Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Slow Progress

One of the first things I've had to do upon arriving in Texas is to transfer my license from Wisconsin. Falconry in America is a joint license process. The Federal Government sets regulations, which have recently been updated, and then each state decides if they will allow falconry, and then draft their own laws which must either meet or exceed the Federal regulations. My Federal license is current, and good for two more years. I've submitted my application, and money, to acquire the Texas license. Upon receipt of my request, the state coordinator with the Fish & Game must coordinate with a local warden for an inspection of facilities. That happened this last Tuesday. Now I wait the final bureaucratic steps to issue my license. In the meantime, I have started to drive around the area, familiarize myself with the terrain, and look for and analyze the hawk population. So far I've mostly just seen adults. We call them haggards. I was surprised yesterday to spot a Great Horned Owl. He was unmistakable, sitting atop the telephone pole, with his big tufts. I also was surprised today to find a dead Barn Owl, tangled in a tall fence. I checked its carcass for any leg bands. Found none. So there are two species I wasn't expecting. I'm keeping a watch on the migration at Hawk Ridge up in Minnesota. As the push from Canada in the migration flock increases, our hawks down here will most likely increase as well. Rich has coordinated with my upcoming work schedule to come visit me for a few days on October 19 - 23. If I have my license by then (hope so) and I've not trapped a hawk by then, we are going hawk trapping together. Always fun to do with someone, and easier if someone else drives the car. I'll be looking for a juvenile hawk. The picture above is one of a juvenile. We only take first-year hawks, as they are the easiest to train, but also they do not represent the breeding population, the adult population. There is about a 70% death rate of first year birds, so we as falconers make no impact upon that population. In fact, the birds we take are given a greater advantage, as we give them a safety net to learn and perfect their hunting. After all, if we don't have success in the field, we still take our bird home and feed her. Many falconers trap hawks for only one season, and release them in the spring. They go along their way, and return to the wild with no ill effects for the training we put upon them. It is progress I've made . . . getting ready for the new season. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

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