Attention, deer hunters: Deer hunting regulations, including season dates, zones and bag limits, have been finalized for the 2018-19 season and are effective immediately. Click here to see the updated 2018-19 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. To view a video about what is new this year, click here​.

Falconry and Raptor Propagation

Falconry

ATTN: Revisions to 301 KAR 2:195 Falconry, raptor take, and propagation, are in effect, as of April 6, 2018. The revised regulation can be found here.

Falconry, Photo by Mike Matthews

Falconry, Photo by Mike Matthews

General Information

The Falconry Permit pertains to the securing and use of birds of prey for hunting.

If you are interested in becoming a falconer and would like more information, please call 1-800-858-1549 to have an information packet sent to you.

Holders of Kentucky falconry permits must possess a valid annual Kentucky hunting license before taking any raptor from the wild.

Wildlife may be taken within state hunting seasons and bag limits with any legal hunting raptor provided the falconer has in possession a valid falconry permit and a valid hunting license. Note: falconry hunting is closed during the opening weekend of modern firearms for deer (see season dates).


Issuance Cycle

Falconry permits are valid for a period of 3 years from the date of issue. Permits are issued year round.

Classes of Falconry

Three classes of falconry permits are available: apprentice, general, and master. Below is a list of some general differences between the classes.

Apprentice Class
Age 12 (If 12-17, parent or guardian must cosign application and be responsible for your activities)
Possession limit 1
Species American kestrel (Falco Sparverius), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo Lineatus), or Harris’s hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Source Wild or captive-bred; no imprints; cannot take nestlings from the wild
Take from the wild Up to 2 annually (passage birds only)
Duration before upgrade At least 2 years practicing falconry with wild raptors (including at least 4 months each year)
General Class
Age 16 (If 16 or 17, parent or guardian must cosign application and be responsible for your activities)
Possession limit 3
Species A great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) and any member of the Order Falconiformes, except the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), and Stellar’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)
Source Wild or captive-bred
Take from the wild Up to 2 annually
Duration before upgrade At least 5 years practicing falconry at general class (average of 4 months per year, in at least 4 of the last 5 years)
Master Class
Possession limit 5 wild raptors, 3 of which may be eagles (golden, white-tailed, or Stellar’s sea eagle); unlimited captive-bred raptors (excluding eagles) if used for falconry.
Species A great horned owl and any member of the Order Falconiformes, except the bald eagle
Source Wild or captive-bred
Take from the wild Up to 2 annually

Red-tailed Hawk, Photo by Mike Matthews

Red-tailed Hawk, Photo by Mike Matthews


Application Process

To obtain any class of permit, an applicant MUST submit the following materials:

  1. A completed and signed Kentucky Falconry Permit Application;
  2. One check payable to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) for $75; and
  3. A completed Raptor Facilities and Equipment Inspection Report form signed by a KDFWR law enforcement officer and the applicant.

New apprentice applicants must also:

  1. Take an examination administered by KDFWR and score at least an 80%. Contact a local KDFWR law enforcement officer to administer the exam.
  2. Provide a letter from a licensed falconer (holding at least a general level permit) indicating his/her willingness to be a sponsor for the applicant.

New general class applicants must also:

  1. Submit a signed Kentucky Apprentice Falconer Activity Report

New master class applicants must also:

  1. Submit a signed Kentucky General Falconer Upgrade Report

Regulations

Reporting

A migratory bird acquisition and disposition report (Form 3-186A) must be submitted when any raptor is transferred, released, acquired, captured, or re-banded for falconry. The forms may be submitted online or a hardcopy  may be sent to KDFWR (Attn. Falconry), #1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort , KY 40601. USFWS Falconry Database Instructions for Falconers.​​

If a nonresident takes a raptor from KY for falconry, or if a KY resident takes a sharp-shinned hawk eyass for falconry, a Falconry Take Location Report form must be submitted to the Department within 5 days of possession.


Seasons for Taking Raptors for Falconry

SPECIES SEASON FOR TAKING RAPTORS
Passage Birds
Great-horned owl September 1 through October 31 (general and master class only)
All other allowable species September 1 through January 31
Mature Birds (general and master class only)
Great-horned owl September 1 through October 31
American kestrel September 1 through January 31
Eyasses (general and master class only)
All allowable species January 1 through July 31

Sharp-shinned hawk nestlings, Photo by Tony Englert

Sharp-shinned Hawk Nestlings, Photo by Tony Englert

Take of Sharp-shinned Hawk Nestlings for Falconry

Taking sharp-shinned hawk nestlings for use in falconry shall follow the below guidelines:

  1. Only 1 eyass may be taken by a falconer per year.
  2. At least 2 eyasses shall be left in a nest after a take.
  3. A Falconry Take Location Report form must be submitted to the Department within 5 days of possession (you must still submit a Form 3-186A).
  4. Up to 15 eyasses may be taken in any given calendar year (5 for nonresidents; 10 for residents). The falconer is responsible for contacting the Department before the take to ensure the annual quota has not already been met.

Guidelines for Possessing Eagles for Falconry

A master class falconer may possess a golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, or Stellar’s sea eagle with prior approval from the Department. See more info on the guidelines for possessing eagles for falconry.

Nonresidents Transporting or Taking Raptors from KY for Falconry

Nonresidents transporting raptors for falconry purposes:

A nonresident falconer is not required to obtain a wildlife transportation permit to transport raptor(s) into, through, or out of Kentucky as long as he/she holds a valid state or federal falconry permit.

Nonresidents taking raptors from Kentucky for falconry purposes:

A nonresident of Kentucky can take and export raptors from the wild for falconry purposes by submitting, for approval, a Nonresident Raptor Take Form to the Department at least 15 days prior to the take.

The following must be submitted to KDFWR: (1) a completed and signed Nonresident Raptor Take Form, and (2) a legible copy of the nonresident’s federal and/or state falconry permit(s).

A nonresident may take only one wild raptor from Kentucky per calendar year.

Nonresidents may be given approval to take birds from KY for falconry only if their state allows the same for KY residents.

Prior to the take, a nonresident falconer must purchase and have in his/her possession a Kentucky nonresident hunting license.

A copy of the Migratory Bird Acquisition and Disposition Report (Form 3-186A) (http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-186A.pdf) and a Kentucky Falconry Take Location Report must be submitted within five (5) days of the activity.

Raptor Propagation

In order to propagate native raptors, one must hold a state captive wildlife permit and a federal raptor propagation permit.

A falconry bird can be transferred to a propagation permit if the bird has been used in falconry for at least 2 years (1 year for sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, merlins, and American kestrels). If a falconry bird is being used for propagation fewer than 8 months in a year, the bird does not need to be transferred to a propagation permit. The falconer must still possess the necessary state captive wildlife and federal propagation permits. See our Live Wildlife Possession page for additional information.

See 301 KAR 2:081 and Section 8 of 301 KAR 2:195 for regulations pertaining to the holding of captive wildlife and raptor propagation.

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