You might remember a series of blogs I’ve written about wild hacking of Gyr Falcons in two parts of Scotland. Last year SNH licensed the temporary release of 100 Gyr Falcons in Ayrshire and 150 in Moray in the period 1 June to September and with no more than 40 at a time in each locality.
Ruth Tingay and I attended a meeting with SNH back in January which was also attended by local residents and the licensees from Moray. It was clear that SNH was going to have a think about this issue but that there almost certainly would be further applications for licences this year. It has all gone rather quiet since then.
I gather that the local residents have not heard much from SNH since that meeting in January, despite asking, and are in the dark as to whether wild hacking has been licensed this year or whether it will be.
The coronavirus restrictions will have made it difficult for SNH to make visits to the areas for inspections etc. As I understand it, restrictions are still stricter in Scotland than England, and tomorrow sees a potential easing of those restrictions.
Readers of this blog will be interested to read that one of the licensees for removing Peregrines from the wild in England, Gary Wall (see his guest blog here on that subject) was formerly involved in establishing the falcon-breeding facility involved in wild hacking of Gyr Falcons in Moray.
It is also interesting, I think, to note that it appears that SNH has not been willing to license taking of Peregrine chicks from the wild for the purposes of falconry whereas Natural England has, and that SNH, after quite a lot of thought, decided that wild hacking of Gyr Falcons required a licence to take place whereas Natural England tell me that no licence is required in England (presumably outside of SPAs and SACs but maybe even there).
So wild hacking can take place in England, it seems, at any level – there’ll be 45 million of them soon…just like Pheasants.
I’ll be ‘phoning the SNH press office later this morning to see whether they can enlighten us all on what the current state of play is regarding wild hacking this year in Scotland.