Invasive Alien Species

Falconers,

The European Union is proposing new legislation to deal with Invasive Alien Species (IAS).  This legislation has implications for Falconry as it could lead to a ban or restrictions on exotic and hybrid raptors.  It may have implications for introduced quarry species, such as the Pheasant, and for other animals which falconers work with, such as the ferret. Whilst this is primarily a European Union issue, it does have important implications for other countries which may follow the lead of the European Union and apply similar restrictions. The IAF is responding to this by developing a Falconry Code of Conduct for Invasive Alien Species. FACE has, in cooperation with the IUCN Working Group on Invasive Alien Species, prepared an Invasive Alien Species Code of Conduct for Hunting, but we prefer to have our own Code of Conduct and will motivate for this. Please remember that the IAF is not prescriptive, we are providing a recommendation for best practice. 
The following is the essence of our Draft Code of Conduct:

CHALLENGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR FALCONERS WHEN FLYING HYBRIDS AND EXOTICS: AN IAF CODE OF CONDUCT

Despite studies so far demonstrating no evidence for an IAS issue from falconry, it is important that falconers take responsibility to ensure that no ex-falconry species ever does become established. On top of these, is the responsibility arising from a primary duty of care by falconers to their birds through the prevention of loss. Responsibility has been taken by some elements where previous risks of bird loss existed: free-hacking is now conducted in large, enclosed conditioning pens; telemetry technology and investment has risen to high levels and reached new bounds as a major industry within falconry; the tradition for hacking back by some falconry cultures such as Arabia has ceased for non-indigenous species. Despite all this, the success of captive breeding occasionally allows falconry birds to get into irresponsible hands, and these birds can be subsequently lost because they are flown in inappropriate places by irresponsible people. The responsible Falconry Community will not tolerate these incidents because they are failures of the duty of care we have to our birds.
Therefore, to even further minimise any risk that exotic species or hybrids could potentially pose to the name of responsible falconry through the Invasive Alien Species issue, IAF requires that affiliated Falconry Clubs should formally adopt this code of conduct when their members fly exotic species or hybrids:

1. No hybrids or exotics should ever be deliberately released to the wild

2. Modern functioning telemetry should be used when any hybrid or exotic species is flown

3. IAF will manage an online reporting scheme so that any incidents of ex-falconry hybrids or exotics can be recorded attempting to establish or breed in the wild


This code should allow falconers to monitor the IAS issue effectively and transparently, while further minimising any poor publicity created by lost falconry birds.
With this in mind, it is important to know what the proposed legislation involves and the motivations behind it. 

The following notification has been released by the European Union Commission:

Environment: New EU Action to protect biodiversity against problematic invasive species Date published: September 9 2013

The European Commission today proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the rapidly growing threat from invasive species. There are currently over 12.000 species present in Europe which are alien to the natural environment. About 15% of these are invasive and they are rapidly growing in number. The proposal is designed to respond to increasing problems caused by these invasive alien species, which include:

  1. An economic problem: invasive alien species cause damage worth at least EUR 12 billion every year in Europe, through hazards to human health (e.g. the Asian hornet and tiger mosquito, whose effects can be fatal), damage to infrastructure (e.g. Japanese knotweed damaging buildings) and yield losses in agriculture (e.g. the coypu, which harms crops);
  2. An ecological problem: invasive alien species can seriously damage ecosystems and cause extinctions of species which are needed to maintain the balance of our natural environment. Black cherry for example is seriously disturbing forest ecosystems and grey squirrels are outcompeting red squirrels. After habitat loss, invasive alien species are the second largest cause of biodiversity loss in the world;
  3. A policy problem: many Member States are already having to spend considerable resources in dealing with this problem, but their efforts are not effective if they are dealt with purely on a national basis. The Giant hogweed eradication campaign in Belgium, for example, will be undermined if the species reinvades from France.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Combating invasive alien species is a prime example of an area where Europe is better when working together. The legislation we are proposing will help protect biodiversity and is targeted to allow us to focus on the most serious threats. This will help improve the effectiveness of national measures and achieve results in the most cost-effective way. I look forward to working with Member States and the European Parliament to put this legislation in place and step up our efforts to tackle this serious problem right across Europe."

The proposal centres round a list of invasive alien species of Union concern, which will be drawn up with the Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence. Selected species will be banned from the EU, meaning it will not be possible to import, buy, use, release or sell them. Special measures will be taken to deal with issues arising for traders, breeders or pet owners in the transitional period.

The proposal is for three types of intervention: 

  1. Prevention: Member States will organise checks to prevent the intentional introduction of species of concern. However many species come into the EU unintentionally, as a contaminant in goods or trapped in containers. Member States will have to take action to spot such pathways and take corrective measures.
  2. Early warning and rapid response: when Member States detect a species of Union concern that is becoming established, they will take immediate action to eradicate it.
  3. Management of established invasive alien species of concern: if species of Union concern are already widely spread, Member States will need to put in place measures to minimise the harm they cause.

The proposal encourages a shift towards a harmonized and more preventive approach, increasing efficiency and lowering damage costs and the cost of action over time.

Next Steps
The proposed Regulation will now be examined by the Council and the Parliament. Member States will be fully involved in compiling the list and can propose candidates for listing. The regime will be coupled with an information support mechanism: the European Alien Species Information Network (http://easin.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ ).

Background
Alien species invasions in Europe are expected to further increase as a result of the rising volume and extent of trade and travel, which will see more species transported around the globe.

The Regulation on the prevention and management of invasive alien species draws on the EU's Resource Efficiency Roadmap and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

For more information

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/invasivealien/index_en.htm

The following Video link is interesting:
http://www.tvlink.org/mediadetails.php?key=7ce01ed5e48804848445&title=Invasive+alien+species+–+a+growing+threat+in+Europe&titleleft=Environment

This widget from the European Commission also provides some interesting data and does not indicate an issue for falconry birds, as yet:
http://easin.jrc.ec.europa.eu/use-easin/species-search/species-search-by-name


The IAF will need your support for this effort and we will keep you informed of progress.

Adrian Lombard,
IAF President,
22nd September 2013.