Part 173: Falconry
(Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law, §§ 3-0301, 11-1007)
- 173.1 Definitions
- 173.2 Falconry license
- 173.3 Acquisition of raptors
- 173.4 Possession of raptors
- 173.5 Hunting with raptors
- 173.6 Care of raptors
- 173.7 Disposition of raptors
- 173.8 Marking of raptors
- 173.9 Abatement
- 173.10 Exception
As used in this Part, the following terms shall mean:
"Abatement" means the use of trained raptors to scare, herd, flush, haze and pursue (and in some cases to take) depredating migratory birds or other wildlife where allowed, to mitigate depredation problems, including threats to human health or safety.
"Capture" means the act of taking or attempting to take a raptor alive from the wild.
"Conservation education" means display of legally held raptors in educational programs presented in public venues which provide information about the biology, ecological roles, and conservation needs of raptors and other migratory birds.
"Department" means the Department of Environmental Conservation.
"Environmental Conservation Law" means Chapter 43-B of the Consolidated Laws of New York.
"Falconer" means a person who possesses a valid Apprentice, General or Master Falconry license.
"Falconry" means the sport of hunting by the use of trained raptors, and includes the training, feeding, and handling of such birds and their recapture after being released for hunting or training. Falconry does not include the propagation of raptors.
"First year passage bird" means a raptor less than one year old which is neither a nestling nor in adult plumage.
"Hacking" (hack) means the temporary release of a raptor held for falconry to the wild so that it may adjust to the wild at an appropriate time of year and appropriate location. Hacking may be used to prepare the raptor to become an independent hunter for either release to the wild or recapture for further training for use in falconry.
"Hybrid" means offspring of birds listed as two or more distinct species.
"Imping" means repair of feathers on live birds by replacing a damaged feather with a molted feather.
"Nestling" means a young raptor which is still in the nest and is not yet capable of flying.
"Native" means any species which spends some portion of its life cycle within New York State, has occurred in New York State on a regular basis for many years, and was not the result of intentional or accidental introduction.
"Raptors" means all species and hybrids defined in section 11-1001 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law.
"Sponsor" means a person who possesses a valid General or Master Falconry license and who agrees with the department, in writing, to be responsible for individually instructing and training an Apprentice falconer under his/her direct supervision in the fundamentals of falconry. A sponsor must work directly with his or her Apprentice to determine if the Apprentice is eligible to advance to the General license or if the Apprentice license should be terminated by the department upon expiration. A sponsor must provide written recommendations concerning his or her Apprentice to the department upon request.
§173.2 Falconry license
(a) A New York State resident must possess a valid Apprentice, General or Master Falconry license issued pursuant to this part, to obtain, buy, sell, barter, possess and train raptors for falconry or to engage in falconry.
(b) A nonresident of New York State may engage in falconry in New York State without a New York State Falconry license provided he or she meets all the following requirements:
(1) possesses a valid New York State nonresident license authorizing the hunting of small game;
(2) possesses written proof that he or she is legally authorized to engage in falconry in the State or province where he or she resides;
(3) possesses written proof that he or she legally possesses the raptor(s) to be used for falconry in New York State.
(c) Application for, or renewal of, a falconry license must be made on forms provided by the department. All falconry licenses shall expire on December 31 every fifth year following issuance. The fee for a falconry license is forty dollars.
(d) A person must meet all of the following requirements to be issued a falconry license:
(1) receive a score of eighty percent or higher on a written examination administered by the department to test the applicant's knowledge of falconry and related matters; and
(2) possess equipment and facilities for housing raptors that meet or exceed the standards for care of raptors listed in section 173.6 of this Part; and
(3) possess a valid New York State hunting license authorizing the hunting of small game.
