National falconry gathering hits roadblock in South Dakota
YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Efforts to bring a national falconry gathering back to South Dakota hit a roadblock recently.
The North American Falconers Association hasn’t held a national meet in South Dakota in more than 40 years, and it’s unlikely the group will host its annual event in the state any time soon.
The state’s Game, Fish and Parks Commission recently denied the association’s petition for rule changes to ensure an adequate number of hunting licenses for its national meet, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported .
“The North American Falconers Association (NAFA) would love to return to South Dakota, the location of many historic falconry field meets in the past,” said NAFA President Sheldon Nicolle. “The limited number of non-resident waterfowl licenses creates a significant challenge to the planning and execution of our annual field meet.”
Nicolle said the organization’s annual field meet is a weeklong get-together that typically attracts 200-300 falconers and their families to the host city. The meet is a social gathering, not a competition or a falconry exhibition, he explained.
The extended event creates a major economic influx for the host site, Nicolle said.
“The host community can anticipate between $300,000 and $500,000 being spent by falconers during the meet week,” he said.
The event has “deep roots in South Dakota,” Nicolle said. Eight of the association’s initial field meets were held in Yankton or Centerville between 1963 and 1975.
NAFA is the largest falconry membership organization in the world, Nicolle said.
Box Elder resident Billy Workman belongs to the falconry association and was hoping to bring the tradition back to the state.
He said the state commission’s decision puts the NAFA national meets on hold for now in the Rushmore State.
“Because of the (state’s wildlife) lottery requirements, (NAFA) can’t include South Dakota in the rotation,” Workman said.
This story has been corrected to correct name of organization to North American Falconers Association instead of North American Falcon Association.
Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/