Buying and Selling Falcons in Germany:
Legal Requirements

Buying and Selling Falcons in Germany: Legal Requirements

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Buying and selling falcons and hawks can be a complicated matter. Because there are numerous regulations of the nature conservation law as well as the hunting law to be observed.

In nature conservation law, regulations on marketing and keeping falcons can be found in the Federal Nature Conservation Act, the Federal Species Protection Ordinance and in agreements with other states. In hunting law, both the Federal Hunting Act, the Federal Game Protection Ordinance and the respective state hunting laws must be observed.

The legal requirements for buying and selling falcons in Germany are often complicated. Furthermore, distinctions are made between native and non-native falcon species. Therefore, it may be advisable to obtain information from the competent authorities before buying a falcon.

If the necessary requirements for keeping or marketing the bird are not met, this can lead to a ban on keeping the falcon or hawk or even to its removal. In the following, we provide an overview of some aspects to be considered when buying or selling a falcon.

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Possession and Marketing Prohibitions

Firstly, when buying a falcon or hawk, it must be confirmed that it is not an illegally captured animal. This is because the trade with falcons illegally taken from the wild is prohibited in Germany.

The European Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein stipulates in Article 8 (1) and (2) marketing and possession bans for specially protected animal species.

The term “marketing” includes, inter alia, purchase, offering for sale, sale, and transport for sale. The species covered by the marketing prohibition are listed in Annex A of the Regulation. Thus, falcon species are also covered.

To be able to market falcons, an EC certificate, according to Article 8 (3), 10 of Regulation (EC) No 338/97, is required. This is the so-called yellow marketing certificate.

The obligation to label the animal and prove its legal origin must be observed to receive this certificate from the responsible nature conservation authority. The certificate is issued upon written application and is subject to a fee. The fee depends on the sales value of the birds. The original EC certificate must be handed over to the new owner when the animal is sold. The purchase should be waived if the seller cannot present a marketing certificate.

In § 71 Abs. 2 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG), the violation of the marketing ban of the regulation is punishable by law. Up to five years of imprisonment can be threatened. According to § 71a Abs. 1 No. 2 b) BNatSchG, the illegal possession of certain species is punishable. Among them are, for example, the Gyrfalcon, the Peregrine Falcon and the Saker Falcon.

Import and Export of Falcons and Hawks

A permit is required to import and export falcons to and from the EU.

If the acquisition of a falcon from a non-EU member state is intended, an import permit must be applied per Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No. 338/97.

The application must be submitted to the competent authority of the country to which the falcon or hawk is to be shipped. In Germany, the import permit is issued by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn.

The conditions for granting the permit include the existence of an export permit from the country of origin. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the conservation status of the species or the population range is not impaired and that the intended housing of the animal is appropriate for its conservation and care. Additionally, the legal acquisition of the animal must be proven.

Imports of falcon species listed in Annex A may only be made for specific purposes. For example, they may be imported for breeding and reproduction purposes and for other purposes that do not adversely affect the species’ survival. However, these purposes shall not be primarily commercial.

According to Article 5 of the Regulation, export from the EU requires an export permit, which is also issued upon application. Here too, the conservation status and population distribution area are taken into account, which must not be impaired. The application must also be accompanied by documents proving legal possession or legal breeding.

CITES Certificate when Purchasing a Falcon

Often there is talk of a so-called CITES certificate. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and is also known as the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (WA). There are 183 contracting parties to the agreement worldwide.

The falcon species are listed in Appendices I and II of the Convention. According to this agreement, they are (potentially) endangered species. Accordingly, trade is only allowed if it is practised sustainably. A CITES certificate is required for species listed under Appendix I to ensure this.

The keeping must only be registered with the competent authorities for Appendix II species. A certificate of origin must be provided to prove that the animals were not illegally caught. A purchase contract or receipt, a breeding certificate or an animal passport may be sufficient.

Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 serves to implement CITES in the EU. It is directly applicable in the EU member states. Therefore, the EC certificate replaces the CITES certificate as far as possible today. In addition, the provisions of CITES and the EU regulation are similar in many respects.

National Regulations for Maintenance and Trade

Furthermore, the regulations of the Federal Game Protection Ordinance (BWildSchV) must be considered. For the keeping of native falcon species, § 3 BWildSchV defines specific requirements. To these falcon types belong the:

  • kestrel,
  • Redfoot falcon,
  • Merlin,
  • hobby and
  • the peregrine falcon.

A valid falconer’s hunting license is presupposed for the attitude of these falcon kinds after that (§ 3 Abs. 2 No. 1 BWildSchV). This may be waived if, for example, the keeping of offspring is necessary for the practice of stain-hunting and the essential reliability and sufficient knowledge about the keeping and care of the animals are available.

Furthermore, the falconer is only allowed to keep two specimens of the species goshawk, peregrine falcon and golden eagle (§ 3 Abs. 2 Nr. 2 BWildSchV), but this does not apply to the other falcon species.

All species are subject to an obligation to label based on the requirements of §§ 12-15 of the Federal Species Protection Ordinance (§ 3 para. 2 No. 3, para. 3 BWildSchV).

For falcons, the marking is done with a closed ring. In addition, the obligation to register must be observed. This means that the animal must be reported to the competent authority according to state law within four weeks (§ 3 para. 2 No. 4 BWildSchV).

If the regular location of the falcons is changed, e.g. by a sale, this must be reported immediately (§ 3 para. 2 No. 4 lit. b) p. 2 BWildSchV). So there is also a duty to deregister in addition to the obligation to register.

The keeping of non-native species is not regulated by the Federal Game Protection Ordinance but only by nature conservation regulations.

There is no limitation on the species or the number of birds kept as long as they are kept in a species-appropriate manner. However, the keeper must show specific expertise. In addition, the obligation to register must also be fulfilled here, and a marking obligation applies to all species.

In the case of commercial trade with protected animals like falcons, there is a so-called obligation to keep records according to § 6 Abs. 1 of the Federal Ordinance for the Protection of Species (BArtSchV).

Private breeding to make a profit is also included under commercial trade. The obligation to keep records requires daily entries in the records of admission and delivery.

The date of receipt, the name of the animals, the name and address of the consignor, the date of departure, the name and address of the consignee, or the type of other departure are listed in the book.

Comprehensive Legal Service when Purchasing a Falcon

Both when selling and buying falcons or hawks, care should be taken to ensure that the necessary papers are available. In particular, this includes a valid proof of origin in order to be able to show that the animal has been lawfully acquired.

Furthermore, the seller must be able to prove an exemption from the marketing ban of Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 by means of a valid EC certificate. If the falcon is imported into the EU or exported from the EU, the corresponding import or export license must have been applied for and granted beforehand.

Finally, the keeper must meet the required conditions for keeping falcons, so that no keeping prohibition is issued, or the bird is taken away. Our attorneys will be pleased to help you with further questions regarding the legal regulations that must be observed when selling and buying falcons.

At Schlun & Elseven we are a full-service law firm based in Cologne, Aachen and Düsseldorf with conference room facilities across Germany. Contact our lawyers now by using our contact form below this article. Our lawyers are ready to provide clear advice and comprehensive legal service for those looking to purchase a falcon in Germany.

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