(e) The department issues three types of falconry licenses:
(1) Apprentice Falconry license. Apprentice falconers must:
(i) be at least 14 years old; and
(ii) if under 18 years of age, have a parent or legal guardian sign their application; and
(iii) have a sponsor who is a licensed General or Master falconer in New York who has at least two years of experience in the practice of falconry as a licensed General falconer; and
(iv) be under the direct supervision of his or her sponsor on at least the first two occasions when the Apprentice hunts with a raptor; and
(v) comply with requests by his or her sponsor to ensure adequate training and to provide for the care of the raptors.
(2) Apprentice falconers may not:
(i) possess more than one raptor and may not obtain more than one raptor for replacement during any calendar year; or
(ii) capture or possess nestling raptors.
(3) Apprentice falconers may:
(i) only possess an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) or a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) taken from the wild; and
(ii) capture raptors listed in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph only under the direct supervision of their sponsor.
(4) General Falconry license. General falconers must:
(i) be at least 18 years old; and
(ii) have practiced falconry with wild raptor(s) at the Apprentice falconer level or the equivalent for at least two years including maintaining, training, flying and hunting the raptor(s) for at least 4 months in each year; and
(iii) provide a written summary to the department documenting their experience maintaining falconry raptors including a summary of what species they held as an Apprentice falconer and how long each bird was possessed; and
(iv) provide written recommendation for advancement to the General Falconry license by his or her sponsor and at least one other New York State General or Master falconer who has evaluated the Apprentice in the field to ascertain the candidate's level of proficiency in the sport of falconry and the skill and ability in the care of raptors commensurate with the activities and responsibilities of a General falconer.
(5) General falconers may not:
(i) possess more than three raptors and may not obtain or take more than two replacement raptors during any calendar year; or
(ii) sponsor more than three Apprentice falconers at any one time; or
(iii) sponsor an Apprentice falconer unless the General falconer has at least two years of experience in the practice of falconry as a licensed General falconer.
(6) Master Falconry license. Master falconers must:
(i) have at least five years of experience in the practice of falconry as a licensed General falconer or the equivalent; and
(ii) have possessed a raptor for at least 3 years of the time specified in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph; and
(iii) provide written recommendations for advancement to the Master license from three Master falconers who have evaluated the General falconer in the field to ascertain the candidate's level of proficiency in the sport of falconry and the skill and ability in the care of raptors commensurate with the activities and responsibilities of a Master falconer; and
(iv) be approved, in writing, for advancement to the Master license by the Falconry Advisory Board.
(7) Master falconers may not:
(i) possess more than thirteen raptors at any one time during the calendar year not to exceed more than five raptors taken from the wild; or
(ii) possess more than three of the following species: white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) or Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) at any one time during the calendar year, however, you may possess a white-tailed eagle or Steller's sea eagle only if you meet the qualifications set forth under paragraph 9 of this section. A white-tailed eagle or Steller's sea-eagle will count as one of the raptors you are allowed to possess; or
(iii) take more than two raptors from the wild as replacements during a calendar year; or
(iv) sponsor more than three Apprentice falconers at any one time.
(8) Master falconers may obtain any number of captive bred raptors as replacements during the calendar year., however, the falconer must train them in the pursuit of wild game and use them in hunting.
(9) Master falconers may possess white-tailed eagles or Steller's sea eagles provided he or she:
(i) submits a written account of their experience to the department in handling large raptors, including information about the species they have handled and the type and duration of the activity in which they gained the experience; and
(ii) submits two letters of reference from individuals with experience handling or flying large raptors such as eagles, ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), or great horned owls (Bubo virginianus); and
(iii) receives approval, in writing, from the Falconry Advisory Board following review and approval of the documentation required in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) above.
(f) The department may add conditions to any falconry license to effect the purposes of Title 10 of Article 11 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
(g) The department may seize and place raptor(s) held pursuant to a falconry license if the falconer:
(1) fails to provide proper care for the raptors in his or her possession that jeopardizes the health or welfare of the bird; or
(2) allows raptor(s) in his or her possession to become a public nuisance; or
(3) no longer possesses a valid falconry license; or
(4) fails to comply with the terms or conditions of the falconry license; or
(5) fails to comply with the license renewal procedures provided in subdivision (c) of this section; or
(6) takes, acquires or possesses raptors exceeding the limits of their license class provided in subdivision (e) of this section.
