The falconry license authorizes a New York State resident to participate in the sport of falconry, which includes hunting small game with a raptor such as a falcon, hawk or owl. The license allows a person to obtain, buy, sell, barter, possess and train raptors for falconry purposes.
Falconry is a sport that demands dedication, time and money. A person thinking about becoming a falconer must understand that they are responsible for meeting the day-to-day needs of the raptor, including food, housing, exercise, equipment, and veterinary care.
The sport of falconry has a rich history
throughout the world that involves a
dedicated and knowledgeable falconer,
and a healthy well-trained raptor
working together as a hunting team.
Pictured above is an American kestrel,
a perfect bird for an apprentice falconer
~Photo courtesy of USFWS
Levels of Falconry Licenses
- Apprentice - must serve two years under the guidance of a sponsor (General or Master falconer). An Apprentice falconer can only possess either a red-tailed hawk or an American kestrel.
- General - must have at least two years experience as an Apprentice falconer and provide recommendation for advancement from their sponsor and at least one other General or Master falconer. A General falconer may possess other raptor species in addition to red-tailed hawks and American kestrels, and may possess up to two raptors.
- Master - must have at least five years experience as a General Falconer and provide recommendation for advancement from three Master falconers and be approved for advancement by the New York State Falconry Advisory Board. A Master falconer may possess up to three raptors for falconry.
Cost - $40 for all license levels (Apprentice, General, Master).
License Expiration - The license is valid for 5 years. It expires on December 31 every fifth year after the data of issuance. More details on the license renewal process for currently licensed falconers is available below.
Falconry Exam and Apprentice License
You must be at least 14 years old to receive the Apprentice falconry license; however, you may take the examination if you are under 14 years old.
The first step to obtaining a Falconry license is to take the DEC falconry license exam and receive a grade of 80% or higher. The 100-question examination tests the applicant's knowledge of falconry laws and regulations, falconry techniques, handling methods and related matters.
- Cost - $0
- When and Where - Exams are given annually in April and August at DEC regional offices statewide. The exam date and registration deadline are announced on this page at least one month prior to the exam.
- Register for the Exam - Complete the Examination Registration Form (PDF) (155 KB) to receive study materials and register for the next exam.
DEC will mail a study packet that includes the NYS Falconry Guide and Examination Study Manual to registrants. It is important to register at least six weeks in advance to allow enough time to receive and study all material. The study packet information covers an array of falconry related topics from species of raptors, training techniques, equipment, healthcare, federal and state falconry regulations, falcon housing, suggested reading and more.
- Re-taking the exam - if you do not pass, you may re-take the exam by contacting the Special Licenses Unit and ask to be added to the list for the next exam.
Apprentice License Application
Applicants who receive a passing grade on the exam will be sent the following documents and forms:
- License Application Form
- Sponsor Evaluation Form. Your sponsor must be a currently licensed NYS General or Master Falconer
- Falconry Housing Facility and Equipment (Mews) Inspection Form.
Submit these forms along with the $40 license fee and a copy of a valid New York State sporting license authorizing the hunting of small game to DEC's Special Licenses Unit.
Federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Falconry Permit
After receiving a New York State Falconry License, applicants will also need to apply for and receive a federal falconry permit. The application and instructions may be downloaded from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at: http://forms.fws.gov/3-200-11.pdf
Current Licensed Falconers
Capturing a Raptor
When attempting to trap a wild raptor for falconry purposes an individual must have their New York State Falconry License and USFWS (Federal) Falconry Permit. Falconers must follow the limits specified on their individual licenses for the species, age and quantity of raptors that can be captured.
Raptors may only be taken from the wild during the following authorized seasons:
- Eyas (nestling): May 1 - July 15 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.
- Passage (first year raptors): September 1 - January 25.
All licensees must submit an Annual Report (PDF) (22 KB) to the Department by December 31 each year.
Licenses expire on December 31, every 5th year after the license was issued. DEC's Special Licenses Unit will mail renewal forms to licensees four weeks prior to license expiration (If you do not receive a renewal form, please call 518-402-8985 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Send your renewal form, license fee and a copy of a valid New York State sporting license for small game hunting to DEC's Special Licenses Unit.
Falconry Laws and Regulation
New York Codes Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR)
- Part 173: Falconry
(Note: Regulatory revisions for Part 173 were adopted on June 17, 2013. Not all revisions are in effect at this time as appropriate approval from US Fish and Wildlife Service will not occur until January 2014. Changes that are currently in effect are noted on this web page. This includes an increase in the license term and fee (was $20 for a two year licenses and is now $40 for a five year license), and eliminating the requirement to complete and submit a "raptor capture authorization form" prior to trapping a raptor from the wild).
- Part 175: Special Licenses and Permits - Definitions and Uniform Procedures
New York Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)
The following links leave DEC's website
Contact the Special Licenses Unit by e-mail or by phone at (518) 402-8985 with any questions about this license.
Other Helpful Links and Resources
Links to other related topics and outside resources that may be helpful to falconers are below:
- DEC Falconry Regulations for Hunting Game Birds - summary of special rules that apply when taking migratory game birds (ducks, geese, brant, coot, rails, gallinules, woodcock, snipe and crows) with a trained raptor
- NYS Falconry Association (External Link) - statewide association for prospective and current falconers. The Falconry License examination is usually held at the NYS Falconry Association field meet each November. To take the exam during the field meet, please contact DEC's Special Licenses Unit.