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Falconry – a loved and hated lifestyle

Daniel Schiødt, Maj 2020

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Throughout this phase of research, I have experienced an increasing amount of complexity in the interfaces that the interest groups in opposition have with each other.

Both parties seem to want to demand the development of their culture and interest, and both seem to claim to have a strong connection to nature. ‘Sustainability’ seems to be a central theme on which criticism can be directed or asserted. ‘Tradition’ and ‘Animal Welfare’ are some others.

While the organizations in opposition to falconry typically have a membership of 16,000-130,000, the Danish Falconry Club in 2020 has a membership of 55. The ability to defend its views requires resources that, based on a very unequal membership, may seem unfair.

The organizations in opposition like to try to gain a foothold in their large membership numbers, and that in a democratic society there must be support for decisions to be made in favor of the majority. But isn’t it more important to talk about causation and evidence, rather than how many members uncritically support a hypothesis?

From the empirical evidence, we see that falconry in Denmark has been absent since 1803, with a brief re-introduction of Frank Wenzel in 1962. Falconry in Denmark has been banned since 1967, but was legalized again in 2018.

In 2020, we will be in a knowledge society where science, research, evidence and ethics ensure progress, development and learning. This principle must give way to economic gain, politicization and populism. This has been my starting point for watching ‘Falconry in Denmark’.

My experience has been found exclusively through searches on the Internet and through inquiries to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. This, of course, has limitations on the amount of knowledge about falconry I am presented with.

After working my way through the empirics, my position is as follows:
‘Falconry’ is, and has historically been widespread in large parts of the globe. It is also part of Denmark’s history. There are many examples of phenomena, ideologies and beliefs in Danish history, which we, based on current knowledge and ethics, no longer accept. But therefore, a historical phenomenon, and an interrupted cultural tradition, such as falconry in Denmark, must not be quarreled to death. It must be tried to be understood in its prehistoric context as well as in its contemporary form. Conversely, contemporary Danish falconry must adapt and adapt to the established scientific truths that constantly seek development and to erode ‘errors’.

Using exotic / foreign species of birds of prey in the Danish fauna, with associated fauna pollution, is an example of such a ‘mistake’. Decision-makers with executive power, such as the Minister of the Environment, have not wanted Danish falconers to adapt to what science otherwise dictates, namely that falconry with native species is better for the Danish fauna. Whether it is a matter of touch anxiety or a precautionary principle where you want to look at the hunt, is not known. In any case, falconers should have been allowed to develop on the basis of a sustainability principle, by adapting to hunting with native birds of prey. It is not known whether Danish falconers actually prefer to be able to hunt with exotic birds of prey.

In addition, I believe that Danish falconers, including the Danish Falconry Club, should establish and make visible a current sustainable profile that constitutes 50% of Danish falconers’ commitment. It is based on native species, endangered species’ extinction and release into the Danish fauna. In addition, the establishment of a fund working for the expansion of the birds of prey’s habitat in Denmark. Information and modern marketing mechanisms such as ‘support and follow the hatched dove hawks for release on instagram’ which, in the sign of humanism and sustainability, are factors that can win over the hearts of skeptics. These sustainable and successful initiatives must fill the press.

Concrete examples of how falconers help birds of prey in need with care, treatment and training is another profile topic that Danish falconers should promote. At the same time, they should boast even more of distancing from ‘trafficking’ and have opportunities for guests visiting the falconer to be informed about CITES, and support CITES in their work for the protection of birds of prey. It is important that Danish falconers differentiate themselves from falconers who do not live up to a high ethical standard and work according to this code.

I have not found examples of offenses committed by Danish falconers. Danish falconers should promote their position that serious falconers only use farmed birds of prey of at least the 2nd generation. They should have the legal requirements, how they are complied with, and with controls.

Danish falconers should be able to show that they go further than “only” meeting the legal requirements, but that they have an exceptionally high focus on the well-being of the bird of prey. Falconers should convey about the ethology of the bird of prey, and about how the bird of prey is cared for by the falconer as another top athlete.

Recommendably, only then should a committee be set up, working under the auspices of the government, to be included on the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List .

Secondly, I believe that the Danish Falconry Club should examine the semantics and authorial style used by DOF, which is DFK’s biggest critic. It touches on libel, as in several articles Danish falconers are equated with criminal activity. There are also signs of deliberate misleading of readers on the part of DOF.

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