A life long passion for raptors

Master falconer Frank Taylor, in his backyard with his red-tailed hawk Mim, Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 in White Bear Lake. (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

That's master falconer Frank Taylor in a recent photo he supplied of Mim, the eight-year-old red-tailed hawk he keeps and hunts with.

You can hear a new Minnesota Sounds and Voices story about Frank and Mim today on All Things Considered, and you can see some other great images of them on our website at MPRNews.org

Growing up as a farm kid with access to a .22 caliber rifle, I took my share of potshots at all manner of creatures. I don't have a recollection of hitting even one of them, however human predation continues to be a hazard for raptors, seen by some as threats to the game bird population including pheasants, partridge and the like.

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Frank, an avid raptor educator, points out birds of prey tend to take the sick and weak of any population they prey on.

Besides being shot, raptors, like most birds, suffer a very high mortality early in life. As many as seventy-five percent die from disease and all the afflictions out there in the natural world including the threat of being eaten by other critters.

There are tough federal and state laws protecting birds of prey.

Here's the language from the U. S. Department of the Interior: "...All raptors are protected by state and federal regulations. It is illegal to capture or kill a raptor; possess a raptor (living or dead), or any pieces or parts of raptors, including feathers, without proper permits from state and federal government agencies."

Frank Taylor, who lives in White Bear Lake, has the required permits which allowed him to trap Mim and keep her for hunting. And he has a banding permit which allows him to trap, band and release hawks in support of research.

You'll see Frank and Mim every year at the Game Fair in Anoka where they make an appearance. They also visit scouting groups and schools.

Frank, who is 63, predicts that one day he'll let Mim go when he's physically unable to keep up with her on hunting trips. And he also predicts that because she was captured as a wild bird she'll probably survive because her instincts are still very much intact.