The excellent RSPB Investigations Team has recently welcomed a new Raptor Officer to their ranks. Niall Owen has taken up the post of RSPB Cymru Raptor Officer in a new Welsh government-funded role. As well as supporting the police with investigations into crimes involving birds of prey, he will be satellite tagging hen harriers and monitoring their nests over the summer. A keen wildlife photographer with a wealth of knowledge and passion for birds of prey, Niall has already begun undertaking fieldwork.
Talking on the RSPB’s Community blog, Niall said “My passion for birds, and particularly raptors, stemmed from a trip to South Africa: the finite details separating species and the ferocity of birds of prey gripped me. I’m delighted to become part of a team that is incredibly dedicated, and I revel in the opportunity to join the front line of conservation, tackling raptor persecution in the hope of putting it to a stop.
“Joining the team during lockdown has only emphasised the problem we face in tackling such barbarity, with no less than 56 potential offences, but I’m determined to make a difference. The prospect of being able to monitor hen harriers with the view to satellite tagging youngsters and subsequently following their movements is a dream come true for me, as is being out in the field, sharing the landscape with these most magnificent birds, and contributing to real-world, hands on scientific research.”
The introduction of a new Raptor Officer has been welcomed by all four police forces across Wales. Rob Taylor, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team manager said, “The police welcome the appointment of a new RSPB Raptor Officer in Wales and we hope he will be able to continue to work closely with and enhance the already professional relationship that exists here today, for the protection of our birds.
“Offences against birds are totally unacceptable, whether it be the persecution of raptors, destruction of habitats or the theft of their eggs and we will continue to take robust action against those who seek to flout the law. We will also continue to work closely with our partnership agencies such as the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and RSPB Cymru to put these types of offences firmly into the history books here in Wales”
The RSPB’s Investigations Team has also been bolstered by the addition of two new staff members in Scotland. Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, welcomed the addition to his team saying that, “We are delighted with the appointment of our three new staff members, whose enthusiasm, new ideas and wealth of experience will help us considerably in our mission to end the illegal killing of birds of prey across the UK.”