2016-2018 NEWS

Migratory Game Bird Hunting - Extended Falconry Seasons

 

Your Oklahoma Falconers' Association board members have been hard at work over the past year, championing the cause of falconry in Oklahoma.  Today, we are proud to announce that some of the blood, sweat, and tears put into these efforts are beginning to pay off!  It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has proposed that Oklahoma falconers receive extended hunting seasons for every single migratory game bird in Oklahoma!

 

Extended falconry seasons will be available beginning this fall, which will result in us being able to utilize the full 107 days of hunting allowed by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  As with the existing extended waterfowl season, there are a few variances during these extended dates compared to the normal hunting season.  Those variations, along with the extended season dates can be found in the Falconry Seasons portion of the website.

 

All the best,

-The OFA Board-

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Passage Peregrine Take - Regulation Change

 

I am please to announce that a large step has been taken, which guarantees Oklahoma falconers' ability to head out every single year, in order to trap passage peregrines in the sooner state!  Through diligent cooperation between the Oklahoma Falconers' Association and the ODWC, a regulation change has been in the works that will shore up some loose ends in our system, and bring our regulations more in line with those of the rest of the states in our country.  Going into effect in November of 2017, a wording change to the peregrine portion of our regulations will occur, stipulating that no more than 50% of the peregrine permits allocated to Oklahoma, can be filled by nonresident falconers.  So what does this mean for us?  Well for starters, I want to be very clear that this in no way limits the number of peregrine permits that Oklahoma falconers can fill.  If we are given two permits for example, then we can absolutely fill both of them.  What this does mean, is that if our friends from another state head on over to enjoy some good times trapping here in Oklahoma, unlike in years past, they no longer have the ability to fill all of the permits. From now on, no matter what, an Oklahoma falconer will have the opportunity to go out and attempt to trap a passage peregrine.  Below you will find the red lined version of the new regulations, that were submitted for public comment previously, and should go into effect during the time frame mentioned above.

 

 

Over all, it's a pretty straight forward rule change, but believe me when I say that a whole lot of time and effort was involved in making this happen.  I want to give a very big THANK YOU to all of our friends at ODWC who continue to make falconry a priority, and for all of the hard work they do on a daily basis on our behalves.  I also want to thank David Eslicker for all of the time and effort he spent spear heading this change, as well as Rob Rainey and Rob Huber, who took time out of their busy schedules, in order to attended the meeting with ODWC.

 

All the best,

-The OFA Board-

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2016-2017 EVENTS
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OFA 2016 Field Meet

Elk City, OK

 

 

 

It’s a busy time of the year for us at the shop making sure everything is in line, and all the weekly orders are filled.  Trying to get an hour or two afield a few days a week eases the stress level a bit.

This Friday went a little slower than usual.   My husband Phil, and I were headed out to our first Oklahoma Falconers Association meet in the early afternoon and as excited as we were to get on the road, getting all the loose ends tied up was taking longer than usual.   It was also our first time packing two birds, equipment, food, luggage and ourselves all together in the truck and making sure nothing got left behind.  In another life when we were into horseback field trials with our dogs, it was nothing to pack up three horses and thirty some odd dogs and head out for a weekend of fun several states away.  But we are certainly out of practice from those well regimented days, and just getting two birds ready was like packing up an entire bus load of kindergartners for a trip to the zoo!

We made it on the road and a pleasant short trip later, we were in Elk City and found our hotel.  One of the things I love about Oklahoma is how quickly the terrain can change in just a few miles, and how beautiful the area around Elk City really is.  Unloading and getting arranged took no time at all, and we headed down to the little hotel bar to join up with everyone else.

A surprisingly good little band, and a few drinks and bar food that held its own greeted us, along with a good sized crew of falconers reuniting for the first time in a while.  We are newer to the club, but it’s good to be settling in with some faces that are becoming familiar, and we even have a few stories of our own to tell.  Always full of advice, tall stories, and what are probably some outright lies, everyone was gathering and making plans for the next couple of days of activities.

One concern wasn’t the beautiful weather, but some impending strong winds that threatened to make our flying more difficult.  We wanted to make sure to get some hunting in, scout grounds for the NAFA meet, and have a great time looking at the various birds in action that members had brought along.

Daniel Murray and Chris Kimble camped at the lake nearby the hotel and it seemed like a great place to meet the next morning.  At sunrise, a large group of trucks and falconers met up and split into groups to head in various directions.  After hearing about cottontails literally running through the campsite at the lake, Phil and I decided it would be a great place to get our young Harris Hawk on his first game.  The small but beautiful lake was a perfect hunting spot and turned out to be a real gem the entire weekend.  From our vantage point at the campsite, we could see Mitch Wishon and Rob Rainey across the lake working their two young Russian Goshawks along with their dogs.   It was a cool sight to see the big white birds following along and watching the dogs below as they made their way along the shore in the dense brush.

Our own hunt, we had a couple of lucky cottontails slip with a great chase by our bird, but the movement of a hidden waterfowl caught his eye and resulted in a dip in the lake, and a wet pouting bird being extracted from the water.  That ended our hunt until he dried out, so we headed out again to join up with the rest of the hunting group.

Everyone converged again in the booming metropolis of Willow and caravanned to Sandy Sanders WMA to look for Jack Rabbits.  Some of the most beautiful and roughest, toughest country I have walked in a while.  Perfect for Jacks, but bring leather boots and chaps!  The group gamely beat through the thick brush, cactus and thorns and enjoyed not only the weather, but watching birds, dogs and the scenery.  There were only a few birds ready for flying but with everyone pitching in and beating the brush, we found quail and had a flight or two at a jack.  I was so impressed and incredibly grateful to the folks who showed up just to be there and help even if they didn’t bring a bird along.  It was a lot of work and it really showed the camaraderie that exists in the club.

