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Bird of prey persecution linked to grouse shooting at worst level in 30 years

The quantity of birds of prey shot, trapped or poisoned hit document ranges final year, which the RSPB suspects was linked to sport chook shooting.

Persecution of the protected birds, together with crimson kites and golden eagles, was the worst in 30 years final year, with 137 recognized crimes, the charity says. But these are solely confirmed circumstances, and it’s feared the true determine is greater.

The wildlife specialists consider the pandemic lockdown helped the criminals as a result of fewer walkers, who might have noticed criminality, had been out and about.

The victims included 58 buzzards, 20 crimson kites, 16 peregrines, six sparrowhawks, three goshawks, uncommon hen harriers and golden eagles, in accordance to the RSPB’s Birdcrime 2020 report.

Almost two-thirds of crimes – 85 – had been on or close to land used for or linked to sport chook shooting, the report says.

“Bird of prey persecution shows a clear link to pheasant, partridge and grouse shooting, with incidents being more widespread in lowland areas and more concentrated in upland areas,” a spokesman mentioned.

Gamebird shooters goal birds of prey as a result of they assume the raptors – protected by legislation – would in any other case eat the meat birds they need to kill.

Chris Packham, who has beforehand described chook of prey killings as “out of control”, mentioned: “No one should suffer the horror of witnessing a buzzard being shot out of the sky or having a pet killed by an illegal poison bait.

“The appalling persecution of birds of prey has become chillingly commonplace, but public anger is mounting and cannot be ignored.”

Grouse estates obtain public money below a controversial scheme supposed to have environmental advantages. A 2019 investigation discovered they had been handed greater than £10m of taxpayers’ money in 2018.

Last autumn, the Scottish authorities introduced it might begin licensing grouse moors, and the RSPB is looking on the Westminster authorities comply with swimsuit.

Of the 137 confirmed circumstances – the very best whole since recording started in 1990 – 99 had been in England.

At the weekend, a hen harrier disappeared from an space dominated by pushed grouse moors inside the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The report says: “In perhaps the most damning episode, a satellite tag was discovered which had been dumped in a river after being removed from a golden eagle that disappeared on a grouse moor in 2016.

“The incident was a stark reminder of the extensive and organised effort of criminals to target birds of prey and dispose of the evidence.”

Mark Thomas, the RSPB’s head of investigations, mentioned: “Although we have become used to the illegal killing of birds of prey, the figure for 2020 is truly shocking.

“We are in a climate and nature emergency. All land must be managed legally and sustainably for people and for nature, and not accelerate the worrying loss of UK wildlife we are already experiencing.

“Licensing should be conditional on compliance with wildlife protection laws, and if breached, should result in removal of the right to shoot. Those shoot operators who behave legally and responsibly should have nothing to fear from this sanction.”

Killing or injuring a chook of prey may result in a limiteless advantageous or up to six months in jail, however there have been solely two prosecutions for raptor persecution offences final year.

Chief Inspector Kevin Kelly, head of the (*30*) Wildlife Crime Unit, mentioned: “I am disappointed in such a significant rise in incidents as the crime figures go a long way to undermine the hard work that’s done daily to tackle raptor persecution.

“The priority delivery group holds the key to success. This has gone through a period of change, bringing leadership, accountability and some fresh positive partners in.”

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