Monday, March 30, 2009

Letter from Wild Raptor Take Conservancy on Florida Peregrine Delisting

Peregrine Falcon Management Plan Comments
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Northeast Region
1239 SW 10th St.
Ocala, FL 34471-0323 March 24, 2009

To whom it may concern:

WRTC would like to congratulate FWC for its support in protecting peregrine
populations when it was in need of protection, and the current effort in de-listing this bird – an
excellent example of the success of the Endangered Species Act. The peregrine populations are
now substantially above the de-listing mark established by the Fish & Wildlife Service. It is
through the joint efforts of public and private forces that real change can be accomplished.
We would like to point out that many people are not aware of the fact that falconers
were the first to recognize the problem and took an active role in establishing the listing of the
anatum peregrine as endangered. In addition, many people are not aware of the fact that it
was falconers who discovered the means to breed peregrines in captivity and who released
them back into the wild with the monetary support of State wildlife agencies and donations
from citizens and falconry clubs.
An important point to be aware of: Throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s when wildlife
managers and the birding community saw nothing wrong in shooting or pole trapping
raptors, falconers were speaking out against their destruction (it was the falconer Jim Rice who
first went to Hawk Mountain – before Mrs. Edge bought the property and turned it into a
sanctuary in 1934 – with Boy Scouts to stare down those who were shooting hawks, making
them so uncomfortable that the shooters would leave: Source, Robert Berry of the Peregrine
Fund and Brian McDonald, zoologist). Wildlife managers saw raptors as competitors to
hunters in their pursuit of upland game and waterfowl and therefore shot raptors – including
peregrines – on a regular basis; and many birders saw raptors as predators taking their song
birds. As a group, falconers were the only ones advocating the protection of raptors. It wasn’t
until the late 1960s that wildlife managers and the birding community came out in full force
advocating the protection of raptors, and, when this finally came to pass, falconers were elated
to receive this long overdue support to protect all raptors.
Whenever a species is de-listed and consequently opened for regulated harvest, it
demonstrates the success of the Federal and State endangered species acts as workable
management programs that all interest groups can join forces in implementing and managing,
in spite of fundamental philosophical differences of opinion regarding the use of natural
resources (one can certainly assert that no recovery plan implemented under the ESA is
complete until managed take is incorporated at the time of de-listing). In order to continue this
united front, all interest groups must benefit from it: falconers must have access once again to
this classic falconry bird, which they historically referred to as the “noble” peregrine, unique
of all falcons used in the sport; and the birding community must have access to sighting their
“iconic” peregrines wherever they might be found. If any stakeholder group is marginalized
or punished due to some powerful majority interest, endangered species acts around the
country are weakened substantially by such anti-democratic use of power. The opinions and
personal preferences held by a majority must never be allowed to harm the values and
personal beliefs of a minority group. Subjective moral value systems must not be allowed to
spill over into the larger State or national population. It must be contained within the interest
group that maintains the tenets of their faith. They have every right to demand that their
members abide by a set of established subjective rules, but they don’t have the right to
demand that individuals outside their ranks abide by the same set of subjective rules. This
would provide for arbitrary and capricious powers to be asserted against all American citizens
from every sector of society.
It is ironic, now that the peregrine has been saved by an unrecognized interest group
– a group that expended more time and effort than all other interest groups combined – there
are those who would attempt to deny access to that bird; a bird which provided the very
motivation, the impetus, necessary to start and finish a project a few decades in duration in
order to save this bird so that someday falconers might once again be able to take wild
peregrines for use in falconry. The peregrine is the falcon that provides the most classical style
of falconry in the Western hunting tradition.
Given the fact that most of the peregrines used in the various peregrine release
projects came from falconers, it is unreasonable to deny falconers access to wild populations. If
not for access to wild populations, there would have been no peregrines in the hands of
falconers to donate to the release projects. Even more fundamentally: If falconers did not have
access to wild populations, we would never have discovered how to breed them in captivity
and therefore, release projects would have been impossible.
At the January 28th, 2009 Florida Peregrine Falcon Stakeholder’s Meeting, there were
objections raised and points made that are deserving of comment:

