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Birds of prey breeders meet at weekend hunting event

BREEDERS of birds of prey met in the municipality of Poľný Kesov (in Nitra Region in western Slovakia) on the last weekend of October at the International Falconry Meeting. A total of 75 participants from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, The UK and Norway brought 60 birds – hawks, flacons and eagles – to hunt in the hunting grounds of Nitra and Trnava Regions from October 24 to 26.

BREEDERS of birds of prey met in the municipality of Poľný Kesov (in Nitra Region in western Slovakia) on the last weekend of October at the International Falconry Meeting. A total of 75 participants from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, The UK and Norway brought 60 birds – hawks, flacons and eagles – to hunt in the hunting grounds of Nitra and Trnava Regions from October 24 to 26.

Each morning they gathered, were divided into groups and went hunting, organiser Katarína Hudecová told the SITA newswire. Eagles and hawks hunt for European hares, while flacons hunt for pheasants.

“When the bird captures the game, it proudly sits on the prey and waits for the falconer,” she explained. “The biggest reward is when it can eat directly from the prey.” The game hunted by the bird becomes the property of the falconer. In the end, the best hunters were evaluated.

A falcon costs between €500 and €2,000 and weighs from 600 to 1,000 grams. Breeding is demanding, especially since one has to work extensively with the bird to train it. Hudecová added that hawks weigh about up to 1,100 grams, while females are a third bigger than males and they hunt for bigger game, which is why most breeders prefer females. Deer game is hunted with eagle females, which weigh around four kilograms.

The international meeting was organised by the Slovak Falconers’s Club at the Slovak Hunting Chamber, which has been in existence for more than 40 years. It has 240 members and its goal is to develop the tradition of falconry in Slovakia.

The falconry study course as an optional subject at secondary forestry schools in Banská Štiavnica, Prešov and Liptovský Hrádok, as well as at the Elementary School in Štiavnické Bane and at the Technical University in Zvolen, is the pride of Slovak falconers. “In no other European country is falconry taught in this way, which makes our falconry exceptional in the world,” Hudecová concluded.

Falconry has a tradition going back more than 4,000 years. On Slovak territory, there was a falconry boom in the 9th and 10th centuries, and St Cyril was said to be a falconer as well, according to SITA.

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