RSPB’s 2018 Birdcrime report documents relentless raptor persecution on grouse moors

The RSPB has published its latest annual report Birdcrime, documenting known cases of illegal raptor persecution in the UK in 2018. [Follow this link to find the report and additional information]

As ever, it’s grim reading and also as ever, the figures represent an unknown percentage of the actual number of birds that have been illegally killed. We know there are many, many more as these figures don’t include all the satellite-tagged raptors that have been killed and their corpses and tags destroyed to remove any trace evidence.

On the back of the report, the RSPB is calling for three things, quoted as follows:

  • The licensing of driven grouse moors.
    The RSPB believes that the right to shoot should be dependent on legal, sustainable management. Grouse shooting licenses could then be removed if illegal activity is identified, which would act as a deterrent. Law-abiding estates should have nothing to fear from this.
  • A review of grouse shooting.
    An industry that relies on criminal, unsustainable and environmentally damaging practices should not be allowed to continue operating as it currently is. In Scotland, the government has launched a review of grouse moor management and the RSPB would like to see a similar review in the rest of the UK.
  • Transparency, not secrecy: the public have a right to know.
    It is a concern that, particularly in Scotland, some raptor persecution incidents are not made public for many months, or even years, despite the release of such information posing no threat to the integrity of an investigation. The public has a right to know if criminal activity is taking place on their doorstep, especially when, as with poisoning incidents, this poses a risk to public health.

To be perfectly honest, the call for the licensing of driven grouse moors is too little, too late. For many of us the tipping point has now been reached following the recent reports of some truly sadistic and brazen persecution crimes, for example this hen harrier that was caught in an illegally-set spring trap next to his nest on a grouse moor at Leadhills. His leg was almost severed and despite the best efforts of a world-class veterinary specialist, this poor bird didn’t make it.

A licensing system isn’t going to stop the disgusting filthy criminals responsible for this – it’ll be impossible to enforce, just as wildlife protection laws are notoriously difficult to enforce right now. An outright ban on driven grouse shooting will remove the incentive for these crimes, and that’s what we’re calling for. 80,000 people agree (they’ve signed since the petition was launched two weeks ago) but we need 100,000 signatures before Parliament is suspended, as looks likely to happen in a couple of weeks. Please help reach the target and sign the petition here.

The RSPB’s call for a review of grouse shooting is also too little, too late. What do we need another review for? We’ve got decades worth of scientific evidence and hundreds of raptor corpses to know just how damaging driven grouse moor management is, for wildlife, for the environment and for people. Calling for a Werritty-style review will just add further delay to actually dealing with the issue, as we’re currently seeing in Scotland. Just ban it and be done with it (sign the petition if you agree!).

Calling for transparency, not secrecy, over the publication of raptor crimes is something we do support and we’ve been calling for it for years, particularly in Scotland. It’s very noticeable that yet again, in the 2018 poisoning data, the only police force to withhold the name of the poison that’s been used to illegally kill raptors is Police Scotland. All the other forces involved with poisoning investigations have named the poison used.

Having said that, this year (2019) Police Scotland has been a bit more forthcoming about publicising illegal poisoning crimes (e.g. see here and here) although there is still a reluctance to name the poison. But to be fair, Police Scotland has been doing a better job than other public authorities about alerting the public to the dangers (e.g. see here).

Speaking of Scotland, the Birdcrime report shows that 12 confirmed cases were recorded, more than double that recorded in 2017 (take note, Scottish Land & Estates, before you start falsely claiming otherwise). These cases included a peregrine poisoned in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh; a buzzard found to have been shot twice, in South Lanarkshire; a buzzard caught in an illegal trap, in Inverness-shire; and a hen harrier caught in a spring trap in Perthshire. All of these incidents occurred on, or close to, land being managed intensively for driven grouse shooting.

And guess what? Not a single one of them has led to a prosecution. Nor has SNH issued a single General Licence restriction order in response to these clear crimes. Even more evidence, as if it were needed, that the Scottish Government, just like the Westminster Government, has no control whatsoever over the rampant raptor-killing savages on many driven grouse moors.



21 thoughts on “RSPB’s 2018 Birdcrime report documents relentless raptor persecution on grouse moors”

  1. I share the need for greater transparency over the crimes and am very concerned that data protection legislation is being used as an excuse for not informing the public of the results of prosecutions, namely whether the firearms licences for offenders have been revoked or not. I will be writing to the information commissioner to challenge the ruling by Police Scotland that such information is private and will keep members of RPUK appraised of the results. I am sure that GDPR was not intended to protect known criminals from having the nature of their crimes and their consequences from public scrutiny.

    1. “I am sure that GDPR was not intended to protect known criminals from having the nature of their crimes and their consequences from public scrutiny.”

      I do not know whether there was an intention to make the GDPR available as a tool to prevent the public from accessing information relating to criminals and crimes. However, as times goes on and the failure to deal with criminality endlessly grows there has to be a suspicion that the reason for that is :-
      (a) intended, or
      (b) gross incompetence/negligence, or
      a combination of both.

      Investigations and, the very few prosecutions that follow rarely follow any route other than the road to nowhere. That does not seem likely to have an innocent cause.

    2. If someone’s found guilty in court for a driving offence, the effect on their driving licence is commonly reported. Are Police Scotland going to apply their interpretation in this, too?

  2. Firstly, well done RSPB for publishing this depressing report. What, however, is the RSP(of some)B thinking when it is calling for a totally pointless licensing system – if introduced – that will ensure that DGS will continue for decades to come? Legitimising DGS with a license (that estates publicly decry but secretly want) is counter productive and, frankly, just plain daft. Calling for a review is beyoned belief and tells me that the RSPB is out of touch with reality. Perhaps the RSPB could spend some of its £3,163,433.21 (yes, really!) CAP subsidies that it received in Scotland last year on doing something that will truly protect birds, and ALL birds at that?