• Falconry has no impact on wild raptor populations, including the peregrine; therefore there
would be no justification in prohibiting take. There is no sound scientific or legal justification
in such a prohibition; only subjective opinions by those who have a unique perspective on the
interaction between mankind and wildlife.
• There was comment on social concerns for wildlife values that peregrines should remain in
the wild. This argument is asserted by all those protectionists who believe mankind should not
touch wildlife. Fish & game departments would no longer be needed if States were to
eliminate take of wildlife. In addition, there is the issue of citizens’ rights to access and use of
natural resources.
• It was suggested that because anatums are still listed in a couple of provinces in Canada,
Florida should not allow for a take of peregrines. Yet in Canada peregrines are presently being
taken for falconry. Is it acceptable that Canadian falconers are allowed to take peregrines, but
U.S. falconers are not?
• Protecting habitat and minimizing mortality is the greatest good the State of Florida, as
well as the nation, can do for peregrines.
• There was comment on economic cost of issuing permits for falconry and LE related
permits – i.e. cost-benefit analysis of permit fee. It must be remembered that the primary
purpose for any fish & game agency’s existence is to provide access to our natural resources
for citizens’ use in perpetuity. It is not necessary that each endeavor bear the cost of that
particular activity. Permit fees in general must support all management activities so that one
group is not disenfranchised due merely to its size, lack of money, and lack of representation.
• Questions of funding a monitoring plan were raised. Since the peregrine does not breed in
Florida and all three subspecies have healthy and rapidly increasing populations, the primary
effort that can be put forth is hawk-counts and banding. This is presently done by private
individuals who are associated with falconry groups or raptor related organizations. As
occurred with falconers’ breeding and releasing peregrines, perhaps the birding community
can contribute their part to the continued management of peregrines by participating in
counting and banding of peregrines and reporting their findings to FWC. This would
demonstrate their true commitment to their beliefs as asserted in their comments. Those who
feel they have a say in this matter, should be willing to contribute their resources to the cause
they believe in.

Falconers continue to do their part in monitoring the peregrine on well known
migratory routes such as, but not limited to, Lake Michigan, Padre Island and Assateague
Island. Falconers have a vested interest in monitoring peregrine populations throughout
North America given the amount of resources they invested into them. One group of falconers
established a study whereby a few peregrines were radio-tagged in the Canadian arctic and
were monitored throughout their migration to South America. An Illinois falconer, Rob Sulski,
who is banding peregrines along Lake Michigan is extracting a breast feather from each
captured peregrine and will have these feathers stable-isotope analyzed to determine the
origins of these birds – again, from private funding by falconers. In addition Bob Anderson,
another falconer/peregrine breeder, monitors breeding peregrines along the Mississippi River
bluffs in the Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota breeding range. What other group of private
individuals is willing to invest their resources into such endeavors? In addition, what other
group of private individuals has the knowledge necessary to pursue such projects? Even the
USFWS is not pursuing such studies!
Another important point to consider: It was falconers that set up the falconry
permitting system with USFWS. The limits placed on falconry were self-imposed. Falconers
established the rule that only first year immature birds could be taken for the sport so that
mature birds were not removed from the breeding population; and that master falconers could
possess only three wild birds and could take only two birds from the wild per year even
though raptor populations could sustain far greater take than this. This was not forced upon
the sport; this was a conscious decision due to the love falconers have for raptors. No other
group has such affection and attachment to raptors as do falconers. To suggest falconers be
punished because it is not popular in certain protectionist circles is to encroach upon that
sector of society that offers raptors the greatest representation in conservation efforts.
Under these circumstances, total population data and other information gathered by
falconers observing, trapping, banding and monitoring peregrines can make a significant
contribution to the continuing management of the peregrine at no cost to the rest of society.
The value of the information contributed by falconers will far outweigh the minor costs
incurred in administering a limited harvest program. Forty plus years ago, it was the unpaid
and voluntary efforts of falconers that alerted the world to the peregrines plight. The
information provided by falconers will continue to be of equal value in properly monitoring
and managing this falcon. Approving a legal falconry harvest of migrant peregrines will
enhance and ensure the future health of all peregrine populations in North America.

Sincerely,


James M. Ingram III MD
President, WRTC
17909 N. Reflection Circle, Bennington, NE 68007

4 comments:

  1. Here is the Audubon of Florida Position:

    Hello, Kitty.

    Dianna shared your email with me and asked if I could respond and clarify Audubon's position for you.

