Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Falconry Wonk Quote

Utah attorney Jason Jones on the proposed regulation of domestic hybrid falcons by the federal government:

[The Fish & Wildlife Service's] "...attempting to regulate the possession of non-native hybrids,... based on FWS’s assertion that their law enforcement agents may have difficulty distinguishing hybrid raptors from native raptors, is the equivalent to the DEA attempting to regulate baking soda because their agents could possibly confuse it with cocaine in the field." (Emphasis mine).

I think I agree. These are DOMESTIC ANIMALS, often for generations. And as far as I know all of ONE hybrid in all of falconry history attempted to breed in the wild (unsuccessfully, in Scandinavia). This is bureaucratic overreach, not a conservation problem.

And I should also note that FWS has a DNA database of all native raptor species but the Osprey, which is not used in falconry and does not hybridize.


RB said...

Germany is banning falcon hybrids starting 2012 due to interbreeding of saker hybrids with wild falcons. These hybrids are fertile and they have bred in the wild. Also dna does not distinguish saker and gyrfalcon. European falconers do not normally fly imprints or sterilize birds so the consequence is this law.

Steve Bodio said...

Several thoughts. First, what species and what data? the hybrid shot in Scandinavia for attempting to breed unleashed some rather unpleasant "pure race" hysteria. (See Potapov). Hybrids of Peregrine and Gyr, as breeders well know, have somewhat reduced fertility and would not do well in natural competition; synchronizing cycles might well be a problem too.

Sakers have been brought to Germany since before AD 1000 and never caused problems; also other species, like Lanners & Gyrs.

As to Sakers and Gyrs, they interbreed naturally in Central Asia and I don't consider their hybrids problems of any kind. Use the search function upper left on the blog and type "Big Black Nemesis" for an extended discussion related to this one. Again, see Potapov's Gyr monograph.

Pure breeding fanatics are less dangerous to falconry than to dogs but Euro (German!) hysteria about pure races does not impress me. Without "mixing", we would not have eastern Peregrines (ever hear them derisively called "Cornell Chickens" especially in the early years?) and the Florida panther would be in even worse shape than it is.

BTW I generally fly imprints so this is philosophical not "practical".

RB said...

To show how far raptor breeding has gone, I have pics of natural, not A.I.,breeding of tri-hybrid hawks( in captivity 2010), I can send you to publish. I do not have your e-mail.
Breeding of mixed subspiecies is also a concern for some biologists, like american and euro gyr, or Calidus x peregrinus or calidus x brookei, mixing migratory subspecie with a non migratory. Just a thought, not advocating for banning hybrids but would like to monitor natural consequences of human intervention.Reg.sakers in Germany, wild juvenile specimens from Slovakia, Hungary, Ukrain are regularly recorded and do not mix with peregrines but we are talking about pure birds. Altai sakers and Gyrs, due to DNA confusion on the matter is still an open and very interesting debate.

Steve Bodio said...

EMail is "ebodio- at- gilanet- dot- com".

I am really open to discussion especially as a biologist-- and obviously there are virtues in preserving local genetic adaptations. But hybrids don't bother me, and I am wary of seeing legalism & fear trump science. Please email!

Clint said...

All I see is more big government regulation. Truth be told, this has nothing to do with conservation.

Retrieverman said...

Last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service tried to regulate the ownership of Muscovy ducks.

I think some bureaucrat just saw that wild Muscovy ducks do live in southernmost Texas, so it was decided that they must be strictly regulated.

One problem: Muscovy ducks are one of two fully domesticated species of duck, and it is a very commonly kept species as a farm animal.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service eventually decided not to enforce the rule, but it's still on the books, as the rule is being revised.

If it had been passed, you'd have to have a permit to own and sell Muscovy ducks, even if they are many, many generations removed from wild stock.

Retrieverman said...

I came across a study today that was worried about Canada lynx getting infused with bobcat genes via hybridization. The offspring are full fertile, and the first generation crosses look like Canada lynx with some spots.

There is also some hysteria about dingoes, which are dogs in terms of their phylogeny, dying out because they are interbreeding with imported domestic dogs.

Hybridization happens in the wild. Nature allows it. Sometimes, it's quite beneficial. Coyotes in the East are larger and have more powerful jaws, which allows them to hunt deer more effectively. They got these wolf traits through hybridizing with wolves in the wild.

Non-Sub-Saharan Africans all have some Neanderthal and possibly Denisovan ancestry. Things didn't fall aparat for us!

Kitty Carroll said...

Steve, I have in my programs a natural bred 3/4 peregrine hybrid. His father was a wayward hybrid and his mother a full peregrine. The father and young were pulled by USFWS biologists and given to falconers.

I can give you more details on this by email

Steve Bodio said...

Kitty, Roberto-- I certainly don't doubt 3/4 breds-- Roberto told me of a stranger one-- will post photos soon. And I have owned a 3/4 Gyr.

But (unless the genes were extremely advantageous!) I think they would ultimately be selected against "mathematically", and make little difference-- as Scottie says. Except when some exceptional situation like the White- headed duck in Europe arises I just can't get excited about the horrors of hybridization-- and even there I suspect we really cannot stop genetic flow and evolution.

I will write you both tomorrow, more about pigs, fish, jagdterriers, and falcons (know any breeders of small hybrids?) than this...

Kitty Carroll said...

My hybrid was bred in the wild. I have photos of his father, but no one in the USFWS could trace the band. The same biologist who pulled him and the eyasses keeps up with the nesting peregrines and they monitor for any hybrids that have may have paired up with a wild bird. If they find hybrids, they take steps to remove them and place them with falconers. A rare event, but it is monitored and I feel delt with wisely by giving the young to falconers.