At its meeting Wednesday in Tampa, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved draft rule amendments regarding falconry, wildlife rehabilitation and taking of wildlife on roads and rights-of-way.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the FWC currently share regulatory authority for this practice, including issuing permits for falconers. However, the USFWS is now relinquishing its responsibilities to states.
“For falconry to continue to be allowed in Florida, the FWC must amend rules and regulations to meet or exceed federal standards and they must be certified by the Service,” said Maj. Curtis Brown, who presented the amendments.
This includes areas like eligibility requirements for falconers; details regarding possession of golden eagles; requirements for banding, reporting and release of birds; permitting for seasonal residents and visitors; educational display; rehabilitation; and possession of prey.
“In addition to those areas, which must comply with the federal standards, FWC staff also included some new amendments,” Brown said.
FWC staff held public workshops and worked closely with stakeholders on their needs and concerns to develop the amendments.
The topics addressed include classification of falconers; reinstatement of lapsed permits; restoration of suspended or revoked permits; the take, acquisition and transportation of raptors; housing and temporary care; feathers and carcasses of raptors; propagation; and the practice of falconry in the vicinity of threatened and endangered species.
Commissioners discussed, heard public comment and ultimately approved the draft amendments as presented by staff with the direction for staff to research and consider adding merlins for use by apprentice falconers. The complete draft amendments, which pertain to rules 68A-9.005, 69A-9.006 and 68A-4.008, can be viewed online and will be presented for final public hearing at the February 2013 Commission meeting.
For more information about falconry regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Rules and select “Proposed Rule Changes.”