After reaching out on social media about potential hunting grounds for her red-tail hawk, apprenticing falconer and new resident Hannah Bridgers got a warm welcome from the East Mountain community.
Bridgers and her husband moved to Edgewood from Georgia and brought with them falconry skills, an enclosure and bird Ember with them. She said that she started her apprenticeship in southern Georgia and was able to transfer her permit to New Mexico.
Bridgers said she was hesitant to reach out at first because of Covid and because she was not sure how people would react to such a request. She said in the end she decided social media was the best way to reach out and was surprised when her post “blew up” on Facebook as dozens of people responded to her inquiries.
“I am in awe of all the people who flooded me with messages and comments,” she said.
Two years of apprenticeship are required for falconry by the state, she said. She said her new sponsor is Tyler Swaden and she feels “very lucky to have met him. Sponsors are mentors and they are the go-to person to get advice about the bird she said.
She said as an apprentice in New Mexico, only two species are allowed to be caught for falconry: the red-tailed hawk and kestrels. She said red-tailed hawks have to be caught when they are juveniles and they must be female so the established breeding population of an area is not disrupted. Because many hawks don’t make it through the first year of life, this is the way to not disturb them and instead help them, she said.
Bridgers is 28 years old and is almost done with her apprenticeship. She holds a degree in Agricultural Education with a concentration on Wildlife and Forestry Services. She said she is up for her general license this fall.
She said her enclosure was built to be moved on a trailer, and it is now installed on their new Edgewood property which has 2½ acres and a house.
She said they have been hunting and flying on public land using an app on her phone which helps identify different public spaces where it’s legal to hunt. She said her sponsor suggested she should use social media to reach out to people with private property to access to more hunting grounds.
Looking forward, Bridgers said she plans to pursue an education permit so that she and her husband can do educations forums for kids in schools and will start the process this summer.