Well, here we are at the end of another falconry season.I know that a lot of you are still hawking, or picking up the pace with raptor propagation projects,
or making plans for a new imprint or chamber-raised bird, but my season just ended and all of a sudden, I’m kind of wondering what to do with myself.To kill some time between now and spring turkey hunting, and fishing, I’m harvesting maple sap and boiling down some syrup, and managing seed stratification for various bonsai species that I’m working with.For those of us who pray at the altar of Mother Nature, both recreationally and spiritually, there’s a way to stay engaged no matter what time of year, but hawking season has always been my favorite and it’s always tough to step away from.
I’ve been really enjoying all of the great pictures and reports various field meets around the continent.There were so many successfully organized gatherings of great people and self-actualized birds and dogs over the last few months.Some of the photos from folks like Danny Pickens, Jeff Fincher, and Tyler Sladen really offered beautiful peeks at certain moments from the meets.The joint NAFA/Alabama Hawking Association meet was this past weekend and was well attended and extremely well organized.Betty Ramos, Joe Ryan, Michael Moore and their team did a stellar job of making sure that everyone who attended was happy, and there was plenty of action in the field each day.Thank you everyone for making it such a success.
There are a few upcoming spring gatherings for folks still itching to get together with fellow falconers:The California Hawking Club is hosting their spring mini-meet at Lake Ming during the first weekend of March, and if you feel like hopping on a plane, the British Falconry Fair will be taking place at the very end of April.It’s an absolutely huge event, and some of our members will be there again this year.
Mark your calendar for the 2017 Annual Field Meet.We are going back to Kearney, Nebraska!It’s not too early to begin making plans for what is bound to be another excellent meet.Nebraska is a favorite meet location for us, (my personal favorite, actually) and this will be our 7th time gathering in the Cornhusker state.The hotel will not accept early reservations.In April, registrations will begin with a reduced room rate for all NAFA members who would like to call in at that time.Until then, pencil the meet into your calendar for November 17th through 24th, and check our webpage for more details;
As you know from my last announcement, we got the great news that the first big step toward increasing access to passage peregrine falcons has been taken. A four-fold increase! I’ve not heard anything further regarding that process, but I will certainly let you all know when I do.
Also, our Eagle Committee is still putting great energy and effort into reclaiming our right, as falconers, to trap golden eagles from the wild, for their use in
falconry.I spoke to Committee Chairman, Carter Wilford this morning and he reported that his team is continually building bipartisan support from both government and non-profit invested interest groups. The list of committed supporters of our cause that they’ve been able to gather around the committee just in the last 15 months, is seriously impressive.I’m eagerly awaiting a day when we can share good news on this issue, like we just did on the peregrine issue.We may be asking for a bit of help from the membership before long, with a grassroots push to write letters and make phone calls.
As we move toward spring, and active game hawking slows or stops for most of us, I’m reminded that some of our Affiliate Clubs, comprised of groups of falconers at the state and provincial level, have undertaken an array of conservation projects and initiatives that are worth paying attention to.Our Facebook page has done a really nice job of sharing many of those efforts during recent years, resulting in other clubs getting inspired and taking up similar projects.Spring and summer are a good time to organize such efforts at the local level, and if you or your club have made plans to engage in grassroots conservationism, please share your stories and photos with us, so that we can share them with a much larger audience.There are nearly 9.700 people who follow our Facebook page, and we are proud to be able to boast about so many contributions to wildlife and habitat conservation and education.Falconers have always been such excellent stewards of nature and wildlife, and I genuinely hope that we always will be.
In Jim Posewitz’s book “Rifle in Hand,” he shows us that our hunting and wildlife heritage teeters on a precarious perch.There are those who would lead us towards a more European model of managing our wildlife and wild places - a model that treats wildlife like an artificially manipulated commodity available only to those who can financially afford to interact with it and pursue it.Thanks to the intellect of, and hard-won battles of folks like Aldo Leupold and Theodore Roosevelt, we currently enjoy a system in which wildlife belongs to all of us, and is managed as a public trust, available to everyone.Both of those men, and their contemporaries cultivated a deep understanding of wild places and wild animals, which allowed them to honor and sustain it.
By the time Roosevelt’s term in office came to a close, he had left us 230 million acres of public land, and Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier had fully adopted the same philosophy, and begun similar work.Currently, there’s a lot of talk about some of those lands being turned over to state control.As falconers, I think we can all agree to stand firmly behind the continued administration of public lands by our federal government.Private interest in our public lands will not be good for the wildlife that inhabit those places, or for folks like us, who enjoy pursuing wildlife as a part of our cultural heritage.For confirmation of that assertion, one needs only to start reading through the pages of the Federal Register Table of Contents each morning, (something I’ve been doing since joining NAFA’s leadership in the spring of 2010)Falconers stepped up and made vast contributions of effort when it was needed to bring peregrines back from the edge, or to legalize our form of hunting when the time came, and to protect it once more in the wake of Operation Falcon, and many other lesser but significant moments in time.Regional factions of us may well have to be prepared to invest similar efforts and resources to protect the lands and animals that are dear to our hearts.
Last year your Board of Directors approved distribution of complimentary associate memberships for Apprentice-class falconers. If you are sponsoring an apprentice who would benefit from this offer, have them contact a NAFA Director with proof of their permit in hand.
Finally, please remember that NAFA is always here to protect and perpetuate falconry as an intangible cultural heritage. If you believe in what we are doing, and are committed to the cause, maintain your membership with us, make a financial donation to the Falconry Fund (www.falconryfund.org), and see what you can do in your local community to educate the public about falconry and contribute to the conservation of wild places and wild animals.
Thank you all for your support, and for helping us adhere to the initiatives outlined in our mission statement and bylaws.
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