Using Raptors for Wildlife Abatement in Minnesota

Separate permits are required to use raptors for wildlife abatement in Minnesota. "Abatement" means using raptors to remove animals from undesirable locations through disturbance or capture or to remove animals under a state or federal depredation permit through disturbance or capture.  Other permits or licenses may be required under game and fish laws for the capture or taking of animals. 

  • EXCEPTION: Minnesota falconers do not need an abatement permit to disturb or capture game species during the game season, provided no payment is received for the activity and they have the appropriate game permit, license, or stamp for the game to be taken or disturbed.
  • EXCEPTION: Holders of a valid Master Falconry Permit in good standing or a valid General Falconry Permit in good standing may conduct abatement activities as subpermittees of a holder of a Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit in Minnesota.  The abatement permit holder must add the subpermittees to both their federal and state permits.

Please note: Falconry and raptor abatement are fundamentally different activities.  Falconry is the art of training and using a raptor to hunt quarry for sport. Abatement is the act of using a trained raptor to flush, haze, or pursue (and in some cases to take) depredating birds or other wildlife to mitigate damage done by those animals.

Topics in this section include:

  1. Obtaining a Raptor Abatement Permit
  2. Raptors used in Abatement
    1. Raptors
    2. Permit Possession Issues
  3. Subpermittees under a Raptor Abatement Permit
  4. Regulations Specific to Raptor Abatement Permits
  5. Reporting Requirements
  6. How to Renew your Permit

 

1. To obtain a Raptor Abatement Permit:

A Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit is required to conduct abatement activities in the United States (issued under Federal Regulations 50-CRF 21.27 with guidance outlined in the application and permit based on USFWS Migratory Bird Permit Memorandum: Abatement Activities Using Raptors dated Aug. 22, 2007).  Federal Abatement permits are only valid if the permittee is also in compliance with state requirements.

A Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit is required to conduct abatement activities in Minnesota.  The permit is also required in order for the permittee to possess raptors that are used for abatement purposes; however, under current regulations, the raptors must be held under the permittee's Falconry Permit, at least while the raptors are held in Minnesota.  See "Permit Possession Issues" (below) for raptor possession information.

  1. Permittees must be the holder of a valid Minnesota Master Falconry Permit in good standing.
  2. Apply for and receive a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.
  3. Construct facilities (both mews and weathering area) and pass the facility and equipment inspection.
    • NOTE: Facility schematics must be included with the application form.  Facility schematics must include dimensions for each holding area, the number of birds stored in each holding area, and whether the birds will be tethered or free in each holding area.
  4. If the raptors are to be transported, raptors must be transported and temporarily held in facilities the meet federal falconry facilities regulation standards.
  5. Return the completed Raptor Abatement Permit Application Form and all required documentation to the Falconry Coordinator at [email protected].
    • NOTE: Submission of the application form and required documentation constitute the "proposal or business plan" listed in regulation for Raptor Abatement Permits.
    • NOTE: All experience working as a subpermittee under other permittee's abatement permits should be listed and Permittees should include copies of the permits listing them as a subpermittee.

 

2. Raptors used in a Raptor Abatement Program

a) Raptors

Raptors used in abatement activities:

  • May only be propagated raptors.
    • NOTE: Wild raptors may NOT be used in abatement activities.
  • Must be banded with a seamless band issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • May be any raptor species that can be used for falconry.
    • EXCEPT: The use of Bald Eagles or Golden Eagles for abatement is prohibited by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. 
    • NOTE: Hybrid raptors and raptors not native to Minnesota can only be used if they are fitted with two radio transmitters so they can be tracked and recovered if they are lost.

Additional stipulations:

  • Raptor species (and hybrids of those species) must be listed on the permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.
  • Only raptors possessed by the permittee may be used for abatement purposes; permittees may not use raptors belonging to others, including their subpermittees, for abatement purposes.
  • Permittees may use their falconry birds for abatement purposes.
  • Subpermittees may not use their own falconry birds or the permittees falconry birds for abatement activities.
  • Subpermittees may only use raptors that are held by the permittee under their Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.

 

b) Permit Possession Issues

  • While kept in Minnesota: Although the federal abatement permit authorizes possession, a Minnesota state permit for possession is also required to possess raptors for abatement in Minnesota.  Therefore, all raptors used in a raptor abatement program must be transferred to the permittee's Falconry Permit, which authorize raptor  possession for abatement in conjunction with a Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit (Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permits allow the permittee to conduct abatement activities in Minnesota--they do not authorize possession of birds).  With a Raptor Abatement Permit, permittees are allowed to possess additional birds under their Falconry Permit, beyond the standard 5 raptors allowed for Master Falconers, for abatement purposes. 
    • NOTE: There is no limit to the number of raptors that may be held under a permittee's Master Falconry Permit when they are in possession of a Raptor Abatement Permit, provided that the permittee properly cares for each raptor as required under state and federal regulations and uses it for abatement activities.
    • Under federal regulations, falconry birds may be used for abatement without transferring them to a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit; however, raptors held under a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit may not be used for falconry without first transferring them to a falconry permit
  • While kept in other states: Raptors used in a raptor abatement program may be transferred to the permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit or they may keep the raptors on their Falconry Permit. 
    • NOTE: Permittees must follow all federal regulations and permit conditions and all regulations for the state that the abatement activities will be conducted. 
    • NOTE: Facilities used to house raptors when in other states must comply with federal falconry facilities regulations and the facilities regulations of the state that the abatement activities will be conducted. 
    • Reasons to transfer the birds to the Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit: Subpermittees may only use raptors under the permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.  Subpermittees cannot use their own falconry raptors or those of the Permittee for abatement purposes. Permittees may still use their falconry birds for abatement without transferring them to a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.  