The two Russian Goshawks got some great experience with large groups of humans and lots of commotion.  Our Harris got in some great flying time and the introduction to dogs.   On our way back to Elk City, we stopped and were treated to a spectacular aerial show by Daniel Murray’s Perlin falcon, Stinger, flying at doves in a cut field.  A very game and nimble bird, that was nothing but pure fun!

Walking, talking, and driving tired everyone out, but we all had young birds that needed to see game.  The little rabbit field at the camp site had gotten our attention that morning, so we wanted to head back there with our now dry bird.  Walking through Sandy Sanderson we had made the acquaintance of fellow Harris hawker, Jerel Collins, and after telling him about the little rabbit field by the pond, he wanted to see our bird fly there.  I believe we learned more about hunting rabbits and how to get it done with Jerel in that hour or so than we have since we started falconry.  We really enjoyed his company and seriously had more fun in that little walk than we have ever had.  We were able to put an amazing amount of rabbits out for the bird, with a “HO! HO! HO!” being yelled over and over again.  All three of us were excited, laughing and having a great time.  With every rabbit, the wheels in the head of our young Harris turned just a little more and it didn’t take long for him to figure out the game.  We had several very near misses and he figured out what rabbits were all about.  Even with no successful rabbit kill that evening, the experience was cemented for the bird and for us and we seriously owe Jerel our gratitude just for taking the time to show a couple of amateurs how rabbit hawking is done!  I really look forward to seeing Jerel fly his bird at NAFA.

The group converged once again that evening at what can only be described as superior Mexican fare.  We arrived late enough that we had the place basically to ourselves and proceeded to eat more than really should be humanly possible, but no one retired to the hotel that night on an empty stomach!

Sunday morning brought a beautiful sunrise and an entirely new strategy.  Miles of driving was OK, but we had a little rabbit minefield right at the campground and young birds that needed experienc.  With the entire group converging we all had what can only be described as a phenomenal morning of hard work and fun.  Daniel Murray’s Red Tail, Mitch Wishon and Rob Rainey with their beautiful Goshawks and our Harris Argo all had a run through the fields.  Rabbits ran everywhere and “HO! HO! HO!” rang out every few minutes.  By the end of the morning everyone was exhausted but happy.  We can’t thank everyone enough who worked so hard to get Argo on a rabbit.  He worked hard as well but still couldn’t get that last connection made.  Daniel’s Red Tail bagged his prize with a successful kill, and the goshawks both worked their tails off with some spectacular aerial maneuvers after fleeing rabbits.

By the time all the tired birds, dogs, and falconers packed up to head back towards home, we all agreed  on one thing.......we couldn’t wait until NAFA!!!             

 

-Phil and Gayla Salvati-

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2016/2017 OFA/KHA Friends Meet

Guymon, OK

Though the forecast indicated icy roads and crummy weather, a small group of falconers converged on the tiny town of Guymon Oklahoma in the early part of January, in order to attend the 2016/2017 Oklahoma Falconers Association Field Meet.  Those who decided to make the drive were reward with falconry conditions bordering along the lines of perfection, and experienced an incredible weekend with good friends, loads of game, and awesome flights!

There were so many memorable moments from the weekend it would be difficult to mention them all, but some of the ones that stick out the most in my mind were from Mitch's goshawk chasing quail and pheasants.  These flights went so far that the only way of seeing the later parts of the slips, were by following the chases through binoculars!  The tenacity, and the hawks willingness to stick with the birds over those distances was inspiring, and an absolute treat to watch.

Chris, Gayla, and Stephen's harris hawks pursued cotton tails and quail with endless vigor, and JerelShane, and Parker's red tails were given shots at jack rabbits over the course of the weekend.  We chased small birds with the perlin, watched some great dog work from Rob's young vizsla, and our evenings were spent laughing over food and drink, while telling stories and planning our adventures for the next day.

When it was all said and done, everyone who attended put game in the bag, and I think it is safe to say that this OFA meet ended up being one for the record books!  Of course, a get together like this is impossible without the generosity of the many landowners, who allowed us to come hunt on their properties.  On behalf of the OFA board and all of our members, I wanted to extended our biggest THANK YOU to each and every one of you, for allowing us the opportunity to have such a wonderful adventure!

All the best,

-Dan-

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ANNUAL KHC/OFA FRIENDS MEET!

MARCH 3RD - 5TH

 

 

 

 

 

If you weren't there, you missed out!  Sure...it was ridiculously windy, and we ended up hiding out behind the trucks around the camp fire most of the time, but it was still a blast!  As with most of our joint meets, game still went in the bag regardless of the conditions, and two of my favorite flights involved Monty and Chris' GyrXPeregrines, putting the hurtin on some ducks.

 

This meet though, was all about the friends!  There is absolutely no better way to close out a season, than by sitting around with great buddies laughing, telling stories, and hearing about all of the adventures they have had since the last time you saw them.  Due to the hawking conditions, that's what the majority of the meet was this year, and you know what?  I really, really enjoyed it!  Saturday afternoon especially, found the camp site loaded down with falconers of all sorts, and I as I was sitting there listening to all of the different conversations going on, I couldn't help but smile to myself, and think "This is what it's all about!"

