UK bird crime report 201108/10/2012 13:06:31 Golden opportunity to crack bird of prey persecution, before it's too late!
October 2012. As the hen harrier teeters on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, Coalition and Welsh Government Ministers have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England and Wales, and must not waste it.
Too little has been done over the years to stop these sickening attacks on birds, but this could change with proposed reforms of wildlife law and policing. The RSPB believes a review of wildlife protection legislation by the Law Commission - currently being consulted on - provides a golden opportunity to address ongoing persecution of bird of prey in England and Wales.
This month will also see the publication of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into wildlife crime while the imminent reorganisation of the police service and the creation of National Crime Agency will provide further opportunities to prioritise wildlife crime.
National Wildlife Crime Unit needs funding
"It's been over a hundred years since poisoning of wild birds was outlawed in the UK and yet our report shows we're still witnessing the slaughter of kites, eagles and buzzards. Fewer incidents were recorded last year, but as our report highlights birds of prey continue to die at the hands of those who want to remove them from our countryside. Thankfully, vastly more people are inspired by the homecoming of eagles, ospreys and peregrines and recognise these charismatic species bring huge enjoyment to people and benefits for tourist economies."
Shooting & poisoning
Environmental Audit Committee chair, Joan Walley MP said: "Our committee has heard evidence from a wide variety of individuals and organisations, and the issue of bird of prey persecution has come up time and again. We have looked seriously into this area and we will be making our recommendations to government in the next few weeks. I hope that Defra and Home Office ministers responsible will see the importance of tackling this issue now so that the police and courts have the proper tools in place to deal with these sickening crimes."
"In the last few years it has been fantastic to see red kites and buzzards around our home," Mr Lawrence said.
"Finding two poisoned birds in our small paddock was a real shock. The birds had fallen out of a tree with the poisoned meat still in their beaks. Our very young grandchildren regularly play in the paddock and the thought that they could have handled these birds is terrifying. It's hard to believe people could be so irresponsible to place such dangerous banned pesticides in our countryside."
Nevin Hunter, the new head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "In my police career, I have investigated many offences, including the deliberate persecution of birds of prey. It is unacceptable and there is a need to work to address it across the UK with the help of all partner agencies.
"The NWCU will support the taking of preventative measures and in addition will work to gather intelligence and take robust enforcement action to tackle persecution wherever found."