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What is Falconry?Falconry is the art of using trained raptors (such as hawks, falcons, eagles and owls) to pursue and capture wild game.
How do I become a falconer?Obtaining a falconry license is a very prolonged and difficult process. In Pennsylvania, before you are even able to begin the permitting process, you must first locate and build a relationship with an experienced General or Master-class falconer, and convince them to become your sponsor (mentor) by showing that you are devoted to the art of falconry. You will also need a hunting license, so you will also have to go through that process if you do not already have one. After obtaining a sponsor and hunting license, you take a timed, 150-question written test through the Game Commission. If you pass (80% or higher), your equipment and facilities will be inspected by a WCO. Provided that your facilities and equipment pass the inspection, they will then send you your Apprentice permit in the mail, and you are authorized to obtain a Red-Tailed Hawk or American Kestrel for falconry, under the supervision of your sponsor.
Isn't it cruel to keep a healthy, wild raptor in captivity?"All of our falconry raptors are uninjured and fully capable of release. During hunting, the raptor is allowed to fly completely free of all tethering and is given the option to leave. Falconry rests on the bond between raptor and falconer, and at the end of the day, the choice whether to stay or leave is up to the hawk, not the falconer. It is important to note that Falconry is not petkeeping or collecting. It is an ancient art, thousands of years old, in which the raptor and falconer work together to achieve a mutual goal. For more information in regards to this question, see my blog post "Rough Year"!
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