 

This joint "Friends" meet has changed a lot over the years, since it was kicked off for the first time in the early 90s.  Though we are no longer sleeping in tee pees like the OGs did, and though the primary game focused on has changed quite a bit, there are a few things that have stood the test of time.  To me, the most important of those is the emphasis on friends and fellowship.  From the very beginning, when those cats drove up and down the Kansas/Oklahoma boarder searching for a spot midway for everyone to converge on, the whole goal was to get the gang back together.  Life happens, people spread out, and time goes by...it just is what it is.  They decided that if nothing else though, once a year they were all meeting at Cowley County Fishing Lake for a weekend of good times, and that is just what they did. Though there are a lot of traditions in the Oklahoma falconry community, this is one of my favorites.  I'll tell you one thing friends...If I have anything to say about it, this is one tradition that will never die, and I look forward to seeing you all there next year!

 

All the best,

-Dan-

OFA Workshop - Kestrel Nest Boxes

Edmond, Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the afternoon of April 15th a small group of the OFA members gathered at the secluded estate of Mitch and Jan Wishon to build several nest boxes for American Kestrels. One of the key parts of the OFA mission is conservation. To that effect it was agreed, and voted upon to appropriate a portion of club funds to purchase materials for the nest boxes. The various components of the boxes were gathered by Chris Kimble, and the project came in under budget. While burgers and hotdogs were cooking away on the grill the pattern for the boxes was hotly debated. Finally having agreed upon a design a prototype was built. The pattern used only required one 1”X12”X8’ board per nest box. Click here to see the plans

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Having been well fed the crew got to work, and quickly turned 30 boards into 30 nest boxes. The work was done in two short hours. The boxes will be donated to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for them to station as they see fit. After the work was finished the afternoon gave in to friendly banter and repartee. Hawking stories were told. Plans for future conservation projects were discussed. Plans to attend the NAFA Meet in Kearny, NE were made.

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For those not familiar with the decline of the American Kestrel, studies have shown that North American populations have declined nearly 50% overall, and up to 88% in some areas of North America.  Below is an excerpt from the American Kestrel Partnership Website.  For more information see the website    

http://kestrel.peregrinefund.org/index.php?action=intro

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American Kestrels in decline

Most residents of the Western Hemisphere have seen American Kestrels, even if we can’t pick one out in a birding book. In fact, kestrels have long been appreciated as North America’s most abundant bird of prey: they watch us from ledges as we stop into a city café, or from power lines as we stroll along country highways. They also cram a lot of attitude into about four ounces of bird. Most people familiar with kestrels cannot resist hitting the brakes for a better view when they spot one hovering in midair, waiting for a mouse to make the wrong move.

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Unfortunately, this historically common little falcon has become a rare sight in many regions of North America, where populations have been declining for numerous decades. In several areas the declines are relatively steep, such as the Bird Conservation Regisions for the Southern Rocky Mountains/Colorado Plateau, Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, and New England/Mid-Atlantic, illustrated in the graph at right and based on roadside count data from the USGS Breeding Bird Survey.

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Reasons for population declines may include land use, climate change, depredation by Cooper’s Hawks and other birds of prey, competition with European Starlings for nesting cavities, and environmental contaminants such as rodenticides, heavy metals, and brominated flame retardants (used in electronics and textiles). However, researchers do not have sufficient data to understand why these long-term, wide-spread population declines are occurring. Counts like the Breeding Bird Survey indicate there are fewer breeding kestrels, but they cannot determine where the birds are having trouble in their life cycle. Are adults not returning after winter to breed? Are they dying at high rates during breeding, migration, or over-wintering? Are they not breeding as often or failing when they do try to breed? And, critically, how are these demographic processes influenced by land use, environmental contaminants, climate trends, and competing or predatory species?

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These questions highlight the need for nestbox monitoring data, which offer demographic insights beyond head counts by giving us a glimpse into the kestrel life cycle. Although there are numerous successful nestbox programs across North America, they are largely localized and isolated from each other in a research context—making it difficult to draw reliable conclusions on a large scale. In response, the American Kestrel Partnership is coordinating an unprecedented, Western Hemispheric nestbox monitoring network and database by supporting existing nestbox programs and helping new programs fledge. Do you see kestrels where you live? Whether your local environment has growing, stable, or declining kestrel populations, we need your observations to advance kestrel demographics and conservation.

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To learn more about kestrel population trends in your state or Bird Conservation Region, please visit our webpage on population declines.

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2016

OFA PICNIC and BUSINESS MEETING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June found the Oklahoma Falconers association converging on the town of Edmond Oklahoma for another great falconry picnic and business meeting.  The weather couldn't have been better, and the turn out was fantastic!  For those that showed up bright and early, the day was kicked off with a presentation by longtime OFA member Rob Summers about drones, drone flying, and their utilization when creating high flying game hawks.  The presentation began with everyone sitting under the canopy intently listening to topics such as what makes a drone good for falconry, pros and cons of different models and types, typical training techniques, break downs of different parachute styles and the benefits of each design, along with a slew of other topics.  Many questions were asked, and in-depth answers and discussion ensued.  After the class room portion of his presentation, the drones were broken out, and some members got to try their hands at flying one for the first time.  It was apparent that everyone really enjoyed the work shop, and a big thanks goes to Rob for being so well prepared.  It was obvious to all that a lot of time and effort had gone into the presentation on his part, and I feel everyone who attended benefitted greatly from all of his hard work and preparation.

 

After the presentation concluded, it was time for grub, catching up with old friends, and making new ones.  I especially enjoyed seeing some faces that I hadn't seen in quite some time, along with a number of pre-apprentices who made the trip to learn all they could about falconry.  I like to think that my enthusiasm and passion for this sport has remained as strong as it has since the day I started on this journey, but I must admit that the excitement I could feel coming from some of these new friends was truly inspiring, and lit the fires for me anew in some ways.  I have a feeling that, combined the with excellent guidance and mentorship from current OFA members as sponsors, the future of falconry in Oklahoma is looking very bright.