    1. Licensing- what the estates secretly want. Definitely nail on the head comment!
      What on earth are the RSPB thinking when calling for licensing and reviews. They know full well that Werritty may well be out sometime this century. They also know that licensing will ‘have to be given time to work’, yeah, like twenty to thirty years. They know the politicians and judiciary will love the delay that licensing and further reviews will give them. And they also know that the wildlife on our moors have not got the time to wait before becoming extinct.
      How many times can you say ‘enough is enough’?
      Why haven’t the RSPB published a decent article on this subject in their mag? Why haven’t they asked for their members opinion as to what we want?
      Ian Thompson, their head of investigations in Scotland, sounded thoroughly pissed off at the HH day. What would he like to see? What would make his job easier? Licence or Ban?
      And they have the cheek to ask us for more money to support the investigations team when they don’t support them themselves by demanding a ban, promoting this petition or at the very least, asking our opinion.
      Somebody at Sandy has got this very wrong. And we are not even allowed to ask the question at the AGM.
      Something is not quite right here.

      1. These are some of the reasons that I cannot bring myself to renew my RSPB membership. I had it out with them via e-mail regarding DGS and their ridiculous calls for licensing and endless reviews and, basically, they – very politely – told me to piss off. The RSPB is awash with dosh and members; can you imagine the impact if they energised their membership and came out for a ban on DGS? I suspect that there are those within the RSPB who are frustrated to hell about the RSPB’s ‘official’ position on DGS. RPUK and REVIVE et al have done more with a fraction of the resources available to the RSPB to put the fun killers on the back foot. keep up the good work!

      2. Its taken since 1958 to exhaust “lets just talk about this” (is it passed?).
        Licencing would last another 60 years…..just another year “so we can fine tune it”.
        Of course they will want licencing.

        1. The problem is that the British public and British Campaign groups are notoriously timid and almost pathologically afraid of being seen as, well, as actually wanting to change things. There is this need to be seen as “reasonable”, to have to work within the (xxxxxxx/xxxxxx?) system and an inbuilt cringe when accused of actually trying to change things. We are so scared of fighting for something new, that we can’t even tolerate the mere word “fight”, let alone take any xxxxxxx measures. In the UK the order of the day is tug the forelock, scrape to the nobs, be nice to the xxxxxx (as if they haven’t PR people of their own) and never ever ever rock the boat. In the UK even a doomed to failure licencing regime is a huge radical and scary step. Because we are cowards like that. Unless even the campaign groups at the forefront of this issue can change to be more radical and less in thrall to the xxxx, then this is probably the best we can hope for.

  3. ’12 confirmed cases were recorded, more than double that recorded in 2017′
    Please RPUK could you tell me where you got that fact.
    The Fig 1 in the appendix looks like it is about the same.
    I wrote to my MSP and told it had doubled but can’t find any data to back it up so don’t want to make a mistake.

      1. Ah i see you probably got it from the filters in the Interactive map of 24 in 2017 and 12 in 2018. I don’t understand why that doesn’t show on the graph in fig 1 of appendix.

          1. Sorry RPUK are you still standing by the statement?
            ‘Speaking of Scotland, the Birdcrime report shows that 12 confirmed cases were recorded, more than double that recorded in 2017’.
            You are never wrong as far as i can tell (as far as facts go) but this doesn’t seem to be correct according to the RSPB crime report appendix or Interactive map.

  4. I think the point that all of you are missing here is that you are effectively fighting the owners and rulers of this country. The rich landowners, the MP’s, the Royal family! These people have been free to do what they want on their land since they owned the land.
    And now they are being told that we don’t like what they are doing
    Our country is pretty much just as corrupt as most third world countries. You wonder why not much is changing? You wonder why the cases get dropped from court of just simply fail to get there? You wonder how it is that the police are not interested in fox hunting? Same reason they are not interested in wildlife crime on grouse Moors. Because the people involved are the rulers and owners of our country.
    How many palms are being tickled to allow crime to continue? How many judges get a word in their ear before the paltry amount of cases get to court.
    How many people in the CPS are told to drop the case by their superiors?
    The only way to win this war is to gradually reduce their power and influence. The best way to start doing that is to vote the Conservatives out as they happily facilitate the on going use of the land for DGS and everything that goes with it. All because some of its members and most of their buddies are involved.
    Only once you have a political party in power that does not affiliate itself with the landed gentry and actually wants to improve our environment will we see any change.
    An MP should be an average man who lives on your street and see’s the world in a similar way to yourself.
    Not some knob who went to Eaton who hangs out with other knobs from Eaton that like to go fox hunting and game shooting.
    So, if you want an end to DGS, start by getting rid of your Tory MP.

  5. Dear Sirs I have been a member of R P UK for some time and have received regular emails. This is the last one I have received – 29 August – can you please confirm I am still on your mailing list??? I have checked all my inlets including spam. Many Thanks Stuart

    On Thu, 29 Aug 2019 at 01:36, Raptor Persecution UK wrote:

    > RaptorPersecutionUK posted: “The RSPB has published its latest annual > report Birdcrime, documenting known cases of illegal raptor persecution in > the UK in 2018. [Follow this link to find the report and additional > information] As ever, it’s grim reading and also as ever, the fi” >

  6. Dear Sirs I still await a reply to my email. Can you please return my name to your subscription list. Many Thanks R Stuart Craig

    [Ed: Hi, R Stuart Craig, this blog is hosted on a free platform (WordPress) which means we don’t have the ability to either subscribe or unsubscribe followers. If you want to subscribe please click the button ‘sign me up’ in the right hand column and follow the instructions. Thanks]

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