What are Raptors?
They are birds of prey and include some kinds that fly during the day such as hawks, eagles, vultures and falcons, and others that fly at night (owls). They are primarily hunters or scavengers and feed on animals ranging in size from rabbits and skunks to insects. Most raptors have a hooked beak for tearing meat and talons for killing their prey. Of the 53 species of raptors found in the United States and Canada, 30 occur regularly in Kansas and an additional six species have made rare appearances.
Can anyone keep a Raptor?
No. Only zoos, certain educational & scientific institutions, licensed rehabilators and falconers may possess raptors. Every year, the lives of young raptors are needlessly jeopardized by well-intentioned people who take them from the wild in the mistaken belief that the animals are abandoned or orphaned and will die if not given care. Young raptors are often left unattended throughout much of the day. It is against the law to remove young raptors from the wild. If you find a raptor with an injury, note its location and contact a licensed rehabilitator in your area.
What is falconry?
Falconry is the sport of using trained raptors to hunt wild game.
Are Raptors protected?
Yes, but hawks and owls have only had legal protection since 1972. Prior to that time, it was commonly believed these birds were at best nuisances and at worst, in competition with humans for wild game. We now know fluctuations in game animals are most attributable to habitat changes. Raptors play a vital role in consuming rodents and carrion, keeping the Kansas ecosystem in balance.
DID YOU KNOW?
FALCONRY IN KANSAS
Falconry became legal in Kansas in 1990.
The sport of hunting wild quarry with a trained raptor, probably originated in China around 2000 B.C. Its rich history is depicted in ancient pottery, coins, tapestries, sculptures and paintings, as well as in poetry and books. Often referred to as "The Sport of Kings", falconry has also been enjoyed by shoguns, priests and nuns, lords and ladies, and modern day falconers from all walks of life.
The following wildlife rehabilitators have both federal and state permits that allow necessary care for sick and injured raptors. This list is current to April 2010.
If an injured raptor is found in Kansas, note the animal's location and contact the rehabilitator nearest you for instructions on what to do:
North Central Kansas:
Milford Nature Center: Junction City, 785-238-5323
Kimberly Sue Lambert: Clyde, 785-614-1461
Melody Weller: Topeka, 785-273-5500
Operation Wildlife Inc.: Linwood, 785-542-3625
Dennis Dinwiddie: Topeka, 785-368-9134
Raptor Center of Great Bend: Great Bend, 620-793-4226
South Central Kansas:
Eagle Valley Raptor Center: Cheney, 316-393-0710
Hutchinson Zoo: Hutchinson, 620-694-2653
Nate Mathews: Wichita, 316-305-9602
Sally Imhof: Mulberry, 620-764-3123
David Traylor Zoo: Emporia, 620-341-4365
If a local rehabilitator cannot be reached, contact the nearest office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.
Operations Office: Pratt, 620-672-5911
Region 1 Office: Hays, 785-628-8614
Region 2 Office: Topeka, 785-273-6740
District Office: Dodge City, 620-227-8609
Region 3 Office: Wichita, 316-683-8069
District Office: Chanute, 620-431-0380
the sport of hunting wild quarry with a trained raptor, probably originated in China around 2000 B.C. Its rich history is depicted in ancient pottery, coins, tapestries, sculptures and paintings, as well as in poetry and books. Often referred to as "The Sport of Kings", falconry has also been enjoyed by shoguns, priests and nuns, lords and ladies, and modern day falconers from all walks of life.
In 1972, an amendment to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act gave protection to raptors. In the United States falconry became highly regulated, requiring federal and state permits to possess and hunt with raptors. Falconry became legal in Kansas in 1990.
Falconry requires a serious commitment. A falconer must be knowledgeable about raptor health, behavior and training methods. Proper equipment and facilities for housing must be acquired and maintained. Access to appropriate hunting areas is a never-ending challenge. Some days there will only be a small amount of time and care required, while most days will require several hours. The reward comes when a falconer experience a successful day in the field, witnessing the drama of predator versus prey.
If you are interested in learning more about falconry please visit the following web site North American Falconers Association
For regulations and licensing information contact:
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
512 S.E. 25th Avenue
Pratt, KS 67124
by John Brooks
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Protection of Raptors
The federal protection of migratory birds has a long history in the United States dating back to 1916 when a treaty was signed with Great Britain, on behalf of Canada, for the protection of most migratory birds. This treaty resulted in the enactment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in 1918, which is the basic law in effect today. Although raptors such as hawks and owls were not protected by the original MBTA, they were later included as an amendment in 1972. The Bald Eagle has been protected since the enactment of the Eagle Act in 1940 and the Golden Eagle, also under the Eagle Act, since 1962. State laws and regulations today likewise protect all migratory birds.
The precise language in the MBTA states:
“Unless and except as permitted by regulations made as hereinafter provided, it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, or is composed in whole or in part, of any such bird or any part, nest or egg.”
As you can see from this legal language, migratory birds are highly regulated. Some migratory birds, like waterfowl can be legally hunted and possessed. However, there is no such provision for raptors. Eagles, ospreys, hawks, falcons, kites, owls, vultures and all other native North American birds of prey are strictly protected, to include a prohibition against the taking or possession of their parts such as feathers or talons. The only exceptions generally allowed for individuals to these prohibitions require permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Educational and scientific institutions are exempted from most permit requirements.
Penalties for violations of the MBTA can reach $15,000 and six months imprisonment for common violations. The sale or barter of migratory birds is a felony with penalties up to $500,000 and two years imprisonment. Some raptors are also protected under the Endangered Species Act, and both the Bald and Golden Eagles are also protected under the Eagle Act.
Questions concerning the protection of raptors should be directed to a local state Conservation Officer or the nearest office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
How are Raptors Classified?
Visit the Rare Kansas Raptors page for more information on other birds not listed here.
All birds belong to the Class Aves. The raptors of Kansas are within two Orders: the Falconiformes (New World vultures, osprey, hawks, harriers, kites, eagles and falcons) and the Strigiformes (owls).
Within those orders, the classification looks like this: