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The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 10appendix : Vermont Fish and Wildlife Regulations

Chapter 001 : GAME

Subchapter 001 : GENERAL PROVISIONS

(Cite as: 10APPENDIX V.S.A. App. § 11)
  • § 11. Falconry

     Section 1. Purpose.

    This rule is adopted pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4278. In adopting this rule, the Commissioner establishes specific requirements for ensuring that holders of falconry permits are qualified and that the birds they possess are legally acquired and appropriately cared for. This regulation defines required raptor housing facilities and falconry equipment, legal means of taking, lawful species, ages and numbers of raptors that may be taken and possessed, banding requirements, and other restrictions on the practice of falconry.

     Section 2. Definitions.

    (a) "Apprentice" permittee means a person meeting the requirements of 5(a) of this rule.

    (b) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife or his/her designee.

    (c) "Department" means the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    (d) "Permit" means a written authorization issued by the Department to take and possess raptors and to practice the sport of falconry issued pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4278(b).

    (e) "Falconry" means the sport of hunting by use of trained raptors, including the training, feeding and handling of such raptors and their recapture after being released for hunting or training.

    (f) "Falconer" means a person who possesses a raptor for the purposes of Falconry under this rule.

    (g) "General" permittee means a person meeting the requirements of 5(b) of this rule.

    (h) "Master" permittee means a person meeting the requirements of 5(c) of this rule.

    (i) "Passage Bird" means a wild bird less than one year old.

    (j) "Raptor" means all species and hybrids of the orders Strigiformes (owls) and Falconiformes (hawks and falcons), and Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, and kites).

    (k) "Sponsor" means a General or Master Falconer, currently permitted by Vermont, or another state, who has agreed to advise and train a holder of an Apprentice permit.

    ( l ) "USFWS" means U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

     Section 3. Application Requirements Qualifications for Appointment.

    (a) An applicant for a falconry permit must:

    (1) be at least sixteen (16) years old and a resident of Vermont;

    (2) not have a license under revocation for violation Title 10, Part 4.

    (3) submit to the Department, on a form prepared and furnished by the Department, an application for a falconry permit, to include:

    (i) the applicant's name, address, telephone number, and date of birth and the location of his or her raptor housing facilities;

    (ii) the number of raptors the applicant possesses at the time the application is submitted, including the species, age (if known), sex (if known), date of acquisition, and source of each;

    (iii) the class of permit requested, including the name, address, and signature of sponsor, if required;

    (iv) a listing of falconry permits previously held by the applicant;

    (v) an account of the applicant's experience and training in falconry;

    (vi) an original, certification by the applicant concerning the validity of the information, or the signature of a parent or guardian if the applicant is under the age of eighteen (18) years;

    (4) complete a supervised written examination on basic biology, care, and handling of raptors. The examination shall be given by the Department at a state-approved site. Successful completion requires a minimum score of eighty five (85) percent. An applicant who fails the exam may retake it no sooner than sixty (60) days; and

    (5) submit to the Department a permit fee in accordance with Section 4(a).

    (b) The Commissioner may issue a permit to an applicant who meets the requirements of this rule.

     Section 4. Permit Terms.

    (a) Term of permit. A Vermont falconry permit is issued for three (3) years, unless amended or revoked. A permitted Apprentice or General Falconer may apply for a permit of higher class while possessing an unexpired permit without paying additional fees.

    (b) Compliance. Permittees shall comply with all terms under this regulation and all terms under federal falconry standards issued by the USFWS, including proper filing of electronic federal Migratory Bird Acquisition and Disposition Reports (Form 3-186A). A copy of each federal report shall be submitted to the Department.

    (c) Revocation of permit. The Commissioner may revoke a permit and seize raptors held under the permit if the Commissioner finds that the permittee:

    (1) failed to properly and humanely care for the raptors held under the permit;

    (2) allowed the raptors held under the permit to become a public nuisance;

    (3) failed to comply with any of the terms or conditions of the falconry permit.

    (d) Raptors seized under this section shall be released to the wild, transferred to another permittee, or disposed of as directed by the Commissioner.

     Section 5. Classes of Permits.

    Permits shall be issued in three classes based upon the age and experience of the applicant.

