At its meeting Thursday in Orlando, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a final rule regarding falconry, wildlife rehabilitation and taking of wildlife on roads and rights-of-way.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Maj. Curtis Brown, who presented the proposed new rules.
Commissioners discussed the amendments, heard public comment and ultimately approved the new rules as presented by staff. These amendments relate specifically to 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 addition of merlins as a raptor species to be used by apprentice falconers.
At its September 2012 meeting in Tampa, the Commissioners approved the draft amendments and directed staff to continue to work with stakeholders concerning the addition of merlins.
“We gathered further input from stakeholders and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Brown said. “We have included language in the new rule to allow apprentice falconers to possess merlins with support and guidance from their sponsor.”
The rules being amended are 69A-9.006 and 68A-4.008, which will take effect July 1; 68A-9.005 has been amended and will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
For more information about falconry regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Rules and select “Proposed Rule Changes.”
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission