A kestrel has been found shot dead in the village of Broadwas in Worcestershire. It was discovered on 10 January 2017.
This information was sent to us by a blog reader (thank you). The kestrel had been ringed in Warwickshire in June 2016 and whoever found the body in Worcestershire reported the ring number to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), who then sent a ‘ringing return’ note to the bird ringer, to inform him / her of the bird’s death.
According to this ringing return, the bird had been categorised as being ‘dead for more than a week, not fresh, found shot’.
What’s interesting about this, apart from the utter stupidity of the person who shot this bird (it’s a kestrel for god’s sake, what possible reason would there be for shooting it?), is what happens to the data after being reported to the BTO.
It’s our understanding that the BTO does not, as a matter of routine, forward data about suspected persecution incidents to the Police or the RSPB.
If our understanding is correct, this situation is quite astonishing. Surely there’s an ethical responsibility for the BTO to report suspected persecution incidents, to allow the Police or RSPB to undertake follow up investigations? Even if nothing comes of any investigation, these cases would still provide useful background intelligence and, importantly, would contribute to a better understanding of the extent of illegal raptor persecution in a given area. Reporting suspected crimes to the Police / RSPB would not affect the usefulness of the data to the BTO – the BTO could still use the data for trend analyses etc, it’s not as though the data point would be ‘lost’ if it was reported to the authorities.
How many of these suspected persecution incidents go unreported by the BTO every year? Is it the BTO’s responsibility to report suspect crimes, or is it the responsibility of the ringer (once notified of the circumstances of a bird’s death via the ringing return from the BTO), or is it nobody’s responsibility?
It’s all very strange.
Photo of a kestrel by Graham Catley
UPDATE 3.30pm: The BTO has responded to this post on Twitter as follows: ‘The finder has responsibility to report any suspicious deaths but we will review to see if there is more we can do’. Good for them.