I am posting the following letter sent to all AK falconers last week by the AFC.

Alaska Falconers Association
P.O. Box 670386
Chugiak, AK 99567
August 30, 2009

Dear Members,

I wanted to contact the members of the Alaska Falconers’ Association to discuss an important issue for falconers across the United States of America. The issue is nonresident take of raptors for falconry.
First of all, I want to apologize for any misunderstandings that may have been caused by our previous inquiry to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. We have never made a formal proposal and our prior communication was necessary to understand the process utilized by the state of Alaska to add nonresident raptor take to their agenda. It was simply a fact-finding mission.
It has been well studied and thoroughly documented by USFWS that raptor take by falconers has no impact and that raptor populations are very healthy. Nonresident raptor take is currently available in almost every state in the United States and it is a non-issue for the raptor populations as well as the falconers in the states that allow it. The American Falconry Conservancy is not the only national falconry organization interested in States opening their doors to nonresidents;
Alaska is a unique state. It has been extensively studied and surveyed with documents indicating that the raptor populations are extremely healthy and high. Because of its location and environment, there are populations of raptors that are not found anywhere else in North America. Alaska is mostly public land with about 60% of it being federal. There are nonresident U.S. falconers that would love to have access to this region to obtain birds for falconry, and we are in support of this. We are also in full support of the Alaska falconers that have, and continue to harvest raptors for falconry in other states.
Alaska’s hunting regulations allow nonresidents access to harvest any fish (sport and commercial), fur bearer, big game or predator in Alaska. In 2007 over $24 million was paid by nonresidents to the state of Alaska for hunting and fishing licenses and tags alone. Raptors are the only group excluded from harvest by nonresidents. This exception is not consistant with the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game mission statement.
It is my understanding that Alaska falconers have never had any incentive to pursue nonresident take since it provides no benefit to them. It is also my understanding that Alaska falconers are not necessarily opposed to nonresident take; there simply is no real motivation to pursue it. This is where a national organization can assist in this process, given the fact that there is incentive by nonresidents to open doors to all States so that all of us may benefit from one another’s resources. The following excerpt is from an email sent by Ron Clarke explaining the situation in Alaska:

To the best of my recollection, the Alaska Falconers Association has never taken a formal stand either for or against non-resident take of raptors in Alaska. There are a number of factors that combine to make it extremely difficult and energy-consuming to make the necessary changes to statute and regulation to allow such a take. And although people Outside probably get tired of hearing us say it, Alaska really is different. A lot of commonly accepted facts of life in the Lower 48 simply don't apply here; what would seem simple and logical to an Outsider may in fact be nigh onto impossible in Alaska. The subject has come up many times among Alaskans over the past couple of decades, but we always promptly hit one wall or another, and so pursued other courses to improve our falconry regs.*

If someone were to put forward a non-resident take scheme that would realistically navigate the various political, land ownership, access, administrative, and economic issues while not diminishing existing privileges for resident falconers, the Alaska falconry community would probably have a look at it. So far, no one Outside has ever shown a willingness to invest the significant time and energy required to understand the Alaska situation sufficiently thoroughly to envision a workable non-resident take. Consequently, in the absence of a workable plan, Alaska falconers have not pursued a non-resident take, which is not at all the same as actively opposing it. There's just been no margin for Alaskans to take on such a huge and difficult project with such limited likelihood of success.



Ron expresses the willingness to work with an outside group, and AFC has the motivation to pursue this. We know that this is a complicated issue and we are seeking guidance and help from the Alaska falconers to be able to submit a formal proposal to the State of Alaska to allow something that is so beneficial and vital to American falconry. We do not want to “go behind anyone’s back”, but wish to open a dialogue, with those who are interested in pursuing opening the door, to create a solution that benefits everyone.
I know there are time frames involved in submitting a proposal. I want all of you to know that I would like to contact Kristy Tibbles with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to better understand the process and time line. Alaska falconers are knowledgeable of all the issues as it relates to raptor take in their state. I truly believe it is critical to be partners in this process so it can be accomplished properly without detriment to Alaska falconers.
As American citizens, we operate as one nation in our common goal of the pursuit of happiness – which we realize through falconry – and success in this endeavor will result from us all working together in protecting our interests in every aspect of our sport. Outdoorsmen have enough enemies; we should be providing one another our full support in order to protect our interests from our detractors. If you are interested in working together on this issue, please email jmingram1@cox.net.


James M Ingram MD
President, American Falconry Conservancy