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HomeBecoming A Falconer
How to Become a Falconer in Michigan

How To Become A Falconer in Michigan

Step 0: Prepare Yourself

Before making a deep commitment to the sport of falconry and a wild trapped raptor, you should carefully consider how your life will change due to the participation in the sport of Falconry.  Take some time to consider the following items:
  • Do I have the time in my lifestyle to address the specialized needs of a wild-trapped raptor? (Food, Health, shelter, etc.)
  • Do I have enough money to support specialized food and health needs? (freezer space, vet bills, special equipment etc.)
  • Do I have access to multiple areas of hunting land close to where I live during the hunting season? And the time do so (6-10 hours a week)?
  • Am I able to drive over an hour away on a moments notice to take the hawk to a veterinarian clinic that specializes in Raptor Care?

Step 1: Contact the Michigan Hawking Club

Michael Azzopardi is the Public Relations Coordinator for the Michigan Hawking Club and can give you a general overview and answer any immediate questions that you may have. You can contact Michael Azzopardi by email or telephone at (313) 580-1844. You may wish to join the Michigan Hawking Club as a first step. This will get you access to information contained in this website, as well as other resources that will assist you in your steps towards a falconry license. Be sure to read through our MHC Constitution and Club Bylaws to become familiar with the operations of the club.

Step 2: Download the DNR Falconry Informational Documents and Study

The Michigan DNR has all the available information on Falconry in links on their website. These documents are all available as PDF formatted documents from the DNR web page. The subjects which are covered on the federal/state qualifying examination for a falconry permit are listed on the Michigan  DNR website. Knowing this information, as well as other good falconry information (see the suggested reading list) is a good first step to preparing to take the state falconry exam.

Step 3: Take the Falconry Exam

When you are ready to take the examination, telephone the Michigan Department of Natural Resources(DNR), Wildlife Division, Permit Specialist at 517-373-9329. The Permit Specialist can help you make arrangements to take the test at the Department field office nearest you. After taking the test, you will be notified of the results by mail. If you do not pass with a score of 80 percent or better, you may retake the test at your convenience. If you pass the test, you will receive a letter from the Permit Specialist explaining in detail how to proceed through the permitting process.

Step 4: Build Raptor Facilities and Gather Equipment

Construct your raptor holding facility according to state and federal specifications. Contact the Permit Specialist to arrange to have a conservation officer inspect your facilities. Submit to the Permit Specialist:

  • 1) A completed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Falconry Permit Application with a $100 payment for a three year period.
  • 2) An approved Raptor Facilities and Equipment Inspection Report, signed by a conservation officer.
  • 3) A Falconry Sponsorship Agreement signed by you and a general or master falconer willing to act as your sponsor.


Step 5: Falconry Licenses and Permits

After your application is processed, you will receive your approved Federal/State Falconry Permit. At this point you are a licensed apprentice falconer and you may legally acquire either a Red-tailed hawk or an American Kestrel. Your bird must be taken from the wild in a state where lawful. Michigan does allow the trapping of wild raptors by falconers. Before trapping a bird: 1) contact that state to determine their trapping regulations, and 2) contact the Michigan DNR, Wildlife Division, Permit Specialist to obtain an official leg band for your bird.

Step 6: Trap your Falconry Bird

Within 10 days of trapping or importing your bird into Michigan, you must obtain a Veterinarian’s Certificate of Health and keep it on file fore at least one year. Within five days of acquiring your bird, and within five days of any other change in your live bird inventory status, you must complete and submit a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Acquisition and Disposition Report (form 3-186A) in accordance with the instructions on the form.

Step 7: Hunting License and Go Hunting!

Before hunting with your bird, you must acquire an appropriate hunting license. Falconers are restricted to the same hunting seasons and bag limits as other hunters unless otherwise specified within the law. For more information regarding falconry hunting seasons and bag limit variations. At a minimum, you'll need a small game license to begin hunting. You can also find the latest information on Hunting Licenses from the Michigan DNR here.