 

Once everyone had finished stuffing themselves to the brim, it was time to kick back, and getting down to business.  I'm not very good at speaking in front of large groups, but I tripped my way through the business meeting the best I could, and I feel a lot of productive topics and issues were discussed.  Big thanks go out to everyone who volunteered to help out with tasks in the upcoming year.  Whether it was for planning apprentice workshops or our upcoming falconry meets, or for making new OFA gear or planning next year's picnic, it is all greatly appreciated.  OFA is it's members, and it is you all that continually makes sure this club remains great!

 

Once the business meeting ended and everyone rejoiced (since they no longer had to listen to me speak!), it was time for one of my favorite portions of the picnic.....the raffle!  As usual, our donors showed up strong again this year, and a special thanks goes out to them all.  Links to their sites can be found along the right column of the screen, and I encourage all of you to check them out, spend lots of money, and show them how much we appreciate them supporting our club.  I can't leave out all of the great Okie grown donations either, and I appreciate every member who showed up with items for the raffle as well.  We raised a good deal of money, and most of this years proceeds will go toward making sure the upcoming NAFA meet is one for the record books!

 

All good things must come to an end, and the 2016 OFA picnic wrapped up following the raffle.  As friends were slipping away though, it was nothing but a sea of smiling  faces, and one could hear conversations about epic hawking adventures being planned for the coming season, and all the good times that are ahead.

 

Thanks again to everyone who showed up, and I look forward to hitting the field with all of you all this coming season

 

All the best,

Dan Murray

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OFA Members Apprentice Workshop

Traps and Trapping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All,

I am planning an apprentice workshop for Saturday, September 3rd, that will cover various aspect of trapping raptors, with a focus on trapping red tailed hawks.  We will have lots of pictures and videos, as well as many different styles of traps to discuss.  The exact time and location are still yet to be decided, but the intent is to host it somewhere central near Oklahoma City.

 

Several other members have volunteered their time and assistance with different portions of the presentation as well, and it should be a great time with decades of experience available to be shared.  I plan to have snacks and drinks available, and I encourage anyone who would like to attend to RSVP through either e-mail,  or a phone call to me.  My contact information can be found under the members section of this website in the OFA directory.  Also, feel free to contact Dan, and he will make sure and pass the RSVP along to me.

 

Knowing the number of interested parties ahead of time will help us choose the best venue to accommodate our group.  Though we are still a month or so out, we do need to get the details nailed down pretty quickly, so please RSVP as soon as possible.

 

This event is going to be full of good friends and good times, and I encourage everyone to come.  Whether you have been practicing falconry for 30 years, or you plan on trapping your first red tail this season, this is going to be a fun get together, and will be a great chance to meet back up and see friends prior to the beginning of this years upcoming hawking season.

 

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

 

All the best,

Chris Kimble

 

 

*****UPDATE!!!*****

 

Just an update on the upcoming OFA Trapping Workshop.  Ron Lloyd has managed to secure a class room at the training grounds of Fire Station #5 in Edmond for us to use.  We will get started at 11:00 AM on September 3rd.  The address is 5300 E. Covell Rd.  Edmond, OK.  It is located on the south east corner of I-35 and East Covell Road.  Exit #143 on I-35.

 

OFA will be providing a lunch, but we ask that A-M bring desserts, and N-Z bring a side dish.  We have been getting a lot of RSVPs, but if you haven't yet and plan on attending, let us know.  We need to provide the details to the fire department before the event, so we can have the proper seating ready.

 

I wanted to remind everyone that these types of workshops are just one of the many benefits of being an OFA member, and while this is geared toward our new comers to the sport, our most seasoned members are also encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion!

 

Finally, the OFA Hats have arrived!  We will have them there and available to purchase.

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

All the best,

Chris Kimble

2017-2018 NEWS
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Falconry in the news. Oklahoma Falconers' Association's own Lauren McGough is in the spotlight again. Read one of the articles about her here.

Passage Peregrine Take Increase!

 

September 11, 2017

 

 

I am very excited to announce that the three fold increase of passage peregrine permits for falconers in the United States has been passed!  Because of this increase, falconers in Oklahoma will be allocated SIX permits to trap falcons starting this year!  Our friends in Kansas and Nebraska were also allocated permits for the very first time and will receive six each, and our friends in Texas had their permit numbers increased to a whopping thirty birds!  On behalf of the OFA board and our membership, I would like to extend our biggest THANK YOU to the North American Falconers' Association, Alastair Franke, and to all of the other dedicated individuals that worked so hard on this for us all.  You all are incredible, and we appreciate all of the blood, sweat, and tears put into making this dream a reality!

 

Here is a link to the Peregrine Portion of the ODWC Website.

 

Below is a copy of the Fish and Wildlife's notification, in case you are interested in reading it.

 

All the best friends, and good luck trapping!

 

-Dan-

  

 

 

AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior

SUMMARY:

In December 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed an environmental assessment (EA) on the take of peregrine falcons for use in falconry. In 2009 and 2010, we published notices in the Federal Registerdescribing the take limits and geographic allocation of take for first-year fall-migrant (passage) peregrine falcons consistent with the selected alternative in that EA. The overall take limits have remained constant since 2009. This notice is to inform the public that, at the request of the Atlantic, Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils, we have reviewed recent data and are revising the take limits for passage peregrine falcons beginning in the fall of 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brian A. Millsap, National Raptor Coordinator, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 505-761-4724;  brian_millsap@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to govern take of raptors and other migratory birds is derived from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703-712). In carrying out this responsibility, we have administratively divided the Nation into four Flyways: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific. Each Flyway has a Flyway Council that assists in researching and providing migratory game bird management information. The Federal regulations to carry out the MBTA are located in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The MBTA prohibits any person from, among other things, taking, possessing, purchasing, bartering, selling, or offering to purchase, barter, or sell, raptors (birds of prey) and other migratory birds listed in 50 CFR 10.13, unless the activities are allowed under Federal regulations. Take and possession of raptors for use in falconry is governed by regulations at 50 CFR 21.29. Under the provisions of the Federal falconry regulations, the Service administers a program to approve State, tribal, and territorial falconry programs. Since January 1, 2014, the 48 continental States and Alaska all have approved falconry regulatory programs, and the Service no longer issues permits for the practice of falconry.

