Sherry Teresa, an associate wildlife biologist specializing in endangered species with the California Department of Fish and Game, said: "They don't breed that way in the wild. It's just for falconers to have these superbirds . . . like (breeding) a grizzly bear with a polar bear."
Former Peregrine Fund director Dan Brimm said: "I'm a little uneasy with it myself."
Dean Amadon, chairman emeritus of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and author of "Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World," said: "I would favor taking something as close as you could, but . . . I don't think any harm has been done by mixing up these birds. The important thing is we're getting 'em back."
Clayton White, a professor of zoology at Brigham Young University, is both a director of the Peregrine Fund and a member of the FWS-appointed recovery team.
"The Peregrine Fund has created some problems because it has, by default, more or less monopolized the breeding and turning loose of peregrines," White said. "Private breeders want to be able to sell their product. (But) the Peregrine Fund makes no money on this."
Burnham said that 90% of the peregrines bred at Boise are anatums.
Besides, says Berry, president of the North American Raptor Breeders' Assn., non-endangered species, such as gyrfalcons, are plentiful in Canada and Alaska.
"We've created an artificial market for something that is common," he said. "There will never be any profit in the sale of falcons."
The Montana license plates on McPartlin's mud-splattered pickup truck read "PERE GYR," the mark of a dedicated falconer.
But he has been repeatedly discredited in Hawk Chalk, the NAFA newsletter, which has cited his '72 conviction for transporting two gyrfalcons across state lines without proper permits. McPartlin says the violation was inadvertent, although he pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $200.
Shor said: "He was convicted (by NAFA) of lying on his application for membership."
NAFA claims that McPartlin approached the Fish and Wildlife Service, offering to entrap and snitch on falconers.
"Absolutely not," says Nando Mauldin, who was then special agent in charge of special operations for the FWS.
Mauldin says that in 1977, aware of McPartlin's arrest record, he and agent Dave Kirkland went to Montana to recruit McPartlin. They paid him $2,000 a month. Afterward, McPartlin received several awards and commendations, including the prestigious Chevron Conservation Award, plus a $15,000 bonus from the FWS in ceremonies at Washington, D.C. His wife received $5,000.
But he has been blacklisted by falconers' organizations nationwide.
NAFA also has accused McPartlin of trying to arrange to have two falconer-breeders killed. That accusation arose from a curbside conversation on June 28, 1984, between McPartlin and Marcus Ciesielski, a West German who with his brother Lothar was reputed to be a major falcon smuggler.
McPartlin tells it this way: "The night before takedown, I was with another (FWS) federal agent, John Gavitt, sitting on a curb in front of a motel in Great Falls with Marcus Ciesielski a few hours before his arrest.
"I said, 'Marcus, (David) Jamieson is really causing me trouble . . . turning me in to the feds.'
"He said, 'Oh, maybe we help. Maybe many broken bones and six months in hospital will work.'
"I said, 'Well, it's both Jamieson and (Steve) Baptiste, and I don't think (that) will do it.'
"And he looked at me calmly and said, 'Well, then we terminate them.'
"I said, 'What will it cost?'
"He said, 'You are a friend of my father. Maybe a little bit of money for the airplane and one female gyrfalcon.'
" 'How will you do it?'
" 'We have a man who comes over from Ankara, Turkey, and Interpol can't catch him.'
"The whole purpose of that conversation was to determine the ability of the Ciesielskis to pull a hit on McPartlin, once it was learned that I was acting as an undercover federal agent."
Operation Falcon was climaxed the next day with coordinated raids by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service agents on suspected illegal falcon traffickers in the two countries.
McPartlin had tried to "sting" falconers by selling them birds he had removed from the wild legally, under a special permit he had been issued by the FWS.
Canadian journalist Paul McKay spent a year researching the operation, then wrote an award-winning report in Whig-Standard magazine two years ago and published a book expanding the story: "The Pilgrim and the Cowboy."
McKay's view is that many honest and innocent falcon fanciers were hurt in the sting. His treatment was not kind to McPartlin or Khalsa.
NAFA's Shor said: "I examined the Operation Falcon data and concluded it was a fraud."
The National Wildlife Federation's LeFranc disagrees.
"That's what the falconry people would like everyone to think," he said. "They argue that if the market wasn't there, they wouldn't have done anything illegal."