    Audubon celebrated the recovery and federal delisting of the Peregrine, and we do not oppose the delisting of Peregrines in Florida . However, in the course of recovering Peregrines, they have gained an iconic status in our culture not unlike the Bald Eagle, and our members have a hard time thinking that these amazing birds could be captured and kept in captivity, even for a short time, when there are captive bred birds available for use in falconry.

    While 36 birds likely will not have a significant population impact, we nevertheless worry about which birds will be harvested, since we don’t have a good understanding of which Peregrines are moving through Florida . USFWS monitoring covers US breeding birds only, and passage harvest in Florida will likely capture Canadian, Greenland and Alaskan birds as well. We likely also get some US anatum birds, since they are thought to be migrating longer distances now under the genetic influence of reintroduced falcons from long-distance migrant stock. While these birds may be authorized for harvest somewhere regardless of their origin, many of our members as well as our friends at Defenders of Wildlife feel strongly that this harvest should not occur in Florida .

    Ultimately neither side of the debate—to harvest or not—is purely biological. Falconry has not been shown to help birds released after their time in captivity, and because no one can say whether birds captured were likely to survive their migration or fail, we cannot assume that a winter spent in captivity is an aid to survival. Falconers have a personal belief that Peregrine harvest is justifiable despite the availability of captive bred birds; many of our members have a personal belief that Peregrines are a great source of public pride and should not be harvested for individuals’ hobbies. FWC staff in their management of public trust resources are tasked with weighing the biological and human dimensions of wildlife. Accordingly, both of our perspectives are relevant to the discussion.

    In conclusion, Audubon does not oppose delisting of the Peregrine, but because of the level of detail absent from the current draft of the management plan (including a discussion of wind power facility siting), and the suggestion by FWC that if the plan passes without addressing falconry harvest, the harvest will automatically be allowable, we cannot support the fast-tracked approval of this plan.

    It’s important that when we have disagreements on issues like this, that we can still agree to discuss them. Thank you for taking the time to make sure we appreciate the falconry community’s perspective.

    Best,

    Julie

    ..........................

    Julie Brashears Wraithmell
    Wildlife Policy Coordinator
    Audubon of Florida
    2507 Callaway Rd. Ste 103
    Tallahassee, FL 32303
    (850) 224-7546
    (850) 527-0279 mobile

    www.audubonofflorida.org

    ReplyDelete
  2. My response to Audubon:

    Hello, Kitty.

    Dianna shared your email with me and asked if I could respond and clarify Audubon's position for you.

    Audubon: Audubon celebrated the recovery and federal delisting of the Peregrine, and we do not oppose the delisting of Peregrines in Florida. However, in the course of recovering Peregrines, they have gained an iconic status in our culture not unlike the Bald Eagle, and our members have a hard time thinking that these amazing birds could be captured and kept in captivity, even for a short time, when there are captive bred birds available for use in falconry.

    Kitty Tolson Carroll’s Reply: As far as the peregrine being iconic, I think that this is another in along list of kudos for American falconers. Making the peregrine a symbol of the endangered species act was something we falconers had to do to gain public support. We are not trying gain access (to passage peregrines) for the continued use of captive bred birds. Through our (falconers) dedication, hard work and sacrifice, we want to resume and revitalize that passion which motivated us to save the peregrine in the first place. In short: This is a philosophical difference. We need to point to the science and biology. Not personal opinions. To not allow the take of peregrines for falconry from healthy peregrine populations is the opinion of a small segment of your organization (which I understand is a minority opinion compared to all of the Audubon groups in the United States). The populations have recovered and are doing very well. A modest take of passage peregrines by falconers has no negative impact and actually has a positive impact on peregrine populations.
    ****NOTE: Audubon is a member of the IUCN. One would think that since Audubon subscribes to the IUCN's principle of "sustainable utilization." The IUCN’s mission statement is: "Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable." See the IUCN (Resolution 2.29) Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources. The US Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service) is also a member of the IUCN.

    Audubon: While 36 birds likely will not have a significant population impact, we nevertheless worry about which birds will be harvested, since we don’t have a good understanding of which Peregrines are moving through Florida. USFWS monitoring covers US breeding birds only, and passage harvest in Florida will likely capture Canadian, Greenland and Alaskan birds as well. We likely also get some US anatum birds, since they are thought to be migrating longer distances now under the genetic influence of reintroduced falcons from long-distance migrant stock. While these birds may be authorized for harvest somewhere regardless of their origin, many of our members as well as our friends at Defenders of Wildlife feel strongly that this harvest should not occur in Florida .

