Falconry is now officially protected as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Mankind in 18 countries. After the December UNESCO meeting in Africa, it was announced that Portugal, Italy, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Germany had added falconry to the ICH representative lists. Additionally, 8 more nations (including Ireland) have ratified the UNESCO convention which is the first step to accomplishing the goal of protecting falconry as an ICH.
Some of you may recall that about a year ago NAFA established a standing committee to work on achieving this goal for all three North American countries. Kristine Marshall, in Victoria, BC is the Chairperson of what is now the largest committee we’ve ever organized. I’ve enjoyed following along and participating in these early days of establishing the committee, identifying members to contribute, and outlining a timeline and list of goals to be addressed in order to see Mexico, Canada, and the United States achieve the protection of an official ICH label. Kristine and her husband Allan and the committee members they’ve gathered around them are really building up a head of steam and starting to make significant progress on this long-term goal.
I want to be very clear in stating that if we are able to achieve this goal, it will be the biggest political “win” that falconry in North America has ever seen, (next to the initial legalization, which was largely won by the efforts of NAFA’s Technical Advisory Committee and organized members on the ground in their respective states and provinces.)
To illustrate the importance of achieving the goal, allow me to paraphrase Gary Timbrell and Adrian Lombard of the IAF when they announced the addition of those 5 most recent countries; The importance of being on the ICH list cannot be overemphasized: governments that list falconry are obliged to preserve it, which includes putting aside funding for that purpose. This is worth repeating in another way: not only are those governments not allowed to attack falconry, they have to ensure it is not damaged by other entities. This means the falconers are not alone in defending falconry, their governments must help them.
The Atlantic Flyway Council members will be meeting in the middle of this month to discuss a myriad of topics, including peregrine falcons. As usual, NAFA has officially requested an increase in access to passage peregrines in the three participating flyways. We’ve ensured that the most recent biology is in front of all non-game technical section members, and we’ve had numerous discussions over the telephone with the biologists involved in making recommendations to the Service Regulations Committee and the USFWS. I’m confident that we are going to be granted an increase in permit numbers, and I’m doing everything that I can do to make sure that the additional permits are made available for the 2017 fall migration, rather than allowing them to push this out to 2018. I will keep everyone informed as more information becomes available. I’d like to formally offer great thanks to NAFA member Alastair Franke, and past President, Brian Millsap for their continued assistance in this matter. If you’d like to see a copy of our official letter to the Flyway Council, you can find ithere.
There has been a lot of talk about golden eagles lately. Heck, there has been a lot of talk about them for many years now. I’ve had several folks ask what NAFA is doing in terms of regaining access to wild taken golden eagles for properly licensed falconers. The short answer is that our Eagle Committee, under the leadership and energy of past President Bob Welle and current Committee Chairman Carter Wilford, has spent several years pushing all sorts of buttons and squeaking all sorts of wheels, and garnering all sorts of congressional support and letters to the Department of the Interior from political leaders, ending in practically zero tangible results, (short of some good relationships that we’ve built in the process, and added to recently with an eagle field meet that we hosted with numerous key players in attendance). Meanwhile, we’ve all sat back and watched the Feds issue incidental take permits to wind energy corporations and harvest permits to Native Americans, while the Denver office of the USFWS refused to issue permits to properly licensed falconers, something that Congress agreed is allowable to us. This is a clear affront to wild take, and presses on the heart of falconry in North America. It’s unacceptable. With that in mind, the members of our Eagle Committee have been taking the necessary steps required to amend the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The Act has been amended several times since it was enacted in 1940. We feel that in the current political climate, there exists a very real opportunity to achieve an additional amendment that will allow falconers to trap golden eagles in the American west without having to go through the haze and harass process in depredation zones of sheep ranches in Wyoming and Utah. We are working on it. We have support from key politicians, and we are keeping our fingers crossed and pressing forward with some excellent advice from like-minded individuals in positions of power.
