DEFRA publishes inaccurate & out of date raptor persecution maps

In a desperate attempt to look like it’s doing something about tackling raptor persecution in England & Wales, DEFRA has published some raptor persecution maps covering the period 2011-2015, as developed by the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG).

It needn’t have bothered. Apart from being extremely difficult to navigate, the maps are inaccurate, out of date and will not help tackle wildlife crime one tiny bit, despite the ludicrous claims made in DEFRA’s official press release.

These latest maps have been uploaded to the Government’s ‘Magic Map’ system, probably so called because data ‘magically disappears’, or at least it does in the case of the raptor persecution data.

As an example, we looked at the ‘new’ map showing the incident data relating to the mass poisoning of buzzards, red kites and ravens at Glanusk Estate in Wales in 2012 & 2013, crimes we have blogged about in detail (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here).

According to DEFRA’s new map, ‘7 buzzards & 6 red kites were poisoned in 1 incident’. Eh? For a start these raptors were poisoned in multiple incidents in 2012 and 2013. This is NOT ‘one incident’, as portrayed in the new map, but are several crimes that were commissioned over many months. And where is the information on the poisoned raven and the nine poisoned baits that were also found? Why have these details been excluded from DEFRA’s new map?

We can take an educated guess why. Having read the minutes of the RPPDG meetings over recent years (which we will be publishing shortly), it is clear that discussions have centred on how to remove as much data as possible from these ‘official’ maps to make it look like raptor persecution is not as widespread and rampant as it actually is. We saw the same arguments from the Scottish PAW Raptor Group, who for years did not include data on poisoned baits on its ‘official’ raptor persecution maps because, it was argued by the game shooting industry, it couldn’t be shown that a poisoned bait was placed specifically to target a raptor! Thankfully, the Scottish authorities eventually saw sense and now do include data on poisoned baits.

It seems we’re not the only ones to criticise these latest ‘new’ DEFRA maps. You’ll note from the DEFRA press release that the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) is not listed as one of the many ‘partner’ groups of the RPPDG, even though NERF is a partner. We thought that was fascinating. Was this an oversight or was it an indication that NERF has distanced itself from the this shambolic & desperate attempt at greenwashing the Westminster Government’s record of failing to address raptor persecution crimes?

Well, it turns out NERF has indeed distanced itself. Have a look at this statement, just published on the NERF website. It pulls no punches and spells out exactly why these DEFRA maps are a complete waste of time. Well done, NERF!

Given our (and NERF’s) lack of confidence in these ‘new’ (not new) DEFRA maps, we’ll be contacting the RSPB to ask them how many incidents of raptor persecution they have recorded in their database for the same period (2011-2015). We think it’ll make for an interesting comparison.

We’ll come back to this when we get a response from the RSPB.

For those of you struggling to access the raptor persecution maps on the Government’s Magic Maps system (you won’t be alone – it really is a dreadful, non-user-friendly bit of tech), here’s a quick guide:

Go to the Magic Maps homepage here

Click on ‘Maps’ then ‘Interactive map’

You’ll see a Table of Contents on the left hand side of the screen

Tick the box next to ‘Habitats and Species’

Tick the box next to ‘Species’

Scroll down and tick the box next to ‘Birds’

Scroll down and tick the box next to ‘Raptor Persecution’

Zoom in to the map to your area of interest and you’ll see various symbols. Click on the ‘i’ button on the top toolbar, then move your cursor to the symbol of interest. Then click on the symbol of interest and the (limited) incident data should appear in a box.

Alternatively, for those who want to see a complete and more up to date (and more user-friendly) map of raptor persecution data in England & Wales, simply look at the RSPB’s annual Birdcrime reports, which they’ve been publishing for almost 30 years! Here’s their latest one.

