First National Conference of Bird of Prey Professionals – Conference Report

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We are delighted to announce that the First National Conference for Bird of Prey Professionals was a huge success! Over a hundred descended on Kilworth Springs Golf Club to listen to, and put questions to, our line-up of Speakers. The opportunity to network with other bird of prey professionals was clearly valued and we’ve had lots of positive feedback about this.

A summary of the day:

Leigh Holmes (the Falconry App) demonstrated how the Falconry App could be used to monitor and maintain records of birds of prey and encouraged delegates to test this as it comes absolutely free for one bird!

Mark Habben (Zoological Society London) spoke on husbandry and management guidelines, including enrichment for captive birds of prey; aviaries; transportation; free flight considerations; displays; tethering; and in particular the need for species specific knowledge.

Graham Irving (Natural England) talked about licensing and prohibition with regards to the killing, taking or disturbance of birds and of the particular requirements relating to species. Graham’s talk generated lots of questions which he answered during the panel session!

Gordon Mellor (Hawk Board) described the important role that the Hawk Board has played influencing Government so that birds of prey may be kept and flown free in this country. Current challenges include Brexit, and the forthcoming regulations that will require anyone that commercially offers bird of prey activities to hold a licence issued by their local authority.

Bob Dalton (Project Lugger) explained the plight of the Lugger Falcon and its use as ‘Barak’ in Pakistan which has sadly contributed to sending numbers into serious decline. Bob described the important work that the project is doing in seeking to conserve this bird of prey.

Nicky Kent (Social Heart CIC) outlined the benefits of collaborative working, explaining how bringing together different organisations that share a common goal can create greater efficiency, value and benefits.

Derek Hartshorne (Raptor Awards) spoke about the work that they have been doing over the past two years. This includes the development of courses and of the International Register of Bird of Prey Professionals.

A number of motions were put to the conference to help Raptor Awards to shape its future work. The conference voted in favour that Raptor Awards should:

·         Offer training courses and guidance for businesses required to operate within the new Animal Activities Licencing framework

·         Seek funds / projects to be delivered on a national basis and develop a quality assured network of partners to deliver these

·         Develop mechanisms to enable true bird of prey professionals to distinguish themselves from other non-professional operators in the market

Thanks to all those that completed the Evaluation Form. We are taking on board your feedback to help us make next year’s conference even bigger and better! Click on the link to view the full First conference report


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