    (a) Apprentice. Holders of an Apprentice permit shall:

    (1) be at least sixteen (16) years old;

    (2) obtain a sponsor who will consent to train and advise the permittee for a minimum of twenty (20) hours annually for the first two (2) years;

    (3) notify the Department in writing within ten (10) days after his or her sponsorship has been withdrawn for any reason, and notify the Department within ten (10) days of obtaining a new sponsor.

    (4) find a sponsor within ninety (90) days following the withdrawal of a previous sponsor. If an Apprentice fails to obtain a new sponsor and notify the Department within ninety (90) days, the Apprentice will surrender any raptors possessed under this rule to the Department.

    (b) General. Holders of a General permit shall:

    (1) be at least eighteen (18) years old;

    (2) have a minimum of two (2) years experience in the practice of falconry at the Apprentice level or its equivalent, including maintaining, training, flying, and hunting the raptor(s) for at least 4 months in each year, to be verified in writing by a sponsor of the applicant who also recommends applicant for a permit; or verified by a state agency that has previously issued a permit to the applicant; or by other proof deemed appropriate by the Commissioner.

    (c) Master. Holders of a Master permit shall:

    (1) have a minimum or five (5) years experience in the practice of falconry at the General class level or its equivalent, to be verified by the State agency that has previously issued a permit to the applicant, or by other proof deemed appropriate by the Commissioner.

    (d) Sponsor. A General permittee shall sponsor no more than one (1) Apprentice permittee at a time. A Master permittee shall sponsor no more than two (2) Apprentice permittees at a time.

    (e) Out of State Permits: Upon moving to Vermont, any falconer who holds a valid falconry permit from another state may use that state's permit for a period of no more than six (6) months when applying for a Vermont falconry permit. After six months, the person must have a Vermont falconry permit in order to engage in falconry in Vermont.

     Section 6. Facilities and Care.

    (a) Facilities. Prior to acquiring a raptor, the permittee shall possess or have access to suitable raptor housing facilities that have passed inspection by the Department. The facilities shall provide for protection from the environment, predators, and undue disturbance and shall include the following:

    (1) Indoor facilities (mews) shall be large enough to allow easy access for caring for the raptors housed in the facility.

    (i.) If more than one (1) raptor is to be kept in a mews, the raptors shall be tethered or separated by partitions and the area for each bird shall be large enough to allow the bird to fully extend its wings.

    (ii.) There shall be at least one (1) window, protected on the inside by vertical bars, spaced narrower than the width of the bird's body, and a secure door that can be easily closed.

    (iii.) The floor of the mews shall permit easy cleaning and be well drained.

    (iv.) Suitable perches, of sufficient diameter and space for injury-free landings and take-offs, shall be provided.

    (2) An outdoor facility, or (weathering area) shall be fenced and covered with netting or wire, or roofed to protect the bird or birds from disturbance and attack by predators, except that perches more than 6 1/2 feet high need not be covered or roofed.

    (i.) The enclosed areas shall be large enough to insure the birds cannot strike the fence when flying from the perch.

    (ii.) Protection from excessive sun, wind, and inclement weather shall be provided for each bird.

    (iii.) The enclosure must contain suitable perches for the species housed there.

    (3) Alternative housing is allowable so long as it is more protective of animal health and welfare than those specified above.

    (b) Equipment. Prior to acquiring a raptor, the permittee shall have suitable equipment that has passed inspection by the Department. The permittee shall have the following equipment in his or her possession:

    (1) Jesses. At least two (2) pairs of Aylmeri jesses or similar type constructed of pliable, high-quality leather or suitable synthetic material to be used when any raptor is flown free. Traditional one-piece jesses may be used on raptors when not being flown free.

    (2) Leashes and swivels. At least two (2) leashes and two (2) strong swivels of acceptable falconry design.

    (3) Bath container. At least one (1) suitable container for each raptor, two (2) to six (6) inches deep and wider than the length of the raptor, for drinking and bathing.

    (4) Outdoor perches. At least one (1) weathering area perch of an acceptable design for each raptor.

    (5) Weighing device. A reliable scale or balance suitable for weighing the raptor(s) held, and graduated to increments of not more than one (1) gram.

