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New report reveals 100 per cent lack of convictions for bird-of-prey persecution

shutterstock 742450144FOR THE FIRST time in 30 years there have been no UK prosecutions for crimes against birds of prey, despite more than 81 confirmed incidents in this country last year, says the RSPB.

In its annual Birdcrime report, the charity states that during the past five years it has seen the highest number of raptor persecution incidents. In 2016 alone, it documented 40 shootings, 22 poisonings, 15 trappings and four other incidents of illegal persecutions against raptors, including hen harriers, peregrine falcons, red kites and buzzards.

The RSPB believes that these figures are just a small sample of illegal killings, as many go undetected or unreported, and it is calling for more to be done by police and enforcing authorities to uphold UK wild bird laws and make full use of all existing powers to protect birds of prey.

Bob Elliot, RSPB head of investigations, said: “This latest Bird crime report continues to highlight that in the UK we have a major issue with birds of prey being deliberately and illegally killed, despite having full legal protection. “This type of crime has serious consequences for the populations of species, such as the hen harrier, and we must see a change in attitude and more effective law enforcement to protect these birds for years to come.”

The report found that two-thirds of incidents took place in England, with North Yorkshire being an area of concern. In addition, it highlighted incidents in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where there is concern over the repeated suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged birds of prey. 

The charity is urging the government to address these issues, and believes the introduction of a licensing system for driven grouse shooting would help tackle the ongoing illegal persecution that occurs on some grouse moors. Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “There are laws in place to protect these birds but they are clearly not being put into action. We need governments across the UK to do more to tackle illegal killing to protect our raptors for future generations to enjoy.” ●To read the full Birdcrime 2016 report, visit: www.rspb. org.uk/birdcrime

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