Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981


In yesterday’s Natural England blog on the licensing of taking Peregrines from the wild Natural England’s Director for wildlife licensing, Dave Slater, points out that Natural England can issue licences for a variety of purposes which include falconry.

The legislation in question is the Wildlife and Countryside Act where the relevant section is, I think, Section 16(1e):


Now, a power to grant a licence is not the same as having to grant one, and for many years Natural England, and its predecessors, have not issued licences to take birds of prey for falconry, so this is a notable change.

There are three licences for two years, allowing each licensee to take 2 chicks per year. So, at the moment, 6 chicks over 2 years. There is, of course, a question about how thick a wedge this might turn into.


12 Replies to “Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981”

  1. like a certain Mr Packham, I applied for a license to take a Kestrel from the nest many years ago and got no joy. now I’m not one to hold a grudge but how come these ***** get granted licenses to take Peregrines?

  2. It is never just a few when it comes to the field sports lobby. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. This needs to be resisted in the strongest possible terms, nipping it in the bud right now before they get up steam.

  3. Yes, I looked it up today, and I think Gary Wall’s reference to the buzzard licence is germane. Broadly, if legislation permits a statutory authority to do something, it is likely to be in breach of its powers if it never does. ‘May’ does not mean ‘must’, but it can’t mean ‘in practice never’ either. So then it’s down to the legislation on licensing conditions and the vexed ‘no other satisfactory solution’. Here, the question ‘solution to what?’ is particularly puzzling. But hopefully the legislation also acts against the thin edge of the wedge concern, by virtue of the next bit of s16(1A) which says that any licences granted in relation to falconry should be selective and limited.

    On the substance, I suppose like most I find the whole proposal somehow just in the wrong place and, for all Gary Wall’s commendable openness, a bit dubious too. I guess I would only change my mind if the conservation value were higher, and that would only be if I was persuaded that the project would reduce theft of eggs for the illegal trade or some other new reason beyond the limited ones currently adduced.

    1. “the question ‘solution to what?’ is particularly puzzling”

      Yes it is. If you breed anything there should be a purpose, on which to base selection criteria and the choice of parents. GW has not made a clear argument for the necessity of this project which – if I understand correctly – could be based on six individuals initially – a tiny parental gene-pool. Will it be topped-up annually? Is it selected at random from the apparently recovering wild population or are the donor nests selected on some basis aligned with the selection criteria, if they exist? What happens to progeny that don’t meet the criteria? Will they suffer the same fate as duff racing pigones or horses just to maintain a supply of disposable animals for betting?

      Unless there are clearly defined objectives the NE reply to this request should be “Go Forth and Multiply”. IMHO.

      Not only that – scattered in these threads are references, from diverse commenters, to “genetic pollution”, ” genetically pure”, “diluted”, “protect the genetic integrity”, “add vigour to the British stock”, “tainted population”, “purity”. Which taken together reveal a distrubing undercurrent of Blud und Boden.

  4. We have heard from Gary Wall and everyone must make up their own mind about why he wants to take these Peregrines. Do we get to find out about the other two ‘falconers’? Do we get to find out if they are ‘falconers’ or ‘commercial breeders’? It’s bad enough they are taking birds from the wild but not to know where they are going is just wrong. Please enlighten us Gary Wall. You only answer questions that suit you.

  5. Just because it’s law does not make it morally or ethically right.
    Time to challenge this law?
    Time to make exploitation of British wild raptors a thing of the past?

  6. I’d like to know if these will be used to supply houbara bustard hunters in the Middle East, genuine wild peregrines being sought after for such purposes. Presumably addressed properly by Natural England.

  7. For the falconers scheme to work….ie create a pool of “pure bred” wild peregrine breeding stock, the three different licence holders must always be locked together in a closed breeding programme.
    How can the licence ensure that this is the case? What if one takes the huff (and the birds) and goes of and decides hybrids are easier or more lucrative?
    Are the three breeders part of a collective “industry wide” project that all of falconry have signed up to? Or are they just three breeders with personal ambition?

    1. Circus – so many questions left unanswered. Who are the other falconers? Where are they from? Do they all live in the same area? Given that Gary went to SNH first, indicates he lives in Scotland. Where are the peregrines being taken from? Are they going to Scotland? Who oversees the project? Can Gary please let us know.

  8. Falconry is another pointless outdated passtime. NE should be utterly ashamed issuing a licence to remove Peregrines from the wild. Falconry is hunting, no better than killing a fox with dogs. Simply putting noble or traditional in front of it doesnt make it right. These licences are there to facilitate hunting, quite possibly of houbara bustards and to make money for the falconers. A legal challenge is needed

    1. A Jowett – thank you for your first comment here. What would the legal challenge be?

  9. Mark, this discussion has only been about taking birds of prey to train as falconer’s birds. It has just been brought to my attention what you can kill with a falconry bird – and it’s shocking. The list of prey species (birds) is in the licence application and I’ll put a link to it at the bottom of this post. There are 25 quarry species on the list. There are EIGHT Red Listed species in that list! And four Amber Listed. According to the licence, you can take 50 “quarry birds” per falcon. This is absolutely outrageous – did you know this? Here’s the link; https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/713488/A41-licence-to-kill-birds-for-falconry-application-form.pdf?fbclid=IwAR14DBGWQBOCPGGhanglxbGLZhIEOWgQAYUUwQ84YoliEreD4ImP4eUIuN0

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