Presenter: Matt Reidy

Commission Agenda Item No. 18
Raptor Proclamation
Federal Certification of State Falconry Rules
August 27, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks adoption of a proposed amendment to adopt federal falconry regulations by reference.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 49, the Commission may prescribe rules for the take, capture, possession, propagation, transportation, export, import, and sale of raptors, the times and areas from which raptors may be taken or captured, and species that may be taken or captured; provide standards for possessing and housing raptors held under a permit; prescribe annual reporting requirements and procedures; prescribe eligibility requirements and fees for and issue any falconry, raptor propagation, or nonresident trapping permit; and require and regulate the identification of raptors held by permit holders.

The practice of falconry is regulated at both the state and federal levels. The federal authority to regulate falconry is derived from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and an international treaties to which the United States is a signatory. As with all migratory bird rules, the states may adopt rules that are more restrictive than the federal rules, but may not adopt rules that are less restrictive.

Under current state and federal rules, an applicant for a state falconry permit must apply for a federal falconry permit concurrently with the application for a state permit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has recently conducted a significant revision of federal falconry rule. Part of that revision allows states that meet the federal falconry standards to handle falconry permitting with a single state permit application. In those states, the state becomes, in effect, an administrative agent of the Service. In states that do not participate in joint federal/state falconry certification, applicants must continue to apply for state and federal falconry permits separately. Texas falconers have expressed a strong desire to be administratively regulated by the department alone.

As a consequence of the new federal falconry regulations, the Texas falconry rules are at variance with the federal rules in some instances. Federal rules require federal certification of state rules by September 1, 2009 if the state is to take advantage of the joint permitting program. The proposed amendments would make provisional alterations necessary to temporarily eliminate conflicts with federal falconry rules, which will allow for the certification of the state program by the Service. Meanwhile, the department is currently involved with the regulated community to develop new falconry regulations, which should be ready within the year.

At the May 2009 meeting of the Regulations Committee, staff received permission to publish the proposed amendment in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed amendment appeared in the July 24, 2009, issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 4853). A summary of public comment on the proposed amendment will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends that the commission adopt the proposed motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to §65.261, concerning Applicability, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 24, 2009, issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 4853)."

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Rules