Wild Raptors in Ontario Falconry

Wild raptors play an important role in the traditions and heritage of falconry. Capturing a wild raptor requires patience, skill and an understanding of raptors in nature. The training of a wild raptor sharpens a falconer’s skills, deepening their appreciation of all wildlife as well as the importance of conservation.

Recognizing the importance of practising falconry in a traditional way, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) authorizes the capture of a limited number of raptors from the wild by licensed falconers. All of the allowed species have large, stable populations and many studies have shown that the use of wild raptors in falconry is entirely sustainable.

Before trapping a wild bird, licensed falconers must apply for and obtain an Authorization, or “permit”.  In order to help you understand the process and requirements, we have prepared the following tips and information.

Top 10 things to know about Authorizations to capture a wild bird of prey.

1. Applications are available on March 1 and are due by March 31;

Applications can be obtained from:
Linda McGuire, Game Draw Clerk; Fish and Wildlife Services Branch, MNRF,
300 Water St, 5th floor,
North Peterborough, ON K9J 8M5

Completed applications should be submitted by March 31.

A lottery will be held in April and 25 authorizations will be issued. Authorizations are valid until the end of December. Successful applicants will receive their permit in the mail. Those who are not successful will not be contacted.

2. Each authorization allows for the capture of only one wild bird and you must trap your own bird.

3. You may trap a red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk or merlin. You do not need to specify the species on your application.

4. No haggard (over 1 year old) birds of prey may be captured. Trapped birds must be a passage (hatch year) birds or an eyass (nestling), with the exception of red-tailed hawks, which cannot be taken as an eyasses.

5. Only residents of Ontario who are licensed falconers and who hold an Apprentice, General Falconry or Commercial Falconry licence are eligible to apply. Please note: Commercial use, breeding, sale, trade or bartering of birds of prey captured from the wild is prohibited.

6. Successful applicants must submit a year-end report of capture activities to the MNRF. The report indicates which species of bird was captured, where and when it was captured or whether no bird was taken. You must report to the MNRF even if you do not trap a bird. This is a mandatory requirement of the authorization. This report can take the form of a quick email to your local office; be sure to reference your capture authorization number.

7. Once you have trapped a bird, you must band it immediately. Bands are available from the OHC – see below.

8. Please don’t trap in highly public areas or on busy roads—these are a danger to you and the bird being trapped. Do not leave a trap unattended (i.e. do not use Swedish goshawk traps)

Releasing a wild-caught raptor:

9. It is possible to release a wild-taken raptor back to the wild provided certain conditions are met. Birds should not be released unless they can easily re-integrate into the wild. They must be healthy, fit, in good feather and capable of hunting on their own. The release must occur during the appropriate season (e.g. during the migratory period for that species) and when there is adequate wild food available.

It is your responsibility as an ethical falconer to ensure released birds can successfully transition back to independence. You should carefully consider the long-term commitment required before taking a bird, especially an eyass.

10. In order to release a bird back to the wild you must complete an application and obtain an Authorization to Release Wildlife from the MNRF.

Bands and Additional Information:

Full details  are available on the MNRF website

Order a leg band for your wild trapped bird.

Band application instructions