DEFRA – tethering update

The IRBPP is delighted to announce that we have finally received an update from DEFRA regarding the new rules on tethering, transporting birds of prey, and accommodation at venues and events.

We previously reported that, following extensive consultation, there are proposed changes to the rules regarding the tethering of all birds of prey for display purposes. Additionally, the regulations concerning the care of birds of prey when they are not flying or on display will be amended.

Currently, these new regulations are set to be incorporated into The Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice but it is also widely acknowledged that they will eventually be included in the Animal Activities Licensing guidance.

What Does This Mean for Professional and Commercial Falconers?

Firstly, it’s important to note that the new rules have not yet been released. Following representations and suggested amendments, DEFRA has delayed the introduction pending final re-drafting. As of our latest contact with DEFRA, no fixed publication date has been announced, although it is anticipated that the new rules will be announced ‘in the near future.’ It is also clear that there may well be additional changes made before the final release date, and we have confirmed with DEFRA that the IRBPP will be notified when the final version is released.

Initially, the new rules will only affect professional and commercial falconers operating under the terms of a Zoo Licence. Furthermore, there will be an extended grace period before the new rules take effect. This is intended to give Zoo Licence Holders ample time to rebuild enclosures and display spaces to comply with the new regulations. The original deadline for implementation in 2027 may be extended to reduce the financial impact on Zoo Licence Holders, providing additional time for the adoption of new equipment and practices.

What About Shows, School Visits, and Other ‘Off-Site’ Events?

As far as we are currently aware, the new rules for transporting birds to and from events and shows, as well as the accommodation requirements for birds held prior to display, will be more flexible than originally proposed. A likely change is the introduction of a 4-hour time limit for keeping birds in ‘transport boxes.’ This is a considerable improvement on the 1 hour time limit originally proposed.

It is worth noting that birds of prey in transit can be safely boxed for longer than this – subject to regular inspections – it would have been logical to harmonise the two time limits rather than introduce a different time limit when not travelling.

While this adjustment will certainly benefit falconers at one-day events, it still necessitates the provision of new, purpose-built temporary accommodation for multi-day shows where many birds will be used over several days.

We will re-post further updates as we receive them from DEFRA. In the meantime be wary of some of the hyperbole and uninformed comment of the Social Media Platforms.

The IRBPP remains the only organisation dedicated to supporting the professional and commercial falconry sector.

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