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Birds: Nature Conservation

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the conclusions of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group meeting in July 2007 were on the illegal trade in falcons; and whether these conclusions were taken into account in deciding whether to retain the (a) peregrine falcon and (b) merlin in the bird registration scheme. (185857)

The meeting noted that although research indicated that illegal trade in falcons is occurring, it is likely to involve single offenders and not organised crime groups. The Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group considered that the level of criminality may increase if significant changes to Schedule 4 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act were introduced (i.e. a significant reduction in the number of birds required to be registered) and once Animal Health move to recover the full cost of registering Schedule 4 species and issuing CITES paperwork.

The meeting's conclusions, which did not specifically cover the peregrine falcon or merlin, were taken into account by the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in its strategic assessment of UK wildlife crime. This, in turn, informed the development of wildlife crime priorities for 2007-08.

The NWCU indicated in its strategic assessment that the persecution of birds of prey occurs across the majority of the UK. The persecution of birds of prey (of which the taking of birds for the commercial market is a small component) is an area where the NWCU is collecting and analysing intelligence.

My Department will take into account the NWCU assessment when considering which species should remain on Schedule 4.