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Falconers to be allowed to take young from peregrine falcon nests in UK (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
What I am questioning is the legitimacy of falconry "as an ancient tradition" in the first place, and in a wider, worldwide context, as it's obvious that 6 birds won't affect the overall numbers of the Peregrine population in the UK.

But if you make it a legitimate heritage-related activity you can't object to the same activity taking place elsewhere (i.e. in the Arab world) to much less stringent standards and without any means of effectively knowing what is actually going on, which is what is happening in Italy as well, where there isn't a long-standing tradition of prosecuting wildlife crimes (there are most important things to think about is their thinking) and poaching is rife.

I also question the whole idea of taking wild birds and raising them in captivity for leisure, fun, sport, call it what you like. You have seen the photos above and I ask you if this is a fate that you would wish on any creature, wild or not.

Tradition, are, that old one, applied to Bullfighting, Ortolan trapping, whale harvest, eating Puffins, shooting, they all get some kind of protection under EU law despite their barbarity.

What the birds are being used to hunt is a big issue, I can't speak to the conditions they're kept in, is hooding a bird any worse than putting blinkers on a horse which, I don't agree with btw and seing a charter flight for BOP's was surreal

I've also read, that birds raised in Northern areas, don't do well in the Middle East and soon end up sick, particularly Gyrs it seems?
 
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Muppit17

Well-known member
Tradition, are, that old one, applied to Bullfighting, Ortolan trapping, whale harvest, eating Puffins, shooting, they all get some kind of protection under EU law despite their barbarity.

What the birds are being used to hunt is a big issue, I can't speak to the conditions they're kept in, is hooding a bird any worse than putting blinkers on a horse which, I don't agree with btw and seing a charter flight for BOP's was surreal

I've also read, that birds raised in Northern areas, don't do well in the Middle East and soon end up sick, particularly Gyrs it seems?

Andy

You have good points, but I am not sure that the first is just a not just anti-eu rant. As far as I know;
- Bull fighting is not covered by eu law.
- Ortolan hunting and eating is illegal but still happens especially in France
- Whale hunting as far as I understand only happens in Norway, Iceland & Faroes - non of which are part of the EU
- Eating puffins - only iceland? ditto
- shooting - all is banned under the EU wildbird directive, but each member country has negotiated opt outs that negates the effect including the UK

In terms of what they are used to hunt is a big issue. I am not naive enough to belief that the millions being pumped by the oil states into Bustard captive breeding (McQueen's in the UAE and Houbara in Morocco) is for altruistic reasons. These are the primary cultural hunted species (together with Stone Curlew) for the nomadic arabs. They appear to be breeding them, like we do pheasants - for sport.

The whole idea of traditional falconry in the Middle East was it was seasonal and 'leaky'. Birds were caught an Autumn migration and let go to breed the following spring. This led to many birds disappearing and they were at best semi-wild. It is only in the last few decades where they have been kept, cross bred with other species and we have a whole host of hybrids flying around.

I think that there a two key points,
1. The UK law allows for the taking from the wild for falconry. English Nature are obligated under that law to issue licences if the stated conditions are met. If we don't like it we should campaign to get the law changed. I certainly wasn't aware of this loophole and now I know I will assist in the campaign.
2. This make a mockery of the UK's stance of berating other countries' failure to improve their wildlife protection. We need to get our house in order.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Andy

You have good points, but I am not sure that the first is just a not just anti-eu rant. As far as I know;
- Bull fighting is not covered by eu law.
- Ortolan hunting and eating is illegal but still happens especially in France
- Whale hunting as far as I understand only happens in Norway, Iceland & Faroes - non of which are part of the EU
- Eating puffins - only iceland? ditto
- shooting - all is banned under the EU wildbird directive, but each member country has negotiated opt outs that negates the effect including the UK

That doesn't even deserve a reply.
 

Patudo

Well-known member
One of the individuals who has been issued a license (Gary Wall) has written up some "detail and background" on the Mark Avery site: https://markavery.info/2020/04/16/guest-blog-taking-peregrines-from-the-wild-for-falconry-by-gary-wall/

The recent post by a former head of the RSPB investigations and species protection team on the same site (and the comments that follow) are also of interest: https://markavery.info/2020/05/01/guest-blog-peregrines-and-licences-by-bob-elliot/

-----------------------

After reading all that, my thoughts/opinions (for what they are worth, which, along with those of most commentators on this issue, are less than nothing) are...

