‘Rising crimewave of raptor persecution across UK’ – feature article in The Mirror

There’s a two-page spread in today’s Mirror newspaper on the ‘rising crimewave of raptor persecution across the UK’, written by Environment Editor Nada Farhoud.

There isn’t anything in this article that regular blog readers won’t already know about but that’s not really the point. It’s good to see the extent of these crimes being exposed to the average tabloid reader, whom for many will be the first time they’ve heard about it.

Well done to the RSPB’s Investigations team for providing the information and taking out the journalist to visit grouse moors in the Peak District National Park.

The article can be read here.

19 thoughts on “‘Rising crimewave of raptor persecution across UK’ – feature article in The Mirror”

  1. Not sure about the caption “A trapped raptor”. Isn’t it a juvenile hen harrier, just ringed and fitted with a tracking device?

    Excellent article otherwise and good to see it in the mass media.

  2. I hope that everyone noticed that the BASC in the article had nothing to say about the measures they have put in place to prevent these crimes (because they haven’t done so) but feel free to criticise the RSPB, who have to spend time and resources investigating these crimes exactly because BASC fail to control their members and associates, like the members of the National Gamekeepers Organisation and the Scottish Gamekeepers Organisation, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx [Ed: thanks, Simon, but I’ll need some evidence before I can publish that claim. Worth remembering that not all gamekeepers are necessarily members of any of these clubs]

    1. I agree. The online article feels free to allow the BASC to make stupid allegations against the RSPB but did not offer the RSPB the right of reply.

      However, the article – especially if reproduced in the print edition – is something of a breakthrough.

      It needs to be regularly followed up to have a real impact…

  3. Throughout the uk is it more England there referring to as I never see much in the Scottish newspaper certainly not the ones I buy 🤔

  4. Our natural revulsion at the slaughter of our birds of prey by game-rearing interests shouldn’t blind us to the fact that this is, at bottom, a deeply political issue. What is more important: the right of the majority to enjoy a countryside replete with its natural predators, or the right of a small and wealthy minority to shoot unnaturally high numbers of game birds, two species of which aren’t even indigenous? I am sick of saying this, but this really is an open goal for the political Left.

    1. I always think it is an open goal for any political party… why they do not see that indicates they are not of same frame of mind.

      Oxford City Council has not had an elected Tory Councillor since 2000, and not had a Tory Council since 1980.

      The local greyhound racing track (in Blackbird Leys) closed in 2012 due to the declining popularity of the ‘sport’ (more than 200 race-track deaths in 2021).

      The owners wanted to build homes on the derelict site, but the Labour Council wanted to build in the Green Belt, instead, and so placed a conservation order on the site and insisted that greyhound racing be returned. They did this despite a 3000-local resident petition against the return of greyhound racing… organised by LACS, Peta and Oxford Vegan Action.

      The Labour Party argument? So long as the Tory Government refused a national ban on greyhound racing, they would not refuse local planning consent.

      High-profile local MP Anneliese Dodds declined to get ‘involved’:-(

  5. It would be interesting to know whether any police force has investigated the people who supply banned poisons. When they discover these have been used, or held by gamekeepers etc, do they establish where these were obtained? Has any action been taken to prosecute the people who are keeping and selling these banned poisons? From what I have read they sometimes state which poison has been used and leave it at that. It appears they fail to pursue the people who are supplying these.

    1. I can’t imagine a gamekeeper caught with banned pesticides grassing up his supplier, especially if he still wants to be employed in the game shooting industry!

      The head keeper caught with the massive stash of 10kg of banned Carbofuran at Skibo Estate told the police he’d been given it by a farmer at his previous job (Raeshaw Estate, Scottish Borders) and had taken it with him up to Skibo when he switched jobs because he ‘didn’t know what else to do with it’. The ‘farmer’ who he claimed gave him the poison was of course long dead so conveniently couldn’t be interviewed.

      1. Fair comment but there must be methods of establishing just who is dealing in these banned poisons. They can trace the drug dealers and thieves by a variety of ways and in these days of DNA testing, plus forensic evidence, it must be possible to do more. They track paedophiles on the dark web too. I get the impression there is no will to anything. May be when other animals, or humans, are injured, or killed, then some action will be taken. In the meantime there is wholesale slaughter of raptors.

  6. Following the recent conviction of wildlife criminal Mr Allen, Stephanie Bird-Halton, who is National Delivery Director for Natural England is quoted as saying “Without landowners and land managers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue”. (Dorset Police press release 16th Feb 2023)
    Now, unless I am very mistaken, from what I have read, Mr Allen was responsible for managing a pheasant shoot on the Shaftesbury estate, and it was a member of the public whilst out walking who found and reported a dead Red Kite to the police, which then resulted in the searches which uncovered Mr Allen’s crimes. Clearly, it wasn’t a landowner or land manager who reported their suspicions of illegal activity taking place.
    Neither was it a land owner or land manager who reported the death of the 3 Hen Harrier chicks found dead in their nest near Whernside, or provided any information as to who might have been responsible. I also understand that no one came forward to help identify the individual caught on camera killing the Goshawk caught in a trap on the North Yorks moors.
    Whilst I suspect there will have been occasions when land owners and land mangers have helped the police with their investigations, just what percentage of crimes and suspects have landowners and land managers reported?
    And how many police investigations have been stifled due to the lack of someone coming forward with information which would have led to a suspect being identified and convicted?