We completed an environmental assessment (EA) on take of migrant peregrine falcons in 2008 (see 73 FR 74508, December 8, 2008). Our preferred alternative at that time allowed a take of 36 passage peregrine falcons from September 20 through October 20 from anywhere in the United States east of 100 degrees W. longitude. Allocation of the 36 passage peregrine falcons was agreed upon by the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyway Councils. Our management strategy analyzed in the preferred alternative in the 2008 EA incorporated three important safeguards to ensure against negative impacts from authorized falconry take on peregrine falcons across their range.

First, we constrained the timing and location of the falconry captures to focus the take on the northern peregrine Start Printed Page 42701falcon management population (i.e., those birds originating from natal areas north of 54 degrees N. latitude), which was known to be healthy and able to sustain take. We constrained captures in this way to minimize take from the eastern and western management populations (i.e., those originating from sites east and west, respectively, of 100 degrees W. longitude and south of 54 degrees N. latitude), which were still recovering from the negative population-level effects of pesticide contamination. We committed to evaluate whether our management strategy effectively focused take on the northern management population by collecting feathers from falconer-captured passage peregrine falcons, and analyzing deuterium levels in those feathers to estimate the latitude of origin.

Second, because we lacked credible estimates of the size of the northern passage peregrine falcon population in 2008, we consulted with the Canadian Wildlife Service and adopted an extremely conservative estimate of the number (i.e.,3,590) of passage peregrine falcons for the northern management population. We derived this estimate from the number of known breeding pairs in the Arctic.

Finally, in our EA and in subsequent Federal Register notices (74 FR 36253, July 22, 2009; 75 FR 56555, September 16, 2010), we committed to reviewing data on peregrine falcons in the future at the request of the Flyway Councils to reassess the allowable take limits if data required or supported a change.

New Information

We have reviewed two recent scientific analyses that provide important new information relevant to the take of passage peregrine falcons. First, Franke (2016) used a mark-recapture model to generate an improved data-based estimate of the average number of passage peregrine falcons produced in the northern management population annually. Franke's (2016) data-based estimate of 21,000 is more than five times greater than the number we used to set take limits in the 2008 EA. Second, the Service and cooperators completed the analysis of deuterium levels in passage peregrine falcons captured in fall within the prescribed take area. The deuterium level analysis shows that the management strategy outlined in the 2008 EA is likely resulting in more than 75 percent of the falconer take coming from the northern peregrine falcon management population (Franke et al. 2017). This outcome is more protective than the objective outlined in the 2008 EA, which was that at least 65 percent of the passage peregrine falcons taken by falconers must originate from the northern management population. Overall, peregrine falcon populations remain healthy across North America, and indices such as the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show the continental population increasing (BBS index for the period 2005-2015 = 6.4 percent per year, with a 95 percent credible interval of 0.45-13.45 percent) and no regional populations appear to be declining (Sauer et al. 2017).

The Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyway Councils reviewed this new information in 2017 and formally requested that we reevaluate and revise the passage peregrine falcon take limits based on the updated estimate of the number of passage peregrine falcons produced annually in the northern management population. Further, the Flyway Councils requested that we use the 10th quantile (i.e., 18,000) of the probability distribution for the updated mean annual number of passage peregrine falcons exposed to take rather than the mean value (i.e.,21,000). By using the 10th quantile, we expect there to be a 90 percent chance that the actual number is larger and, therefore, that we remain protective against overexploitation and account for the uncertainty in the production estimate. We undertook the analyses requested by the Flyway Councils by substituting 18,000 (the updated production estimate for the northern peregrine falcon management population) for 3,590 (the production estimate used in the 2008 EA) in the same models and using the same population-specific take rates as specified under the preferred alternative in the 2008 EA.

The updated analysis indicates that 144 passage peregrine falcons may be taken annually by falconers east of the 100th meridian between September 20 and October 20 consistent with the management strategy and the objectives of the selected alternative in the 2008 EA. In accordance with these findings, and consistent with the Flyway Councils' request, this notice announces that the annual take limits for passage peregrine falcons starting in the fall of 2017 will increase from 36 to 144, to be divided equally between the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways (i.e., 48 per flyway).

The sole basis for this increase is the updated estimate for the northern management population. Thus, we consider this increase to be a technical update to incorporate new and better data. All other provisions outlined in the 2008 EA remain in effect (e.g., the take rates and management objectives are unchanged, the take season remains September 20 to October 20 annually, and the take of passage peregrine falcons is restricted to areas in the United States east of 100 degrees W. longitude). Therefore, the environmental impact of authorizing take of passage peregrine falcons under the preferred alternative will remain unchanged from that analyzed in the 2008 EA. Because this assessment addresses only take east of 100 degrees W. longitude, the general provisions for take of peregrine falcons west of 100 degrees W. longitude remain as described in our 2010 Federal Register notice (75 FR 56555, September 16, 2010).

We will continue to review peregrine falcon population and take data for Canada, the United States, and Mexico every 5 years, or at the request of the Flyway Councils, to reassess the allowable take limits. We will publish a notice in the Federal Register if we determine that the take limits for peregrine falcons should be changed again in the future.

