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Falconry, leashed tracking dog, wildlife rehabilitator exams slated for April: exams slated for April 10; exam applications due March 27.

Examinations for three unique types of licenses are being offered by the Department of Environmental Conservation on April 10.

Outdoorsmen seeking an Apprentice Falconry license, a Wildlife Rehabilitator license, or a Leashed Tracking Dog Handler license can take the exam from 10 a.m. to noon on April 11 at the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regional office at 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo. The deadline for registering to take any of these exams is March 27. Exam registration forms can be found at There is no charge to take any of the written exams.

Falconry is the art of hunting with a trained bird of prey. It is a rural tradition known throughout the old worlds of Asia and Europe. A popular medieval sport of the noble classes, falconry may date back to a time when men hunted strictly for food.

Not only are falcons employed, but eagles, buzzards, hawks, osprey and other birds of prey. Owls also have been trained.

In New York only the Red-tailed Hawk and the American Kestrel are permitted for the apprentice because of their relative abundance.

Once a falconer gets his general license he may switch to larger falcons.

The falconer's traditional bird is the Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon.

Today, falconers hunt, with their trained birds of prey, rooks, crows, magpies, grouse, fox, rabbit, hare and other small mammals.

The Golden Eagle has been used in the past to hunt fox, deer and wolves, with the hunter on horseback.

In fields, on the edge of forests, falcons are trained to climb and circle above the falconer and his dog. When the falcon is airborne in the commanding position, the hunter or his dog flushes out the quarry. The quarry flees into the open; the falcon swoops down and seizes it in her talons, kills it, then brings it to the falconer.

Since the birds are lost on occasion, they wear radio transmitters or bells on their backs or legs. Young birds are preferred. But falcons live into their mid-teens. Larger hawks and eagles live longer. Among birds of prey, females are one-third larger than males, and falconers traditionally employ hens rather than tiercels in their sport.

An apprentice, who works with an experienced falconer for two years, is required to capture his first bird in the wild. After a successful capture, the bird is trained by the apprentice to come to the lure, typically a dead bird on a string, used as simulated quarry. In the beginning, the captured bird is tethered to a long line until it is accustomed to returning to the falconer. Once the bird has developed flying and returning skills, she is exposed to people and hunting dogs.

Apprentices are limited to one bird. The cost of a five-year falconry license is $40.

Also being offered by the DEC is the Wildlife Rehabilitators license, required for those who wish to volunteer for caring for injured, sick and orphaned wild animals, with the goal of preparing them for a return to the wild. Licensure demands technical skill and a commitment in time, money, and effort.

A license for Leashed Tracking Dog Handlers is for those who wish to use dogs to aid hunters to track and recover dead, wounded, or injured big game. Training a dog includes working a scent line and training by night and day to be able to find a wounded or dead white-tailed deer or American black bear.

To apply for any of these exams, visit the NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit website at and fill out an exam registration form. You can mail, fax or email the completed form to: NYS DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752 Phone: 518-402-8985, Fax: 518-402-8925, Email:

Caption: The birds of prey are helpful hunters. This month the NYDEC is offering exams in falconry licensure.


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Publication:The Niagara Falls Reporter (Niagara Falls, NY)
Date:Mar 31, 2015
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