There is nothing like being in the presence of a raptor – to see the huge eyes of owl or to view the curve of a hawk’s beak – and some lucky students are getting a glimpse into the world of raptors and other protected nongame birds during their hunter education classroom instruction in the Treasure Valley. A live raptor ambassador is brought into the classroom to teach students about biology, ecology, and conservation of protected nongame birds. These value-added “Know Your Target” presentations are provided in partnership between the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, the Bureau of Land Management, Boise State University’s Intermountain Bird Observatory, and the Idaho Bird Conservation Partnership.
The illegal shooting of protected nongame wildlife such as owls, hawks, eagles, and other birds such as Long-billed Curlews, is a persistent and prevalent problem and bringing an end to the poaching of Idaho’s wildlife is going to take everyone’s help. Educating the next generation of hunters about the life history of raptors and their ecological role in the food chain – all while seeing a live owl or hawk up close in the classroom – helps establish that vital connection of being a wildlife steward while at home and out in the field.
Though gun safety is a large component of Idaho’s hunter education programs, these classes provide many other important lessons and insights for students such as stressing the importance of responsible, ethical conduct in the field. As future responsible hunters, students are taught to not only know their target but to also do the right thing when no one is watching. Teaching about hunting laws and ethics, wildlife conservation, and identification and management will empower students to become ethical hunters, to set a good example, and to report poaching of Idaho’s wildlife.