter underside and have a wingspan of up to four feet.
Harlan’s Hawks are a subspecies of the Red-Tailed Hawk and are found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their dark plumage and are often used in falconry. They are typically smaller than other Red-Tailed Hawks and have a distinctive white rump.
The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon species in North America and is found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their distinctive coloration, which includes a blue-gray head, rusty back, and white underside. American Kestrels are often used in falconry and are known for their agility and speed.
The Merlin is a small falcon species that is found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their fast, acrobatic flight and are often used in falconry. Merlins are typically brown with a lighter underside and have a distinctive mustache-like stripe on their face.
The Prairie Falcon is a medium-sized falcon species that is found throughout Alaska. These birds are known for their powerful flight and are often used in falconry. Prairie Falcons are typically brown with a lighter underside and have a distinctive black “mustache” on their face.
Falconry Permits and Regulations
If you’re interested in practicing falconry in Alaska, you’ll need to obtain a permit and follow certain regulations. This section will cover the basics of obtaining a permit, the different permit classes available, and some key regulation details you should be aware of.
Obtaining a Permit
To obtain a falconry permit in Alaska, you’ll need to submit an application to the Department of Fish and Game’s Permits Section. You’ll also need to have a valid Alaska hunting license and complete a falconry education course. Non-residents will need to notify the Permits Section at least 30 days prior to entering Alaska to practice falconry under a temporary Alaska falconry permit.
There are two classes of falconry permits available in Alaska: General Class and Master Class. General Class permits are further divided into two categories: Apprentice and General. Apprentice permits are for those new to falconry, while General permits are for those who have completed their apprenticeship. Master Class permits are for experienced falconers who have demonstrated a high level of skill and knowledge.
Regulation 5 AAC 92.037 outlines the requirements for obtaining and using a falconry permit in Alaska. Some key details include:
- A permit jointly issued by the department and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is required for taking, transporting, or possessing a raptor for falconry or for practicing falconry in this state.
- Eyas Peale’s peregrine falcon may not be taken for falconry.
- Falconry standards, procedures, and conditions are set out in the Alaska Falconry Manual No. 11, dated July 1, 2022.
- General Class falconers are limited to taking raptors from Units 1-4, while Master Class falconers may take raptors statewide.
- Import and export of raptors for falconry purposes is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and may require additional permits.
- If the number of applicants exceed the allocated permits, then permit winners will be allocated in a targeted hunt system.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to know and follow all relevant regulations when practicing falconry in Alaska. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Permits Section or a master falconer for guidance. Passage raptor
Wildlife and Conservation
Alaska is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including many raptor species that are used in falconry. As a falconer, it is important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding wildlife capture and possession in Alaska.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issues permits for the capture of certain species of wildlife, including pigeons for use as falconry prey. To obtain a capture permit, you must submit an application to the department and meet certain requirements. These requirements may include passing a written exam, demonstrating your ability to safely and humanely capture and handle birds, and providing proof of liability insurance.
Conservation is also an important aspect of falconry in Alaska. The use of raptors in falconry can help to control pest populations and protect native wildlife. However, it is important to ensure that the practice is sustainable and does not harm the populations of the birds being used.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game works to protect and conserve wildlife populations in the state. This includes monitoring nest sites and populations of endangered species, such as gyrfalcons and goshawks. The use of certain pesticides, such as DDT, has also had a negative impact on nesting raptors in Alaska.
As an Alaska falconer, it is important to be aware of these conservation efforts and to do your part to protect wildlife populations. This may include reporting sightings of endangered species, avoiding capture permits for certain populations, and following best practices for the care and handling of your birds.
What is a Passage raptor?
In the world of falconry, a “passage” raptor refers to a bird that has left the nest and is on its first migration. It is a term used to distinguish between a raptor that has been taken from the nest as a young bird or a fledgling (an “eyass” eg an eyas northern goshawk) and a mature, adult bird. Passage birds are preferred by many falconers because they are young enough to train but have also learned essential survival skills in the wild. In Alaska, where falconry is practiced and regulated, passage raptors would be birds caught during their first year, after they’ve left the nest but before they’ve completed their first breeding season.
Is falconry legal in Alaska?
Falconry is indeed legal in Alaska, regulated under both state and federal laws.
Can you own a hawk in Alaska?
Owning a hawk is permissible in Alaska if you are a licensed falconer. Obtaining such a license typically involves meeting certain age requirements, passing a written test, constructing suitable housing for the bird that passes inspection, and serving a two-year apprenticeship under a licensed falconer.
Do falconers make money?
Falconry is primarily a hobby, and most falconers don’t make money from the practice. While some may offer falconry-related services like bird abatement or educational programs, the primary motivation is typically the love of the sport and the birds themselves, rather than financial gain.
Can a falconer own a bald eagle?
It is generally illegal for any private citizen to own a bald eagle, due to their protected status under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Falconers in the United States are not permitted to keep bald eagles for falconry.