    (c) Maintenance. All facilities and equipment shall be kept at or above the preceding standards at all times.

    (d) Food. Adequate food shall be provided at appropriate intervals for each raptor according to its age and condition. Adequate food shall mean sufficient quantity and nutritional value to maintain a normal body weight and healthy physiological function. All foods shall be served in a clean and sanitary manner.

    (e) Medical care. The permittee shall provide the Department with a written statement from a veterinarian stating his/her qualifications and a willingness to work with raptors on an ongoing basis prior to the permittee's possession of a raptor.

    (f) Transportation and temporary holding. A raptor may be transported or held in temporary facilities comparable to those required for permanent housing (including but not limited to adequate perching, bathing and protection from natural elements) for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.

    (g) Inspection. Permitees and applicants shall allow the Department to inspect their facilities, equipment, and raptors for compliance with permit standards. An inspection may be made at reasonable hours of the day with seventy two (72) hours notice. The notice requirement is waived when there are grounds to believe that the standards set forth in this rule are not being met.

     Section 7. Capture of Wild Raptors for Falconry.

    (a) Only passage (hatching year) Red-tailed Hawks ( Buteo jamaicensis) and Goshawks ( Accipiter gentili) may be captured for falconry. Nestlings (eyass) and adult birds may not be taken for falconry.

    (1) The raptors may be captured from 1 September through 25 January, inclusive.

    (2) The permittee may use traps, nets and other legal methods of raptor capture that do not cause injury or lethal stress. It is illegal to use steel-jawed traps, gins, pole traps or jump traps.

    (3) Each capture device shall be identified legibly with an attached tag bearing the permittee's name and address.

    (4) Each deployed capture device shall be inspected at least once each calendar day.

    (5) Any raptor not retained for falconry shall be immediately released.

    (b) Landowner permission. Prior to attempting to capture a raptor, a permittee shall obtain permission from the owner of private property on which the activity will occur.

    (c) Land closure. The Commissioner may close any area of the State to the taking of raptors.

    (d) Recapture of escaped raptors. A permittee may recapture an escaped raptor that was legally acquired and held. The bird may be recaptured by legal means at any time by a permitted falconer to be returned to the falconer who last possessed the escaped bird.

     Section 8. Species and Possession Limits.

    (a) Permit class restrictions.

    (1) An Apprentice permittee may not possess more than one (1) raptor and may not obtain more than one (1) raptor for replacement from all sources during any twelve (12) month period calculated from the first day of possession of the first raptor. An apprentice may temporarily possess the raptors of the apprentice's sponsor.

    (2) A General permittee may not possess more than two (2) raptors and may not obtain more than two (2) raptors for replacement from all sources during any twelve (12) month period calculated from the first day of possession of the first raptor.

    (3) A Master permittee may not possess more than three (3) raptors and may not obtain more than two (2) raptors taken from the wild during any twelve (12) month period calculated from the first day of possession of the first raptor. A Master permittee may obtain no more than three (3) raptors from all sources during any twelve (12) month period calculated from the first day of possession of the first raptor.

    (b) Specifies restrictions.

    (1) An apprentice permittee may only possess Red-tailed Hawk taken from the wild as a passage bird. The Apprentice may capture a Red-tailed Hawk only under the supervision of the sponsor.

    (2) General or Master permittees may take and possess raptors according to the following limitations:

    (i) A Master permittee may only take passage Red-tailed Hawks and Goshawks from the wild.

    (ii) A General permittee may take only passage Red-tailed Hawks from the wild.

    (iii) A Master or General permittee may petition the Commissioner for authorization to capture a passage bird of another species.

    (iv) Provided that possession is allowed in accordance with state and federal law, a General or Master permittee may possess a captive-bred bird, born and raised beyond two (2) weeks in captivity. The permittee shall keep complete and accurate records of all transactions conducted under this clause, including the name, address, and permit number of the transferee; the day, month, and year of the transaction or disposition; the sale price or other consideration involved in the transaction or disposition; and the species, sex, age, origin, and pedigree (lineage) of the raptor or raptors involved.