Although the peregrine as a UK species is stable enough to support the numbers of young for which licenses have been issued, the importance of the species to those who have worked hard for its protection here in the UK should also be acknowledged - just as American falconers were rewarded for the part they played in the reestablishment of peregrine populations in the United States by being allowed to fly wild-caught peregrines. It seems to me that a good way for justice to be "seen to be done" would be to impose conditions to the licenses so that licensees are perceived as unquestionably giving back more than the six young they are licensed to take. One way this could be achieved might be in providing protection for nest sites whose success has historically been limited by persecution. Apparently young cannot (per the Gary Wall piece) be taken from nest sites in Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, parts of the Pennines and Yorkshire. Why not turn this on its head - select say a dozen nest locations in those areas that have a poor record of success due to to human interference, and make the licensees invested in their success in the most direct way?

I think all of us who have watched a peregrine stoop (as I did myself, dramatically, this last Saturday) will agree that few more thrilling sights can be seen or imagined. The falconer spends much time, trouble and expense to achieve, via a great deal of training and orchestration, what us lucky birders get to see for free. Although I would still prefer to watch wild peregrines even if possessed of sufficient time and finances to practice falconry, I cannot object to falconry birds properly kept and flown regularly at wild quarry on either animal welfare grounds, as high standards of welfare are required to maintain falconry birds to the high level of fitness and condition required to be successful at wild quarry or the more nebulous criteria that the birds live an existence that approximates what they would do in the wild.

However, as I noted in my previous post, the use of wild-taken young for the express purpose of captive breeding does not seem to accord with historic UK falconry practice, which, as regards to peregrines, involved flying at quarry with young taken from UK nests or birds caught on migration, normally in Holland.

The objective of (in Gary Wall's words) of making available to falconers "native Peregrines that could be used for falconry, reducing the risk of genetic pollution, and providing British falconers with a native source of birds that would reconnect with their cultural heritage" could be met by other, less obviously intrusive, means than taking young from the nest. Every year a certain number of young fledging from urban nest locations (more than six across the UK, I'll bet) come to ground. These would certainly not survive without human intervention and could be issued to falconers who could demonstrate the ability and opportunity to fly them regularly at recognized quarry species on a lottery basis, possibly with the stipulation that these birds be returned to the wild after their second season. The price for this access to wild youngsters could be monetary (ie. prospective licensees pay for access to the lottery, with proceeds invested in conservation), or in kind, via nest protection activities. The objective, again, being to ensure that licensees are perceived as putting in more than what they take out.

One of the comments on the Gary Wall link (by another practising falconer) raises a number of questions, of which the following seem particularly relevant because of sensitivities regarding the captive-breeding industry and concerns over whether the progeny of young taken under license will go to UK falconers or "abroad". I have taken the liberty of making some slight edits:

"Now I would like to ask Gary to clear a few points.

- How and who will monitor this? Natural England? and will other interested bodies be invited to take part in the monitoring?
- What’s the criteria for distribution of all young actually bred by this project?
- Can you guarantee no financial rewards will ever be asked of these young?"


I appreciate that no conditions or requirements would satisfy those who object outright to falconry. But the legitimate concerns of those who take a more middle of the road view could be allayed by proper supervision and by licensees being seen as contributors instead of just "takers".
 

Andrea Collins

Beside the Duddon, Cumbria
Supporter
England
Mr Wall has some interesting things to say in that guest blog post, even though I disagree with him on much of it, but he then loses any credibility he has in his arrogant responses to some of the comments.

He frequently points out that he is the expert here and others don't know what they are talking about, are getting emotional and viewing things through rose tinted spectacles. Apparently only he has the experience to make valid comments on the issue. In his view it seems many people have never ventured off this island and have achieved little in their lives. Oh, and his mum went to church twice a day so his morality, motives and integrity are obviously beyond question. For someone who so frequently dismisses others for being too emotional he seems to get astonishingly angry that not everyone agrees with his world view.
 

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