I just got a disturbing e-mail about a looming abrupt closure of sage grouse hunting/falconry in WY from Larry Dickerson, president of the North American Falconers Association (NAFA, http://www.n-a-f-a.com), of which I am a member. Sage grouse numbers in the area cited in the report may be the strongest in the West. If they were not, falconers themselves would be calling for a cease & desist until safe numbers would be restored. Which, for your information, is often done by passionate falconers. Who played the primary role in rescuing the peregrine falcon, etc, from certain extinction? That’s right – falconers. Grouse are a major source of food, & entertainment, for raptors, & a great challenge for a young falcon, or hawk. It’s a huge part of their training. It is essential that sage grouse in WY continue to be literal fair game for falconry birds, within reason.
Kenny Sterner, head of the Wyoming Falconers Association (www.wyofalconers.org) has informed NAFA that the WY Dep’t of Game & Fish (http://www.n-a-f-a.com/temp/WY_Comment_Form.pdf) gave WFA less than 24 hours notice to this proposed change in policy. All comments must be snail-mailed to their office, no other means of delivery is valid in their eyes. All of the info from WY is here: http://www.n-a-f-a.com/temp/WY_sage-grousehuntproposal.pdf , if you need this explained to you, let me know. Please bear in mind that there are not many falconers anyway (many of which are biologists), & any ‘take’ of sage grouse would be not only a big stroke of luck, but, have a very minimal impact on sage grouse in that area. It’s not like they sit around in open areas waiting to be stooped by a peregrine going close to 200 mph. They’re very tough birds who know how to hide, & put up a whopping fight. With policies rooted in carefully-conducted science, steady stewardship & conservation, all can come out winners. In the interests of full disclosure, I do not support any hunting of sage grouse anywhere other than via falconry. Otherwise, it’s simply irresponsible. The video that follows is Sterner’s beautiful birds having a great time, but, it’s not for the close-minded, nor hypersensitive. To me, there is no greater high than hawking. Any interaction with such incredible products of evolution is an extremely rare privilege.