As a reminder, this is exactly the sort of project that the board of Directors envisions the Falconry Fund and the future 501(c)(4), advocacy and defense organization undertaking. If you feel passionate about this stuff, make a donation to the Fund at www.falconryfund.org and stay tuned for the legal incorporation of the c4. Eventually, well-funded lobbying efforts may be the best way to achieve these kinds of goals.
I’d like to welcome Deanna Curtis, to our leadership team. Deanna is the current Colorado Hawking Club President, and has agreed to serve NAFA as our new Public Information Officer. Dianne Moller was our most recent PIO, and did an outstanding job for many years, supported by Mountain Director Paul Domski and past President, Bob Welle. Dianne’s background as an educator and her experience as a NAFA Director were a perfect combination and allowed her to be the most effective PIO that we’ve ever had. She always did a wonderful job at our field meets, acting as a liaison between the local public and our organization (and indeed, falconers in general). She built our facebook page and pushed us up to nearly 10,000 followers there. It’s now time for Ms. Curtis to step in with her particular set of skills and good judgement and show us what she can do in this new role. She brings a similar background to the job and an excellent attitude about it, and will enjoy the continued support of Paul and Bob (as well as Dianne). I have no doubt that she will make us proud. Thank you Deanna!
On January 10th, NAFA lost another Honorary Member. On that day, the Colorado Hawking Club shared the following announcement;
Dr. James Enderson was Professor Emeritus of Biology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. During his long and distinguished career in raptor research, he made innumerable contributions to the science and understanding of wild falcon populations. He was also the first person in the US to breed the anatum or “American” peregrine in captivity. Jim’s extensive research in the field, knowledge of the behavior of wild falcons, and steadfast dedication to the effort to save the peregrine falcon from extinction in the US made him a giant in the field. There is no one who knew more about wild Colorado peregrines than Jim. The only reason we have a wild take in Colorado today is because of unquestionable data he obtained, and the respect he commanded from both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Among his numerous awards and citations, he was the recipient of the Hamerstrom Award for contributions to the ecological understanding and conservation of wild raptors, and the Cade Award for captive propagation and management from the Raptor Research Foundation. Beyond that, he was a skilled big game hunter, teacher, historian, life-long student of nature, and a dear friend, husband, father, colleague and mentor to many of us who fly and love raptors today.
Funeral arrangements are pending but will likely take place near the end of February. The Club will also taking steps to make a donation to the Archives of Falconry “Wall of Remembrance” in Jim’s honor.
Last year your Board of Directors approved distribution of complimentary associate memberships for Apprentice-class falconers. If you are sponsoring an apprentice who would benefit from this offer, have them contact a NAFA Director with proof of their permit in hand.
As stated in my January message, we are looking for someone who has the necessary skills to join our website administration team. There are a few projects that we need to pour a bit of time into, and if there’s a member out there with some know-how, and a couple of hours each week that they could devote to the back end of our website, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me a personal email message if you fit the bill and would like to volunteer a bit of your time to NAFA. .
Mark your calendars, the 2017 AHA/NAFA Regional Field Meet is scheduled for Feburary 23-26, 2017. The Alabama Hawking Association has graciously offered to host NAFA members in the heart of the Alabama Black Belt of Camden, Alabama this coming winter. Stay tuned for more information from Meet Chair Michael Moore on the meet and make sure to check the NAFA Facebook page for a link to the 2017 Regional Meet Facebook page at:
Finally, please remember that NAFA is always here to protect and perpetuate falconry as an intangible cultural heritage. If you become aware of anything in your state or province that could potentially impact the way that we are able to practice our art and culture, please do not hesitate to contact members of NAFA leadership. Do not assume that we have already been made aware of the issue. We would rather hear about something several dozen times than risk not noticing it at all.
Thank you all for your support, and for helping us adhere to the initiatives outlined in our mission statement and bylaws.
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