Literature Cited

Franke, A. 2016. Population estimates for Northern juvenile peregrine falcons with implications for harvest levels in North America. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 7:36-45.

Franke, A., J. Duxbury, H. Qi, T. Coplen, G.L. Holroyd, and B.A. Millsap. 2017. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report: hydrogen stable isotope analysis of peregrine falcons in the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Washington, DC.

Sauer, J.R., D.K. Niven, J.E. Hines, D.J. Ziolkowski, K.L. Pardieck, J.E. Fallon, and W.A. Link. 2017. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966-2015, Version 2.07.2017. https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/​cgi-bin/​atlasa15.pl?​03560&​1&​15&​csrfmiddlewaretoken=​3YKakk7LxT2ki6NSpl4mstudYCqdW02C.

Dated: August 24, 2017.

Gregory J. Sheehan,

Principal Deputy Director,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

[FR Doc. 2017-19140 Filed 9-8-17; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

2017-2018 EVENTS
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OFA Fall Field Meet!!!

November 3rd - 5th

 

Clarion Inn

101 Meadowridge Drive

Elk City, OK 73644

 

For those who would prefer not to stay at the hotel, there will be a group of us staying in the same spot as last year, camping at the Elk City Lake Park.  Below is a map indicating how to get there from the hotel.  If last year was any indication of how this meet will play out, this will probably be the meet up spot in the mornings, before everyone heads out to get down on some hawking.

 

 

 

I have already hollered at Dean, and he has graciously offered us access to the K Bar Ranch again.  I intend to touch base with a few more of the land owners we met during NAFA as well, to see if any of them would mind having us back.  I suspect that we will be in a similar situation as the last OFA meet in January, where we have so much land access that we barely touch a quarter of it.  I suspect that quail out there had another banner year, cotton tails should be good, and there will be no issues finding a lot of duck slips.  Jacks are around, but I personally never went after them during the meet, so you will probably have to find them on your own.

 

I'm looking forward to getting this season kicked off with another excellent field meet, and am excited to see you all there!

 

All the best,

-Dan- 

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OFA Winter Field Meet!

January 19th - 21st, 2018

Mountain Park, OK

 

"Holy Crap! Where the heck is Mountain Park?!?!" one might ask.  Well, it's nestled right next to the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma, about 30 minutes northwest of Lawton.  The town of Mountain Park began as a trading post named Burford where a post office was established in August of 1901, just after the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Reservation opened for settlement by Non-Native Americans.  In February of 1902, the town that had sprung up around the trading post changed it's name to Mountain Park.  Fires destroyed most of the wood frame building along the Main Street in 1906 and 1908, and the town was rebuilt with all brick structures.

 

"Sweet!  This is going to be a lot of fun!  So where are we staying?"

 

 

 

Lodging:

I (Krys Langevin) am hosting the meet, and you are all welcome to stay at my place.  I am on a section just off of OK 54 that sits up on top of a hill, which is about a quarter mile off of the road.  Ya'll are welcome to do a few things...you can bring a tent and stay on the property, you can stay in the main house, or you can stay in the loft area of the garage.  The house is a barndominium, and the garage portion is very large.  The loft area is the part above the house.  The garage has a large propane heater and can keep the space comfortable enough.  Bring air mattresses or sleeping bags.  Your other option of course, is to find a hotel/motel in the area.  People are welcome to come early or stay later, but I will be working and won't be readily available.  There is a full kitchen in the house, grills outside, and extra fridge and freezers in the garage.  There is a full bathroom in the garage with a shower.  The house has tank-less hot water, so there will be plenty for everyone.

 

 

 

Game:

Ducks, jacks, quail, and cotton tails!  Last year at this time, the area had ducks on every pond.  We will be working hard to secure pond access between now and then.  Cotton tails and quail are everywhere!  Jack numbers seem to be at a high as well.  They are everywhere right now as well!  Some fields are way better than others, but they can be found just about anywhere that looks like good jack habitat.  One thing that I will ask is that you please not hunt anything but ducks on my property.  The rest of my fields will be open to all though, and no one will have issues getting into game.

 

 

 

There will be more details to come as we get closer to the time of the event, but if you have any questions feel free to contact me or one of our board members.  My e-mail and phone number are in the directory, but Dan will also be posting my contact information and address on the okiehawkers private Facebook page.  For those of you who are not OFA members yet but would still like to attend, feel free to e-mail someone from the board, and they will get the appropriate information sent along your way.

 

All the best,

-Krys Langevin-

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The KHC/OFA Annual Friends Meet!

March 2nd - 4th, 2018

 

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

204 NE 60 Rd

Great Bend, KS 67530

 

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area lies two miles east of U.S. Highway 281, midway between Great Bend and Hoisington. Access is also available from K-156, or by turning off K-4 Highway at Redwing.

 

Cheyenne Bottoms is a wetland in the central Great plains of North America. Occupying approximately 41,000 acres in central Kansas, it is the largest wetland in the interior United States. The Bottoms is a critical stopping point on the Central Flyway for millions of birds which migrate through the region annually.

 

According to legend, a battle in 1825 between the Cheyenne and the Kiowa (or Pawnee) turned one of the streams blood red. Blood Creek now flows into the lowlands. Greyhound racing in the United States traces its start to a coursing event in the bottoms in 1886.

 

In 1900, a project known as the Koen Ditch attempted to divert Arkansas River water 12 miles to the Bottoms so that it could be used for irrigation. The ditch washed out in a flood. During the 1920s, various plans were put forth to drain the Bottoms and convert it to farmland. However, residents downstream in Hutchinson, KS protested that doing so would create flooding problems for them.

