The founder of Cheshire Falconry was speaking after media reports of a pet hawk attack on a two year old child in Farnborough and warnings about the potential for further attacks due to an increase in private ownership of birds of prey.
“My experience working with these animals has shown me that there is absolutely no malice in these birds,” said Mr Birchall, speaking from his HQ at the Blakemere Craft Centre. “If you tried to train a bird of prey to go and attack somebody you would be wasting your time.
“Birds of prey will not do anything that is unnatural to them. They will fight back when attacked and may become snappy if frightened. But if thugs think they can train them to be the new Pit Bulls they should think again.
“Our falconers undergo years of training to learn to work with birds of prey. You don’t compel a bird to work with you, you work with it and earn its respect. However, the cost of birds of prey have come down significantly in recent years and they are now much more affordable.
“Prices for Harris Hawks for instance, used to be upwards of £1,000. But now you can pick up a Harris Hawk for £150 to £200. So at those prices, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of these birds being bought by private individuals.
“However, I would advise anyone thinking about purchasing one of these animals to think carefully whether they are capable of looking after these birds. If they are unsure they should enrol in a training course like those we have at Cheshire Falconry.
“By getting some hands on experience, they will soon know whether a bird of prey is the right pet for them.
“Ironically, our hands-on training courses have become a must-have Christmas gift for many,” added Steve. “So much so, we have been inundated with people buying falconry experience vouchers as imaginative gifts for friends and family
For further information contact Steve Birchall on: 01606 882223