Meet Kikki, a gyrfalcon biologists found injured in a field near Beaumont on April 1, 2016.
One year after she was found, Kikki was released back to the wild thanks to the work of Steve Schwartze, who worked with the falcon to get it to peak physical fitness before releasing it in March 2017.
“To hunt successfully, a bird of prey needs to be firing on all 12 cylinders,” Provincial Wildlife Status Biologist Gordon Court says. “And this is why when injured falcons are helped by wildlife rescue organizations, there can be a lot of work to be done before they can be released back into the wild.”
Swooping, spiraling, diving and whirling. Seeing the graceful movement of a hawk on the hunt, you can start to understand why they are compared to Olympic athletes and why there is still an immense interest in falconry.
“Falconry is recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Activity. It’s been practiced for 4,000 years. And while it’s not widely celebrated here in Alberta, there is a global tradition of hunting with birds of prey,” Provincial Wildlife Status Biologist Gordon Court says. “While some people in Alberta would like to own a falcon, it’s strictly regulated and you must hunt with them. It takes a lot of work to look after one of these birds – that’s probably why there are fewer than 40 people in Alberta who are licensed to do so.”