    Kitty Tolson Carroll’s Reply: Anatum birds are doing quite well, even increasing in numbers. Although an incidental take of non-tundrus peregrines may occur. This will not affect the Anatum populations adversely. You are ignoring the scientific facts. At this time, if you try to re-list the Anatum peregrine as an endangered species. It does not even meet the required criteria to be listed as an endangered species. There is a wild take of Anatum peregrines allowed by some regions in Canada. Alaska and several other states do allow a take of eyass peregrines. FYI: Ireland also allows a take of wild peregrines for falconry.

    Audubon: Ultimately neither side of the debate—to harvest or not—is purely biological. Falconry has not been shown to help birds released after their time in captivity, and because no one can say whether birds captured were likely to survive their migration or fail, we cannot assume that a winter spent in captivity is an aid to survival. Falconers have a personal belief that Peregrine harvest is justifiable despite the availability of captive bred birds; many of our members have a personal belief that Peregrines are a great source of public pride and should not be harvested for individuals’ hobbies. FWC staff in their management of public trust resources are tasked with weighing the biological and human dimensions of wildlife. Accordingly, both of our perspectives are relevant to the discussion.

    Kitty Tolson Carroll’s Reply: To the contrary: Studies have shown that falconry techniques have been shown to increase the survival rate of raptors after a season of falconry. Several respected raptor rehab centers across the US coordinate with the local falconry groups to condition (using falconry techniques) rehab birds destined to be released in the spring. My own apprentice had an experience to prove this point. The red-tail she trapped was on the verge of death. The bird was emaciated, full of parasites. When the bird was examined by a veterinarian; she could not even treat the bird for the parasites until she had the bird gain at least 7 ounces, for fear of the medications killing the bird. She with the care of the vet and my guidance brought the bird to health and had a successful first hunting season with the bird. It is now a fine hunting partner, and a testament to the competent care of a falconer. My own experience is also evidence of this fact: that my first year red-tailed hawk caught only two squirrels, despite many outings. But, her second year, she took 36 head of game. She had a falconer (me) to guide her in that crucial first year. She became an excellent hunter and took over 63 head during her best season with me. She went back to the wild after 11 years and was seen hunting in her new territory. I know of several falconers who have assisted in the survival of peregrines and other raptors on their first migration under banding programs. These birds were destined to die within days. The peregrines they trapped for banding were emaciated and ill. With special permission from USFWS and under raptor rehabilitation permits. These falconers flew these passage birds for an entire hunting season. The birds were released in the spring. They were not released until their hunting skills (using falconry techniques) were developed and confirmed. The world-renowned Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota also supports falconry techniques for re-conditioning raptors for release back to the wild. Their publications support these techniques and have become the standard for care that the USFWS has adopted for raptor permit holders. In short, a season with a falconer gives a young raptor their best chance for survival and becoming a successful breeder in the wild. Through the incidental release of goshawks in the spring; the Goshawk was re-established as a breeding population in Great Britain. (Newton et al). This is well documented in Great Britain with the Goshawk and this fact is considered general knowledge among falconers there. BTW: We as falconers do not consider our love of falconry a passing fancy or “hobby”. It is a lifestyle we have chosen. Like any other avocation, it is hard to explain to non-falconers the ‘why’ of falconry. We falconers love the birds earnestly and enjoy the special bond we share with our birds.

    Audubon: In conclusion, Audubon does not oppose delisting of the Peregrine, but because of the level of detail absent from the current draft of the management plan (including a discussion of wind power facility siting), and the suggestion by FWC that if the plan passes without addressing falconry harvest, the harvest will automatically be allowable, we cannot support the fast-tracked approval of this plan.

    Kitty Tolson Carroll’s Reply: So, you want the peregrine to be de-listed. But, a small minority in your organization has a philosophical opinion against falconers having access to passage peregrine falcons, despite all of the data showing that populations are healthy, and studies have shown falconry to be actually beneficial to raptor populations. The system currently in place protects all birds of prey used in falconry. It is a system that has worked quite well; ever since when it was first implemented in 1978.

    Audubon: It’s important that when we have disagreements on issues like this, that we can still agree to discuss them. Thank you for taking the time to make sure we appreciate the falconry community’s perspective.

