Tethering Proposals

Proposed Tethering Ban – how will this affect you?

Proposed changes to the rules on tethering birds of prey for exhibition are predicted to have a major impact on the UK’s commercial falconers. But will this improve bird of prey welfare?

Documents released by the UK Govt. reveal that DEFRA are proposing to end all tethering of birds of prey for exhibition purposes. This change will affect hundreds of UK Falconry businesses who rely on income from Country shows and fairs, Educational visits, Corporate events, Static and Flying displays, and many other bird of prey related activities including media work.

You need to respond now to protect your hawks and your future

Who will be affected by the new rules?

All Falconers who are licensed under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, and all Falconers Licensed under the the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 are likely to be impacted negatively by these new regulations.

The proposed regulation changes will be incorporated into the revised Secretary of State’s Standards of modern zoo practice – which specifies the minimum standards that zoos in England are expected to meet, (corresponding changes will be enacted for Wales and Scotland).

However, as the current regulations for AAL Licensing are also based on the Secretary of State’s standards, then we believe that the new standards will also be applied in a strengthened  AAL licensing regime. This means that there will be no ‘easy option’ for AAL Licensee’s.

{Editor’s note July 2023: Information currently to hand suggests that the new proposals will be implemented for Zoo Licence Holders in the first instance. As at today’s date there is no proposal to incorporate the new rules on tethering into the Animal Activities licencing regime. This is clearly an anomaly giving rise to dual standards imposed by separate licencing arrangements. It is clear that this will be addressed at some point, but it is not yet clear when the proposals will also apply to AAL licence holders)

What do the proposal’s actually say?

The consultation document states: “all birds must be free lofted in suitable aviaries and must not be tethered for public display”. It is clear that the Governments intention is to end tethering for display purposes; affecting most commercial bird of prey businesses either by making their current activities impossible, or by requiring significant investment in new infrastructure.

Some key phrases in the consultation document are:

  1. all birds must be free lofted in suitable aviaries and must not be tethered for public display”.
  2. If a bird is to be held for more than 1 hour at a demonstration area, suitable accommodation must be provided”.
  3. Birds of prey must not be housed or shut away in boxes at night”
  4. Tethered birds must not be kept in direct view of flying arenas with free flying birds”

Our interpretation and consequences:

Item 1. above would make temporary ‘off-site’ static displays of birds of prey impossible or uneconomic to stage.   Temporary aviaries would have to be built (and meet the same standards as any other accommodation).

Item 2. above would ban keeping display birds in travelling boxes for more than 1 hour.   Again temporary aviaries would have to be built.

Item 3. Birds of prey used at events over a weekend or longer would have to be housed in purpose-built temporary aviaries for the duration of the show/event.

Item 4. This may involve considerable extra capital investment to re-modal existing layouts.

The IRBPP response:

The welfare of captive birds of prey is always at the top of our priorities, but we are not convinced that these proposals do anything to improve bird of prey welfare. These proposals will, however, impose considerable costs on the industry with possibly little benefit.

It has always been clear that a ‘free-lofted’ bird of prey that is cared for by incompetent or untrained staff is at far greater welfare risk than a hawk in the care of of fully qualified individual whether that bird is tethered or not. The question here is not whether tethering is ‘always bad’, but rather is the falconer fully competent.

We will respond to the consultation pointing out the potential consequences on UK Falconry businesses and asking for temporary static and flying displays to be specifically excluded from the new proposals. We will include details and statistics on the number of people attending country fairs and shows and the negative impact these measures could have on public education and entertainment.

We need your help to identify specific issues that might affect you. Please add short constructive comments below – we may contact you for clarification if we feel that this is necessary.

When will this all happen?

The new proposals are out for consultation now (a link to the relevant documents is provided at the foot of the page). Responses must be sent before the 24th of May 2022

The Government recognises that businesses will incur significant costs in order to comply and are asking for representations about the financial impact this will cause. You can respond directly from the link at the foot of the page, or add your comments at the bottom of this article and we’ll try to incorporate anything constructive in our response to DEFRA.

In order to give businesses time to invest, the current proposal is that all tethering for display will end in 2027. This date may seem a long time away, BUT, important decisions will be made in the next few months, therefore it is vital that you make your point of view known to DEFRA.

  • Read the new regulatory changes for yourself by following the link below
  • Where possible complete the relevant sections of the Consultation Questionnaire (available on the same DEFRA web page).
  • Complete the Excel Spreadsheet estimating the costs to your business of compliance with the new regulations. If you feel that this will put you out of business, make this point strongly!
  • Send constructive comments via the contact form and we will try to incorporate any relevant points in our own consultation response.  Contact – IRBPP.org
  • Link to the Consultation Page at DEFRA: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/1d5d9f40/

UPDATE- Please note that the date for comments and submissions has now passed.   The IRBPP submitted a response that helps maintain the welfare of birds of prey whilst supporting professional bird of prey keepers in the UK.


Forgot Password?

Join Us