DEC announces falconry, wildlife rehabilitator, and leashed tracking dog examinations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced examinations for individuals seeking a license to practice the sport of falconry, become a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, or use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or injured big game animals are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

To provide broader access to the exams, DEC will be offering them online. In-person exams will not be offered this year.

To register for any of these exams, click on the link HERE and then follow the directions provided on the website. Interested participants will receive an email acknowledging registration, and later, an additional one-time link to access the website on the date of the exam.

The deadline for registering to take any of these free exams is Wednesday, Aug. 10. The link to the registration website can also be found on each of the individual license websites HERE.


Apprentice Falconry License

Falconry has a rich history and tradition throughout the world and requires a significant commitment in time and effort. Apprentices are limited to possessing one bird, either an American kestrel or a red-tailed hawk. A falconry study guide and examination manual are available at no cost from DEC. The cost of a five-year falconry license is $40.

To qualify for the Apprentice Falconry License, applicants must:

  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam;
  • be at least 14 years of age;
  • possess a valid New York State hunting license;
  • maintain DEC-approved facilities for housing falconry raptors; and
  • be a resident of New York State.

Wildlife Rehabilitator License

Wildlife rehabilitators provide for the care of injured, sick, and orphaned wild animals for the purpose of returning rehabilitated animals to the wild. Prospective applicants are encouraged to gain experience by serving as an assistant to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A wildlife rehabilitator study guide and examination manual are available at no cost from DEC. There is no cost for the five-year Wildlife Rehabilitator License.


To qualify for the Wildlife Rehabilitator License, applicants must:

  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam;
  • be at least 16 years of age;
  • be interviewed by DEC Regional wildlife staff; and
  • be a resident of New York State.

Leashed Tracking Dog Handler

Leashed tracking dog handlers use their dogs to track and recover dead, wounded, or injured big game. Leashed tracking dog handlers provide a valuable service by aiding hunters in locating wounded big game that otherwise may go unrecovered. A leashed tracking dog study guide is available at no cost from DEC. There is a $50 license fee for the five-year Leashed Tracking Dog Handler License and a $25 non-refundable application fee.

To qualify for a Leashed Tracking Dog Handler License, applicants must:

  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam; and
  • possess a valid New York State hunting license.

To register for any of these exams, visit the NYS DEC Special Licenses Unit website. The link to the registration website is provided on each of the individual license websites.

For questions or assistance, please contact the Special Licenses Unit at NYS DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752; phone: 518-402-8985; Fax: 518-402-8925; Email: [email protected].


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