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ESR 14:243-257 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00352

Captive breeding of peregrine and other falcons in Great Britain and implications for conservation of wild populations

L. Vincent Fleming1,*, Andrew F. Douse2, Nick P. Williams

1Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough PE1 1JY, UK
2Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness IV3 8NW, UK
3Animal Health, Clyst House, Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary, Exeter EX5 1DY, UK

ABSTRACT: Numbers of captive-bred peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus and other species of falcon, which are subject to compulsory registration in Britain, increased substantially over the period from 1983 to 2008, such that >7800 were registered in captivity in 2007. Much of this in­crease has been due to the international demand for, and consequent production of, novel hybrids for international trade. Over the same period, the wild peregrine population recovered from pesticide-induced decline and expanded its range into lowland Britain. Wild and captive peregrine ‘populations’ are linked through the taking into captivity of wild birds and through the escape of captive birds. Such escapes occur in numbers (>1500 over the study period from 1983 to 2007) that are potentially capable of enabling recruitment to the wild; escaped birds are predominantly hybrid and peregrine falcons, and the latter may be of mixed or uncertain provenance. Escaped peregrines are under-recorded by birdwatchers compared with non-native falcons. The benefits and risks for wild peregrine populations of the captive breeding of falcons are considered, especially with respect to any potential human-induced genetic introgression from escaped falcons.


KEY WORDS: Captive breeding · Peregrine falcon · Falco peregrinus · Genetic introgression · Hybrid falcons · International trade · Escapes · CITES


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Cite this article as: Fleming LV, Douse AF, Williams NP (2011) Captive breeding of peregrine and other falcons in Great Britain and implications for conservation of wild populations. Endang Species Res 14:243-257. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00352

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