This page could also be called Illegal Persecution because the killing of birds of prey in the UK is ILLEGAL! This might seem like common sense to most people and it has, in fact, been law since 1954 with the Protection of Birds Act. This was enhanced by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 in the UK. The Republic of Ireland has separate legislation and Scotland has added further protection with the Nature Conservation Act 2004. Historically, our relationship with Birds of Prey pre-1954 was, sadly, a very one sided affair, with Birds of Prey shot/trapped and poisoned for a variety of reasons. The introduction of driven game shooting did not help for our birds of prey, and gamekeeper’s diaries show how many estates treated them. The introduction of the above laws has made a difference, but tragically many are still persecuted in the UK.
Buzzard caught in trap – Raptor Persecution Scotland (c)
The reasons for bird of prey persecution haven’t really changed over the years and include the game shooting industry, pigeon fanciers and farmers. The shooting industry has long been tainted with the illegal persecution including species like Peregrine, Buzzard and Hen Harrier. The Hen Harrier is now at a critical level in England as a breeding bird and, in 2014, only 4 pairs bred. Pigeon Fanciers have long had a grudge against the local Peregrine or Sparrowhawk at their pigeon loft. Dead pigeons laced with poison are still found as well as poisoned birds of prey being recovered.
We will go into more detail on what to look out for in the countryside should you suspect illegal activity towards birds of prey in our blog, but below are the details of whom you should contact. If you suspect a poisoned carcass please do not touch it. You can also find out more by visiting the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website.
Should you suspect a wildlife crime, please call the police immediately on 999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111
You can check out whether your region has its own Wildlife Crime Unit by clicking this LINK
If you have a news story relating to bird of prey persecution, please get in touch!