Falconry is a technique that individuals can use to train birds of prey to capture small animals. The falconer can train their bird to fly and capture small prey and bring it back to them. But is this training and the overall sport cruel?
Is Falconry Cruel?
Falconry is generally not considered cruel. Anyone interested in starting falconry must complete a two-year apprenticeship first and receive a license to ensure they know how to treat and take care of the birds properly. Most falconers have great respect for their hunting partners.
Let’s take a closer look at what falconry is, and how this process works while learning how falconry can be safe and healthy for both the bird and its owner.
Is Falconry Cruel to the Birds?
When falconry is done right, it is not cruel. Most people who participate in this will take excellent care of their birds and eventually release them back into the wild. The birds are not abused or misused.
There are several steps to the falconry process to help ensure the falcon’s safety and health, including:
These steps are in place to ensure the bird is appropriately taken care of and that falconry does not become cruel to the animal.
A falconer will need to know how to take care of their bird, have a license, and undergo an apprenticeship before they can branch out on their own.
Can Only Falcons Be Used in Falconry?
Despite the name, falcons are only one type of bird used in falconry. Many other birds of prey do well in this role too.Falconers can choose the type of bird they would like to train and use in falconry, some common choices include:
When choosing the right bird for falconry, the falconer needs to consider how much time is necessary to train the bird and how much space is available for it to stretch out and fly.
Larger birds will need more room to fly around, so, typically, only experience falconers will take them on.
Are the Birds Released Back to the Wild After Falconry?
Yes, often, the birds used in falconry will go back to the wild. The falconer will choose to train the bird for a year or two before releasing it.
Because these birds are allowed to hunt their prey and improve their survival skills, they are often stronger once released and do better than their untrained counterparts.
Cruelty-Free Benefits of Falconry Apprenticeships
When someone wants to start as a falconer, they must go through an apprenticeship to learn how to take care of the birds and keep them safe. To start the apprenticeship, they must find someone to sponsor them.
There are two options here:
Most of the time, they will start with a passage, which is just a raptor under one-years-old that has already been trained. The falconry apprenticeship takes two years to complete.
During this time, they gain experience on the falconry process and make sure the bird is well-taken care of – preventing any cruelty along the way.
Some of the things the apprentices learn or gain during this time include:
This apprenticeship may sound long, but it makes sure that anyone who chooses to do it, learns all the skills they need and can help keep the bird safe.
Falconry Licensing Stops Animal Abuse
For those worried about animal cruelty for birds used in falconry, the United States has strict licensing requirements for all individuals who want to participate.
Falconers must get a federal and a state license through the Game and Fish Department in their state before beginning.
They can choose from three types of licenses including:
Those who get the master or general licenses can choose from more birds of prey and may be allowed to have more than one bird at a time, as long as they meet all required regulations. It takes time to move up in-licenses so the falconer can learn more about the sport rather than rushing in.
To get the beginner’s permit you need to take a written test. The falconer will need to get at least 80% on the test to pass. There are several resources to help with this, but they must get a beginner’s license before starting the apprenticeship.
Proper Care Is Provided to Falcons
A falconer needs to provide the proper housing to their bird. The housing facilities used in this are often called mews, and they will be similar in size to a large tool shed. However, make it the size that fits the bird.
Falconers must be careful not to place the bird in a home that is too small as it would be cruel to their feathered friends.
There are a few things that the mews needs to have:
These mews are regulated through various falconry laws and may have additional local requirements to help keep the birds safe.
Birds are not allowed to be placed in small cages as per these regulations. Many often have their own little homes with plenty of room to spread out and roam within.
When Can Falconry Be Cruel?
Falconry is often considered a safe activity, but there are times when it can be cruel to the bird. If the falconer does not take care of the bird or does not follow the proper rules, they may cause harm to the bird.
Some instances where falconry can become cruel includes:
The objective of these extensive qualification steps – from the licensing to apprenticeship and more – is to ensure the falconer is prepared for the responsibility that comes with caring for a bird of prey.
These steps also help reduce the chances of any cruelty towards the birds and make the sport safe.
It is normal to worry about whether falconry is cruel to the birds or not. Many that worry about this, have seen someone treat a bird unkindly or even use inhumane practices.
But it is important to remember that falconry is not cruel when it is done well. When the bird is taken care of, appropriately trained, and given the right home, it is perfectly safe and suitable for the bird.