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The Birds of Prey Need Protection

April 01, 1990

Your article on falconry, "Hawking the Virtues of a Medieval Sport" (Times, March 11), was presented in such a way as to glamorize the keeping of birds of prey in captivity. The article lacked any discussion about the opposition to falconry or changes in state laws that may soon take effect.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently conducted a criminal sting known as "Operation Falcon," and there were at least 75 successful prosecutions for illegal trafficking in birds of prey. Several breeders, for example, made millions of dollars each selling goshawks, peregrines and gyrfalcons.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Fish and Game has proposed to bring California into compliance with the more liberalized federal regulations. These same laws were responsible for the extent of criminal activity uncovered by the sting.

What we need, based on the criminal element in falconry, are more stringent laws protecting raptors and a prohibition on the sale of birds of prey. While freedom to keep any number of birds of prey and sell them may seem appropriate in a democratic country such as ours, they are enormously harmful to birds of prey and should be defeated.

J. RICHARD HILTON

President,

Society for the Preservation

of Birds of Prey

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