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 Apart from being extremely difficult to navigate, the maps are inaccurate, out of date and will not help tackle wildlife crime one tiny bit, despite the ludicrous claims made in DEFRA’s official press release.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