Not many people can get a Gyr Falcon on their garden list…
This is the first of several blog posts this week on what has been learned from an information request to SNH about their licensing procedure for wild hacking of falcons in Moray this summer. To catch up on the story enter wild hacking into the search facility on this blog (top right) and all posts on this subject will be listed.
First, I would preface this blog, and those that follow this week, by saying that I think that SNH have handled the licensing quite well, but it is a novel issue for them to deal with, and I think they are finding their way with this subject. Personally, I believe that shining a light on the process can only help SNH to hone the process over time and ahead of considering any further licences for 2020.
The licensee is UK Enterprise Mission Ltd.
Young falcons have been brought to Moray from a UK Enterprise Mission Ltd breeding facility in the Scottish Borders.
122 Gyr Falcon were wild hacked at the Moray site in 2019 – all were returned to captivity or died in the field (ie there were not escapes that were not eventually recovered).
The following information was provided to SNH ahead of the licence being issued. This, therefore, represents some of SNH’s ‘due diligence’ and the licensee’s account of the wild hacking process.
The licensee gives information about the numbers of birds wild hacked in 2018 as follows:
Since we know from SNH that they did not license any release of falcons for wild hacking in 2018, and that release of hybrid falcons is illegal, it might well be that most of the falcons (135 out of 150) wild hacked in 2018 at this site were released illegally. I’m guessing that the two blogs published here in autumn 2018 might have helped tighten up the licensing of this activity.
This year the licensee wanted to release 150 falcons (a mixture of 80 female Gyr Falcons and 70 Gyr x Peregrine hybrids) with up to 60 birds at a time (Licence application of 8 March 2019) but SNH constrained the licence to 150 Gyr Falcons and ‘only’ 40 birds at a time (email from SNH of 6 May 2019). in the end 122 Gyr Falcons were said to have been released in June-August (and recovered). So it seems that the licensee managed to rustle up an extra 42 Gyr Falcons some time after early May this year for release soon afterwards. I’d struggle to be sure about whether a large falcon was a pure Gyr or a hybrid bird. Which, for example, is that bird on a wire in the image at the top of this post? SNH say they made no compliance visits in 2019.
More on this subject through the week.