I knew that the readership of this blog would fill in the gaps in my knowledge about wild hacking.
Here is an interesting link with some photos that show that there can be lots of captive-bred falcons hanging around on moors in Scotland. Wow!
I’ve asked SNH to confirm that wild hacking would require a licence and asked them how many licence applications they have received over the past 10 years and how many they have issued and refused.
Note added at 10:08 after this post was published at 10:00
Dealing mostly, as I do, with Natural England, I’m not accustomed to rapid and helpful responses to enquiries.
I actually received a response to my enquiry to SNH a few minutes before this post was published (but I was doing something else so didn’t notice). I have thanked the SNH member of staff and told them that I wished they worked south of the Border.
Here is the response:
Please confirm that this type of wild hacking requires a licence.SNH Licensing team
The Non-Native Species Code of Practice includes details on two types of hacking, you can find it here – https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2012/08/7367/4 and copied below.
d) The flying of non-native birds of prey in falconry and display
Where non-native birds of prey are flown responsibly, for falconry or display, the handler will be able to demonstrate that they remain under the handler’s control – in that they can reasonably expect the bird to return. This would also apply to, often longer, training flights – sometimes referred to as tame hacking. The use of telemetry is advisable as that should enable the handler to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence if the bird cannot be retrieved.
The practice of releasing larger numbers of birds with the intention of gathering them after a period of days or weeks, sometimes referred to as wild hacking, will require a licence if it involves non-native birds. To obtain a licence, contact Scottish Natural Heritage.
The release of unwanted non-native birds, with no intention of retrieval, is an unlawful release for the purposes of section 14(1)(a) of the 1981 Act. Note that in this case, offences relating to abandonment may also be committed under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 – see the Annex to the Code).
How many licences for wild hacking has SNH issued in the past decade?
How many applications for licences has SNH received?
How many such applications have been refused?
There have been no licences applied for, issued or refused for wild hacking since the WANE Act came in to force and since SNH took over the responsibility for issuing licences for non-native species.
So really, we need to know the status of Gyr Falcon (a vagrant to the UK in its wild state) as a ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ species and also that of hybrid falcons which, surely, can’t be ‘native’ (but that’s a guess). I’ve asked the SNH lLicensing team these questions too.