Middletown, Connecticut

Monday, March 17, 2008

Falconry in Connecticut....

DENNIS SANTANGELO, a sophomore in Middletown's Vocational Agriculture Center, examines the bone structure of a 3-year-old hawk held by falconer John White of Southbury.White and Jon D'Arpino, of West Hartford, holding his year-old hawk,gave a program on falconry to sophomores at the center. (BOB MACDONNEL Photo)

A little known aspect of hunting is the ancient practice and art of falconry which, yes, is legal in Connecticut as in most states. A recent Hartford Courant article reported on a visit to the Middletown Vocational Agriculture Centerby 2 of 16 Connecticut licensed falconers.
MIDDLETOWN — - Jon D'Arpino and John White tend to their red-tailed hawks as lovingly as a pet owner looks after the family dog. They provide the birds with de-worming tablets, vitamin powder and a special spray to get rid of feather lice. When the raptors are unable to hunt for their own wild prey, they feed them a diet of thawed quail and day-old chicks, ordered frozen on the Internet. And when their tail feathers break, they patch them with small pieces of wood. As two of only 16 licensed falconers in the state, D'Arpino and White are members of a very small circle. Falconry, the use of wild raptors to hunt, was legalized by the legislature in 1998; it took another seven years for the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve regulations governing the sport.

Falconry is closely regulated by the state and federal governments. In Connecticut there are 3 levels of practitioners: Apprentice Class Falconer, General Class Falconer, and Master Class Falconers. Some quotes from the CT DEP on the subject follow:

Allowable Raptor Species to be used for Falconry in Connecticut
NOTE: No raptors may be taken from the wild in Connecticut.)

  1. Red-tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Merlins or Harris's Hawks taken from the wild in another state:

  2. any captive-bred raptor species; and

  3. any species of hybrid raptors, provided that the hybrid is sterile and unable to breed with wild native raptors.

Is Falconry for You?
Falconry is the sport of hunting small game species with trained raptors. The sport of falconry has a rich history throughout the world and the basic components have changed little over time. Falconry requires a considerable amount of dedication, knowledge, skill, time, and resources. If you are interested in becoming a falconer you must be prepared to provide for the day-to-day needs of one or more raptors. These needs include feeding, housing, training, exercising, and ensuring that the bird has appropriate veterinary care.

Permitting Requirements
To participate in the sport of falconry you must obtain a Connecticut and federal falconry permit (PDF 330k 5 pages). State and federal falconry authorization must be attained prior to obtaining a falconry bird. Based upon your experience, knowledge and ability, you may apply for a federal and a state permit to practice falconry as an apprentice class, general class, or master class falconer.

More information is available at the Falcon and Raptor Educational Foundation.

The video below is a somewhat humorous look at the history of the activity from a U.K. production:


Finally, a view of a Harris' Hawk, a bird only coming into use in falconry in the last 30 years or so. The image is from the interesting web site http://www.primitiveways.com/Image3/falconry4.jpg

Tagged: ct falconers, ct falconry law, falconry, falconry in connecticut, history falconry, hunting with falcons

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