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Reporting Requirements

All acquisitions, captures, purchases, gifting, sales, transfers releases, banding, escapes, losses by death, and all other changes in status and possession of falconry birds MUST be reported to the USFWS by online filing of Form 3-186A at: https://migbirdapps.fws.gov/falconry.

Goshawk

Goshawk
Photo courtesy of Craig Flatten

 
 dot  FALCONRY LINKS
Washington Falconer's Association
The North American Falconers Association (NAFA)
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Falconry Requirements

  • Must be 12 years old or older (you may work with a falconer prior to your 12th birthday);
  • Under 18 years of age requires a signature from a parent or legal guardian;
  • A Washington State 2- year Falconry Permit;
  • Appropriate WDFW hunting licenses;
  • Appropriate raptor housing (mews).
  • At this time there is no permit application fee; however, the legislature may consider a direct fee to the Department at a later date.

Steps to becoming a falconer

  • Read this WDFW Falconry web site completely.
  • Find a licensed General or Master Falconer sponsor from the falconry community. This person is your teacher and mentor. No falconer is required to sponsor another person – it is at their discretion.
  • Become familiar with everything about falconry including and especially the new Washington laws and regulations, the art and history of falconry, caring and living with a raptor, and responsibilities of a falconer.
  • Submit the Falconry Application Form to the Falconry Manager, signed by your sponsor.
  • Submit a letter from your sponsor stating that he or she is willing to sponsor and mentor you throughout your Apprenticeship.
  • Stay in close contact with your sponsor, study falconry resources; pay particular attention to diseases and husbandry issues you will face in keeping a bird of prey in captivity. Know as much as possible concerning identification of hawks and owls, and their habits. Much can be learned from reading, but nothing replaces many hours in the field in observation of birds in the wild; references are available at your library or bookstore, from your sponsor and other falconers.
  • Build your mews (see Facility Inspection Form); proper housing is one of the most essential items of successful and humane falconry.
  • Pass the falconry written exam with 80% or more correct.
  • Pass the mews inspection - contact the Falconry Permit Coordinator when you are ready for an inspection. Inspections can only be arranged through the Permit Coordinator. A representative of the Washington Falconers Association, a local WDFW Enforcement Officer, or Wildlife Biologist (if specifically requested, and depending on their workload) will contact you to schedule an inspection of your raptor housing.
  • When a person passes all tests and inspections, they become an Apprentice Falconer.

What Your Sponsor Will Expect of You

  • Significant commitment from you in all phases of your training at all times.
  • Patience with your progress or what seems like lack of progress; slow and steady is a virtue in falconry.
  • Questions; do not expect to know everything and do not assume anything; verify everything with your sponsor or other experienced Falconer. If seeking advice from falconers other than your sponsor, the advice received should be discussed with your sponsor prior to taking action.
  • Read and re-read the references and books.
  • Constant contact and communication from you; continuous time in the field – it is your responsibility to set up meetings and communicate with your sponsor and other experienced falconers.
  • Join the Washington Falconers Association (WFA), and the North American Falconers Association (NAFA) or the American Falconry Conservancy (AFC) for resources, networking, and activities.
  • Capture a red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, or acquire another permitted bird as your first falconry bird.
  • Consider releasing your first hawk and capturing another for experience (releasing your first bird can be very difficult but very educational).
  • Don’t cover up or hide mistakes; everyone makes mistakes, usually the same ones; discuss all mistakes, questions, and concerns with your sponsor and other experienced falconers.
  • Free fly your hawk often, you are not a bird keeper and your raptor is not a “pet.”
  • Provide as many hunting opportunities for your bird as possible – they are predators and falconry is a hunting sport.

Over the two-year period of your apprenticeship, your sponsor must be convinced through observation, interaction, and conversation that you have advanced sufficiently to qualify for General Falconer status and the sport of falconry.

The Qualifying Exam

Persons applying for their first falconry permit are required to pass a written examination designed to test their knowledge of falconry laws, competency in caring for raptors, life history knowledge of birds of prey, and knowledge of falconry techniques. The written examination covers all aspects of raptor biology, care, taxonomy, medicine, falconry practices and equipment, and state and federal laws and regulations.

Applicants will be notified to contact the nearest WDFW office for an appointment to take the written examination once their application form has been approved. You may not schedule an appointment until you are directed to do so by WDFW. Completed examinations are sent to the Falconry Coordinator for grading. You must pass the examination with a score of 80% or better. You will be notified of your score and your eligibility to schedule a facility inspection after grading. If you fail the exam, you can make an appointment to re-take the test in 60 days.

The exam is 164 questions with seven categories:

  • Birds of Falconry
  • Physical Characteristics
  • Raptor Behavior
  • Equipment and Facilities
  • Training and Hunting
  • Health, Nutrition, and Maintenance
Double mews and weathering yards

Double mews and weathering yards
Photo courtesy of Cliff and Janna Kellogg

Falconry Facility Inspection

After one passes the exam, they are notified by the WDFW that they are eligible for a mews (facility) inspection. Arrangements for a facilities inspection are made by the WDFW.

Birds of prey need appropriate living facilities so you must have the space, equipment, and lifestyle to properly care for them. Your falconry facilities will be expected to pass all requirements for the safe and healthy care of the birds. Designated falconers themselves, as agreed upon by the WDFW, inspect these facilities. These individuals act as official agents of the WDFW covered by a written agreement between the Washington Falconers Association and the WDFW.

Reporting Requirements

All acquisitions, captures, purchases, gifting, sales, transfers releases, banding, escapes, losses by death, and all other changes in status and possession of falconry birds MUST be reported to the USFWS by online filing of Form 3-186A at https://migbirdapps.fws.gov/falconry.