Natural England, the statutory body that oversees wildlife legislation in England, has today confirmed that it has granted licences for three falconers to remove a total of six chicks from Peregrine Falcon nests this spring. For the rest of us removing chicks or eggs from a wild bird’s nest is illegal.
The statement from Natural England states: ‘We are only permitting a chick to be taken from a nest where three or more chicks are present. We know from detailed studies that peregrines typically lay 3-4 eggs and that only two of these are likely to survive to adulthood. We have specified that the smallest (weakest) chick must be taken from the nest and so are only permitting the taking of a chick which would ordinarily not survive in the wild.’
The statement goes on to explain how Natural England will ensure compliance: ‘We will be closely monitoring the operation including through asking the applicants for evidence to ensure compliance, whilst staying within the government guidelines around Covid-19.’
We can assume that nobody from Natural England will be overseeing the removal of the chicks. It’s not even clear where the chicks will be taken from, although apparently we can be all be assured that: ‘Our expert staff have taken care to ensure the strict legal tests have been met, and that there will be no negative conservation impacts to the population.’
This has all come to light because one of the falconers granted a licence posted a picture of his licence on the British Archives of Falconry Facebook page for all to see. He also commented ‘A few friends say I should keep it quiet and I’ve considered their comments but its important to me we, as falconers, dont hide away like its something to be ashamed of, we have had access for over a thousand years, it is our cultural right and our connection with our heritage. I can defend it, legally,morally and conservation wise to anyone who wishes to challenge it, and have had to do so many time over the last 11 years !’
And the objective of removing chicks from their nest? Well that appears to be: ‘to establish a stud book population of native birds for use in falconry in hope that British falconer can fly British peregrines again !’
From which we can conclude that the objective is to make money from wildlife. A quick look at Bird Trader shows requests for ‘Peregrine Semen’, the buyer is willing to pay £75. Peregrine’s from Poland are for sale at £3,000 each.
This is not really about heritage or tradition, it’s about money and once again our weak systems in the UK are allowing private enterprise to profit from wildlife.
Isn’t it about time this stopped?