(Above: Northern Goshawk. Photo: F. Dahlmann, Wikipedia)
On August 24, 2020 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry posted a notice of proposed changes in regulations regarding falconry that would remove the limit of 25 per year being taken from the wild by falconers and permit to one per licensed falconer, of whom there are 200+. In addition, the Ministry proposed adding Northern Goshawks to the list of species that may be taken. The Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch (NPH) has made a submission as part of the public comment that was permitted up to October 8, 2020.
The position of the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch is summarized as follows:
- The proposal does not provide adequately detailed population information, and there is little evidence that the best available data have been used to formulate the policy.
- It appears that the annual take of raptors could increase significantly from the 25 allocated by the current lottery; based on data given by the Ontario Hawk Club (Gelynase 2019) the take could at least double. In the absence of a quota, the annual take could increase well beyond that if more falconers elect to take a bird annually, as authorized by the proposal, or if falconry simply becomes more popular.
- The data collected by NPH, and corroborated by other raptor migration monitoring sites, suggest that there has been a significant decline in some raptor populations (Figures 1-4). We are particularly opposed to the proposal to add Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) to the list of allowable wild-take raptors, as count data shows population declines for the species (Figure 1). Additionally, we are opposed to the proposed increased wild-take of Sharp-shinned Hawks (Accipiter striatus), as their populations are declining substantially across North America, and in Ontario specifically, as is supported by our own data (Figure 2).
In light of these concerns, the NPH asks that:
- There be no change in current provisions until more justification, based on the best available and most transparent data, is presented in a full and open manner to permit more informed public discussion.
- The proposal to add Northern Goshawks to the list of permitted wild-take falconry species be abandoned, or at least deferred, until adequate population assessments and analyses be conducted and presented.
- The proposal to increase the quota of wild-take Sharp-shinned Hawks be abandoned, or at least deferred, until adequate population assessments and analyses be conducted and presented.
The full submission can be viewed on the NPH website at nphawkwatch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/NPH-Falconry-submission-final.2021010.2.pdf
Although the period for public comment is closed, you can still influence the debate by writing to your MPP.