Falcons and bird abatement


Interestingly, in California, Falconers are licensed through the state (CDFW), but those performing bird abatement using their own birds must also register through the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Furthermore, if there is or expected to be a "take", it is the responsibility of the landowner (not falconer) to obtain a depredation permit from the USFWS.

We found this out yesterday after inquiring about a harris hawk being flown over Santa Cruz Subaru for a second day in a row - harassing gulls as it is supposed to do. However, there are active nests with young chicks on adjacent rooftops. The parents were aggressively defending their territory for long periods of time.

At one point, the hawk attacked and injured one of the chicks. This type of casualty is considered "incidental take" and is expected.


Gulls and raccoons and extraordinarily devoted parents. They will not give up trying to protect their young. So, while this hawk is doing it's job of keeping the Santa Cruz Subaru rooftop clear of gulls, its presence imposes an inordinate amount of stress on the neighboring gull parents.

While we support the use of raptors to reduce avian conflicts, care should be taken in planning for the optimum, most sound, most humane use of the birds.

In the end, we had a very good dialogue with the falconer.