Regular readers of this blog may remember how amazed I was to learn that Gyr Falcons and perhaps hybrid falcons were being wild-hacked in Moray. Wild hacking involves releasing birds into the wild temporarily with the aim of toughening them up and recapturing them, in this case to export them to the Middle East.
You might remember this image from Moray showing three large white attractive falcons;
…and these two enlargements…
This year SNH issued a licence (licence #138313 dated 9 May) for ‘no more than 150 gyrfalcons’ to be released between 1 June and 15 September with no more than 40 to be released at any given time. Wow! That’s a lot of large falcons for a small area.
I visited the area in October to talk to the local residents who are very concerned about this. They say that the local wildlife is affected by all these falcons and that pets and even people have been dive-bombed by the birds.
There are several other places in Scotland where such activities are planned or envisaged (and perhaps being carried out – which should be licensed) so it’s important that the licensing of any such activities is properly done. The wild hacking of hybrid falcons seems to be illegal – is it happening anywhere in the UK?
SNH had promised a meeting to discuss these matters with local residents which was planned for 9 December but this meeting was postponed rather rapidly when the local residents said that they had asked Wild Justice to attend too. There is now a meeting planned for mid January.
So far, SNH has failed to respond to an EIR request for information about the process which led to this licence being issued except to ask for more time. The residents have asked to see the report that the licencee was required to provide (it should have been submitted by 15 October) which should have details of what happpened, how many birds were released, how many escaped etc.
I’ll keep you updated on this matter.
If anyone out there has more information about wild hacking anywhere in the UK then please get in touch.