Archive for the '2019 persecution incidents' Category

13
Jan
21

48 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018

In September 2020 I blogged that at least 45 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed illegally killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 48 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed since 2018, after the recent news (here, here and here) that three more satellite-tagged hen harriers have ‘disappeared’ since September 2020.

Here’s the blog that’ll be published every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

To illustrate this fact, I intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that I know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

I only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June 2020 when I learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It has since been updated a few times as we found out about more satellite-tagged hen harriers that had vanished during lockdown in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairnorms National Park (here), on a notorious grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (see here) and on a grouse moor believed to be involved with the brood meddling in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as I’ve learned of yet another three satellite-tagged hen harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, only revealed after an FoI request to Natural England who seem reluctant to let the public know about these ongoing losses. I can’t think why. Some might think NE’s silence was connected to a financial agreement it made recently with representatives from the grouse shooting industry. That would be a preposterous suggestion – as ridiculous as Natural England removing hen harrier chicks from the moors at the behest of the grouse shooting industry and calling it conservation. It’d never happen, right?

That brings the gruesome tally to 48 hen harriers. I’m still waiting to hear whether three hen harriers, satellite-tagged by Natural England this year and have since vanished (here), are being treated as suspicious disappearances by the police and if so, they will be added to this list. I’m also aware of at least one ongoing police investigation that has yet to be publicised so that bird will also be added to this list if the circumstances dictate it’s appropriate.

Four eight.

Forty eight.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 48:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

19 September 2020: Hen harrier Harold ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants conservationists to stop fitting satellite tags?

07
Jan
21

Sentencing delay for man convicted of offences against badger and red kites

Back in December it was reported that a man had been found guilty of wildlife crimes against a badger and red kites in Wales (see here).

Dewi James Price, 39, of Commercial Street, New Tredegar, Caerphilly, faced a potential custodial sentence and the sentencing hearing was due to take place at Cardiff Crown Court on 23 December 2020.

[Photo of a red kite by Gareth Scanlon]

However, it has since been reported that sentencing was delayed after Price’s lawyer told the judge that her client wanted to appeal the convictions. Apparently the court adjourned the hearing until 8th January 2021.

This seems a bit odd. Has anybody heard of sentencing being delayed in these circumstances before? Sure, appeals against convictions are common and are an important part of the judicial process, but don’t these appeals usually come after sentencing, not before?

Here’s a copy of the news report from Powys County Times:

Man convicted of killing Builth Wells badger to appeal

By Iwan Gabe Davies (23 Dec 2020)

A MAN found guilty after a trial of hunting and killing a badger is to appeal against his conviction.

Dewi Price, 39, of Commercial Street, New Tredegar, Caerphilly, was also found guilty of offences against red kites.

He was convicted in his absence at Newport Magistrates’ Court.

Price was found guilty of killing a badger in the Builth Wells area of Powys on February 18, 2018.

The defendant was also convicted of taking a red kite in Gelligaer, Caerphilly, on May 19, 2019.

He was also found guilty of intentionally or recklessly disturbing a red kite while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young and of intentionally or recklessly disturbing the dependent young of a red kite.

Price had been due to be sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court but Judge Michael Fitton QC was told by the defendant’s barrister Rosamund Rutter that her client wanted to appeal against his conviction.

The case was adjourned until January 8.

Price was granted conditional bail.

ENDS

06
Jan
21

8-year old schoolchildren congratulate Scottish Government on decision to licence grouse shooting

Some of you will no doubt remember / be aware of Sunnyside Primary School in Glasgow and its pupils’ involvement in conservation activities (e.g. see here for a previous blog on their response to the suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred in 2018).

These school kids are only too well aware of what happens to raptors on some driven grouse moors, as they had named and were following an RSPB satellite-tagged hen harrier (‘Thistle’) in 2019 that later disappeared in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in Sutherland (see here).

Well here they are again, just before Xmas, responding to the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing a licensing scheme for grouse shooting after many, many years of procrastination.

Here are few of those drawings and letters:

If you want to find out more about Sunnyside Primary School and its brilliant kids, have a watch of this video that they made for Hen Harrier Day 2020:

20
Dec
20

Hen harriers doing well on Mar Lodge Estate but what happens when they leave?

Back in 2016, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) was celebrating the rare success of a hen harrier breeding attempt on the Mar Lodge Estate, the first such success for decades (see here).

