I cannot tell you how pleased I am to make this announcement. The International Falconry Festival is taking place in the UAE again this year, and for reasons described by Kristine Marshall below, the NAFA board was in a position to nominate several young falconers for sponsored travel to the event. All falconers worldwide are invited to attend, but only a select few from each nation will enjoy the privilege of having their travel expenses taken care of. Since NAFA is the largest falconry organization in the world, we were granted more sponsored slots than any other organization. After much deliberation by the board of Directors, and many excellent young falconers discussed and considered, we were happy to offer the opportunity to the following members; Neil Balchan of Manitoba, Noemy Trudel of Quebec, Nathan Hyland of Ontario, Danielle Brown of North Carolina, , Jack Service of Arizona, Tyler Sladen of Missouri, Rylan Stone of Colorado, and representing Mexico, Roberto Gamez Ramirez and the Martinez-Rivero brothers, Andres and Alef. Of all the tasks I’ve completed in my capacity as NAFA President, breaking the news to these young people brought me more joy than anything else. Having experienced falconry abroad during a four month trip as an 18 year old, I know first-hand what an impact this kind of experience can have on a person’s life. I couldn’t be any happier for these enthusiastic young falconers and I look forward to seeing their photos and hearing their stories when they return home after the festival.
The April Hawk Chalk is on its way. For those of you who receive hard copies of the publications, you can expect to see a bright white NAFA envelope in your mailbox in the next few days. For those who have opted to read our magazines online, you can log on to the Members Area of the website, or click HERE, and read the new issue right now! I think everyone will agree that our publications have become absolutely world class. I’ll admit to being biased, but I don’t believe there are any falconry magazines that rival what NAFA has been consistently producing since Dan Milner took over the layout and editing responsibilities.
As the season draws to a close and spring begins I find myself reflecting on my experiences and thanking falconers that have gone before me. I acknowledge that every time I interact with my bird I participate in an art that originated over 4000 years ago. I follow in the footsteps of falconers who have transmitted skills, training and traditions that are much the same today as they were many thousands of years ago. I think about the future and what falconry will look like for the next generation, access to hunting areas and availability of quarry. Wildlife management and conservation are the hallmarks of falconry. Falconry is much more than “hunting” it is a way of life, a culture and my heritage. Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of falconry is the responsibility of all of us. If we want to continue practicing falconry, we must work to protect it.
I am excited to announce that this year the International Falconry Festival is December 4-9 in Abu Dhabi. The theme of this year’s festival is “Youth”. The festival will focus on the transmission of our cultural heritage and the importance of the Unesco ICH convention. This is exciting! I am pleased that the work of the NAFA ICH Committee will align us with our International brothers and sisters and bring into focus the importance of safeguarding our ICH in North America. With the goal of the governments of our 3 nations participating in the convention and inscribing falconry as an element that will be safeguarded, the ICH Committee is working diligently to demonstrate, capture and articulate our ICH. Over the next few months committee members will be conducting specific ethnographical interviews with falconers. These interviews are designed to meet Unesco criteria and to capture information on topics such as conservation, the global nature of falconry and its transmission. Watch for articles in editions of Hawk Chalk explaining the committee’s work and sharing our living heritage. If you know someone in your falconry community who would like to be interviewed (young or old) please contact Kristine Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are still basking in the glow of the news that our efforts prevailed and there will be a four-fold increase in the number of tundra peregrine permits available to falconers interested in experiencing the magic of flying a passage falcon (or tiercel). USFWS employees are currently taking the steps necessary to get those permits allocated to participating states. If you live east of the 100th meridian and your state or province does not allow harvest of peregrine falcons for use in falconry, now would be an ideal time to work with your local department to establish the legal means to do so. If you need assistance from NAFA, reach out to us and we will coach you through the process and provide supporting documents from our technical advisory team. Check with others in your state to see if the process has already begun. I’m currently assisting individuals in two states that are eager to jump in. If you live west of the 100th meridian, you’ll be happy to hear that our immediate, short-term focus has shifted to the Pacific Flyway, and to the ultimate goal of complete normalization of peregrine harvest, meaning that the permit lottery system will be abandoned, and peregrines will be treated no differently than any other commonly used raptor species. As I’ve said in the past, please have patience with this process. Yes, it is true that there is no biological need for a permit allotment system, and yes we will prevail, but it’s going to take a bit more time to reach that goal. Rest assured; we are working on it. As always, NAFA committees and volunteers are working diligently on your behalf and we will continue to make progress one step at a time.
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.
“I've been around falconry since 2012/2013 when I was stationed at Fort Hood, in the Army. Past NAFA Director, Michael Beran was my sponsor and I attended THA and NAFA meets with him and Chris Starr. Between work and personal birds I've flown a Passage merlin, passage Harris’, Red-tail, a pair of imprint kestrels, and a few chamber Harris's. While attending NAFA meets on our abatement company trips I've met so many people and learned so much. I'll always support NAFA and what it does. Through seeing the reptile industry come under fire I've learned the importance of organizations like ours and how an organization is your best friend when legal changes loom. When the President of an organization introduces himself to the judge and states his name followed with, “I represent thousands of falconers that are members of my organization” credibility and inferred clout are immense. Through falconry I've seen most of the country, and hunted in almost every state. Most of my falconry consists of squirrels or starlings, but this year I'll be raising my first goshawk and hacking it at my good friend Mike McDermott’s house. I flew my first merlin after my passage Harris was electrocuted, and attended my first merlin meet this past season. Aside from falconry I'm a photographer who no longer works for the NHL. Urban abatement and nuisance wildlife control has been a much better career path, and a path that supports my falconry.”
I already stated above that NAFA is the largest membership falconry organization in the world, and after 55 years of protecting and perpetuating the art of falconry we remain very relevant. We are proud of that. I’m happy to have all of you along for the ride. Our membership is currently significantly larger than it was at this time last year, but there is still room for growth. As you interact with fellow falconers in your state or province, consider encouraging them to join us if they haven’t already. There are innumerable reasons to support NAFA, but strength in numbers tops my personal list. With the Falconry Fund c3 organization up and running, and a new c4 organization for advocacy and legal defense in the works, one could argue that staying involved in the community on a continental level is more important now than it has ever been, particularly as society continues to change in ways that are often counter to hunting pursuits. I keep saying it, but it’s true; we are all in this together. I’m so grateful for all of our members and I thank you for your continued support.
Members of NAFA leadership are currently working on a couple of nice surprises that will help us thank our members for their continued support. I’ll leave those details for a future message. For now, please allow me to simply say “thank you.” As long-time NAFA member John Swift used to say, “NAFA is for L.I.F.E.” We work for positive LEGISLATION, share INFORMATION, promote FRIENDSHIP, and insure the survival of an ENVIRONMENT suitable for falconry.
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