Unpleasantness in Pleasanton, CA

Pleasanton Weekly : Hosterman can keep her hawk

I lived from late 2003 to early 2007 in Concord, California. The news story above concerns Pleasanton, a community near Concord. It seems to me to be much todo about nothing.

At basis, it concerns an apprentice falconer who simply wants to have an outside mews in her backyard. This, apparently, was not specifically mentioned in Pleasanton’s municipal regulations, though there are rules permitting the keeping of chickens and other “fowl”.

Now, this likely would never have attracted attention from anyone, but the apprentice falconer also happens to be the current mayor of Pleasanton, Jennifer Hosterman. That brought on various attempts by her political opponents to make things as difficult as possible for Hosterman. This latest report notes that Hosterman was given a temporary permit for her mews.

Some of the commentary reported comes straight out of clueless idiocy, such as the opponent who said of hawks at every opportunity that they were “trained to kill” and that the community would be at risk of Hosterman’s hawk attacking humans and pets. First off, no one needs to “train” a raptor to kill; that’s part of their inherited behavior. Raptors get trained to associate the falconer and good things happening, primarily the availability of food, and to hunt in particular ways. What they are likely to attack, though, primarily comes from untrained instinct. Birds taken from the wild, as it seems Hosterman’s hawk is, generally are quite reticent when it comes to people other than their falconer and unfamiliar animals, like domestic dogs and cats. (A domestic rabbit, though, would be very likely to trigger a response from a hungry hawk.) One suspects here that idiocy in pursuit of political ambition is simply par for the course.

Diane and I have made neighborhood or community regulations a deciding factor in places that we have lived to avoid situations such as Hosterman is facing. We purchased a home in the Sea Isle subdivision of Galveston, Texas in preference to another subdivision precisely because of vagueness in the neighborhood association rules in the other subdivision. In general, there do need to be some limitations on things people can do when packed in like sardines in subdivisions, but there should also be a recognition that those things that do not infringe on the peace of their neighbors or their property values are also not the business of their neighbors.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.