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Animal Welfare: Wild Birds

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 5 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the conservation reasons which led to the choice of peregrine, merlin, saker falcon, gyr falcon, goshawk and golden eagle as the study species for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs research project on DNA sampling using fluorescent multiplexing, completed in 2006. [HL3767]

The purpose of the project was to develop fluorescent multiplexes for the golden eagle, goshawk, gyr falcon, merlin, peregrine falcon and saker falcon. The development and implementation of a fluorescent multiplex system would allow the construction of databases and allow comparisons between any sampled individuals, avoiding the need to retest them. The system should facilitate compliance checking and assist enforcement efforts.

The species were chosen to ensure that they were the most appropriate for the project, based on previous research into DNA forensic techniques involving birds of prey. The conservation status of these species was only one of the factors taken into account when considering the selection criteria for this project. The factors taken into account were:

conservation status and level of wild population within the UK and Europe;

level of captive population within the UK, taking account of the project need to be able to obtain a significant number of samples;

commercial value of individual specimens, coupled with the trend in demand for specimens;

ease or otherwise of captive propagation of the species, including the project need to obtain a number of samples from family groups; and

history of persecution and laundering of illegal birds into the captive system.