Residents in Moray, close to where captive-bred falcons have been wild-hacked over recent years (under licence from SNH last year) received a letter today (dated yesterday) from the falconers involved informing the residents that ‘falcon training’ would start from approximately late June. The residents had no warning of this from SNH.
I followed this up by contacting the SNH media office (whose staff I uniformly find very helpful, polite, quick and efficient) and asking them the questions below at c3pm, and to which I received the answers below at c5:15pm.
1) Q: Have we issued a licence to allow hacking of falcons in Moray this year?
2) Q: Have we issued any other licences anywhere else in Scotland for wild hacking?
A: Yes – Muirkirk, East Ayrshire
3) Q: On what date was the licence issued?
A: Both licences – 22 June 2020
4) Q: For how many birds?
A: Moray – 150 birds in total, max 40 birds out at hack at any one time. East Ayrshire – 100 birds total, 40 out at the hack at any one time.
5) Q: Does the licence cover Gyr Falcons only or does it cover any other species/hybrids?
A: Both licences – only Gyr Falcons
A spokeswoman for SNH said: “Last year, for the first time, we considered applications and issued licences to permit the wild hacking of falcons at two different locations in Scotland. At the time these licenses were issued, we committed to, and have now undertaken a review of information on the practice. In addition we also met with local interest groups who raised concerns and sought advice from our ornithologists on impacts and mitigation.
In 2020, we received applications for this activity to be permitted again. In considering these applications, we have weighed up the risks and benefits, and have taken the decision to permit this activity. These new licences include an amended set of conditions which reflect the knowledge, understanding and lessons gained from reviewing the licensed activity in 2019.”
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.
More on this tomorrow.
And look out for a post here at c8:30pm this evening with a story embargoed until then.