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Falconry, Leashed Tracking Dog, Wildlife Rehabilitator Exams Slated for April

Exams Slated for April 11; Exam Applications due March 28

Examinations for three unique types of licenses are being offered by the Department of Environmental Conservation on April 11. Outdoorsmen seeking an Apprentice Falconry license, a Wildlife Rehabilitator license, or a Leashed Tracking Dog Handler license can take the requisite exam from 10 a.m. to noon on April 11 at the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regional office at 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo. The deadline for registration is March 28.

Falconry is the art of hunting with a trained bird of prey. It is a rural tradition known throughout the old worlds of Asia and Europe. A popular medieval sport of the noble classes, evidence suggests falconry may date back to a far earlier time when men hunted strictly for food.

Not only are falcons employed, but eagles, buzzards, hawks, osprey and other birds of prey. Owls also have been trained.

While the Harris Hawk is widely used by experienced falconers, in New York only the Red-tailed Hawk and the American Kestrel are permitted for the apprentice because of their relative abundance.

Once a falconer gets his general license he may switch to larger falcons. The falconer's traditional bird of choice is the Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon.

Today, falconers hunt, with their trained birds of prey, rooks, crows, magpies, grouse, fox, rabbit, hare and other small mammals.

The Golden Eagle has been used in the past to hunt fox, deer and wolves, with the hunter on horseback.

In fields, sometimes on the edge of forests, falcons are trained to climb and circle above the falconer and/or his dog. When the falcon is airborne in the desired, commanding position, the hunter or his dog flushes out the quarry. As the quarry flees into the open, the falcon swoops down and seizes it in her talons, kills it, then brings it faithfully to the falconer.

Since the birds are lost on occasion, the birds wear radio transmitters or bells on their backs or legs. Young birds are preferred. But falcons can live into their mid-teens. Larger hawks and eagles live longer. Among birds of prey, females are about one-third larger than males, and falconers traditionally employ hens rather than tiercels in their sport.

The apprentice, who works with an experienced falconer for two years, is required to capture his first bird in the wild. After a successful capture, the bird is trained by the apprentice to come to a lure, typically a dead bird on a string, used as simulated quarry. In the beginning, the newly captured bird is tethered to a long line until it is accustomed to returning to the falconer. Once the bird has developed flying and returning skills, she is exposed to people and the hunting dogs.

Apprentices are limited to owning one bird. The cost of a five-year falconry license is $40.

Also being offered by the DEC is the Wildlife Rehabilitators license. It is required for those who wish to offer volunteer service for caring for injured, sick and orphaned wild animals, with the goal of preparing them for return to the wild. Qualification for licensure demands technical skill and a commitment in time, money, and effort.

A license for Leashed Tracking Dog Handlers is required for those who wish to use their dogs to aid hunters to track and recover dead, wounded, or injured big game. Training a dog includes working a scent line and training by night and day to be able to find the wounded or dead white-tailed deer or American black bear.

More information regarding these unique licenses can be found on the DEC website: Falconry: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/28632.html.Wildlife Rehabilitator: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/25027.html.
Tracking Dog: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/25020.html.or by calling the DEC at 518-402-8985.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 18, 2014