Annually hundreds of thousands of wild birds get injured, sick, emaciated or die from natural causes. Natural causes are just that, natural; dead wildlife is food for other wildlife. Some people believe that humans should not interfere, that injured animals should be left alone and that nature should take its course. Others believe that as humans are often the reason a bird is injured, then we should take responsibility. Many birds will not survive, but a few given a second chance may do so and, in the case of rare or uncommon species, intervention may be advantageous to the species as a whole. The decision and the ethical arguments are your own. If you are a falconer or someone else who is passionate about birds of prey, your judgement will be affected by that passion.
Be aware of your national laws, in each country there are different laws: in some countries special permits are required to even pick up injured wildlife, in others a few days is permissible and accurate records are required, in others there are no laws. If you think you may be asked to rehab a sick or injured bird at any time in the future, at least understand the Law in your particular jurisdiction.
Most falconers are asked by the public and by Wildlife Officials to do this work, due to our specialist skills in handling birds of prey. Whether you are falconer or not and you decide to become involved with rehabilitating a bird, and you live in a country where vets are experienced with birds of prey, consult a vet as soon as you can. If there are vets, but not raptor specialists find a vet you trust, he may be willing to consult online with a foreign specialist.
Information on What to do if you find an injured raptor may be found from the Raptor Research Foundation http://www.raptorresearchfoundation.org/education/raptor-rehabilitation
REHABILITATION FOR CONSERVATION
Falconers run many birds of prey rehabilitation centres and hospitals all over the world. One of the most used conservation techniques is hacking, used by falconers to strengthen young birds’ muscles before starting training them. Falconry techniques ensure birds released can hunt for themselves and survive to breed – both in reintroduction and rehabilitation projects.
The Japan Falconiformes Centre is a falconer led specialised facility for rehabilitation and release.
In Kenya falconers have numbered less than half a dozen individuals at any one time over the last 60 years. With the absence of any Government raptor facility the private sector is solely responsible for all raptor rehabilitation and raptor management. The reason for the shortage of raptors handlers, rehabbers, falconers, aviculturalists, even biologists, has been the strict non-utilisation wildlife regulations, which is, in this case actually detrimental to wildlife.
A member of “Fridericus Rex Maltese Falconers” cuts the jesses on a marsh harrier prior to releasing the first bird in Malta rehabilitated by falconers using falconry techniques and recognised by the Maltese authorities.