On Friday (3 Feb 2017) the RSPB published its latest UK Birdcrime report (2015).
The format for the 2015 report has changed. Instead of publishing a downloadable PDF, the report has been published ‘online’ – see here.
This isn’t to everyone’s liking, including ours; we prefer to have a report that can be filed and read offline. Nevertheless, the new online version includes all the usual information that we’ve come to expect from the RSPB’s Investigations Team, including a downloadable PDF of the data appendices (very useful), and for the first time it includes a new ‘interactive’ map of persecution incidents. This is a fantastic development, and although at the moment it only includes data from 2015, it is hoped that data from previous and future years will be added in due course, which will make this a very valuable tool when looking at persecution hotspot areas.
Overall, the RSPB received 196 reports of shooting, trapping and destruction of birds of prey in 2015. 64 of these were confirmed crimes, including the shooting or attempted shooting of 46 raptors and 16 trapping crimes.
There were also 50 reports of poisoning and pesticide-related incidents. Of these, 32 were confirmed and included the illegal poisoning of 15 buzzards, four red kites and three peregrines.
A map documents some of the 2015 reported incidents, although some are not mapped because there wasn’t an associated grid reference and others were not mapped “as requested by Police Scotland“.
This map illustrates the geographical extent of raptor persecution in the UK (even with some of the Scottish incidents being withheld) and according to the report the UK breakdown for 2015 was 61% of all confirmed persecution reports were in England, 29% in Scotland, 9% in Northern Ireland and 1% in Wales.
The regional breakdown is very familiar to those who take an interest in regional trends. It’s no surprise to see that the worst area for reported raptor persecution continues to be North Yorkshire (40 reports), closely followed by Highland (39 reports) and then Aberdeenshire (23 reports). All three areas are dominated by land managed for driven grouse shooting, including three National Parks (Yorkshire Dales NP, North York Moors NP and Cairngorms NP).
The report includes a pie chart to illustrate the occupation / interests of 176 individuals convicted of bird of prey persecution related offences between 1990-2016. Again, no surprises here:
Given that 68% of all those convicted of raptor persecution offences over the last 26 years were gamekeepers, the response to the 2015 Birdcrime report by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is predictable in its denial and insincerity. We might have more trust in them if they didn’t harbour convicted criminals.
Many congratulations and thanks to the RSPB Investigations Team for continuing to compile these data and for making them available to the public.
We’ll be writing another, related blog, later today about Police Scotland’s continued withholding of data.