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OFA December HC Report
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Oregon Falconers Association 

by  Trent Seager, President 

October 2016

  

The Oregon Falconers Association (OFA) is a club with 55 members in a state that includes an average of 80 permittees that have held raptors and hunting licenses in the past 10 years. We are a small organization compared to the west coast states to our north and south, but we hunt hard and are dedicated to keeping our sport alive! We aim to keep falconry thriving through: (1) a focus on hunting; (2) negotiations with state fish and wildlife; (3) honoring our past through our founders and elders; and (4) recognizing our future through our apprentices. As with NAFA and many other state clubs: we endeavor to increase access to wild Peregrines!   

 

Focus on Hunting

As human populations become more urban in the US, we find our membership more likely to come from urban areas. OFA has recognized this and is working to make sure that we remember that falconry is hunting. One cannot be a falconer if s/he doesn’t hunt; the two are intrinsically linked. When queried by potential apprentices, we remain clear that you can live in the city, but you need to be dedicated to driving out of it to hunt (or be prepared to pursue pest species within it). OFA has started focusing on getting those interested in the sport to become hunters before they pursue falconry. More so, we encourage them to become proficient at hunting the game that they’ll pursue once they get a raptor, such as rabbits, quail, starlings, and squirrels. Our message to them is clear: get a hunting license; join a gun hunting group; go hunting! Once a hunter, those interested in our sport are much more likely to be accepted as an apprentice and to become a successful falconer.

 

As part of our focus on hunting, we have revamped our field meet fliers (see photos) and the meets themselves. While our events are not open to the public, and therefore not advertised on social media or our website, we work hard to reach out to Oregon falconers and those in surrounding states. Showcasing competent practitioners of falconry is the best way to take hunting into the future. We need to keep that as the core value of our sport.

 

Negotiations with State Fish & Wildlife 

We work hard here in Oregon to maintain our friendly and working relationship with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Falconry Program. We meet with our state agency at least two times a year to review paperwork, trapping regulations, falconry regulations, wild take, and other issues brought up by our membership or by the department. This year we have been working on many issues to make the great falconry program we have here in Oregon, even better.  We have: 

  

  • removed the  state  annual report form (as redundant with the 3-186A forms we already  fill out) 

  • reviewed, edited, and approved the New Apprentice Falconry Exam 

  • focused on options to make the eyas and post-fledging wild Peregrine take less arduous 

  • revisited options for new species of wild take 

  • reviewed state regulations that govern the care, breeding, and transport of captive bred and wild-taken raptors

 

We prioritize our working relationship with the state. In order to keep falconry alive and thriving in Oregon, we want to make sure the laws and regulations that are in place, reflect what our membership wants and what allows us to hunt with our raptors. We partner with larger hunting organizations (like the Oregon Hunters Association) that boast more than 10,000 members. They defend hunting rights in ways we never could. Still, we work closely with our state fish & wildlife falconry program, and we appreciate their willingness to meet with us regularly and discuss issues of concern. 

 
Honoring our Past 

OFA continues to recognize that we are standing on the shoulders of others. As we enter meetings with regulatory agencies and reflect upon the steps required to keep our sport alive, it is important to realize that falconers have been doing this for decades. We are standing on their shoulders to even exist today. Next year OFA will celebrate 40 years of activism, with over 100 years of falconry in our state. Unfortunately, we lost one of our past presidents this year. Ken Don was our OFA president from 1995-1996. We are thankful that Ken recently attended our 2014 Winter Meet where we recognized him.  

As you have read about in past  Hawk Chalks, we are working to honor our mentors, leaders, and elders who helped us  progress to where we are today. This year OFA honored  a set of long-time members who were club officers in the 80s and have kept a continued presence in our club and sport. We gave Lifetime Honorary Memberships to: 

 

1. Randy Carnahan  for his leadership and service to OFA and for his continued dedication to keeping falconry as a hunting sport, including inspiring falconers to hunt with shortwings and longwings alike.

 
 

2. Mike and  Jan Syring  for their leadership, service, and continued support of OFA. They have been members for more than 30 years. As owners of Mike’s Falconry Supplies, they have been our top donors and supporters for more than 20 years.

 

Recognizing  our Future

 

We have worked hard to recognize apprentices and their sponsors. For years we have been giving apprentices enamel pins of either an American Kestrel or Red-tailed Hawk if they brought their raptor to a meet. Recently we increased the criteria of the award to require bringing your raptorand hunting with it at a meet. We invite the apprentices to stand up and share what raptors they have been flying and what quarry they have been pursuing. Last Fall our officers gave each apprentice in attendance a copy ofFalconry and Hawking by Philip Glasier. We also publiclyacknowledge when an apprentice advances to general status, as those are some of the hardest years of falconry. If we want falconry to stay alive as a hunting sport, we need to recognize those who aresuccessful by celebrating the apprentice and the sponsor. With that, I’d like to give a shout out to Owens Hill, who has recently graduated to general status. She has served as an OFA officerfor the past two yearswhile being an apprentice, during which time she successfully hunted withmultipleRed-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels. Props to her sponsor, Patrick Rummans, too. Not to be slowed down by the unlimited options given to her as a first year general, Owens raised an eyas tiercel buteoides Goshawk (see photo). She started huntingin early October and within two weeks has already taken rabbits, ducks, and crows. Go Owens - and thanks for all your dedication to the club and to this hunting sport! 

 

Peregrine Take

 

Oregon saw thetake oftwo post-fledging tiercel Peregrines. John Goodell trapped a tiercel along the north coast in August (see photo). He was soon followed by out-of-state falconer Ed Pitcher, who trapped a tiercel on the south coast later the same month. There were 10 of us were driving around the state hoping to find post-fledging birds. Each region has different dispersal patterns and some of the eyries were empty a few weeks post-fledging.We are very happy that at least two permits were filled, and we’d like to see more. There could have been 30 of us searching and hopefully filling at least 5 of the 10 permits.

The take of wild Peregrine Falcons continues to be an important topic for many falconers and falconry organizations around the country, and so it is here in Oregon. We are following the lead of our friends to the north (Washington Falconers Association) and asking our state to give residents unlimited trapping permits for an eyas and post-fledging Peregrine while keeping the quota the same (currently at 9 per year). Washington State has done this and has yet to reach their quota of 12. In Oregon, we’ve had wild eyas and post-fledging Peregrine take since 2008. During that time, we have only averaged a take of 1 Peregrine every 2 years. That’s roughly 8 Peregrines out of 65 permits. In order to increase access, we hope that our state wildlife department will follow the lead of our neighbors to the north and allow unlimited permitting while maintaining the quota. Now, if only we could get passage Peregrine take west of the 100° meridian!

 

 

 

  

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