[A young hen harrier fitted with a satellite tag on Mar Lodge Estate in 2016. Photo by Shaila Rao]

The NTS has just published an update on the return of hen harriers to Mar Lodge Estate, detailing further breeding successes in each year since (see here).

This is really, really encouraging news, but it’s only half of the story. Breeding success is meaningless if survival rates are low, and they are low, very low. The most recent national survey of hen harriers in Scotland, conducted in 2016, documented a 9% decline since the previous survey in 2010. It was the second successive decline in the Scottish hen harrier population revealed by national surveys, signalling a worrying trend. In the longer term, over a period of just 12 years, the number of breeding pairs had dropped by 27% in Scotland (see here). Illegal persecution connected to driven grouse moor management is widely acknowledged as being the most significant threat to this species’ conservation, not just in Scotland but across the UK (e.g. see here).

The NTS blog recognises this and states:

However, it’s not all good news. The success of hen harrier breeding at Mar Lodge Estate led to us being involved in the RSPB Hen Harrier Life Project and through this 14 harrier chicks from Mar Lodge Estate were satellite-tagged between 2016 and 2020. But of these 14 chicks, only one still survives in 2020 – a female named Tamara, who spends much of her time in Perthshire. Eight of the satellite tags stopped suddenly, with no trace of a bird or body found, raising suspicions of possible foul play‘.

Some of those young birds satellite-tagged at Mar Lodge didn’t even make it out of the Cairngorms National Park, ‘disappearing’ in suspicious circumstances on driven grouse moors – e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, joining a growing list of other sat-tagged hen harriers that have vanished or been found dead there (e.g. see here, here, here, here). Such is the extent of this issue, the Cairngorms National Park Authority has had to publish statements that illegal persecution continues to be a problem (e.g. see here).

Some of those young birds from the Mar Lodge Estate feature on the grim list of 45 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed in the UK since 2018 – see here. I’m led to believe that this list is now out of date (see here).

18
Dec
20

Andy Wightman MSP resigns from Scottish Greens

Andy Wightman MSP has resigned from the Scottish Greens as of today.

His letter of resignation, including his reasons for leaving, can be read here.

[Andy with golden eagle ‘Adam’, who later disappeared in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in Strathbraan (here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

It’s reported in a number of papers (e.g. here) that he hasn’t ruled out standing as an independent, standing for another party, or indeed re-joining the Scottish Greens.

Andy has been a massive supporter of this blog right from the very early years and has been involved in addressing the issues highlighted on here in both a personal and professional capacity. I’m privileged to have worked with him on a number of platforms and look forward to finding new opportunities to continue.

15
Dec
20

Man guilty of wildlife crime offences against red kites & a badger

Article from the South Wales Argus (13th December 2020)

Caerphilly man found guilty of hunting and killing badger

A MAN is facing a prison sentence after he was convicted after a trial of hunting and killing a badger.

Dewi James Price, 39, of Commercial Street, New Tredegar, Caerphilly, was also found guilty of offences against red kites.

He had denied the charges during a trial at Newport Magistrates’ Court.

[Photo of red kite by Gareth Scanlon]

Price was found guilty of killing a badger in the Builth Wells area of Powys on February 18, 2018.

The defendant was also convicted of taking a red kite in Gelligaer, Caerphilly, on May 19, 2019.

He was also found guilty of intentionally or recklessly disturbing a red kite while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young and of intentionally or recklessly disturbing the dependent young of a red kite.

Price’s case sentence was adjourned and is due to take place at Newport Crown Court on December 23.

He was granted conditional bail.

ENDS

UPDATE 7 January 2021: Sentencing delay for man convicted of offences against badger and red kites (here)

02
Dec
20

Fundraiser for hen harrier satellite tags

The Nidderdale Raptor Study Group, in conjunction with the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) is hosting a fundraiser to support the RSPB Investigations Team to buy satellite tags for hen harriers.

In recent years satellite tags have revealed the extent of hen harrier persecution across the UK. In 2019 a damning scientific research paper demonstrated that at least 72% of tagged hen harriers were presumed illegally killed on or close to driven grouse moors (see here).

And a tally of incidents kept by this blog demonstrates that over the last two years alone at least 45 hen harriers, many of them satellite-tagged, are either ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or confirmed illegally killed, many on driven grouse moors (see here). It’s my understanding that this number has since risen but official notification is still pending. More on that shortly.

