Home > News > Archive > News Item
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
DEM ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN FALCONRY REGULATIONS
PROVIDENCE Ė The Department of Environmental Management has announced a change in the stateís falconry regulations that allows the capturing of additional species of migrating one-year-old raptors from the wild. The new species are sharp-shinned hawk, coopers hawk, northern goshawk, and merlin falcon. The capturing of migrating one-year-old red-tailed hawks and kestrels was already permitted under previous regulations.
Falconers, those who use raptors for hunting, can take the so-called "first year passage" birds only with special state and federal permits issued by DEMís Division of Fish and Wildlife. Authorized falconers are limited to one bird, taken between October 1 and December 31.
There are currently only three falconers in Rhode Island, according to Michael Lapisky, DEMís Deputy Chief of Wildlife. The practice of falconry takes years of raptor training. To become a falconer, a person must be an apprentice for two years, and during that time can keep only one bird in an outdoor enclosure, or mews. After two years, an apprentice can become a general falconer and can keep two birds. The next final step is a master, who can keep three birds.
The raptors are trained to hunt prey and bring it back to the falconer. Red tailed hawks and kestrels go after small game such as rabbits and other small mammals. Some hawks, such as the coopers hawk, will go after other birds. Falconers, Lapisky noted, are used in some European countries, as well as at some US Air Force bases, to keep birds away from airport runways or other places where birds cause a nuisance.
The change in the regulations adds types of raptors that federal regulations already allow, and therefore isnít expected to have much local impact, Lapisky says. DEM has only issued one permit in the past six years to a falconer to capture a first-year-passage raptor.