Grouse moors and other game shooting estates used the Coronavirus lockdown in Spring 2020 as an opportunity to illegally shoot birds of prey. That’s one of the conclusions of the RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report. (The statistics in the report relate to 2019, but the report’s authors comment on the experiences of the RSPB Investigations Team in early 2020).
There were 85 confirmed cases of bird of prey persecution in 2019, with victims including buzzards, red kites, peregrines, goshawks and hen harriers. The 85 instances are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations at the RSPB, says everybody knows what is going on and public outrage is growing.
Despite assurances from shooting organisations that they oppose raptor persecution, we have seen no evidence of meaningful attempts to remove this criminal activity from their industry. Instead, they routinely deny such crimes are even occurring.RSPB Birdcrime, Summary Report
Once again, North Yorkshire tops the list of blackspots. Overall, 50% of recorded cases happened on land theoretically protected for nature, such as National Parks.
Of 58 British hen harriers tagged over 10 years, 72% were either confirmed illegally killed, or disappeared suddenly with no evidence of a tag malfunction.
The RSPB wants an independent review of grouse shooting, and for grouse moors to be licensed – so licences can be taken away in the event of criminality.