    Best,

    Julie
    ..........................
    Julie Brashears Wraithmell
    Wildlife Policy Coordinator
    Audubon of Florida
    2507 Callaway Rd. Ste 103
    Tallahassee, FL 32303
    (850) 224-7546
    (850) 527-0279 mobile
    www.audubonofflorida.org


    -------------------------------------------------------

    Sincerely,



    Kitty Tolson Carroll, Falconer

    I hold the following USFWS migratory bird permits: Falconry -- Master & Eagle Class; Propagation – Raptor; Migratory Bird -- Educational; Migratory Bird -- Abatement using raptors; Migratory Bird – Rehabilitation.

    15209 165th Road
    Live Oak, Florida 32060 Phone: 386—776-1960.

    Mailing address:
    P.O. Box 1300
    Live Oak, Florida 32064

    ReplyDelete
  3. Achieving Sustainability
    Annex 2
    The IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources
    adopted at the IUCN World Conservation Congress
    Amman, October 2000
    RECALLING Resolution 1.39 'Sustainable Use Initiative' adopted by the 1st Session of
    the World Conservation Congress, requested the Species Survival Commission's (SSC)
    Sustainable Use Specialist Group (SUSG) to develop urgently a short policy paper on
    sustainable use for written comment from IUCN members, and for SSC to take these
    comments into account in preparing a final draft for presentation at the next World
    Conservation Congress;
    ACKNOWLEDGING that, in accordance with Resolution 1.39, the Steering Committee
    of the SUSG prepared the draft 'Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living
    Resources' that is attached herewith;
    ALSO ACKNOWLEDGING that successive drafts of this statement were reviewed by
    members of 14 regional SUSGs, Chairs and members of the SSC Specialist Groups,
    the SSC Steering Committee, Chairs of other Commissions, heads of IUCN's Thematic
    and Regional Component Programmes, and IUCN's members;
    RECOGNIZING that sustainable use is one of the three components of the objective
    of the Convention on Biological Diversity and that the Convention provides a definition
    of 'sustainable use';
    NOTING that Article 3 of the 'Ramsar' Convention on Wetlands obliges its Contracting
    Parties to implement wise use approaches and that, in particular, the Convention has
    recently produced a series of Wise Use Handbooks;
    ALSO NOTING that the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
    Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have endorsed the principle of sustainable
    use in Resolution Conf. 8.3;
    RECOGNIZING that sustainability and sustainable use are concepts that are now being
    applied to sectors beyond the scope of this policy statement per se, e.g., water,
    agriculture, soils;
    and NOTING that most Component Programmes of IUCN work on sustainable use and
    that there is a need for the principles of sustainable use to be mainstreamed in all
    pertinent IUCN technical, regional, national, project, and Commission activities;
    The World Conservation Congress at its 2nd Session in Amman, Jordan, 4-11 October
    2000:
    1. ADOPTS the Policy Statement attached herewith and commends the policy to IUCN's
    members, Commissions, and Secretariat for implementation in the context of its Overall
    Programme, and in accordance with the objectives of IUCN; and
    2. CALLS ON the Secretariat to report on the progress achieved in implementing the
    terms of the Policy Statement at the 3 rd World Conservation Congress.
    This Resolution was adopted by a show of hands. The delegation of the State member
    United States indicated that it had abstained.
    Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources
    1. Conservation of biological diversity is central to the mission of IUCN, and
    accordingly IUCN recommends that decisions of whether to use, or not to use, wild
    living resources should be consistent with this aim.
    2. Both consumptive and non-consumptive use of biological diversity are fundamental
    to the economies, cultures, and well-being of all nations and peoples.
    3. Use, if sustainable, can serve human needs on an ongoing basis while contributing
    to the conservation of biological diversity.
    4. At the 18th Session of the General Assembly (Perth, 1990) in Recommendation
    18.24, IUCN - The World Conservation Union recognised that "the ethical, wise and
    sustainable use of some wildlife can provide an alternative or supplementary means of
    productive land-use, and can be consistent with and encourage conservation, where
    such use is in accordance with appropriate safeguards".
    5. This position was re-affirmed in Recommendation 19.54 at the following session of
    the Union's General Assembly in 1994 and subsequently in Resolution 1.39 at the 1 st
    Session of the World Conservation Congress in 1996.
    6. Analyses of uses of wild living resources in a number of different contexts
    demonstrate that there are many biological, social, cultural, and economic factors,
    which combine in a variety of configurations to affect the likelihood that a particular use
    may be sustainable.
    7. On the basis of these analyses, IUCN concludes that: a) Use of wild living resources,
    if sustainable, is an important conservation tool because the social and economic
    benefits derived from such use provide incentives for people to conserve them; b)
    When using wild living resources, people should seek to minimize losses of biological
    diversity; c) Enhancing the sustainability of uses of wild living resources involves an
    ongoing process of improved management of those resources; and d) Such
    management should be adaptive, incorporating monitoring and the ability to modify
    management to take account of risk and uncertainty.
    8. To increase the likelihood that any use of a wild living resource will be sustainable
    requires consideration of the following: a) The supply of biological products and
    ecological services available for use is limited by intrinsic biological characteristics of
    both species and ecosystems, including productivity, resilience, and stability, which
    themselves are subject to extrinsic environmental change; b) Institutional structures of
    management and control require both positive incentives and negative sanctions, good
    governance, and implementation at an appropriate scale. Such structures should
    include participation of relevant stake-holders and take account of land tenure, access
    rights, regulatory systems, traditional knowledge, and customary law; c) Wild living
    resources have many cultural, ethical, ecological, and economic values, which can
    provide incentives for conservation. Where an economic value can be attached to a
    wild living resource, perverse incentives removed, and costs and benefits internalised,
    favourable conditions can be created for investment in the conservation and the
    sustainable use of the resource, thus reducing the risk of resource degradation,
    depletion, and habitat conversion; d) Levels and fluctuations of demand for wild living
    resources are affected by a complex array of social, demographic, and economic
    factors, and are likely to increase in coming years. Thus attention to both demand and
    supply is necessary to promote sustainability of uses.
    9. IUCN is committed to ensuring any uses of wild living resources are equitable and
    ecologically sustainable, and to this end it has established the Sustainable Use
    Initiative which incorporates regionally-structured Specialist Groups of the Species
    Survival Commission to: a) Identify, evaluate, and promote the principles of
    management that contribute to sustainability and enhanced efficiency in the use of wild
    living resources; and b) Regularly communicate their findings to members and the
    broader community.

