RSPB provides update on raptor persecution surge during Coronavirus lockdown

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.


10 thoughts on “RSPB provides update on raptor persecution surge during Coronavirus lockdown”

  1. I find the wording used here to be bizarre. Reference to 56 incidents, then 81% of those confirmed. Is that 81% of the 56, or a lesser figure?

    Also reference to the peak district. One incident clearly appears to have a sound basis, injured bird recovered. Which is appalling. But what of the other 3?

    I feel that in trying to ramp this up, the rspb are simply giving scope to further muddy the waters with their own odd reporting approach which leaves far more questions than answers.

    1. No Alauda, it’s quite simple. 81% of the incidents were on land connected to game shooting. Which means 19% were on land not associated with game shooting.

      Lay off the lead mate.

  2. Unfortunately the lockdown has given carte blanch to persecution of all kinds of wildlife, and the gamekeepers, shoot managers, pigeon fanciers with guns and general yahoos have taken full advantage.

    1. Yes Jill if you put a tempting option in front of criminals they usually take it. This was entirely predictable based on experiences during the last lock out of the countryside in FMD in 2001.

    1. Should be interesting. The evidence is hard to reject & as a BBC programme they can’t go full gamekeeper, much as they may want to

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