Two weeks ago the RSPB said there had been a ‘surge’ in raptor persecution crimes during the Coronavirus lockdown period resulting in a number of police searches on various grouse moors across the UK (see here).
The shooting industry’s leaders responded to this news with their usual mind-bending, truth-twisting denials and obfuscation (see here).
This morning, in response to some of the accusations and denials made by the shooting industry, the RSPB has published a short video update:
The ~2 min video features Mark Thomas, head of investigations and the transcript is as follows:
Hi, it’s Mark Thomas from RSPB Investigations.
Thank you for your concern, disappointment and overall overwhelming support since last week’s news release about the surge in raptor crime.
Of the 56 incidents, 81% of those confirmed so far have a connection with land use for shooting, both in the uplands and in the lowlands.
Interestingly, the shooting world seem fixated on trying to show these incidents didn’t actually happen, particularly the red kite in Leeds which was shot on the city outskirts close to other confirmed persecution incidents. The latest news on this one is that a shooting syndicate are helping police with their enquiries.
This doesn’t look, feel or sound like zero tolerance, more like the usual denial. In fact the only progressive voice has been that of Shooting Times, who called out the issue and then swiftly became targets from their own peers. What chance of self regulation?
So where are we a week on?
Well unsurprisingly the figures have gone up, more confirmed and potential offences have come to light from the police, including four from the Peak District National Park alone. One of those being a buzzard that was found mortally injured and had to be put to sleep, the x-ray showing it had been shot with a shotgun on not just one but two separate occasions.
We’ve also received news from Norfolk Police of a shot buzzard in west Norfolk that also had to be put to sleep, and another dead buzzard in North Yorkshire which is currently being investigated.
We are aware of, and have been involved in, a number of other police investigations, some that we can’t talk about. Put simply, this is not going away.
We’ve been in close contact with the police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, in fact supplying the NWCU with detailed line-by-line breakdown for each of the incidents we’ve detailed.
As always, we are science and evidence based. This isn’t an issue to be discussed behind closed doors, it’s of national public concern and a measure of that interest is why it’s being featured on Channel 4 News tonight and on BBC Countryfile on Sunday.
Please do tune in and let us know your views.
And finally, please do keep your eyes and ears open in the countryside. We need you to do that.
Thank you as ever.