Public urged to be vigilant to help stop persecution of birds of prey

Countryside users must continue to be vigilant to stop the Midland’s birds of prey being victims of wildlife crime, the RSPB says today.

The RSPB’s Birdcrime 2015 report reveals 196 reports of illegal persecution of birds of prey in the UK, including the confirmed shooting of 16 buzzards, 11 peregrines, 3 red kites, 1 red-footed falcon and 1 hen harrier. Of the total 92 confirmed persecution incidents, 61% occurred in England, 29% in Scotland, 9% in Northern Ireland and 1% in Wales.

There were 34 reported incidents of bird of prey persecution in the Midlands (including shootings, trappings and poisonings). Thirteen of these were confirmed including two shot peregrine falcons, a shot goshawk, a shot red kite, three poisoned buzzards, and a spring trapped osprey.

Martin Harper, RSPB Director of Conservation, said:

“Our birds of prey are magnificent creatures, and the sight of a hen harrier’s dramatic skydancing display flight is simply breathtaking. Everyone should be able to witness this but sadly millions of people are denied this opportunity.

“Conservation groups, the shooting community and the general public need to be vigilant, in order to stop a small minority from continuing to commit these kinds of wildlife crimes.”

In total, the RSPB Investigations Unit received reports of 51 incidents of wild bird crime occurring in 2015 in the Midlands region, which accounted for fewer than 10% of the UK incidents reported in Birdcrime 2015.
The national and regional figures are thought to represent a fraction of the actual number of offences, with many incidents going unreported and undetected. The RSPB believes tougher legislation and enforcement is needed if birds of prey are to thrive in their natural environment.