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N.H. Senate president wants to let falconers train owls, too

A barred owl stares back at visitors to the McLane Audubon Center on Sunday, April 17, 2011.
(Neil Blake/Monitor Staff)

A barred owl stares back at visitors to the McLane Audubon Center on Sunday, April 17, 2011. (Neil Blake/Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

If Senate President Peter Bragdon gets his way, New Hampshire falconers will be able to train owls as well as hawks, kites and other birds of prey.

The Milford Republican has introduced a bill for next year broadening the definition of “raptor” under state law to include the Strigidae family of owls. State law currently recognizes only birds of the Accipitridae and Falconidae families as raptors, which can be captured, trained and used to hunt small game by people with falconry permits.

Bragdon said the law change was requested by Martin Connolly, director of the New England School of Falconry and Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Temple, who told him that other states and the federal government consider owls to be raptors, “but we don’t, so he can’t train them.”

This is Bragdon’s second attempt to define owls as raptors under state law. He introduced the same bill last January and it passed the Senate, but died in the House; Bragdon said Connolly missed the House committee hearing due to a miscommunication.

BEN LEUBSDORF

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