THE FOLLOWING IS THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE ON THE SPARROWHAWK RESEARCH � READERS WILL NOTE THAT SHU�s PRESS RELEASE COMPLETELY CONTRADICTS THE VIEW EXPRESSED HERE � THE TRIAL DEMONSTRATED THAT DETERRENTS DO NOT WORK AND THAT TRAPPING AND TRANSLOCATION OF PROBLEM SPARROWHAWKS IS A HUMANE AND VIABLE MANAGEMENT SOLUTION FOR FANCIERS.
Test results to protect pigeons published
A trial investigating methods to reduce the predation of sparrowhawks on racing pigeons has proved inconclusive.
As part of the trial, sparrowhawks, which are known to disturb and kill pigeons at their lofts, were trapped and relocated away from lofts across central and southern Scotland. Other lofts in the same areas used scaring techniques or used no methods aimed at deterring predators. Observations of attacks, kills and pigeons that did not return from training flights were submitted by loft owners.
All trapping was carried out under licence, for research purposes, and all sparrowhawks were handled by expert raptor-handlers, to reduce the risk in handling wild birds. Many of the releases were attended by the SSPCA and none of the sparrowhawks, trapped as part of this trial, showed signs of distress on release. The trial did not however produce any conclusive data on whether this is an effective solution for reducing predation on racing pigeons.
- The trial was conducted by the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Homing Union (SHU). All trapping and relocation was carried out under licence, for research purposes. It ran from January to the end of April 2009 and involved 45 pigeon lofts. Fieldwork was carried out by an experienced raptor-handler and monitored by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- Trial results were collated and handed to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) for independent analysis. No conclusive data was found on whether relocation of sparrowhawks is an effective way of reducing predation in racing pigeons. The report is available from: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/298995
- The Scottish Government will continue to work with the SHU to find solutions to the predation problem. The Scottish Government has no plans for further research involving the trapping or translocation of raptors.
- As sparrowhawks are fully protected by law it is an offence to trap or translocate them without a licence.