 

In 1925, the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission was created to develop and care for the Bottoms. In August 1927, 14 inches (36 cm) of rain upstream turned it overnight into "Lake Cheyenne" and caused flooding downstream of Little Cheyenne Creek. Kansas politicians including Clifford Hope, Charles Curtis, Henry Allan, and Arthur Capper made an unsuccessful plea to get federal money to convert it into a National Wildlife Refuge. Following the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, which taxed sporting arms and ammunition, funds became available to develop the Bottoms.

 

In 1952, after the construction of dikes, roads and hunting blinds, part of the area was opened to public hunting. In 1957, a new canal from the Arkansas River was built. However, relatively little water from the Arkansas was pumped into the wetland because of drought and claims by other entities on the water supply. In the 1990s, an extensive renovation subdivided the marshes. 

 

Cheyenne Bottoms is especially noted for the concentration of migratory shorebirds that go there to feed on the mudflats. As many as 600,000 shorebirds from 39 species pass through Cheyenne Bottoms during spring migration and up to 200,000 in fall. About 45 percent of all shorebirds in North America utilize the area. Cheyenne Bottoms is critical habitat for many endangered species, including the whooping crane.  At least 340 species of birds have been observed at Cheyenne Bottoms.

 

As a critical habitat for threatened and endangered bird species, Cheyenne Bottoms is one of 29 places in the United States on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance.

 

Hunting Information

Hunting is not allowed in the refuge areas (see map). Hunting pressure on the Bottoms can be heavy during waterfowl season, particularly on weekends. Hunters planning trips to the Bottoms should consider weekday hunts. Prior to hunting any species on Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, all hunters are required to obtain and complete a Daily Hunt Permit. These permits can be found at all entrances to the wildlife area, at all parking lots and most boat ramps. Silver colored, iron dispensers are located at these points. Each permit is a two piece card. Before hunting, complete the top portion of the card and separate it from the lower portion and place it in the permit box. Carry the lower portion of the permit with you while hunting. Upon completion of your hunt, fill out the lower portion and place it in a permit box. Each hunter must complete one for each day hunting at Cheyenne Bottoms. Pools 1, 5 and a portion of Pool 2 are refuge areas and closed to all activities. Exceptions to this occur for some special hunts. Check with wildlife area personnel for more information. In addition to waterfowl, other game may be legally taken at Cheyenne Bottoms. Pheasant hunting is usually good. Snipe and rail hunting is good along the shallow marsh margins. Quail and deer are also present in fair numbers. A handicapped accessible hunting/photo blind is available by reservation. Call the office for additional information and reservations. In the event of whooping crane activity, the pool the birds are in is closed to all hunting and the goose hunting zones are closed to crane and light goose hunting.

 

General Information

Vehicles are permitted only on established roads and parking areas. Camping is permitted only in the primitive campground located 1 mile west of the area office (which is where we will all be staying!). The use of watercraft is restricted. Watercraft are not permitted in the refuge areas. During the waterfowl season, in-water propeller-driven boats and hand powered boats can be utilized in Pools 2, 3 and 4. Airboats are not allowed at any time. Outside the waterfowl seasons, only hand-powered boats are allowed. From April 15 to August 15, hand powered watercraft are not permitted between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Life jacket laws will be enforced. Littering is prohibited. Take all trash with you. Boats, decoys, ammunition, binoculars and other supplies are not available at the area office. The Mitigation Marsh, located in the southeast portion of the Wildlife Area, is managed as a youth hunting area. It is open to hunters less than 16 years old hunters accompanied by no more than two adults. Non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting. The possession of lead shot in the field is prohibited. No shooting is allowed on or from the dikes. No holes or pits may be dug for any purpose. Portable blinds and temporary blinds made of native vegetation may be used but must be removed within 10 days after the close of the hunting season or after the last day of use.

 

Meet Information

I've mentioned hunting in the refugee above, mainly just for informational purposes.  Honestly, I havn't even looked to see if any actual hunting will be open in the WMA during the meet dates, so if that's something that sounds appealing to you, please make sure and check out all of the regulations (specific to Cheyenne bottoms) PRIOR to arriving at the meet. As always though, the majority of our hawking will be done on the private property our Kansas buddies have been working so hard on securing.  We will all be staying at the free campsite, which is a mile west of the refuge.  If you don't want to camp, then you will have to jump on google and figure out where the closest hotels are, as I have no earthly idea where they are.  This is generally a relaxed, not very formal meet.  It's how we signal the end to another great hawking season for both of our clubs, is an opportunity to hang out and swap lies about all of the great hunts we had this year, and a chance to catch up with all of our long time buddies.  Duck hawking should be out of control, cotton tail and jack numbers seem high, and there will be plenty of game around to keep everyone happy and satisfied.  I know i'm looking forward to the meet, and I hope to see everyone there!

 

All the best,

-Dan-

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2017 OFA Picnic and Business Meeting!

Another fantastic hawking season has come and gone for the Oklahoma Falconers’ Association.  As it happens for us every year, when the mercury begins to rise in our thermometers, and feathers are consistently hitting the floors of our mews, thoughts turn toward making plans to attend OFA’s annual picnic and business meeting.  This year was no exception, and on the 10th day of June, falconers from all over the sooner state converged on the little town of Perry Oklahoma with the high hopes of seeing old friends, making some new ones, and enjoying an afternoon jam packed with good times.  As is our custom, we accomplished this task in fine style, and managed to kick off the 2017/2018 falconry season with flying colors!