 

3. Subpermittees under a Raptor Abatement Permit

Subpermittee issues:

  • Currently, subpermittees cannot perform abatement activities in Minnesota; however, they may care for a permittee's raptors.  Minnesota regulations allows for raptor possession for abatement purposes only under the Raptor Abatement Permittee's Falconry Permit; however, current federal permit conditions only allow subpermittees to use raptors held under the permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.  Subpermittees cannot use the permittee's falconry raptors or their own falconry raptors.
  • Only Minnesota Falconers with valid General or Master Falconry Permits may act as subpermittees under a Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit
  • Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permits may have subpermittees for other states in addition to any Minnesota subpermittees.
  • Apprentices may also be subpermittees under a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permits, and they may fly any species of raptor held under the permittee's permit when conducting abatement activities when in other states (provided raptor abatement is allowed under that state's regulations).
  • The permittee is responsible for the conduct of subpermittees on their permit while the subpermittees conduct abatement activities.
  • Other individuals (non-falconers) may provide care for the permittee's raptors, but they may not fly the raptors. They must be identified as subpermittees under the permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit and identified as assistants under the permittee's Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit.
  • Each subpermittee must have a copy of the Permittee's Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit and a dated letter from the permittee identifying them as the permittee's subpermittee.
  • Minnesota falconry permittees may become subpermittees of permittees from other states; however, they may not conduct abatement activities under such a permit in Minnesota, only in other states (provided raptor abatement is allowed under that state's regulations). 

 

4. Regulations specific to Raptor Abatement Permits

  • Permittees must have adequate raptor abatement facilities maintained according to federal regulations for the number and species of raptors to be held under their permit.  See "Care, Facilities, and Inspections" for more information.
  • All raptors possessed by permittees must be housed and cared for according to federal and state regulations in safe, humane, and healthy conditions to assure their well-being at all times.
  • Permittees are responsible for all liability associated with raptor abatement activities undertaken.
  • Under federal regulations, falconry birds may be used for abatement without transferring them to a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit; however, raptors held under a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit may not be used for falconry without first transferring them to a falconry permit
  • Permittees must carry copies of their federal and state abatement permits and falconry permit while conducting abatement activities.  Subpermittees must carry copies of the abatement permits that the subpermittee is working under while conducting abatement activities.
  • Permittees may receive payment for providing abatement services provided they have a Federal Special Purpose Abatement Permit.
  • When using raptors in other states for abatement purposes, permittees must keep the raptors quarantined from other birds for at least 48 hours prior to returning to Minnesota.  If any of the animals show signs of illness, they must be seen by a vet and cleared of any illness before returning to Minnesota.
  • Other permits or licenses may be required under state and federal game and fish laws for the capture or taking of animals.
  • Depredation permits/orders:
    • If a permittee intends to take (kill, capture, or injure) migratory birds with their raptor to reinforce nonlethal management techniques, the take must be authorized either by a Federal Migratory Bird Depredation permit or a Federal Depredation Order, as well as equivalent state authorizations when necessary (in Minnesota contact [email protected]).
    • A Depredation permit must be obtained by the landowner or public land manager of the property where the depredation problem is occurring and the abatement permittee must be identified as a subpermittee under that permit. 
    • Take using raptors can also be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the depredation orders for blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, crows and magpies (see 50 CFR 21.43) and designated species in California (see 50 CFR 21.44). 
    • You do not need a Federal Migratory Bird permit to scare, herd, flush, or haze depredating migratory birds other than threatened or endangered species or Bald Eagles or Golden Eagles. You also do not need a Federal Migratory Bird Depredation permit to kill birds that are not protected by the MBTA, such as starlings, rock doves (pigeons), and house sparrows.

 

5. Reporting Requirements

  • When transferring raptors between their permits and to/from permits held by other individuals, permittees must submit a 3-186a to both their Regional Migratory Bird Permit Issuing Office and to the Falconry coordinator. See "Banding and Raporting" for more information.
  • Permittees must also report the take of any MBTA-protected species by a raptor during abatement activities to the appropriate depredation permit holder or, if the take was authorized under a depredation order, to the landowner, if applicable.
  • Permittees must submit a completed abatement form by January 31 of each year for January 1 to December 31 of the preceding year.  Your records should include a list of each raptor you acquired or disposed of under your permit, and those birds currently possessed under your permit, and an accounting of the abatement activities for which each bird was used (dates and locations of services).

 

6. How to Renew your Permit

Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permits are valid for 3 years, and expire on September 30 of the 3rd year.  Please note: Federal Raptor Abatement Permits require a separate renewal process.  To renew your Minnesota Raptor Abatement Permit you must:

  1. Pass a facilities and equipment inspection performed by a Conservation Officer, Nongame Specialist, or Falconry Coordinator.
  2. Apply for and receive a Federal Raptor Abatement Permit.
  3. Return the completed Raptor Abatement Permit Application Form and all required documentation to [email protected] when replying via email to the Annual Falconry Information Email.
  4. Renewal requests must be submitted 30 days before the permit expires.

 

The above information is a brief summary of the state and federal falconry regulations. For complete falconry and raptor abatement regulations, consult Minnesota Rules Chapter 6234.0800, Chapter 6238, and Federal Regulations 50-CRF 21.29 and 50-CRF 21.30.