    (c) Raptors taken for other purposes. Raptors of any age captured under depredation or special use permits, or seized under Section 4(c) may be acquired by a General or Master permittee. Such raptors are counted as part of the permittee's possession limit.

    (d) All raptors possessed under this rule shall be banded with readily identifiable bands. Goshawks shall be banded with non-reusable bands.

     Section 9. Importation, Exportation, Seizure, Sale, Trade and Release of Raptors.

    (a) Importation. Raptors brought into Vermont may be imported only under the authority of an importation permit from the Commissioner to a permitted falconer in accordance with 10 V.S.A. §  4709.

    (1) Importation permits shall not be issued for the possession of species that are specifically prohibited by these regulations, by laws of the exporting state, the laws of the State of Vermont, or by regulations of the federal government.

    (2) A nonresident falconer may temporarily bring raptor(s) he or she legally possesses into Vermont.

    (b) Exportation. Raptors taken in Vermont shall not be permanently transferred or exported to another state without written authorization from the Commissioner.

    (c) Seizure. The Commissioner may seize a raptor if the person in possession of the raptor does not have a valid permit as required by these rules.

    (d) Sale of raptors. Pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4902, a permittee may not sell, purchase, barter, or offer to sell, purchase or barter any raptor taken from the wild.

    (e) Transfer. A permittee may transfer a legally-held raptor to another permittee according to the restrictions in Section 9, including the electronic filing of the federal form 3-186A.

    (f) Release, Transfer or Euthanization.

    (1) A wild falconry raptor captured in Vermont that can survive for an extended period in the wild may be intentionally released in Vermont. Prior to release, any non-federal band shall be removed and surrendered to the Department, and a standard federal bird band shall be attached to the bird by the Department or a federally-permitted bird bander.

    (2) With the written authorization of the Commissioner, a wild falconry raptor captured in Vermont that is incapable of surviving for an extended period in the wild may:

    (i) be transferred to an approved educational facility, or to a breeding or rearing facility that holds a scientific collection permit for the species.

    (ii) be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

    (iii) upon a veterinarian's recommendation a raptor may be euthanized in a manner that minimizes pain and stress, and the carcass disposed of either by donation to a public scientific or educational organization permitted to receive wild animals, or by burial or incineration. Notice of euthanization of any raptor possessed under this rule shall be provided the Commissioner within ninety six (96) hours.

    (3) Captive-bred birds shall not be released into the wild.

     Section 10. Reporting Requirements.

    (a) Upon the loss or addition of any raptor held under a falconry permit, the falconer shall report such a loss or addition by filing form 3-186A within five (5) days of any such transaction. Such losses or additions shall include any takings, purchases, deaths, transfers, and dispositions of raptors held under a permit.

    (b) A raptor possessed under authority of a falconry permit may be temporarily held by a person other than the permittee if that person is otherwise authorized to possess raptors, and if the raptor is accompanied at all times by a copy of the properly completed form 3-186A (Migratory Bird Acquisition/Disposition Report) designating the permittee as the possessor of record, and by a signed, dated statement from the permittee authorizing the temporary possession.

     Section 11. Hunting with Raptors.

    (a) Any resident hunting with a raptor in Vermont must possess a valid falconry permit and a valid Vermont hunting or combination fishing and hunting license.

    (b) Any nonresident hunting with a raptor in Vermont must possess a valid falconry permit from his or her state of residence and a valid Vermont non-resident hunting or combination fishing and hunting license.

    (c) A falconry permittee must possess both valid Vermont and federal Migratory Waterfowl Hunting stamps before hunting migratory waterfowl.

    (d) A falconry permittee hunting ducks, coots, geese, brant, swans, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, sandhill cranes, or gallinules must be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP).

    (e) A falconer whose raptor kills wildlife that is out of season or the taking of which is otherwise prohibited shall leave the dead wildlife where it lies, except that the raptor may feed upon the wildlife prior to leaving the site of the kill. The permittee shall report the kill to a Vermont State Game Warden within twenty four (24) hours. (Added 1995, Fish and Wildlife Commissioner's Reg. No. 1006, eff. Aug. 27, 1994; 2013, Fish and Wildlife Board Reg. eff. January 1, 2014.)