    So in light of this newspaper article reporting a rising crime wave against protected birds of prey, Stephanie Bird- Halton’s comments are of some concern.
    Because if her comments are reflective of beliefs held by the senior management in NE, then it is very doubtful that any meaningful action will ever be taken to tackle the root causes of raptor persecution, as I suspect that it is these senior managers who will decide on NE policy, and no doubt also be responsible for providing information to the government as to what direction any steps to tackle raptor persecution should take.
    If policies and information is provided by people whose view of what is actually taking place is in anyway limited or biased, then those policies and that information will be flawed, and this could offer an explanation as to why raptor crime still persists despite everything the government claim to be doing to tackle this issue.

  7. It will take a long time for the culture of game shooting for fun/money to disappear from our countryside without a younger generation of country people setting a new scene and telling their families, enough is enough.
    The future lies in countryside tourism where the same people can be employed and retain their houses by showing off their local predators.
    This type of business is already being used in all countries where one can visit and enjoy the wildlife under the guidance of enthusiastic people who understand nature and its birds, animal population.
    I have been guided in Spain by such a chap who picked me up from my hotel and gave me a splendid tour of his local area and taking the pleasure of showing me many species that we don’t see in the UK.
    All that is needed is the want to get away from the present death and destruction that we have seen since the days of Queen Victoria in the Scottish Highlands.

    1. “It will take a long time for the culture of game shooting for fun/money to disappear from our countryside…”

      That may be true… but not because…

      “without a younger generation of country people setting a new scene and telling their families, enough is enough.”

      There is already a large majority of the public opposed to shooting. LACS report that a YouGov GB survey returned 69% saying shooting be be declared illegal (not just ‘opposed’, but declared illegal)

      They also claim 80% were against the practise of breeding pheasants and red-legged partridges in cages, to be released for shooting.

      Also note that LACS say that in a separate poll, 72% of the Welsh public wanted cages for the breeding of pheasants and partridges to be made illegal.

      A similar survey by LACS carried out in Scotland said that 71% were opposed to grouse shooting.

      (No one appears brave enough to specifically survey Northern Ireland:-(

      So, why hasn’t it been banned already? These are not particularly new statistics.

      The main reason, I believe, is because the topic is suppressed in the media… As we know, there are occasional – and very welcome – bursts of outrage in the printed press, but the BBC has l o n g had a national policy of suppressing the topic (shooting, trapping, poisoning) in ANY of its enormously popular nature programmes. The BBC BAN all their presenters from mentioning the issue on air, despite the fact that it adversely effects our wildlife and our environment to a huge extent.

      I’m not that fused what ITV/Channel 4 etc do because I am not forced, by law, to pay them. But, by law(!) I *am* forced to pay the BBC to ban mention of shooting, trapping, and poisoning of our wildlife on air, during their nature(!) programmes.

      (Just think about all the other ‘political’ topics which get aired, every single day, on the BBC, whether it is ‘talk shows’, ‘comedy’ programmes or bona fide ‘current affairs’. To the BBC, the issue of the industrial-scale abusing of our wildlife and our countryside does not warrant regular ‘discussion’.

      The one exception – to cover their backs – is an occasional foray in Countryfile, where it is pigeon-holed as a ‘country’ issue. See this angry response to one such:


      According to YouGov, Have I Got News For You is 12th most watched, Crimewatch is 41st, Mock the Week was 42nd (not much mention of wildlife crimes in those ‘current affairs-type’ programmes) and Countryfile is 48th. But all the news and most of the nature programmes come (much) higher than Countryfile)

      I think the difference regular exposure of the wide scale damage shooting does to our environment, on the BBC, would force the issue much higher up the agenda, with a population already straining to ban it.

    2. I so agree with you. Re training those who ‘love the countryside ‘ to be proactive in protection of it is surely not in the realms of impossibility? Unfortunately land owners/plenty of money do not agree it seems. I feel terribly despondent about this.

  8. See NE Report via GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enforcement-laws-advice-on-protecting-the-natural-environment-in-england#monitoring-enforcement

    “This report captures data from Natural England’s enforcement activity relating to Sites of
    Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Species Licensing, Animal Poisoning, Environmental
    Impact Assessment (EIA) (Agriculture) Regulations, and Injurious Weeds offences,
    including Prosecutions, Civil Sanctions, and Cautions. Data is recorded by financial year
    (1st April to 31st March).
    Information gathered in this report is being used to inform decision-making regarding
    compliance and enforcement, by identifying priorities and allocating resources to key

    Wonder if any actions will follow their words?

  9. Hows about we close all shoots down for 10 years plus we take their shotguns and other guns that require an FAC off them only allow them sub 9 ft lb springer air rifles and make them account for every pellet fired with proof ie the carcass of what they shot .
    I shoot Grey Squirrels and Rats real harmfull vermin with my sub 12 ft lb air rifle doing the flora and fauna a service killing Raptors because they are scoffing the odd game bird is not on

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