Norfolk identified as priority area in fight against raptor persecution
- Credit: PA
Norfolk has been identified as a priority area for combatting crimes against birds of prey after the county recorded the second highest number of raptor deaths over a five year period.
A total of 262 incidents were recorded between 2011 and 2016 across England and Wales, with 146 of these caused by shooting and 66 by poisoning.
Norfolk recorded the second highest number of incidents at 17 after North Yorkshire at 39.
Cumbria recorded 11 incidents, Derbyshire 11, Lincolnshire 10, Suffolk eight and Northumberland eight.
In an effort to combat the killing of birds of prey, raptor persecution maps have been published to enable police to identify where the highest number of incidents are taking place.
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This will allow authorities to focus enforcement efforts on areas that need it most.
The maps show the number of shootings, trappings, poisonings and nest destructions and will be updated annually.
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Wildlife Minister Thérèse Coffey said: 'Birds of prey are a vital part of our animal landscape, icons of our cultural heritage and key to boosting local economies by attracting visitors to England and Wales.
'These maps highlight hotspots across the country for crimes against these precious birds, enabling the police to crack down with increased enforcement in areas where it's needed most – building on the valuable work land management, conservation and shooting organisations are already doing to help protect iconic birds of prey.'
All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and there are already strong penalties in place for committing offences against birds of prey.
Raptor persecution has been identified as a wildlife crime priority which means it has a delivery group to develop a plan to prevent the crime and gather intelligence on offences and enforce against it.
The maps were developed by a number of organisations including Defra, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, police, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, RSPB, Country Land and Business Association, Moorland Association, National Game Keepers' Organisation, National Parks England, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Countryside Alliance.