Hotline launched to help catch bird killers

RSPB have set up a new hotline.
RSPB have set up a new hotline.

The RSPB has launched a confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ to help whistle-blowers within the shooting industry in Lancashire come forward with information about bird of prey persecution.

Lancashire come forward with information about bird of prey persecution.

The link between driven grouse shooting and the illegal killing of birds of prey, such as peregrines and hen harriers, has been widely documented.

The RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report revealed more than 80 confirmed raptor persecution incidents had taken place in 2016, with many more likely to have gone undetected.

In Lancashire confirmed incidents included a shot peregrine, a shot kestrel and an illegally trapped peregrine.

Senior Investigations Officer Guy Shorrock, of the RSPB, said: “Illegal killing is not only robbing people of the chance to enjoy watching birds of prey but has serious consequences for their populations.

“We are sure there are people within rural and shooting communities who know who is committing these crimes but are cautious about speaking out.

“This 24-hour hotline provides a completely safe and confidential way to pass on information – calls are not recorded and are treated in the utmost confidence.

“We would like to see shooting organisations showing their support by including the hotline on their websites and encouraging their members to come forward with information regarding crimes against birds of prey in the UK.”

Over the years RSPB Investigations staff have spoken in confidence with gamekeepers and others within the shooting industry and received graphic reports of routine and intensive raptor persecution on many sporting estates.

In addition, it has provided a disturbing insight into management culture and the pressure put on gamekeepers, often from the very start of their careers, to kill protected wildlife.

The RSPB will continue to push the government to introduce licensing of driven grouse shooting to improve accountability of these estates and to promote good practise.

Guy said: “I’ve spoken with several gamekeepers about the raptor killing they are expected to do as part of their job.

“It is abundantly clear that without any meaningful accountability for managers and employers on intensively managed driven grouse moors the situation will not change.”

The RSPB would like to see more acceptance from shooting organisations about the scale and conservation impact of the persecution and more support to clean up the industry.

The RSPB’s free Raptor Crime Hotline for free is 0300 999 0101.