(h) The department may deny or refuse to renew a falconry license to any individual who within the three years prior to application for a falconry license or renewal of a falconry license has been convicted of or settled by civil compromise any violation of any provision of the Environmental Conservation Law or regulation of the department.
(i) All falconers must submit an annual falconry report to the department by December 31 of each year, on forms provided by the department. This report must state, for the preceding year, the band number(s) of the species (if applicable), species, sex, age and the dates of acquisition, where or from whom these raptors were acquired, and any other information requested on the forms.
(j) A falconer whose license has lapsed for fewer than 5 years may have their license reinstated at the level it was previously held provided the falconer can provide proof of certification at that level.
(k) A falconer whose license has lapsed for 5 years or longer may have their license reinstated at the level it was previously held provided the falconer completes the steps outlined in subdivision (d) of this section.
§173.3 Acquisition of raptors
(a) Raptors which have been captured from the wild may not be bought, sold, bartered or offered for sale or barter under a falconry license.
(b) Captive bred progeny of lawfully acquired raptors may be bought, sold, bartered, and offered for sale or barter under a falconry license.
(c) A falconer may obtain a raptor from a person outside New York State by any method which is legal where that person resides.
(d) Raptors may not be captured from the wild by any method that is injurious to the bird.
(e) Nestling raptors may only be captured from May 1 through July 31 inclusive, except that nestling great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) may be captured from February 1 through July 31 Inclusive.
(f) A falconer may capture only one nestling raptor from any one nest. A nestling may not be captured from its nest unless there is at least one other nestling remaining in the nest.
(g) A falconer who captures a nestling raptor must, at the time of capture, install metal flashing at the base of the tree in which the nest is located. Such flashing must be at least two feet wide, must be wrapped completely around the tree, must be at least four feet from the ground, and must be painted to match the color of the tree trunk. The flashing must be removed after the remaining nestlings have left the nest.
(h) First year passage birds may only be captured from September 1 through January 31 inclusive.
(i) A falconer who captures a raptor in adult plumage must immediately release that raptor at the site of capture.
(j) A falconer must immediately release a raptor that is caught unintentionally or which the falconer is not authorized to possess.
(k) A falconer must have his or her valid falconry license on their person when capturing raptors.
(l) A falconer must obtain permission from a landowner before he or she captures a raptor on private land. Permission must be obtained from the administering agency before capturing a raptor on public land.
(m) A falconer, who will be receiving a wild caught raptor, who is present at the capture site where the raptor is taken from the wild is considered the person who removes the bird from the wild even if another individual captures the bird. The falconer receiving the bird from the person who captured the bird is responsible for reporting the take of the bird as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part and the bird will count as one of the raptors the falconer receiving the bird is allowed to capture in that year.
(n) A falconer, who will be receiving a wild caught raptor, who is not at the capture site where a raptor is taken from the wild is not considered the person who removes the bird from the wild. The person who captures the bird from the wild must be a General or Master falconer and is responsible for reporting the take of the bird as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part. The bird will count as one of the raptors the person who captured the bird from the wild is allowed to take in that year. If the falconer who took the raptor from the wild later transfers the bird to another falconer; both must report the transaction as outlined in section 173.7 of this Part.
(o) A falconer who has a long term or permanent physical impairment that prevents him or her from attending the capture of a raptor from the wild may have another licensed General or Master falconer capture the bird for them. The falconer who is unable to attend the capture is responsible for reporting the take of the bird as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part and the bird will count as one of the birds he or she is allowed to take from the wild that year.
(p) A falconer who captures a raptor that is injured due to falconer trapping efforts may either:
(1) place the bird on their falconry permit then he or she must report the take as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part and the bird will count as one of the raptors the falconer is allowed to take in that year; or
(2) directly transfer the bird to a veterinarian or licensed wildlife rehabilitator and the bird will not count against the falconer's allowed take or the number of raptors the falconer may possess.