So, in essence, satellite-tagging has proven to be incredibly important in helping to detect a crime that is otherwise too easily hidden (and which explains the grouse shooting industry’s desperate attempts to undermine the science and the integrity of those who fit and monitor the tags).

Yorkshire-based artist Dan Evans has donated this A2-sized oil painting for an online auction to help support the purchase of more satellite tags:

If you’d like to bid on this artwork please visit the auction page here. The auction will close on 23 December 2020. There is also an opportunity to buy signed limited edition prints, with all profits being donated to the sat tag fund.

There is also a fundraising page for those who may not want to buy the artwork but who may still be interested in supporting the effort to buy more satellite tags – you can visit the fundraiser page here

14
Nov
20

Reports of wildlife crime almost double according to new figures from Police Scotland

Press release from Police Scotland (13th November 2020)

Reports of wildlife crime almost double

Wildlife crime reports have nearly doubled, according to the latest figures from Police Scotland.

Between April and September 2020, Police Scotland recorded 203 wildlife crime offences compared to 111 in the same period in 2019/20, an increase of 82.9%.

Detection rates also increased, rising to 55.2% in 2020 compared to 34.2% in the same six month period in 2019.

The latest figures were released in Police Scotland’s Quarterly Performance Report covering April to September 2020/21.

[This hen harrier died after suffering horrendous injuries caused by an illegal trap on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, Police Scotland’s lead for Wildlife Crime, said: “Scotland’s diverse wildlife is one of its greatest assets, yet there are those who seek to destroy it. Wildlife crime has an enormous impact not only on our natural heritage but also on those communities that rely on the employment and tourism it brings.

Investigating wildlife crime can be demanding and complex, it requires specialist skills. Earlier this year we introduced a new training course to build our capability and to enhance the skills and knowledge of our officers.

We will continue to invest in tackling wildlife crime and ensuring our officers are trained to the highest level. But we are also asking the public to be aware and if they see anything suspicious to report it to us“.

ENDS

This increase in reported wildlife crimes in Scotland mirrors a surge in reported raptor persecution crimes in England during lockdown (e.g. see here and here).

11
Nov
20

SNH grants licence to Leadhills Estate for out-of-season muirburn

Leadhills Estate, which has been at the centre of over 50 police wildlife crime investigations in the last two decades, has had two gamekeepers convicted for committing wildlife crime offences during that time, and is currently the subject of a three-year General Licence restriction, imposed after Police Scotland found ‘clear evidence’ of wildlife crimes having being committed by persons unknown in recent years, and is under further police investigation since more allegations have been made this year, was granted a licence by SNH to undertake out-of-season muirburn on estate grouse moors in September.

There have been some jaw-dropping revelations on this blog over the years but this one is right up there.

[Muirburn on Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A quick recap of the situation (for those who want more detail please see the links to previous blog posts below).

In April 2020 the Scottish Government temporarily banned all muirburn in Scotland under emergency Coronavirus legislation (see here).

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, in July 2020 Mark Osborne, acting on behalf of Leadhills Estate, applied to Scottish Natural Heritage for an out-of-season licence to conduct muirburn on the estate in September after spraying some areas with glyphosate (see here).

Scottish Natural Heritage (now rebranded as NatureScot but that’s irrelevant) refused the licence application in August (here) and Osborne immediately appealed the decision (see here).

That’s where we left the saga last time. Here’s what happened next…..

SNH was obliged to consider Osborne’s appeal, although it wasn’t obliged to overturn it’s previous decision to refuse permission.

Here’s how SNH’s reconsideration went:

According to the Freedom of Information documents that have been released, that’s it. That’s the extent of the discussion at SNH about whether Leadhills Estate should be given permission to set fire to its grouse moors out of season and in the middle of a global pandemic.

A couple of days later SNH wrote to advise Osborne of its U-turn decision and sent him the licence, as follows:

There has been some discussion amongst RPUK colleagues and associates about whether SNH’s decision to issue this licence was a breach of the Government’s emergency Coronavirus legislation which had temporarily banned muirburn until the official season opened on 1 October 2020. I might return to that topic.

However, of greater interest, to me, is how SNH’s decision-making on whether to issue an out-of-season muirburn licence apparently failed to consider the wider picture of what’s been going on at Leadhills, and especially the current three-year General Licence restriction placed on the estate, by, er, SNH. Didn’t anybody think about that?

Ah, well somebody did, but unfortunately it seems this person’s expert input wasn’t invited as part of the decision-making process:

There’s quite a lot to take in about this case, and the details and circumstances of this particular licence. An FoI has been submitted to SNH to see the licence return which, as detailed in condition #9, should have now been submitted to SNH by Osborne.

