Wildlife - Ethics and Release


Ethics and Release

  • Consideration should be made prior to the release of an animal
  • Consider the risks to:
    • the individual animal
    • the wild population
    • domestic animals
    • people
  • Animals should be released at the site they were found 
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Wildlife Release

  • People involved have a legal responsibility for various parts of the release programme
    • Wildlife officers responsible for implementing the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981
  • Release should be the main aim whenever a wildlife casualty is found
  • Records should be kept of the details of the release
    • Date and time of release
    • Site of release
    • Weather at the time of release
      • wind direction and speed
      • rain
    • type of release
      • hard/soft
    • number of animals released
      • if released in a group
    • identification marks, if any
    • follow-up
      • dates and times seen alive
      • date found dead
      • cause of death, if available
    • a post mortem examination (necropsy) should be carried out wherever possible on released animals that are later found dead
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Wildlife Aid: Pigeon

  • Broken right femur, bones exposed
  • Only attached to the branch by the skin
  • Needs urgent veterinary attention
  • Wild pigeons are known to survive well with just one leg
    • decision made to rehabilitate and release
  • Couple of weeks rest
  • A few days after, released back into the wild
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Red Kite Reintroduction Part 1

  • The first Kite Committee was formed in 1903
    • RSPB is thought to have been involved since 1905
  • The rarity of the red kite made it a target for egg collectors and bounty hunters
    • Robbed up to ¼ of the nests each year
    • More sophisticated nest protection initiatives came about during the 1950s and 1960s
      • Succeeded in reducing the proportion of nests robbed, and this is no longer regarded as a serious problem for kites
  • In the 1980s the red kite was one of three globally threatened species in the UK
  • The RSPB and NCC (now Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage) got together in 1986 to discuss the feasibility of the red kite being reintroduced to England and Scotland
  • Reintroduction would only be considered if the IUCN criteria were met in full:
    • Existence of good historical evidence of former natural occurrence
    • A clear understanding of why the species disappeared. Only reintroduced if disappearance was due to human action.
    • The factors causing extinction had been rectified.
    • Suitable habitat is still present
    • Birds intended for release are genetically as close as possible to the former indigenous population
    • The removal of birds for the project does not jeopardise the survival of the population where the birds are taken.
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Red Kite Reintroduction Part 2

  • In 1989, six Swedish birds were released at a site in northern Scotland. Four Swedish and one Welsh bird in Buckinghamshire
    • Altogether 93 birds were released at each site of Swedish and Spanish origin
    • The last birds were released in 1993 in Scotland and 1994 in England
    • Successful breeding at both sites was recorded in 1992
    • Two years later kites that were reared in the wild themselves reared chicks
  • The first 11 birds in the East Midlands were released in 1995, and the first breeding was recorded in 1997
    • Three pairs successfully bred eight young
  • 1996, 19 birds from Germany were released into Central Scotland
    • First nested in 1998
      • Two pairs fledged five young
  • In 1999, the first red kites were released at Harewood House, north of Leeds
    • First successful breeding the following year
  • In 2001, Dumfries and Galloways release site to join Scottish and English populations
    • Four pairs nested two years later
  • Releases in the Derwent-Valley in north-east England started in 2004
  • Main threats to the birds include illegal poisoning by bait left out for foxes and crows
    • Secondary poisoning from rodenticides
    • Collisions with power cables
  • All birds released as part of the reintroduction programme were fitted with coloured wing tags
    • Each with a letter and number combination that allows for individual recognition
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