KEARNEY — Ralph Rogers’ childhood fascination with winged predators never left him.
“I’m just a 12-year-old that never grew up,” admitted the 65-year-old wildlife biologist from Winifred, Mont. “When I found out that you could actually get falcons into captivity and train them, I just never lost my interest in that.”
Rogers, along with more than 300 fellow falconers, will meet in Kearney from Sunday through Friday for the annual meeting of the International Association of Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey. He expects members from throughout the world to meet in Kearney to network and hunt with falcons.
Larry Dickerson, president of the North American organization, understands why central Nebraska is a perfect place to meet.
“Kearney is the favorite location of our membership,” Dickerson wrote in a press release. “Because of the friendliness of the ranch and farm owners, the amazing staff at the hotel and the Visitors Bureau, and the abundance of small game, our organization looks forward to returning here every six years. Many of our members have made lifelong friends here since our first visit in 1986.”
- Falconry is taking wild quarry in its natural state with a trained raptor.
- Falconry does not include the keeping of birds of prey as pets or prestige items.
- The justification for falconers to possess raptorial birds is the sportsmanlike pursuit of wild quarry.
- Falconers should keep only as many birds as can be cared for properly and hunted effectively.
- A falconer convicted of a serious misdemeanor or a felony related to his falconry activities should resign from all organized falconry activities.
- Since lawful does not always mean ethical, falconers will err to the side of the highest standards of conduct toward their bird, their fellow falconers and the laws of the land. Just because an activity is legal does not mean it is always desirable, ethical or biologically sound.
- Originally, falconry was a means of providing meat for the falconer’s table. In its purest form, falconry is a raptor doing what it does naturally — hunt its prey — in cooperation with a human. The laws of nature decree that a wild raptor pursuing wild quarry is a fair chase. Neither side has an unfair advantage over the other. This is the purest form of falconry, its highest ideal and practice. NAFA holds that modern falconry should be conducted in this same manner. Unfair advantage, no matter its source, should be avoided in favor of quarry having a fair chance of escape. This practice of fair chase is a high calling. Where falconers adhere to it, the sport of falconry cannot be judged guilty of acts of cruelty or inhumane treatment of quarry.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.