In either case, the falconer is responsible for the costs of care and rehabilitation of the bird.
(q) The department may authorize the donation of a raptor to a falconer.
(r) A General or Master falconer may obtain a first year raptor of a species that he or she is authorized to possess directly from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A raptor acquired from a rehabilitator will count as one of the birds the falconer is allowed to take from the wild that year.
§173.4 Possession of raptors
The department may prohibit the possession of certain raptors for falconry when such possession would present a threat to the species or to the sport of falconry.
§173.5 Hunting with raptors
(a) Any person who hunts with a raptor must possess a valid falconry license and a valid license authorizing the hunting of small game. These licenses must be carried by the falconer when hunting.
(b) A falconer hunting with a raptor must comply with all the provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law and regulations governing the hunting of small game.
(1) A falconer whose raptor kills wildlife that is out of season or of the wrong species or sex shall leave the dead wildlife where it lies, except that the raptor may feed upon the wildlife prior to leaving the site of the kill.
(c) A falconer may hunt domestic gamebirds with raptors on a shooting preserve licensed pursuant to Section 11-1903 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
(d) A falconer hunting with raptors on a shooting preserve must comply with all applicable provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law relating to the hunting of small game and the hunting of domestic game birds pursuant to Section 11-1903 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
(e) All hybrid raptors must have at least two radio transmitters attached to them when free flown.
§173.6 Care of raptors
(a) Each falconer must provide care for raptors in his or her possession. Such care must include at a minimum all of the following.
(1) Indoor facilities (mews) will include:
(i) inside dimensions not less than eight (8) feet in each direction. In no case shall small wire bird cages sold in pet stores for smaller birds be used to house raptors;
(ii) interior surfaces containing no beams, ledges, or other protrusions on which the raptors might injure themselves, unless raptors are to be maintained tethered;
(iii) at least one window, with vertical bars or rods on the inside, spaced narrower than the width of the bird's body, on the south or east portion of the mews, of sufficient size to pass sunlight and ventilation sufficient to maintain the raptors in good health. The outside of the windows should be covered with a screen or 1/4" or 1/2" hardware cloth (wire) to prevent entrance of rats or weasels;
(iv) at least one door to permit easy access and cleaning of facilities. If such door opens directly to the out-of-doors, it shall have a shield or another door on the inside to prevent escape of the raptor, and shall be key-locked and have a spring or hook on the inside to keep it closed;
(v) floor surface which shall permit easy cleaning and shall be well drained;
(vi) a perch, of such size, strength, and construction as to permit the raptors to grip and hold it with their talons safely and in a manner in keeping with the birds' perching habits in the wild; and
(vii) a pan of clean water for each raptor.
(2) Outdoor facilities will include:
(i) sufficient space to allow tethered raptors to bate (attempt flight) without striking wings on the sides or top of the facility; and
(ii) sides and top of facility enclosed with material suitable to exclude predators.
(3) Environmental protection will include:
(i) maintenance of facility temperature within healthful range;
(ii) shielding from high wind and winter storms;
(iii) protection from avian and ground predators; and
(iv) prevention of disturbances which would likely cause injury.
(4) Equipment will include:
(i) a pair of Aylmeri (style) jesses (or similar type). An Aylmeri jess consists of an anklet, grommet, and a removable strap for attaching the anklet and grommet to the swivel;
(ii) a swivel which is strong enough that the raptor cannot break it, but not so large as to weigh the bird down or injure it;
(iii) a leash of quality leather or synthetic material;
(iv) a bath container, two (2) to six (6) inches deep and wider than the length of the raptor, for drinking and bathing, for each raptor;
(v) an outdoor perch, for each raptor, of such size, strength, and construction as to permit the raptor to grip and hold it with its talons safely and in a manner in keeping with the birds perching habits in the wild; and
(vi) a reliable weighting scale or balance graduated in increments of not more than one half (1/2) ounce (15 grams).
