Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peregrines for Falconers?

Speaking of migratory raptors, the state of Florida plans to allow falconers to capture Peregrine Falcons and use them for hunting.
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.
Needless to say, the state's falconers are pleased with the decision. Apparently Audubon of Florida and Defenders of Wildlife both testified at the meeting, but neither have posted any statement on their websites about it. The FWC's press release only quotes this from Audubon:
"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."
There is precedent for taking wild raptors for use in falconry, which is regulated under U.S. and state laws. I would prefer more caution, though, in using such a recently-recovered species.