It is with great pleasure that I am writing to inform you at the March meeting the Alaska Board of Game voted 7-0 in favor of the American Falconry Conservancy petition to allow non resident take of raptors by licensed U.S. falconers.

When we began this process eight years ago we were led to believe that generally most Alaska resident falconers were not opposed to the idea, however the state of Alaska wildlife regulations were so complex that such a proposal would likely never be successful. That notion proved to be untrue and Alaska is very open to the allowable sustainable use of this healthy resource. The only objections heard were from a few resident falconers. F&G staff Kim Titus stated the complex and restrictive regulations regarding the export of falconry raptors has been supported by these falconers for the past 25 years.

Most Alaska falconers were silent on the issue, a few were in favor and a few were vehemently against ever allowing a non resident take. One resident falconer testified to the Board of Game that these birds were worth tens of thousands of dollars and non- residents would not be a able to control themselves and would take birds illegally and smuggle them out of state, he even went into detail on how he supposed they would transport the ill gotten treasure.

Although the Alaska Board of Game was very receptive to allowing non- residents to harvest this plentiful resource, the talk of illegal activities by non residents and the unknown demand for these birds has caused the Board of Game to start with a limited annual take of 5 passage birds of any species per year. It is worth noting that the most strenuous objections to allow a take of eyass birds seemed to come from Alaskans who breed gyrfalcons for sale and export

Under the circumstances we understand the Alaska Board of Games desire to dip their toe in the water approach, and that they will feel more at ease once they realize there will not be a Klondike gold rush stampede for gyrfalcons.

The first harvest season will be 2015, and there’s a few local Alaska falconers who are trying to convince Fish & Game staff to use their discretionary power to reduce the harvest number to 2-3 birds. The final details of the lottery and application dates have not yet been established. There will be a bag limit of one bird, take is limited to passage birds, season dates will be August 15 – October 31, 2015, and there will be a check-in/check-out requirement. As more information becomes available, we will add it to our website.

Alaska is larger than most countries, imagine a state the size of Texas x 2 and add in Arizona, and Alaska is still larger. The recent USFWS Environmental Assessment of the peregrine showed Alaska could allow a falconry harvest of over 40 peregrines per year but only a handful are harvested by Alaska residents each year. In two years AFC intends to go back before the Alaska Board of Game to petition for an eyass take as well as an increase in the total allowable take limit.

Many AFC members contributed to this effort in the past years, but a special thanks to Rob Sulski for hard work as well as his trip to Alaska to submit the proposal. The late Chad Cyrus worked very hard on this endeavor and we wish he were here to see this come to fruition.

AFC Board of Directors

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