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FW: Comments needed on Peregrine Falcon harvest in Florida

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  • Charlie Ewell
    FYI Charlie Ewell Cape Coral, FL anhinga42@embarqmail.com _____ From: WRAITHMELL, Julie [mailto:jwraithmell@audubon.org] Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:14
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2008

      FYI

       

      Charlie Ewell

      Cape Coral, FL

      anhinga42@...

       

       


      From: WRAITHMELL, Julie [mailto:jwraithmell@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:14 PM
      Subject: Comments needed on Peregrine Falcon harvest in Florida
      Importance: High

       

      Thought this might be something you’d be interested in and would share with your birding contacts…

       

      The State of Florida is currently considering allowing falconers to harvest wild Peregrine Falcons in our public conservation areas. While Audubon of Florida has commented on this as an organization, we think it would be very valuable for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to hear from individual conservationists and birders. Given the number of reports of Peregrine sightings from around the state in the last few weeks during the spectacular fall Peregrine migration, it is an especially timely issue. Details are below.

       

      Julie Wraithmell

      Wildlife Policy Coordinator, Audubon of Florida

       

      Please take five minutes to write the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at peregrine@... and let them know what you think about:

      1)  allowing the harvest of wild Peregrines for use by hobbyist falconers

      2)  the likelihood that this harvest will be at taxpayer expense

      3)  the request by falconers to trap Peregrines in coastal state parks, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, and other publicly owned conservation lands

      4)  the possibility that your past Peregrine sightings and monitoring efforts may be used to target them for harvest in the future.

      The FWC is working on its first draft of the Peregrine Falcon management plan right now, and you comments are needed to demonstrate the abundance

      Background:

      The Peregrine Falcon has enjoyed a significant recovery as a result of its protections under the Endangered Species Act and was declared “recovered” and removed from the federal list in 1999; removal from Florida ’s imperiled species list will be completed within the next year. At the request of hobbyist falconers, the USFWS is expected to issue a decision in the next few weeks on the number of Peregrine Falcons they would allow each state to permit for falconry harvest. It is anticipated that Florida will be assigned approximately 30 birds that the state can allow to be trapped from the wild. It will be up to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to decide how many Peregrine Falcons they will actually allow to be captured—the agency has the discretion to mandate a range of options from no trapping in Florida to permitting the maximum allowable number under the USFWS’ directive.

       

       

      A few things birders should know:

      1) Captive-bred Peregrines and other falcons are readily available to falconers, but they say they would prefer wild-caught birds because (a) they are less expensive (captive-bred birds cost around $3000), (b) some falconers consider wild birds to be better hunters and (c) the thrill of catching the falcon and training it is not possible with captive-bred birds.

      2) Permit fees for Peregrines are unlikely to cover the costs of administering the program, so the administration of the permitting program and law enforcement related to the harvest of these birds will likely have to be subsidized by taxpayer dollars. If it is not, enforcement/compliance checking will likely suffer.

      3) Trappers would target first-year migrating Peregrines in Florida , and would likely focus on coastal areas where the birds naturally concentrate during migration. Falconers have expressed an interest in getting access to trap on publicly owned conservation lands, such as state parks, wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges, where the birds are known to concentrate. Much of the information that is known about these concentration points is because of the dedicated monitoring efforts of Audubon chapters, sighting reports of birdwatchers, and research projects like the Florida Keys hawkwatch.

      4) At the Peregrine management plan public meeting on October 8th, FWC reported that only two letters were received raising concerns about Peregrine trapping (including the one on behalf of Audubon of Florida’s 32,000 members) and these two letters were outnumbered by the several dozen letters from individual falconers. Accordingly, it is important that if birders and conservationists have an opinion on this proposal, they write to the FWC at peregrine@... to be sure the state recognizes the abundance of concern on this issue.

      While peregrine numbers have shown a remarkable recovery, monitoring efforts in Florida are limited, the mixing of breeding populations in Florida on migration makes it difficult to track what the harvest impacts will be on the breeding grounds, and the demand for peregrine take in Florida will likely be very high due to the ease with which the birds could be captured at coastal migratory concentration points in our state. Moreover, many birders and conservationists in Florida value the Peregrine Falcon as an emblem of American wildlife and place a premium on these birds remaining wild and free.

      Please consider writing FWC at peregrine@... and let them know what you think about:

      1)  allowing the harvest of wild Peregrines for use by hobbyist falconers

      2)  the likelihood that this harvest will be at taxpayer expense

      3)  the request by falconers to trap Peregrines in coastal state parks, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, and other publicly owned conservation lands

      4)  the possibility that your past Peregrine sightings and monitoring efforts may be used to target them for harvest in the future.

       

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