Moose Jaw City Council has reversed course by allowing falconry birds within city limits. 

Coun. Kim Robinson made a motion during Tuesday night's city council meeting to exempt hawks and falcons from the Keeping of Prohibited Animals bylaw for the purposes of falconry. 

The motion was passed 4-3 with councillors Crystal Froese, Heather Eby and Dawn Luhning opposed. 

This comes on the heels of city council voting down a special exemption during the Oct. 10 meeting when a falconer asked to be exempt from the bylaw in order to keep a hawk for falconry. 

Currently under the bylaw, raptors, diurnal and nocturnal birds such as eagles, hawks and owls are prohibited within city limits with exemptions on the Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds (the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre). 

However, under the bylaw, pigeons are permitted as long as they are a member of the Moose Jaw Racing Pigeon Club or the Band City Racing Pigeon Club. 

Robinson's motion allowed for hawks and falcons to be kept in city limits as long as the handler and birds were members of a falconry-related association. 

Robinson said the keeping of these birds for the purpose of falconry is strictly regulated provincially. 

"I think that the concerns council had before as far as the mews and a weathering station all fall under the provincial regulations. They are very closely monitored by conservation officers,” Robinson said. 

Mayor Clive Tolley said he had since changed his mind after speaking with a long-time falconer. 

"He reassured more that there are many falcons and hawks that have been kept throughout the province safely and it's a situation where the handlers go out into the country to work with their birds,” Tolley said. 

Coun. Doug Blanc said he learned that there may have been an exemption for an individual to keep a hawk within city limits many years ago. 

"I actually had a former councillor contact me and say that about 10 years ago this council approved an individual to have a hawk within the city. I tried to contact the individual but unfortunately, he passed away about three years ago,” Blanc said. 

There was some controversy at the previous city council meeting when Robinson gave notice of the motion. Coun. Dawn Luhning called for a point of order as a similar motion was defeated on Oct. 10. Under section 28 of the procedures bylaw for motion reconsideration, new information must be presented, and notice must be given 24 hours after the motion was given in order for it to be reconsidered.  

City solicitor Andrew Svenson clarified at the Oct. 24 meeting that, in his view, the motion was different because Robinson’s motion, while similar, deals with an amendment to a bylaw and not an individual's request for an exemption. 

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