UPDATE 2pm: Birds of prey suffer massacre on moors (here)

UPDATE 22 December 2017: RSPB’s perspective on DEFRA’s useless raptor persecution maps (here)

13 thoughts on “DEFRA publishes inaccurate & out of date raptor persecution maps”

  1. These maps clearly do not represent the truth.
    Well done NERF, Mark Avery and RPUK for pointing this out.
    What are NE and DERFA playing at here?
    It stands no examination whatsoever.

  2. So Hen Harriers introduced to Salisbury Plain have an apparent ‘safe zone’ c45 miles to the north, c10 miles to south and c30 miles to east and west. And this looks like the largest raptor-crime free zone in England although there appears to be another raptor-crime free zone along the Wye valley and the Malvern Hills. It explains why Red Kites have done well in the Chilterns but the two species have totally different breeding, feeding and dispersal behaviour.
    Using this map i would place money on where the Hen Harriers would spread if they were successful. This predictability is sickening and all these crimes can’t all be blamed on driven grouse moors. Many of the Red Kite crimes in Yorkshire are no where near grouse moors. There is a sector of society that just hates hooked beaks.

    1. I haven’t looked at the maps but I seem to remember several Buzzards and a Peregrine being killed near Pewsey in Wiltshire – adjacent to Salisbiury Plain a couple of years ago. Not that safe: we have far too many pheasant and partridge shoots in that area.

      1. Oh no it took me 10 minutes to find that map and now i have to start again.
        I tried again and it won’t load so i gave up.
        RPUK did say they were inaccurate.
        I was very conservative taking a rough measurement from the centre of Salisbury Plain (obviously they could breed anywhere). Pewsey is about 20 miles to northeast of the centre of the Plain so i have either missed it or it isn’t on the map. Either way you reinforce my point that this is a ridiculously small area of (relatively) low level raptor crime in which to release these birds. It worked with Red Kites but they are generally much less mobile.
        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if they all fly off and none settle anywhere near Salisbury Plain.

  3. The trouble with PR and spin is that sooner or later you are expected to deliver (see Brexit), as someone without a PR background I can only guess that it must be a god send if you can get government approval for your spin and half truths, especially when it is all falling apart around your ears (the Peak District raptor working group, requests for licenses to kill Marsh Harriers even more so the pressures in Scotland where the Government seem to be taking the issues relating to raptor crime very seriously), unfortunately for the Westminster government there is a whole raft of collated information on raptor crime and raptor populations that is available to show them to be complicit in trying to pretend that:

    a) this problem isn’t all that big.
    b) it’s getting better
    c) self regulation is working

    It’s not, stop listening to the apologists and start looking into what is really happening.

    We do know that what is crime is identified is the tip of the iceberg and we know that methods have evolved to ensure that where possible no evidence can be obtained, we have seen from the video evidence that the RSPB investigations team have collated

    Once we have lost trust in those tasked with ensuring that such information is as complete and comprehensive as possible then I am afraid we reach the point where we have to question why we bother to report things and wait years before incidents come to light (with little or no chance of a prosecution) rather than just publicise the incident directly via social media and this blog. Perhaps public pressure and peer pressure can cause suitable damage to landowners/tenants/agents/keepers reputations and achieve better results?

    1. At least we now know that DEFRA does have a radar. Our job is to make the very feint blip that has just appeared on it, highlighting that raptor persecution is an issue that is not going away, into a beacon.

      Keep up the good and forensic work that you do.The tide is turning

  4. When I click for more info all I am getting is a list of “no features found”

    One, and probably only good thing about these maps has to be the fact you can actually see in details where the 10Km square is. and therefore get an idea of the land use in those areas. Maybe that is why they don’t tell you more than “bird shot here 2013” as is the case with my nearest confirmed persecution location. (if your intrested, it was a sparrowhawk)

  5. I have a friend considering a property to N Yorks moor this is a link to Bing Maps. OS view shows very Intensive grouse shooting area. Property in Post code NE47 9UB.
    Tried searching but can’t find any info as to problems in that area. Can anyone help

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