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Field reports: Snowy, gray owls presentation subjects

BIRDS – The life history of the snowy owl will be described in a free program by Denver Holt, founder of the Owl Research Institute, Tuesday, at the Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene, sponsored by Coeur d’Alene Audubon Society.

Great gray owls will be discussed in a program by wildlife biologist Mike Munts, sponsored by the Spokane Audubon Society at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Riverview Retirement Community’s Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. Munts, who works at the Little Pend Orielle National Wildlife Refuge, was previously involved in research on great grays in Idaho.

Idaho peregrines OK for falconry?

BIRDS – Once deemed an endangered species, the American peregrine falcon is being considered by Idaho wildlife officials as a new species for training by falconry enthusiasts.

The Department of Fish and Game is taking comment on a proposal to allow the capture of two juvenile peregrines from the wild annually to take part in the centuries-old art of falconry.

Several states — including Montana, Washington, Oregon and Utah — already allow the capture of peregrines. The agency is now taking public comments on its proposed rules for capturing first-year peregrines.

Captured wild peregrines were used by North American falconers from 1938 to 1970 when the raptors were added to the list of threatened and endangered species. Until 2004, nearly all peregrines used in falconry were bred in captivity. Falconers were instrumental in the reintroduction and recovery of wild peregrines.

BLM proposes Idaho wilderness

PUBLIC LAND – The Bureau of Land Management has released its draft management plan for six wilderness areas and 16 wild and scenic river segments in southwestern Idaho, and is seeking public comments.

The Draft Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River Management Plan includes about 518,000 acres and 325 miles of wild and scenic river in Owyhee County. The comment period runs through April 30 for the plan intended to guide management for the next decade.

The six rugged Owyhee Wilderness Areas became federally protected preserves in 2009 after U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, cobbled together a coalition of ranchers, wilderness advocates, outdoor enthusiasts and others in an effort called the Owyhee Initiative. The sweeping land-use package added six wilderness areas and opened other previously off-limits areas to motorized recreation, livestock grazing and other activities.

It also provided ranchers with cash and federal land in exchange for giving up private land and giving up some grazing rights .

The six wilderness areas are the 50,929-acre Little Jacks Creek Wilderness, the 12,533-acre Pole Creek Wilderness, the 42,413-acre North Fork Owyhee Wilderness, the 267,328-acre Owyhee River Wilderness, the 52,826-acre Big Jacks Creek Wilderness, and the 89,996-acre Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness.

Livestock grazing will be allowed in the wilderness areas because ranching has been part of the Owyhee Canyonlands for more than a century, the BLM noted.