The Irish Hawking Club supports the conservation of both Birds of Prey and Irish wildlife in general and some members are actively engaged in conservation projects.
To become a competent Falconer, expert knowledge of the countryside and its wild inhabitants is necessary.
The IHC and its individual members have been involved in many conservation projects, such as the Irish Grey Partridge Project in Co.Offaly and the Golden Eagle reintroduction project in Donegal. We encourage our members to offer their support to these and other projects in whatever capacity they can.
An injured Hen Harrier undergoing rehabilitation
The Irish Hawking Club promotes the conservation of birds of prey and their natural habitat. In the past, the IHC has supported a number of conservation projects, such as the Irish Grey Partridge Trust in County Offaly, the Golden Eagle Reintroduction project in Donegal, and the Asian Vulture Crisis (in India, populations of Oriental White-backed vultures have dropped by 99.7% since 1990; in Pakistan, 2,500 of these birds bred in 2000, but none are known to have bred in 2007. The crisis extends across India,Nepal and Pakistan where the veterinary drug diclonfenac was used to treat sick and injured animals, and which is later consumed by the vultures. The results have had far-reaching ecological, economic, cultural and public health issues).
The wild game management practices espoused by the Grey Partridge Trust has significant benefits for the entire ecosystem, with higher densities of invertebrates, butterflies, mice, and birds such as linnets, finches and skylarks. This in turn has supported a higher than average population of birds of prey such as kestrels, barn owls, long eared owls, merlins and hen harriers. With the planting of proper ground cover, predation of grey partridge by hen harriers and sparrowhawks can be minimised.
Depending on the nature of the project, the IHC can make available volunteers, to engage in fund-raising and/or make a financial contribution to conservation initiatives.
If you find an injured bird of prey, you can contact a member of the committee who will put you in touch with a local falconer who, depending on the nature of the injury, may be able to rehabilitate the bird and return it to the wild. While you may be able to take the bird to a local vet, not all vets have experience in avian veterinary or of handling raptors. IHC Members are likely to know of those vets who do have experience in this area.
If you find a wild bird of prey you should contact your local wildlife ranger from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (see contacts on Legislation page). A special license is required for an injured wild bird of prey.
Do not place an injured bird of prey into a ‘cage’ or cat/dog carrier where it can see the light – as it will only attempt to fly towards the light and damage its feathers which could impair its release into the wild. A strong card board box is preferred or throw a towel over a cat/dog carrier.
If attempting to handle a bird of prey be wary of its talons. Place a rolled up towel close to its feet and allow the bird to grasp the material; with another loose towel over the birds head and body, you may be able to lift the bird from behind with its legs facing outwards and away from you and then place it into the box. Place the bird in a quiet, draught free location with minimal disturbance, before a competent person with the relevant experience can examine it.
Under Section 22(9) of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (as amended) the Minister may grant a licence to a person to have in possession for a reasonable period of time an injured or disabled wild bird.