In my capacity as Chairman of the Hawk Board I welcome you to our new web-site. As an organisation the Hawk Board represents falconers and those who work with, breed or keep birds of prey in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and we have close links with the Scottish Hawk Board. We liaise with Government departments, respond to consultations and advise our fraternity where necessary.
We practice our sport, earn our livings and keep our birds of prey in a fast moving and challenging time. With Brexit on the near horizon the legislative framework that we function within is likely to change. This brings both threats and opportunities and we must keep our finger on the pulse of Government and legislators in order to be ready to resist any restrictions on our practice proposed in this period of flux. We must also be willing to work constructively to suggest responsible and cost effective solutions for Government.
This winter's avian influenza outbreaks have created a very difficult situation for all bird of prey keepers. It seems likely that continued outbreaks and the resulting local restrictions are something that we are going to have to learn to live with. The Hawk Board will continue to work with DEFRA/APHA and keep all of those who fly birds of prey informed about the situation. In the near future I hope to issue an updated code of practice that will mitigate the ongoing risk of transmission.
The UK Government is looking again at animal licensing and the Welsh Assembly is taking forward a review of welfare issues relating to performing animals. Both of these will encompass birds of prey used in flying displays, country fairs, school visits and the like. We will coordinate representation in Westminster and Cardiff to ensure our voice is heard.
We are introducing a new constitution in April this year and I hope that if you are currently outside the affiliated club structure that you will consider taking out individual membership. This will permit you to engage with others who keep, breed, work with, fly, and hunt with, birds of prey whilst contributing to our collective voice - we are stronger together. I urge those of you already in the affiliated clubs to ensure that you are represented at the regular Hawk Board meetings.
The fact that British bird of prey keepers enjoy a good deal of freedom to continue with their passion, is in no small part a result of our being at the forefront of husbandry and welfare matters, that we are responsive to legislative change, and responsible as a fraternity. Let's work together to keep it that way.
Dr Gordon Mellor