RSPB makes a plea to shooting community

A buzzard on a post.
A buzzard on a post.
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The RSPB is challenging members of the shooting community to take action against the shooting and destruction of birds of prey.

In October 2013, a dead buzzard was found in the Lancaster area with four shotgun pellets lodged in its body.

In January 2013 ,a dog walker discovered a peregrine near Preston that had been shot in its wing.

Lancashire is one of the worst counties in England for bird of prey persecution. Birdcrime 2013 reveals 164 reports in the UK of shooting and destruction of birds of prey including confirmed shooting of two hen harriers, two marsh harriers, five peregrines and 28 buzzards. It also included 74 reported incidents of wildlife poisoning and pesticide-related offences.

Confirmed victims of poisoning include 30 buzzards, 20 red kites, a golden eagle and a white-tailed eagle.

These figures are believed to represent only a fraction of the illegal persecution in the UK, with many incidents thought to be going undetected and unreported.

Birdcrime 2013 marks four years since over 230,000 people signed an RSPB pledge which was handed in to the UK Government, asking for action to put an end to bird of prey persecution. But , in the four years since around 560 birds of prey have been confirmed shot or destroyed.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “Witnessing a hen harrier’s dramatic skydancing display flight, or seeing the world’s fastest animal in action as a peregrine stoops over the moors is enough to take your breath away.

“These are sights that we should all be able to enjoy. Illegal persecution has tarnished the beauty of our uplands for decades and continues to do so to this day. The RSPB challenges members of the shooting community to acknowledge that.”

n See p39 for more on Hen Harriers