THE REASON WHY I NO LONGER BRING LIVE OWLS TO BOOKINGS
The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018
In July 2018 the government introduced new legislation to restrict the use of live animals including owls for use in exhibitions, displays, commercial activities etc.
Without doubt, the public love seeing live owls but as a wildlife conservation educator I have always had conflicting feelings about using a ‘pet’ owl in my work and deep reservations in the conflicting message it sends out, especially to children.
With 20 years experience in educating about wild British owls it has also concerned me how many ‘owl owners’ appear at shows and visit schools and clubs with little knowledge, a mix of owls from around the world and no message to deliver other than ‘isn’t it cute’ - it just gives a completely false message about what owls we have in our countryside and often ignores the fragile state of our wild populations of barn owls, little owls, tawny owls, long-eared and short-eared owls that are declining due to habitat loss and human activities. This legislation will thankfully filter out a lot of these people.
For me I am now pleased to continue delivering my award-nominated educational visits on wild owl conservation using my amazing library of owl videos, photographs and hands on props like feathers, eggs, pellets, microscopes, hand-outs etc. and not be handicapped by demands of seeing an owl on a glove - my tawny owl Jaz and my barn owl Misty are very happy to stay at home as retirees now and not be lugged around from venue to venue in carry boxes.
There are some brilliant bird of prey and falconry centres around the country that can offer close-up views of birds of prey and in many cases fly them - all the best centres are regulated and in my view these are where families should go if they want to see captive owls