    ReplyDelete
  4. SUSTAINABLE USE OF BIRDS OF PREY BY THE LIMPOPO FALCONERS
    CLUB.

    A brief history of falconry.

    The art of Falconry has been practiced for roughly 4000 years. It originated as a form of
    placing extra food on the table. With the advent of the shotgun, a far easier and more
    successful way of hunting, falconry became more of an art reserved for the aristocrats. It
    must be remembered that throughout this time falconry birds were sustainable harvested
    from the wild ranging from eyases (nestlings) to the trapping of both juvenile and adult
    birds. In today’s world few falconers trap haggard (adult) birds but rely on captive bred,
    wild eyases and the trapping of passage birds (immature).

    Mortality – a justification for the sustainable removal of birds of prey for falconry.

    “Although there are many conservation minded falconers in South Africa, there has been
    a turbulent relationship between many falconers and ornithologists in particular the
    Raptor Conservation Group (RCG 1996; Ryan 1996). However, South African falconers
    have assisted ornithologists and conservationists (Tarboton & Allan 1984; Jenkins et al.
    1991; Jenkins 1995; Lombard 1998; Oettle et al.) There is also a significant resistance to
    the harvesting of raptors from the wild (RCG 1996), even if biologically justifiable.
    Ironically the same detractors praise the efforts of the ZFC, whose government falconry
    policy is based on the legitimate harvesting of birds from the wild”. – Falconry as a
    Conservation Tool in Africa, R.R. Hartley (Raptors at Risk – Proceedings of the V World
    Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls RD Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg 1998).

    It is a known fact that birds of prey throughout the world have a very high natural
    mortality rate, especially in their first year of life. There are various scientific papers that
    have been written on this subject and it is not our intention in this short paper to cover all
    the existing scientific data, we will leave it as just that – a scientific fact. (Peregrine
    Falcon Populations: Their Management and Recovery – Tom Cade, James Enderson,
    Carl Thelander and Clayton White; Understanding the Bird of Prey – Dr. Nick Fox)
    The figures quoted vary quite substantially between species, ranging from 60% to 85%
    dying before they are a year old. It can be said with certainty that in most species over
    half the young fledged will die during the first year of life (Birds of Prey – An Illustrated
    Encyclopedic Survey by International Experts 1990).

