Rescue In Record Time
In the last 48 hours, 38 gyrfalcons destined to enter the hidden trails of wildlife trade, were located, rescued and released back into the wild. (Well, at least the healthy ones have been released back into the wild thus far, the others are being cared for). The location: Mil'kovo, Russia.
On Tuesday a suspicious car was apprehended carrying the 38 gyrfalcons. The drivers of the car were arrested by road inspection police. Soon after, specialists arrived on scene to coordinate the next steps in getting the birds through physical exams and back into the wild. A group of ornithologists, police, representatives of Federal Custom Service and Ministry of Natural Recourses were among the concerned group of specialist.
According to a statement, the smugglers purchased the birds from an unknown person in the village of Ossora. Specialists conclude that by being able to collect such a large group of birds, the "unknown person" must be part of a well organized poaching and hunting group, possibly an organized criminal group.
The 38 gyrfalcons are worth an approximate $360,000USD in total (Roughly $10,000USD/bird).
Today, most of gyrfalcons have been released to the wild. There are unfortunately several birds with serious injures who will need further care.
“Annually about 100 Gyrfalcons are illegally transported from the Kamchatka Peninsula. The birds live mainly over the North Polar circle migrating insignificantly southwards for winter. There are an estimated 1000 pairs of Gyrfalcons left across Russia, from West to South, with Kamchatka having approximately half of this amount. To our regret, the demand for them as falconry species is growing. This increase occurs especially in autumn, the peak of the falconry season in the Middle East”, said Anna Filippova, IFAW Russia representative.
Here is a link to a video of the rescued birds: http://www.1tv.ru/newsvideo/132308
IFAW has previously supported the release of falcons rescued in Russia. Additionally, IFAW operates the largest raptor rescue center in Beijing that has rescued more than 2000 raptors and to date has released more than half of that number back into the wild.