Calls have been made to rehome a family of peregrine falcons in Colchester, after concerns they could threaten the pigeon-keeping community
The unique residents moved into the town’s disused Jumbo Tower in June, after a lone falcon was spotted on top of the building at the start of the summer.
For pigeon fanciers though, – people who keep and breed pigeons – the news means there is a heightened risk of attack on their birds.
There are also concerns that it will threaten the already-declining sport of pigeon racing.
Micky Hughes, who lives near the tower, said: “People seem to think these birds just want to find a home. However, towns such as Colchester are an unnatural habitat for peregrine falcons, causing damage and destruction to many small birds including racing pigeons and song birds.
“As a result I have to be constantly wary of the movements of predatory birds – something that I’ve never had to worry about before.
“It’s important to me to ensure that wildlife flourishes in its natural habitat, therefore I’m keen to see these peregrine falcons rehomed somewhere which will not only benefit pigeon fanciers such as myself, but the birds in question too.”
While birds of prey, such as sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons are safeguarded by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, birds owned by the 60,000 pigeon fanciers in the UK have no legal protetction against attacks from raptors.
As a result, The Raptor Alliance – which lobbies for change on behalf of pigeon fanciers – has been working with councils to ensure the number of birds of prey circling communities stabilises.
Lee Fribbins, from The Raptor Alliance, said: “It is imperative that we investigate ways of controlling and managing the increasing population of predatory birds humanely whilst ensuring that they are not introduced to unsuitable locations.
“We are currently liaising with people who have been affected by attacks and engaging with councils to educate and investigate solutions to the problem.”
He added: “Racing birds provide great company for their owners and are able to enjoy freedom on daily basis, naturally competing as they are released from their lofts.
“This is a hobby that can be taken up by anyone at any age, provides almost £107 million to the UK economy every year and provides substantial donations to many worthy charities across the country – therefore we want to make sure this past time isn’t lost forever.”
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