Operation Raptor – new initiative to catch raptor killers in Northern Ireland

A new, multi-agency initiative has been launched in Northern Ireland aimed at targeting those who continue to kill birds of prey.

Operation Raptor was launched at the weekend and will run indefinitely across the country. The idea is to identify raptor persecution ‘hot spots’ and widely distribute a campaign poster throughout those areas to not only encourage the public to report suspicious incidents but also to warn offenders that their crimes will be prosecuted.

Operation Raptor poster PSNI

Operation Raptor is a partnership initiative between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAWNI) Raptor Subgroup, which includes the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group, RSPB, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, Agri-food and Biosciences Institute and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

This new campaign is a direct result of the report that the PAWNI Raptor Subgroup published last November (see here) which documented crimes against raptors in Northern Ireland between 2009-2013. The data revealed several persecution hot spots and it is these that will be targeted first. As more hot spots are identified, so the focus of attention will follow.

This campaign is a good example of real proactive partnership working and all credit to those involved.

Can we expect to see something similar being rolled out in raptor persecution hot spots across England and Scotland? It’s highly unlikely – membership of the English & Scottish PAW Raptor Groups is dominated by organisations from the game-shooting industry, some of whose members are repeatedly at the centre of raptor persecution investigations. Although interestingly, in the Operation Raptor press release there’s the following quote from Chief Inspector Martin Simms, head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit:

The NWCU welcomes the Operation Raptor initiative for Northern Ireland. Focused work to tackle these horrible crimes in hot-spot areas seems to be a logical step forward, as exemplified in Operation Raptor. This reflects the approach in the rest of the United Kingdom where “hot-spot Counties” have been identified so action can be targeted for a more effective use of resources. Such impactive posters as Operation Raptor will hopefully make people understand the effect of these crimes and the suffering that is caused to such beautiful animals. I hope it will encourage people to report such wildlife crime”.

Yes Martin, raptor persecution hot spots have long been identified in England and Scotland through the publication of the annual poisoning/persecution maps (e.g. see here and here), many of which just happen to be in areas where the land-use is dominated by driven grouse shooting. The question is, what tangible action has been undertaken within those hot spot areas to tackle these crimes?

10 thoughts on “Operation Raptor – new initiative to catch raptor killers in Northern Ireland”

  1. Signs are good because everyone is more aware, not only the public, but the police and most important the perpetrators.I am trying very hard to persuade police forces in Hertfordshire and Leicestershire to post signs about hunting with dogs, the same genre of person is at the helm of wildlife persecution in the UK. Inch by inch the walls close in…….

    1. Quite right, Steve, thanks for this.

      Is it confirmed, do you know, that the Wildlife Crime PO in Leicestershire rides with the Belvoir Hunt?

      1. Marian – more than confirmed: photographic evidence and an admission by Leicestershire police – who say it is lawful for her to do so, provided she is even-handed when dealing with wildlife crime. We know how even-handed English police forces are: as even-handed as a fiddler crab.

        1. Thank you, Simon. My group has just written to the Leicestershire CC – so I expect a reply identical to what you say here.

          Very disappointing, but not very much of a surprise.

  2. I am so glad Ireland is doing something to protect these beautiful birds of prey, I just hope that the sentence is severe enough to make think twice before repeating the same crime,wpoppell done Ireland!

  3. Pleased to see that Northern Ireland has taken this step to let the perpetrators know that the authorities are now after them. Good luck.

  4. Sounds good, best wishes to them, which is more than can be said about the NWCU which as proved to be a load of tosh.

  5. And just let us remind ourselves who the enforcement lead is for raptor crime in England and Scotland………..NWCU

    What a waste of tax payers money and making a bad problem worse by shamelessly presenting themselves to the public as actually doing something.

    You can only kid some of the public for so long……..

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