In Cintray, near Verneuil-sur-Avre (Eure), out of sight, over 2 ha, about sixty raptors frolic in their large aviaries.
Raised for two generations in captivity, birds are the main players in the falconry shows that Patrick and his son Simon Potier have been offering throughout Europe for nearly twenty years.
Their company, Les Ailes de l'Urga, was born from the meeting with Jean-Louis Liégeois, the flight master of the Falconry Academy of Puy du Fou.
Together, father and son breed, rear and nurse both diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey.
But, for how long?
Owls released in Germany
In order to keep the herd intact, Patrick and Simon, holders of a doctorate in the sensory ecology of raptors, are working on their protection: “There are 350 species in the world, of which around thirty are in France with a
around the Mediterranean.
Moreover, in France, they have been protected for a long time with a slightly growing population.
There are only 5 birds of prey that are threatened: the monk vulture, the bearded vulture, the Egyptian vulture, Bonelli's eagle and the kestrel.
This is why captivity is necessary and not only for endangered species, because all raptors can potentially disappear.
You have to plan, ”insists Simon.
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So, the company Les Ailes de l'Urga makes exchanges "for the needs of the aviary, to avoid consanguinity and quite simply for the well-being of birds, with zoological parks, private aviaries and especially the Puy du Fou. who own more than 800 birds of prey, ”explains Patrick. For the moment, special attention is paid to the Harris hawk, native to the United States, the hooded vulture and the saber falcon of Central Asia: “We would like to reproduce others. Our last major campaign was a success with over 50% success rate. With the Espace de Rambouillet, we have a couple of owls from the Urals. We had five cubs. Thanks to the help of a local association, they were released in a German forest where the species had disappeared for a hundred years. It's huge !Simon echoes ecstatically.
A law without consultation
Only, the Potters are worried.
Their profession is in the crosshairs of a bill on the transport of animals, in particular for itinerant activities, “while we are not a circus.
Our birds do not live for weeks locked up.
They take it for animal abuse when no scientific study shows it.
On the contrary, we stimulate the birds by making them fly.
Either way, we'll never make a raptor do what it doesn't want to do.
And, if he was mistreated, when he opened his cage, he would fly away and, believe me, he would not come back!
All this lacks consultation ”, does not take offense the doctor in sensory ecology of raptors.
Simon Potier also castigates opponents of captivity, “whereas birds live longer here than in the wild.
We first think of biodiversity.
This is why we must accept respectful and controlled captivity ”.
The specialist also points to the possibility of stopping all research, "because it would be necessary to take in nature.
It would be a disaster!
So Patrick and Simon will not let go.
Meetings with parliamentarians and senators are soon planned.