DEC Falconry License Upgrade Requirements

For those looking to upgrade their license this year, this post will hopefully serve as a guide.

Teresa Ruiz, our magnificent, phenomenal, DEC Special Licenses manager offers the following advice to those looking to upgrade.

First, there's no formal "form" you need to fill out. Instead, several written documents are required. Here's what Teresa says about each.

  • A written summary from the licensee documenting their experience. I need more than “I’ve flown a hawk for two years and I’m ready for an upgrade.” Seriously- I *like* reading these! Tell us what you’ve flown, what you’ve learned since your first season, challenges you’ve faced and overcome. Generals are potential sponsors; we need to know that they have the experience and knowledge to possibly mentor someone new to the sport.
  • Up to date 3-186A forms and annual reports. Yes, I do pull all of these (and check the federal database) to make sure that the bird(s) has/have been flown for the required amount of time, that only authorized birds have been taken, and that no more than one replacement has been taken per year.
  • That rules and regs have been followed throughout the Apprentice’s falconry career. (Helpful Hint- Apprentices are only supposed to be flying red tails and kestrels. You can certainly tell us all about that epic hunt you took your sponsor’s gyrfalcon on, but bear in mind that you may not get the response to your upgrade request that you were hoping for. 😉 )
  • Recommendation letters. One must be from the Apprentice’s sponsor, and the other must come from a licensed NYS General or Master falconer *who has evaluated the Apprentice in the field* At the bottom of the attached requirement sheets, the information that needs to be in these recommendation letters is very clearly spelled out. Letters that say nothing more than “This person meets requirements and I recommend that they be upgraded to General” and do not include information on the species of raptors handled, a description of the Apprentice’s skills, an evaluation of the health and appearance of the Apprentice’s bird(s), the Apprentice’s ability and success rate for taking quarry, and dedication to the birds in their care and to the sport of falconry, will be returned. As an Apprentice, if you can’t find someone who will properly evaluate you and give you feedback on your skills and abilities, you may want to consider asking someone else to write the letter.

Thanks for the insight, Teresa!

You can find the requirements to upgrade from Apprentice to General, and General to Master, summarized in the PDF documents below.