RSPB publishes 2015 UK Birdcrime report

On Friday (3 Feb 2017) the RSPB published its latest UK Birdcrime report (2015).

The format for the 2015 report has changed. Instead of publishing a downloadable PDF, the report has been published ‘online’ – see here.

This isn’t to everyone’s liking, including ours; we prefer to have a report that can be filed and read offline. Nevertheless, the new online version includes all the usual information that we’ve come to expect from the RSPB’s Investigations Team, including a downloadable PDF of the data appendices (very useful), and for the first time it includes a new ‘interactive’ map of persecution incidents. This is a fantastic development, and although at the moment it only includes data from 2015, it is hoped that data from previous and future years will be added in due course, which will make this a very valuable tool when looking at persecution hotspot areas.

Overall, the RSPB received 196 reports of shooting, trapping and destruction of birds of prey in 2015. 64 of these were confirmed crimes, including the shooting or attempted shooting of 46 raptors and 16 trapping crimes.

There were also 50 reports of poisoning and pesticide-related incidents. Of these, 32 were confirmed and included the illegal poisoning of 15 buzzards, four red kites and three peregrines.

A map documents some of the 2015 reported incidents, although some are not mapped because there wasn’t an associated grid reference and others were not mapped “as requested by Police Scotland“.


This map illustrates the geographical extent of raptor persecution in the UK (even with some of the Scottish incidents being withheld) and according to the report the UK breakdown for 2015 was 61% of all confirmed persecution reports were in England, 29% in Scotland, 9% in Northern Ireland and 1% in Wales.

The regional breakdown is very familiar to those who take an interest in regional trends. It’s no surprise to see that the worst area for reported raptor persecution continues to be North Yorkshire (40 reports), closely followed by Highland (39 reports) and then Aberdeenshire (23 reports). All three areas are dominated by land managed for driven grouse shooting, including three National Parks (Yorkshire Dales NP, North York Moors NP and Cairngorms NP).

The report includes a pie chart to illustrate the occupation / interests of 176 individuals convicted of bird of prey persecution related offences between 1990-2016. Again, no surprises here:


Given that 68% of all those convicted of raptor persecution offences over the last 26 years were gamekeepers, the response to the 2015 Birdcrime report by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is predictable in its denial and insincerity. We might have more trust in them if they didn’t harbour convicted criminals.


Many congratulations and thanks to the RSPB Investigations Team for continuing to compile these data and for making them available to the public.

We’ll be writing another, related blog, later today about Police Scotland’s continued withholding of data.

7 thoughts on “RSPB publishes 2015 UK Birdcrime report”

  1. They do offer a great solution-lets all work together to stop this. Oh wait a minute, we tried that and it failed. We tried it again, it failed and again and again…………

    Excuse us if we now think that won’t work!

  2. They way to stamp out crime is to identify it & prosecute the criminals.
    This is obviously difficult on private land in remote locations
    Keepers are simply the slaves of the industry & particularly in the case of grouse moors they are required to eliminate predators.
    Their employers are obviously the instigators of the upland crime wave.
    Since the industry has had 1 & 1/2 centuries to stop this destruction, it has manifestly failed.
    It might lead one to think that the industry is unable to survive alongside predators & is therefore doomed in a civilised society ?
    It was for them to prove otherwise but time has run out.
    I look forward to the publishing of a map detailing all the historic raptor crimes – most illuminating & utterly predictable in distribution.

    Keep up the pressure !

  3. It would be interesting to see how many of the 68% between 1990-2015 were repeat offenders and have still kept their jobs. I know if I broke the law when at work I would have been out on my arse at warp speed.

  4. Can anyone say why the Police Scotland are withholding raptor persecution data? Looking at the numbers of different raptors killed, this is just the tip of the iceburg. In my humble opinion I have seen the work of gamekeepers over the yrs. One area where I lived I walked up a track one day and was horrified to see all manner of birds and rodents hung up along the hedgerow like some macabre show. It was the work of a sadist. Whilst xxxxxxx and the now, so called, xxxxx xxxxx train these people by the hundreds and hand out prizes to them, more and more ahooting, poisoning and trapping will go on. I was recently excited to see a red kite whilst alking on a high up area overlooking the Severn Estuary. I only saw this bird once and knowing that there is a big pheasant shooting place close by and who I knew had been given a licence to kill buzzards. I’ve noticed that I now rarely see or hear them too. I cannot tell you how I loath the lies , the smoke and mirrors used by the National Gamekeepers Assoc. Their shop tells me everything I need to know about xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  5. Having known quite a few gamekeepers and their allies over the past fifty years I find one aspect of the distribution map slightly incredible, i.e. the shortage of incidents recorded in my area in 2015. Withholding of information by Police Scotland might be partly the cause, but I’m sure that what the map indicates really is the lack of discovery of dead raptors. I know for a fact that keepers are very careful to conceal their illegal activities, and locating evidence is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

    One sentence which brought a wry smile to my face was the one including “…the thousands of gamekeepers, many of them RSPB members…”. For any readers not familiar with he wiliness of gamekeepers, this is a tactic that they collectively decided to adopt about thirty years ago – with the result that you can with near certainty identify a gamekeeper’s land rover by the RSPB badge, usually on the back window! Do not be fooled by this, as most (perhaps all) of them are just pretending to care about the welfare of wild birds, in a feeble attempt to deter suspicion about their persecution of raptors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s