College - Author 1
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Department - Author 1
Agricultural Education and Communication Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Agricultural Communication
Kristin McCain-Bender, College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Education and Communication Department
Many raptor species are becoming threatened and, in some cases, endangered as a result of human activity including habitat destruction and pesticide use (Morishita, Fullerton, Lowenstine, Gardner & Brooks, 1998). Because of this, raptor rehabilitation has become increasingly popular in conservation efforts. In North America, the red-tailed hawk is one of the most widespread and commonly known birds of prey (Preston & Beane, 2009). According to the National Audubon Society, the conservation status of red-tailed hawks is currently of least concern and numbers may even be increasing in some areas since the 1960s. While this species is not threatened, the conservation of red-tailed hawks is vital because they are classified as a keystone species in certain areas of North America (LSA Associates Inc., 2008). National Geographic Magazine defines keystone species as “an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.” Keystone species also have low functional redundancy. This means that if the species were to go extinct, there is no other species capable of occupying its ecological niche. In other words, if the numbers of a keystone species dwindle or the species goes extinct, the ecosystem would be forced into irreversible damage. Because of this, rehabilitation of red-tailed hawks is an important practice that contributes to the furtherment of a healthy ecosystem.
In the state of California, an Apprentice Falconry License may be issued to anyone over the age of 12 who submits a New Falconry License Application (DFW 360b), obtains a sponsor, and passes a written examination issued by the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For years, falconry techniques have been used to ensure raptors released are capable of hunting for themselves and reproducing (International Association for Falconry & Conservation of Birds of Prey).