 

 

The boat house at the CCC Lake and Park was the venue of choice for us this year, and as people began to arrive by the car load, we launched our event with an excellent presentation on training pointing dogs.  Phil Salvati ran through it all, starting at the very beginning with tips on selecting the right pup, and going all the way through to the end goal of creating a long term hunting companion.  I personally felt that his talk was accentuated by the fact that he didn’t bring a finished dog with him to aid in the discussion, but instead brought a green pup, that was in the very beginning stages of training.  Being that I’m a very visual learner, actually seeing issues being encountered and addressed first hand was very beneficial, and I suspect others gained a lot of insight because of that as well.

 

 

 

 

 

After Phil wrapped up his training presentation, we quickly moved into a Raptor Health Round Table discussion, courtesy of Dr. Perry White and Krys Langevin.  The talk began with a run through of the basic first aid kit they feel every falconer should have in their rig, and then moved along to more complex discussions pertains to things such as asper and what not.  Whether it was an apprentice hearing some of the information for the first time, or one of the old guard receiving a much appreciated refresher course, everyone there benefitted greatly from the time and preparation those gentlemen put into their talk.  Additionally, I feel it’s pretty safe to say that everyone there walked away with at least one or two new tricks up their sleeves, and to me, that’s the sign of a great presentation!

 

 

Up next was grub time, and we were treated to some delicious food brought in from Head BBQ.  I’m sure most of you all are familiar with Head Country BBQ sauce, but until you’ve had the opportunity to experience it fresh from the shop (and paired up with some of their delicious meats), it’s hard to really appreciate just how great of an operation those cats have going on!  A big thank you to Phil and Gayla Salvati for not only organizing the picnic this year, but for picking out such great food for us!

 

 

 

 

 

Stomachs full and smiles all around, we jumped head first into the business meeting.  Though I swore up and down it was going to be way shorter than last year, I still managed to drone on for an extra thirty or forty minutes (sorry friends :-)!).  We got a lot of topics covered though, and made some big plans for the upcoming season.  I want to extend a special thank you to NAFA’s own Sheldon Nichole, who took the time out of his busy schedule to come up to Oklahoma for the picnic.  He gave an excellent presentation during our meeting about expanding our affiliate membership with NAFA, and I’m excited to begin the process of putting that plan into action.

 

When I finally stopped rambling on and called the meeting to a close, the group was rewarded with what they had really showed up for…the raffle!!!  Chris Kimble absolutely out did himself this year, and his time and effort resulted in one of the best raffles in club history!  We raised a significant amount of money, which will allow us to not only continue on with the conservation projects we have been involved with over the past couple of years, but to also expand our efforts into all new areas!  A VERY big thank you goes out to all of those who generously donated items this year.  Without your continued support of our club, we wouldn’t be able to continue making a positive influence for falconry in Oklahoma.  THANK YOU!

 

 

 

 

The end of the raffle signified the completion of another successful picnic and business meeting.  As people began to trickle off toward their different portions of the state, I found myself really excited for the upcoming season.  It has been a pleasure to have had the opportunity to serve the club as a board member for the past couple of years, and as I handed the reigns over to the newly elected board members, I felt confident in the direction they will be taking the club.  OFA is comprised of a lot of talented, highly motivated people, and in their hands, there’s no telling what accomplishments are on the horizon for the Oklahoma Falconers’ Association.

 

 

 

All the best my friends,

-Dan Murray-

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OFA Members Apprentice Workshop-Traps and Trapping!

July 29th, 2017

 

First and foremost, I would like to thank Chris Kimble for taking the time to share his experience and skills, in order to ensure the safety of the falconers and hawks when trapping a bird of prey for falconry!  Also, I would like to thank everyone who came to the workshop and brought their personal traps to aid in the discussion, to Ron Lloyd for organizing the event and venue, and to the Edmond Fire Department for allowing us the use of their facilities.

Perry White, giving a little personal insight into the current discussion

 

Chris covered a lot of information to ensure safe trapping.  The beginning portion of the workshop had a focus on trapping red tails, where the latter half was geared toward prairie falcons.  Chris had various traps on hand for use as examples, as well as video and slide presentations to aid in the discussion.  His goal was to teach and/or remind us the proper way to trap our first (or even 100th) falconry bird safely, which he more than effectively accomplished.  Whether using a BC or Phai trap, pigeon harness or noose carpets, he heavily emphasized the importance of safety for both the bird being trapped, and also for the bait animals being used during the adventure.

Super slick sparrow carousel, created by Chris Kimble

 

It would take a long time to highlight all of the well thought out and delivered topics from the workshop, but a few of them included the different materials used when making BCs, along with ways of making sure you don't have sharp edges on and around them. There were discussions on proper nooses (whether monofilament or steel leaders), different ways of tieing them, and how to camouflage them by using various dying techniques. He discussed tips and tricks for identifying raptors from a long ways off, and went into the importance of selecting the right trap not only for the species of raptor being targeted, but for the time of year as well (since often times the preferred trap will change, depending on whether or not one is doing early or late season trapping).  Presenting the various different types of traps to the raptors was also discussed, along with the modifications one would make to these techniques to increase their effectiveness depending on the type of terrain one is trapping in.

 

 

 

Gayla Salvati intently listening to Chris' presentation.  Phil may have been a little distracted...

 

This workshop was an incredible learning opportunity for falconers at all experience levels.  Whether they were a first year apprentice or a seasoned falconer, I feel everyone walked away having learned at least something new.  I have no doubt that this new insight will help everyone in their future trapping endeavors, and this workshop was definitely one fantastic way to kick off the 2017/2018 falconry season!  To all of my friends who will be heading out to the dirt roads this season looking for their next big adventure, I wish you the best of luck, remind you to be smart and stay safe, and to have one heck of a great time!

 

-Jonathan Coleman-

OFA President

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