Are some in the mainstream media finally understanding how widespread raptor persecution is? And that rather than quoting a few lines of puffery and denial from the likes of industry lobbyists the Moorland Association and calling it an ‘article’, the public want a more accurate account of what’s actually happening in, for example, our so-called National Parks (the Peak District NP is in fact largely privately-owned by shooting and beyond the reach of park authorities)?
That could well be the case because for a headline to contain “protected” in quotation marks (as here on ITV News online – you can almost hear the writer saying ‘Yeah, right@ as they type) seems to suggest that at least a few journalists are starting to recognise that UK legislation “protecting” birds of prey (and there is plenty of it going back decades) isn’t worth the paper it’s written on while armed individuals are out shooting at them as part of their “job”.
Lockdown had already proved to be a terrible time for our “protected” raptors. While the vast majority of the country has been ‘staying home to protect lives’ those essential workers killing wildlife on the grouse moors have been on murderous form, and numerous reports (both pre- and during lockdown) have highlighted just how much of a cr*p they give for the law. And now here we have yet another report, this time of a “protected” buzzard shot down on May 11th – while the country was still in lockdown and, as the ITV report puts it, “the absence of visitors and raptor workers from key parts of the countryside may have served as an invitation to some to increase their efforts to kill birds of prey“.
“Protected”? As the headline suggests, only when these everyday criminals think no-one is looking…
Appeal after “protected” Peak District buzzard is shot and has to be put down
Greater Manchester Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot near Diggle, in the Peak District National Park, on May 11.
A member of the public found the bird dying on the ground and contacted the RSPB. However it had to be euthanised by a vet the next morning due to the extent of its injuries.
The body of the bird was x-rayed, and found to contain six pieces of lead shot. Further post-mortem analysis revealed that the bird had also been shot at an earlier occasion, but survived.
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.
However the northern Peak District is a known hotspot for the shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. Nearby In 2018, a climber witnessed a red kite being shot out of the sky near Saddleworth, the same year that a tawny owl and a short-eared owl were found shot near Wessenden Head.
The RSPB’s Investigations Team recently reported a surge of potential and confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution since lockdown. It is believed that the absence of visitors and raptor workers from key parts of the countryside may have served as an invitation to some to increase their efforts to kill birds of prey.
Jack Ashton-Booth, RSPB Investigations Officer, drove the dying bird to the vets. He said:
“To hold the body of a bird in your hands that’s been riddled with lead shot, knowing that you probably can’t do anything to save it, is devastating. That is the reality of raptor persecution.
“We are grateful to the member of the public who reported this incident. If you find a bird of prey dead or injured in suspicious circumstances, please report it to the police. We’re certain that more birds will be killed than we ever find or hear about.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Greater Manchester Police on 101.
Anyone finding a wild bird of prey suspected of having been illegally killed, is asked to contact RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form. Last updated Thu 4 Jun 2020