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I am one of those people who has always made sure that I do everything legally, especially when working with raptors. My permits are dear to me. I have worked too hard to get the credentials to do anything that will jeopardize them.

Convinced that the authorities would be extremely interested in what I am doing if they should stumble upon me in the field, I have made it a point to be in total compliance with the laws and to have my permits with me whenever I am out in the field. I am an ambassador for bird banders in my area and I do not want to let the rest of the banding community down by doing something illegal or stupid.

In light of these facts, I have always been ready to produce my permits without a second\'s hesitation, if requested. There have been several occasions throughout the years that I thought I would have to explain my behavior and present my permits to questioning authorities.

I live in an extremely rural region of the state, pinned between the mighty Saint Lawrence River and the northern Adirondacks. Living in northern New York has made it essential that I keep my nose clean.

This is a sparsely populated area where everybody knows each other or has heard of each other. As a high school teacher and adjunct professor, I am always under the microscope, so it is imperative that I maintain a spotless reputation.

Through the last several years, however, I have had many experiences that have made me question why I have permits. I have always believed that due to our closely knitted region, I am a known entity and the proper authorities are all aware of me and my activities.

Confirmation of this belief happened in 2007 at a random border patrol checkpoint on state Route 37, a mile from the village of Massena. After work I had driven to Massena to grab some much-needed supplies at the mall when I \