Birds of prey still being killed despite lockdown

Since lockdown began in March there’s been widespread concern that the illegal persecution of birds of prey would escalate, especially on grouse moors (e.g. see here) where fewer people are around to witness the crimes and/or the aftermath.

The UK’s grouse moors have been the epicentre of raptor persecution crimes for years; Mark Avery astutely described the National Parks that are dominated by grouse moors (e.g. Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Peak District, Cairngorms) as “massive wildlife crime scenes” (see here).

But of course, the threat to UK raptors isn’t just restricted to areas managed for driven grouse shooting. These birds are targeted and killed in the lowlands too, and quite often (although not exclusively) on land being managed for pheasant and partridge shooting.

Just two weeks ago a red kite was reported as shot on land managed for pheasant shooting, with another two birds also suspected to have been shot at the same location (see here).

It seems that the conservationists’ concerns were well founded. Despite the country being in the midst of a national crisis, and despite the shooting industry’s claims to have a ‘zero tolerance’ of raptor persecution (see here), the killing continues.

Police Supt Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG, the so-called partnership that aims to tackle the illegal killing of raptors) tweeted this yesterday:

Nick singles out North Yorkshire but we’re also aware of a spate of other suspected raptor persecution crimes during lockdown, in a number of other counties across England and Scotland. Most of these have yet to be publicised as police investigations continue but hold on your hats, folks, when they are finally publicised the list is going to be long and damning.

14 thoughts on “Birds of prey still being killed despite lockdown”

  1. I’ll look out for details of the appeals for information in due course. It will be interesting to find out the details of the current investigations and whether they are of a similar nature to the older incidents shown in the photographs that Police Supt Lyall has used in his tweet.

  2. it was and is entirely predictable that there would be a surge in persecution whilst we are in lock down. That some of these crimes have come to light is a good thing but not nearly as good as there being no crimes, or the guilty being found so.
    It is what happened in 2001 during the F&M countryside shutdown, if nothing else the cabal of criminals involved in “sport shooting” are entirely predictable. Let us hope there is enough to get the accused into court. Lots of publicity too and yes it is part of the end game.

  3. Acts of prejudice towards our birds of prey from gamekeepers . Shooting lodgers are not new news . These barbaric acts of cruelty are disgusting. It’s about time the authorities make examples of these blood thirsty delinquents once and for all . Massive fines prison sentences a

  4. I predict that if there is a spike in wildlife crimes (as seems likely) then the ‘well-known suspects’ will claim it’s because gamekeepers have been abiding by the lockdown and so haven’t been able to work their beat resulting in those infamous “animal rights activists” all nipping out en masse to plant evidence.

    1. In that case we should remember THAT A LACK OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF INNOCENCE. Personally I’ve never come across these mythic “activists” in over 30 years involvement, they are the figments of imagination from the fevered brows of the unimaginative.

  5. Some cold comfort that the police are identifying and working on possible persecution cases, at least we’re not completely in the dark and maybe rural police have actually got more time to devote to wildlife crime at the moment? There’s definitely been an upsurge in acts of cruelty to livestock and wildlife if social media is anything to go by. With fewer people than usual about it’s good news for those wanting to shoot at and beat to death the swans and ducks in local parks, swans are particularly easy targets of course. A group of three or four ‘men’ in a small red van were witnessed driving around shooting at sheep with airguns the other day, at least one lamb died as a result. There are reports like this every day, today’s was a pratt who deliberately sped up and drove through a family of ducks trying to cross a road.

    Arseholes with airguns blatantly shooting at anything that moved were one of the banes of my Scottish council estate childhood, clearly they haven’t totally disappeared the existing practitioners have just become a bit more secretive until now. When killing for fun, and creating unnaturally bloated populations of some animals to cater for it, can be seen as legitimate then hardly surprising there’s still a reservoir of fuckwits in the general population that think taking casual pot shots at animals is a good laugh, the legal shooters on the Fieldsports Channel are hardly a great advert for humanity as it is. My big fear is that the usual suspects will be emboldened to go onto land they usually wouldn’t. Hopefully once this episode passes there’ll be the realisation life’s too short for the hand wringing that’s dominated parts of the conservation movement.

  6. Down in the Tamar Valley the amount of woodland given over to shooting pheasant has increased enormously in the last 5 years. We have a 3 acre wood. For the first time in 40 years our wood has no buzzards nesting. I have not seen a nest anywhere in our parish. The number of buzzards in the sky has plummeted. No one seems to care!

  7. Thank-you for showing us the type of traps used to snare them on a fence post. If I see one I will geo tag it on my mobile phone, report it and then destroy it…

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