From 20 to 25 September 2021, the VIII International Conference of the Working Group on Birds of Prey of Northern Eurasia (RGHP) "Birds of Prey in Anthropogenic, Natural and Quasi-Natural Landscapes: Modern Challenges and Trends", dedicated to the memory of Alexander Ivanovich Shepel, was held on the basis of the Voronezh State Natural Biosphere Reserve. Earlier, the Conference was postponed for a year from September 2020 for objective reasons. Materials for the Conference in the form of 137 articles published in two collections "Birds of Prey in the Landscapes of Northern Eurasia" and "Falcons of the Palaearctic" were presented by more than 150 ornithologists from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and Great Britain. Electronic versions of these collections are planned to be posted on the RGHP website (https://raptors.ru).
42 participants took part in the meeting personally, and 9 more people made presentations remotely, via a videoconference. Among the conference participants there are well-known and novice specialists from academic institutes, universities, reserves and national parks, biological museums, bird rehabilitation centres, nurseries, falconers' societies. In the course of the conference, 48 reports were heard, a round table "Negative anthropogenic impact on birds of prey and ways to neutralize it" was held, many other topical problems of studying and protecting birds of prey were discussed.
The conference was dedicated to the memory of Alexander Shepel, a remarkable Scientist and Teacher, who made a significant contribution to the study and protection of birds of prey in the Ural region of Russia. All conference participants, both at meetings and on the sidelines, noted his great, important role in the development of ornithology, zoology and ecology in Russia and in neighbouring states, in the upbringing of a galaxy of disciples-followers.
The conference recognizes the important role of the Voronezh Reserve in preserving the species diversity and number of diurnal birds of prey in the region, in promoting the need for their comprehensive protection. During the breaks of the conference, its participants visited the excursion sites of the Voronezh Reserve: the Museum of Vassily Peskov, nature museum, beaver town, ecological trails. One day was devoted to a field trip to the bird of prey nursery in the Galichya Gora nature reserve in the Lipetsk region. Despite the busy schedule, the conference was held in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Many participants expressed a desire to visit the Voronezh Reserve again for excursion purposes.
Having heard and discussed the reports, the VIII Conference of the RGHP notes the high level of organization and the great importance of the past forum for the further development of scientific research and the protection of birds of prey in Northern Eurasia. Over the 5 years that have passed since the VII conference in Sochi, experts on birds of prey have collected new important materials on the distribution, population dynamics, ecology, genetics, vocalization and migration of birds of prey in Northern Eurasia. Relevant data were obtained on the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on birds of prey, which are necessary to understand the dynamics of their number and the organization of protection. Many important features of the distribution, population dynamics and ecology of falcons in Northern Eurasia have been identified, which remain one of the most vulnerable, difficult to study and insufficiently studied problem groups of birds of prey in this vast region.
The conference notes with regret that the release of the next volume of Birds of Russia and adjacent regions, dedicated to birds of prey, is again delayed. And asks the Chair and the Bureau of the Birds of Prey Working Group to step up this process. A general wish was expressed that this volume should be published by the next conference in 2024.
The conference notes the urgent need to improve the legislation of the Russian Federation concerning the rules of hunting and appeals to the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation with a request to amend the sections of the legislation regulating the timing of spring hunting. It is proposed, as a minimum, to return the right to make decisions on the timing and duration of hunting in the regions.
The conference is deeply concerned about the problem of the uncontrolled and massive use of various pesticides and fertilizers in modern Russian agriculture, especially in the southern regions of European Russia. The extremely negative role of certain chemicals in the vital activity of many species of birds of prey has been proven many times over. The members of the working group are encouraged to prepare a series of reports and publications on the study and assessment of such impact.
The conference draws attention to egregious cases of deliberate poisoning of birds of prey by pigeon breeders using the drug Furadan (carbofuran) banned in Europe. Releasing poisoned and crippled pigeons, they provoke birds of prey to catch them easily. The problem is important not only in terms of the death of wild birds of prey at nesting sites and along migration routes. But this also leads to the destruction of specially trained valuable hunting birds of prey used in various spheres of economic and cultural activities. In Russia, 2022 has been declared the year of folk art and intangible cultural heritage. In the UNESCO list, there are only about 1500 names of such heritage, including falconry is recognized as an important intangible cultural heritage of mankind.
The conference endorses the efforts to organize and implement measures aimed at protecting birds of prey from death on 6-10 kV transmission lines and asks the state environmental authorities to take the necessary measures to check the correctness of the hanging of various ROMs and compliance with its technologies.
The conference draws attention to the acute problem of the use of birds of prey for commercial purposes, primarily photography, and for illegal keeping in captivity. This issue is especially relevant in the cities of the Black Sea coast and the North Caucasus, where there are frequent cases of extremely cruel treatment of people with birds of prey. It is proposed to involve well-known and respected people in solving this problem to create thematic social advertising, for example, in popular social networks.
The conference insists on countering by all available means any illegal, inhuman content that promotes cruel, negative or unprofessional attitudes towards birds of prey in the media, including Internet resources.
The conference recommends that companies owning hydroelectric power plants in the Russian Far East (especially in the Amur basin) pay attention to the need to monitor birds of prey as marker species that actively respond to environmental changes as a result of the activities of the structural facilities of these companies. First of all, this concerns technological fluctuations in the level of reservoirs, which are strongly reflected in aquatic ecosystems and associated rare species of birds (Steller's sea eagles, etc.).
The conference supports ongoing research and practical measures to preserve the speckled ground squirrel as the most important food item for many species of birds of prey and as an endangered species in the Russian Federation. The conference recommends intensifying the study of the ecology of the dwarf eagle and its impact on the populations of rare rodent species, as well as developing sparing methods for protecting the reserve gopher colonies from predators.
The conference recommends that regional state bodies for nature protection promptly inform local Alpinism and Climbing Federations of the main provisions of the Federal Law "On the Wildlife", which indicate the inadmissibility of disturbing the habitats of specially protected species when organizing climbing routes and holding sports events on rocks with nesting places of rare birds of prey. The conference asks the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation and its regional bodies to ensure control over the preparation and holding of competitions in sport climbing on open terrain, which is planned in the territories of protected areas.
Due to the absence for objective reasons of the Chairman of the RGHP and most of his deputies at the conference in Voronezh, it was decided by a general vote of the forum participants to extend the work of the governing body of the Working Group until its election at the next RGHP conference.
The conference gratefully accepts the invitation of the Astrakhan State Reserve to hold the next IX International Conference on Birds of Prey of Northern Eurasia in the Volga Delta in 2024, and delegates the final decision on the place and time of its holding to the Bureau of the RGHP. The conference recommends starting preparations for the next IX conference of a separate thematic collection of articles devoted to the ecology of owls in Northern Eurasia.
The participants of the VIII International Conference of the Working Group on Birds of Prey of Northern Eurasia express their sincere gratitude to all its organizers, the Voronezh State Natural Biosphere Reserve, its leadership, all its employees, as well as assistants for the excellent preparation and holding of the VIII International Conference on Birds of Prey of Northern Eurasia.
Voronezh reserve, Russia
Download the Conference resolution in PDF (in Russian)
Modified: Oct. 7, 2021, 1:23 p.m.
The conference is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Ivanovich Shepel.
Dates: 20.09.2021 – 25.09.2021.
Place: Voronezh, Russia.
Organizers: Peskov's Voronezh State Natural Biosphere Reserve, Southern Federal University, Menzbir Ornithological Society, Russian Bird Conservation Union.