(5) Care will include:
(i) provision at all times of conditions sufficient for maximum health, comfort, safety, and security of the raptor;
(ii) removal of waste and other debris as well as soiled floor covering material as necessary to comply with subparagraph (i) of this paragraph; and
(iii) maintenance of the raptor facilities and equipment in a state of complete repair at all times.
(b) A falconer may designate in writing another person to care for the falconer's raptor(s) in the event that the falconer is absent or in an emergency. If the period of care will exceed 30 days, the falconer must notify and obtain the department's prior approval and inform the department in writing of where the bird is to be held, who is to care for it, and approximately how many days it is to be in the care of the second person.
(c) A falconer may house their raptor(s) on property owned by another where the falconer resides, or at a different location.
(1) Regardless of location, the facilities must meet the standards of this section.
(2) The falconer must submit a signed and dated statement showing that the falconer or the property owner agrees that the falconry facilities, equipment, and raptors may be inspected without advance notice by the department at any reasonable time of day. Inspections must be in the presence of the licensee.
§173.7 Disposition of raptors
(a) A falconer who takes, acquires, transfers, rebands, or microchips a raptor; has a raptor stolen; permanently releases a raptor to the wild; loses a raptor to the wild and does not recover the bird within 30 days; or if a bird they possess dies; must enter the required information within ten (10) days in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) electronic database at http://permits.fws.gov/186A or submit a paper federal form 3-186A to the department.
(b) A falconer must notify the USFWS and the department within 10 days of the theft of any raptor.
(c) A falconer must keep copies of all electronic database submissions documenting take, transfer, loss, release, rebanding or microchipping of each falconry raptor until five years after the transfer, loss or death of the raptor.
(d) A falconer may sell, purchase or barter, or offer to sell, purchase or barter captive bred raptors marked with seamless bands to other individuals who are licensed to possess the birds.
(e) A falconer may not sell, purchase, trade, or barter, or offer to sell, purchase, trade, or barter wild raptors. Wild raptors may only be transferred to individuals who are licensed to possess the birds.
(f) A falconer may transfer a wild caught raptor to a propagation license only after the bird has been used in falconry for at least 2 years (only one year for sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus), Cooper's hawk (A. cooperii), merlin (Falco columbarius) or American kestrel (F. sparverius)). The falconer must report the transfer of the bird as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part and provide a copy of the 3-186A form documenting acquisition of the bird by the propagator to the federal migratory bird permit office that administers the propagation permit.
(g) A falconer may transfer a wild caught raptor to an individual licensed to possess the raptor in less than two years if the bird has been injured and a veterinarian has determined that the bird can no longer be flown for falconry. When transferring the bird, the falconer must provide a written statement from the veterinarian attesting to the nature of the injury and that the bird is not useable in falconry along with a copy of the 3-186A form documenting acquisition of the bird to the federal migratory bird permits office that administers the other permit.
(h) A falconer may use a raptor held under a falconry license for captive propagation purposes without transferring the bird from their falconry license provided:
(1) the falconer has a USFWS license authorizing the propagation of the raptor and;
(2) the bird is used for fewer than 8 months in a year and fewer than 8 consecutive months in captive propagation.
(i) All raptors permanently transferred to a propagation license must be banded with a permanent, non-reusable, numbered band issued by the USFWS.
(j) A General or Master falconer may use raptors held under their falconry license for conservation education and falconry education programs without transferring the bird(s) to an education license provided:
(1) the bird(s) are used primarily for falconry;
(2) the programs address falconry and conservation education;
(3) the programs are not conducted for profit, however, a falconer may charge a fee for presentation of a conservation education program provided that the fee does not exceed the amount required to recoup the cost of presenting the program.
(k) An Apprentice falconer may present conservation education programs using the raptor held under their falconry license only under the direct supervision of a General or Master falconer.
