Rise in RSPB Birdcrime figures prompt calls for more cooperative working

NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT. Nine poisoned buzzards. Photo: RSPB/PA Wire

NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT. Nine poisoned buzzards. Photo: RSPB/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The RSPB is calling for better enforcement of wildlife protection laws after a report showed more than 250 birds and other animals were illegally shot or destroyed in 2014 in the UK – with 77 of those taking place in the East of England.

A Red Kite seen near Hingham, Norfolk. Photo: Ian Smith

A red kite has been shot dead and hung from a tree in Cockley Cley - Credit: citizenside.com

The society is calling on increased cooperation between stakeholders after its annual Birdcrime report was released.

Compiled for 2014, the figures show 179 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey, and 72 instances of illegal poisoning of birds and other animals.

The results were a slight increase on last year's figures, where a total of 238 incidents took place.

The 77 incidents in the East of England include the confirmed poisoning of nine buzzards by Allen Lambert, from Holt Road, Edgefield, a gamekeeper employed by the Stody Estate, near Holt.

The head of RSPB investigations described Lambert's case as 'the worst case of bird of prey poisoning we are aware of in England, and one of the worst in the UK'.

The RSPB says the Birdcrime figures are believed to represent only a fraction of the illegal persecution in the UK, with many incidents thought to go undetected and unreported.

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Dr James Robinson, director of the RSPB in Eastern England, said: 'Illegal persecution of wildlife has no place in any society and incidents like the shocking poisoning of nine buzzards here in Norfolk are abhorrent to anyone who loves wildlife.

'The Birdcrime 2014 report makes a clear case for closer cooperation between conservation charities, landowners, farmers, gamekeepers and police, as well as public users of the countryside, to ensure that the laws that protect wildlife are effectively enforced so we can end wildlife persecution here in the east.'

The society is citing the success of cooperative working in the Brecks which has seen the stone curlew brought back from the brink of extinction in the UK.

Dr Robinson said: 'We should be harnessing the same spirit of cooperation – born out of a shared love of nature – that has had such fantastic results for stone curlews in the Brecks to help consign illegal persecution of birds of prey and other wildlife to history, where it belongs.'

The RSPB is also calling for better application of the laws that protect raptors throughout the UK.

The recovery of stone curlews in their home in the Brecks has been driven by their protection under the EU Nature Directives, which have also been instrumental in the recovery of UK populations of birds of prey such as red kites and white-tailed eagles.

Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: 'To protect our magnificent birds of prey we must defend the laws that protect them, including EU Nature Directives. When applied properly, these laws can help protect our most valuable wildlife and sites.

'Evidence points to the need for a consistent approach and effort across all four UK countries in protecting our most threatened birds of prey, such as the hen harrier and golden eagle, from illegal persecution.

'In this context, there is a strong case for fully implementing the EU Nature Directives consistently across the UK to protect wildlife from illegal killing.'

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