Recently we’ve been keeping you up to date on raptor persecution across the UK. This week the RSPB has released a new report which confirms there were a staggering 128 incidents last year. I think one of the most shocking reports was the poisoning of a majestic golden eagle in Northern Ireland after a recent introduction programme!
The highest number of reported incidents against birds of prey and owls was 54 in North Yorkshire. The Highlands reported 41 crimes, while Derbyshire and Northumberland recorded 20 incidents each. Coincidence that some of the hotspots are in the highest density areas for shooting estates in UK?
This report follows a series of other publications, from RSPB Scotland and from the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture which documents the deliberate targeting of birds of prey by unscrupulous land owners and managers.
I get annoyed when the shooting industry protest that there is no link between them and these incidents. But let’s face it, the cold hard facts are that constituently year on year this wildlife crime is happening in the same areas where large scale shoots occur. You can’t get away from this and it needs to be move vigorously addressed if we are to see a meaningful decline in raptor persecution.
To tackle this problem of illegal poisonings the RSPB is calling on England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow the Scottish model to outlaw the possession of poisons used to illegally kill wildlife. In Scotland, where the controls have been in place since 2005 and a list of banned pesticides has been produced, 10 convictions have been secured under the legislation.
Indeed this proposal would lead to more convictions and possibly act as a deterrent against those who deliberately poison birds of prey. But once again the elephant in the room is the shooting industry. More needs to be done to address and expose the culture within the industry to poisoning, snaring and other dodgy practices.