(l) A General or Master falconer may assist a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to condition and/or evaluate raptors in preparation for release to the wild. The falconer may keep the bird they are helping to rehabilitate at the falconer's facilities provided:
(1) the rehabilitator provides the falconer with a written letter that identifies the bird and explains that the falconer is assisting in its rehabilitation;
(2) the falconer returns any such bird that cannot be permanently released to the rehabilitator;
(3) the falconer, upon coordination with the rehabilitator, releases the bird to the wild or returns it to the rehabilitator.
(m) A General or Master falconer who is assisting a rehabilitator to condition raptors does not have to add the bird to their falconry license; the bird will remain under the permit of the rehabilitator.
(n) A falconer may not permanently release a raptor to the wild that is not native to New York State or is a hybrid of any kind.
(o) A General or Master falconer may permanently release a raptor to the wild that is native to New York State and is captive bred provided:
(1) the falconer receives written permission from the department;
(2) the raptor must be hacked to the wild;
(3) the raptor is not hacked near a nesting area of a State or Federally listed threatened or endangered bird species or in any other location where the raptor is likely to harm a State or Federally listed threatened or endangered animal species that might be disturbed or taken by a falconry raptor being hacked;
(4) a raptor being hacked to the wild will count against the number of raptors the falconer may possess.
(p) A falconer must remove a raptor's falconry leg band (if present) prior to permanently releasing a raptor to the wild. The falconer must report release of the bird as outlined in subdivision 173.7(a) of this Part.
(q) Feathers that are molted, or feathers from birds held in captivity that die, may not be retained or exchanged except for imping purposes as long as the falconer holds a valid license.
§173.8 Marking of raptors
(a) All raptors bred in captivity must be banded with a seamless metal band or have an implanted International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliant (134.2 kHz) microchip.
(b) If a band must be removed from a captive bred raptor or if the band is lost, the falconer must, within ten days from the day he or she removes the seamless band or note the loss of the band, report it and either request a replacement USFWS non-reusable leg band from the department to replace the lost or removed band, or implant an ISO compliant (134.2 kHz) microchip in the bird.
(c) Any peregrine falcon (Falcon peregrinus), gyrfalcon (F. rusticolus), goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) or Harris' hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), except a captive bred raptor lawfully marked by a numbered, seamless band, must be banded with a permanent, non-reusable, numbered USFWS leg band or have an implanted ISO compliant (134.2 kHz) microchip.
(d) If a band must be removed from a wild raptor, the falconer must, within five days from the day the band is removed or loss is noted, report it and either request a replacement USFWS non-reusable leg band from the department to replace the lost or removed band, or implant an ISO compliant (134.2 kHz) microchip in the bird.
(e) Upon rebanding or microchipping a raptor the falconer must immediately enter the required information in the USFWS electronic database at http://permits.fws.gov/186A or submit a paper Federal form 3-186A to the department.
(a) A Master falconer may use raptors held under the authority of his/her falconry license for abatement activities provide:
(1) the falconer possesses a valid USFWS permit authorizing the use of raptors for abatement activities;
(2) the species of raptor(s) to be used for abatement activities are authorized under the falconer's USFWS permit;
(3) the falconer submits a copy of their USFWS permit authorizing the use of raptors for abatement activities to the department prior to conducting abatement activities;
(4) the falconer maintains accurate records of abatement operations on a calendar-year basis.
(b) Only captive-bred raptors banded with a seamless, numbered band issued by the USFWS may be used for abatement activities.
(c) Wild caught raptors may not be used for abatement activities.
(d) Raptors flown for abatement activities shall not be used to scare, herd, flush or haze species listed as endangered or threatened unless such scaring, herding, flushing or hazing is authorized under a separate license issued by the department.
(d) Migratory birds may not be killed, captured or injured during the course of abatement activities unless such killing, capturing or injuring is authorized by a USFWS Migratory Bird Depredation permit in which the falconer is identified as a subpermittee or under a Federal Depredation Order.
The provisions of this Part do not apply to a person who is licensed to possess a raptor for scientific, exhibition or propagation purposes issued pursuant to Section 11-0515 of the Environmental Conservation Law.