    From a falconers perspective the harvesting of certain species from the wild is seen as
    “saving” youngsters from a near certain death, as well as increasing the survival rate of
    the remaining immature birds by reducing the competition and stress placed on them by
    the environment. If one looks at populations of raptor such as the Saker Falcon used in
    the Middle East for falconry, where large numbers of birds (2750) are trapped annually,
    these practices are within the bounds of wise and sustainable use. (Raptor Conservation
    Today – B.-U. Meyburg and R.D. Chancellor Proceedings of the IV World Conference
    on Birds of Prey and Owls 1992)

    A very basic looks at a pair of Lanner Falcon would illustrate the potential for the
    sustainable harvest of young birds from the wild:

    All things been equal Lanners are sexually mature at the age of three years but lets
    assume they only find a territory and mate by the age of four. Per year this pair would
    produce three offspring. Now there are also various scientific papers on the age of birds
    of prey (Birds of Prey – An illustrated encyclopedic survey by international experts
    1990), but again lets assume this pair breed until they are ten. Of the six years of breeding
    only two of those young needs to reach sexual maturity to replace the parent birds to keep
    a balance. In effect we have sixteen Lanner Falcons produced by this one pair that are
    dispensable. (3 young x 6 years = 18 young – replacement of parents 2 = 16)
    As Dr Nick Fox says “A healthy population is controlled by mortality, not by
    productivity”. (Understanding the Bird of Prey – Dr. Nick Fox 1994)

    The above illustrates why when certain ecological imbalances are addressed, Birds of
    Prey numbers have been able to recover relatively well within a short period of time. One
    only has to look at the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon from DDT poisoning in certain
    parts of the world, where their numbers are now greater than in recorded history. (The
    Peregrine Falcon – Derek Ratcliff; Peregrine Falcon Populations: Their Management and
    Recovery – Tom Cade, James Enderson, Carl Thelander and Clayton White).

    I believe one of the other incentives for allowing a wild take is the fact that falconers are
    motivated to get into the field and find raptors (Falconry as a Conservation Tool in Africa
    R.R. Hartley - Raptors at Risk – Proceedings of the V World Conference on Birds of Prey
    and Owls RD Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg 1998), which helps the scientific
    community and the conservation of birds of prey. This was the case with falconers
    reporting the decline of the Peregrine Falcon in the States and Europe, which made the
    scientific community aware of the affects of DDT. (The Peregrine Falcon – Derek
    Ratcliff; Peregrine Falcon Populations: Their Management and Recovery – Tom Cade,
    James Enderson, Carl Thelander and Clayton White).
    From a local perspective, of the two known, and the then estimated fourteen Peregrine
    Falcon nesting sites, in the former Transvaal area, we now have a confirmed twenty-six
    active breeding sites in this same area (T. Wagner pers.comm.). This, together with the
    first discovered Taita Falcon breeding site, was though the work of the local falconry
    community.

    If one looks at the local raptor population within the Limpopo Province we feel that the
    research has been done by far more qualified persons than ourselves to justify the
    sustainable harvest/removal per year of a few birds of prey for falconry purposes. Please
    refer to the following source material:

    1. Falconiformes Conservation Assessment and Management Plan Workshop
    Workbook - 17-19 April 1995 Badajoz Spain
    2. The Status and Conservation of Birds of Prey in the Transvaal – Warwick
    Tarboton and David Allan
    3. Birds of Prey of Southern Africa – Peter Steyn
    4. The Atlas of Southern African Birds Volume 1: Non-passerines Edited by J.A.
    Harrison, D.G. Allan, L.G. Underhill, M. Herremans, A.J. Tree, V. Parker and
    C.J. Brown

    In conclusion we would like to thank the Department for all their assistance to date and a
    special thank you to Mr. Kobus Pienaar for all his help with the Limpopo Falconers Club.
    To put this whole wild take into perspective I would like to end off with the following
    quote by Dr. Nick Fox:

    “When you consider that birds have been taken from the wild for falconry for thousands
    of years, coupled with the fact that falconry has never contributed to the extinction or
    near extinction of any raptor or its prey, it seems extraordinary how unbalanced the
    pressure has been on falconry by protectionists, compared to the pressure on the major
    factors in the fluctuations of raptor populations”. (Dr. Nick Fox – Understanding the Bird
    of Prey 1994)

    Trevor Oertel
    Secretary
    Limpopo Falconers Club
    24.11.2003

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