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The sport of falconry is nearly 4,000 years old, he said, dating back to ancient China and Japan.

"Most kings had a royal falconer," he said. "The falcons were considered noble. In fact, it was illegal for the common man to own certain falcons."

Today, falconry is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its individual state divisions, just like any other kind of hunting or fishing.

It takes at least seven years to become a licensed master falconer. Two of those years are served in an apprenticeship, according to the North American Falconers Association Web site.
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