And it turns out that this isn’t the first year that SNH has granted an out-of-season muirburn licence to Leadhills Estate. More on that shortly.

For some reason, the phrases ‘taking the piss’ and ‘impotent licensing authority’ are uppermost in my mind.

01
Oct
20

RSPB publishes latest UK Birdcrime report detailing the illegal killing of birds of prey in 2019

Press release RSPB (1 October 2020)

The law has failed our birds of prey

RSPB Birdcrime report reveals 85 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK in 2019 including shooting, trapping, and poisoning 

RSPB data, peer-reviewed science, and population surveys prove these crimes are concentrated on and near driven grouse moors

Between 2012-2019 half (49%) of the confirmed incidents occurred in protected landscapes

The RSPB calls for urgent action from governments to end bird of prey killing and ensure grouse shooting operates legally and sustainably

Self-regulation from within the grouse shooting community has failed, and urgent action is needed to prevent protected birds of prey being illegally killed and to bring this industry into the 21st century and to help address the nature and climate crises.

That’s the message from the RSPB’s Birdcrime report, out today (1 October), which demonstrates that birds of prey continue to be systematically killed, particularly where land is managed for driven grouse shooting.

The report reveals 85 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution, involving birds such as buzzards, red kites, peregrines, golden eagles, and hen harriers being shot, trapped, and poisoned. The highest concentration of these occurred in upland areas of the North of England and Scotland, with North Yorkshire emerging as the worst county for the sixth year running. Half of the confirmed incidents occurred within protected landscapes.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail depending on the jurisdiction.

Yet in the past 10 years, there have been over 1000 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK. Despite hard work by police forces, RSPB Investigations, and volunteers who monitor birds of prey across the UK the law is failing to protect these birds.

The RSPB has stated that, without urgent change, the next decade will be no different. This year, the illegal destruction of birds of prey continued even during COVID-19 lockdown, when the RSPB’s Investigations team reported their busiest ever spring, dealing with multiple reports of bird of prey persecution and assisting police with investigations, many of which took place on land used for gamebird shooting.

As well as illegal killing, a growing number of satellite-tagged birds of prey are vanishing in suspicious circumstances over grouse moors. Since the start of 2018, 45 tagged hen harriers – a rare and heavily persecuted bird of prey – are known to have been illegally killed or disappeared in suspicious circumstances. Only 19 successful nests were recorded in England in 2020, although there is habitat and prey to support more than 300 pairs. The analysis of the government’s own data, published in 2019, showed that illegal killing was the principle factor limiting hen harrier numbers in England.

The RSPB is urging the government to act now, to address the ecologically and environmentally damaging practices involved with the most intensive forms of grouse moor management including raptor persecution and burning of moorland vegetation on peat soils, our most vital carbon stores.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, said: “Once again the Birdcrime report shows that protected birds of prey like hen harriers, peregrines and golden eagles are being relentlessly persecuted, particularly in areas dominated by driven grouse shooting.  

“The illegal killing of birds of prey is just one of the symptoms of a wholly unsustainable grouse shooting industry. The burning of internationally important peatlands is another hugely important issue. This destructive grouse moor management practice not only releases carbon into the atmosphere, it degrades the peat, impoverishes wildlife, and increases the flow of water across the bog surface, causing devastating flooding in some cases in communities downstream. In a climate and ecological emergency, this is simply not acceptable. Today, at the start of the annual burning season, the RSPB is renewing its call for moorland burning on peatland soils to be banned by Government.  

“At a time when the world – and the UK in particular – is seeing catastrophic declines in wildlife populations, the destruction of rare wildlife looks like the opposite of progress. Healthy bird of prey populations are key indicators of the health of our environment. Yet hen harriers are just a few bad breeding seasons away from disappearing from England as a breeding species as a direct result of illegal persecution on grouse moors. The shooting community has had decades to get its house in order, but it is abundantly clear that they cannot control the criminals within their ranks. Current legislation has failed to protect our birds of prey, and the time has come for urgent, meaningful change.  

“UK governments must implement tougher legislation to bring the driven grouse shooting industry in line with the law, stamp out environmentally damaging practices, and deliver on the UK’s nature recovery targets.”

ENDS

Birdcrime 2019 can be downloaded here: birdcrime-report-2019.pdf
 

The all important data appendices can be downloaded here:




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