the art of taking wild quarry by means of trained hawks. There is little
doubt that the first man, training a bird of prey, did it because it was
an efficient way to procure food.
No one knows for sure where and when man started using trained birds for hunting. Different theories have been put forward. Although the origin of falconry is uncertain there is some evidence that it started with the nomadic people on the Asian plains more than 4000 years ago.
The hunting method has spread throughout the world and from the 6th to the 17th century falconry played a major rôle in Europe
One of the most significant treatises on falconry was written by the Emperor Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen who lived between 1194 and 1250. At their 70th anniversary in 1994 Deutscher Falkenorden had a translation of his treatise "De Arte Venandi Cum Avibus" reprinted. Being printed in gothic types, unfortunately, the book is not accessible for most people . The way falconry and the training of birds of prey are practised have not changed very much. The methods today are more or less the same as they were many hundred years ago.
In the 17th century falconry suffered it's biggest setback. The advent of firearms had the effect that only a few dedicated falconers upheld the tradition. Furthermore, the widespread use of firearms led to birds of prey becoming competitors for gun hunters and soon the word vermin was assigned to birds of prey. This attitude has prevailed until our time and quite many raptors have been killed. No later than March 22, 2002 a search by the police on the premises of a hunter on the island of Bornholm revealed that the hunter during the last two months had shot 15 protected birds of prey. The birds in question were 7 common buzzards, 7 sparrow hawks and 1 rough-legged buzzard. To the police, the hunter has stated that he also previously had shot protected birds of prey because they were bothering his chickens and pigeons. The president of the Danish Birdwatcher's Association and the Danish falconers with their knowledge of the above mentioned species find it improbable that they should be able to threaten his chickens and pigeons.
When in 1967 The Danish Game and Hunting Act was revised it was decided that falconry no longer should be allowed in Denmark. However, for some years a few falconers were granted an exemption.
The final ban on falconry came May 6, 1993 when the new Game and Hunting Act came into force. Previous to the reading in The Danish Parliament an emotional and subjective debate had taken place. Falconry was not the only issue. There was a desire to deprive the falconers of their birds. The then Minister of the Environment did not have scruples about falconry and he considered that it would be inconsistent with EC-legislation to deprive the falconers of their birds.
Before the law was passed a change of Government took place and the new Minister of the Environment being influenced by the attitude of some associations would not allow falconry. However, he realized that it was inconsistent with EC-legislation to deprive the falconers of their birds.
A number of control measures were taken. These measures have been welcomed by the Danish falconers. The falconers' birds have to be marked with microchips, and a blood sample is taken in preparation for a DNA test. The Forest and Nature Agency superintend the falconers' birds and may conduct surprise visits.
These measures of control have made it impossible to put forward erroneous allegations of Wildlife Crime without the risk of proceedings. Earlier anybody at no cost was able to accuse falconers of stealing eggs and eyasses in the wild.
Falconers have always played an important rôle in the history of birds of prey. The Peregrine Fund estimates that some 4000 captive bred raptors have been released into the wild. If not for falconers putting forward their expert knowledge and birds for breeding projects and release programs, the programs chances of success would have been poor.
The head of the Swedish Projekt Pilgrimsfalk has received invaluable help from two pioneers in the field of captive breeding of birds of prey, namely professor of ornithology at Cornell University, Tom Cade, and professor, dr. med. vet. Christian Saar, Germany. They are both prominent falconers and scientists in the field of birds of prey. For many years Projekt Pilgrimsfalk in addition received practical help with their breeding from Allan Pedersen, a Danish falconer and breeder of birds of prey. He is an expert in his field and has a high reputation.
Falconry is one of the most ecological hunting methods. Considering the small bag, this hunting method will never become a threat to any population of game. If possible, birds of prey select injured or impaired quarry. Either the quarry is brought down or it will escape and this hunting method does not have any problems with bad shooting.
The Danish falconers hope that very soon hawking will become legal in Denmark.
FACE, being an association of hunting organizations within the European Union recommends in a declaration that the hunters and their representatives show solidarity and support this hunting method.