I never quite know how to word blogs on todays theme, who is actually reading it (if anyone at all before anyone says it) and what is their knowledge of the subject? Some of you may know more than most and many of you may just want to learn a bit more. This blogs topic is no one size fits all sort of blog, its a snapshot on the continued illegal persecution and killing of birds of prey in the UK – but how far do I go back? How do you even start?
I’ve written about the illegal persecution plenty of times over the years because, well its been going on for years and the start of 2020 doesn’t appear to be the year of reform. Bird of prey persecution and wildlife crime does sometimes make it into mainstream media but certainly not enough. It’s a hard pill to swallow when its on your doorstep and maybe not that important on many peoples agenda’s but it can’t be ignored. I should point out that ALL birds of prey native to the British Isles are protected by law In case you didn’t realise.
I have been involved in bird of prey education and conservation for long enough now to understand that not everyone is going to be as obsessed with birds of prey as we are at Raptor Aid. We have in the past been on the receiving end of attacks and abuse because of our work, whether that’s someone aggrieved by their local Sparrowhawk taking birds from their bird feeder or a gamekeeper angered by the number of buzzards around their shoot. I don’t have a magic wand but I do believe in sound science that creates genuine facts to support our views. I enjoy trying to understand the sometimes strained relationships between humans and raptors wherever it takes place in the world – I could do without the name calling and abusive messages but it gives the lads down the pub a laugh!
Predators are always going to be a contentious subject in nature conservation because they eat things and some people either don’t like seeing things getting eaten and they believe they have some form of ownership or vested interest over what is being eaten.
I could start a whole load of spiel about what’s gone on in the past but I thought what better way than to share the brilliant work of blog Raptor Persecution UK. Check out the blog and you can find out years worth of information on the persecution of raptors in the UK. A bit of a cop out I know but I have followed this particular blog for a long time and really there’s no better place to find stuff out than through them.
I appreciate some people may be reading this saying “hold on a minute” I don’t agree with RPUK blog one bit but if the start of 2020 is anything to go by then whether you agree or not with what they publish raptor persecution is alive and still happening!! Five raptors already have been found injured or dead through illegal persecution – 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrels and one Peregrine! RPUK don’t sit on the fence and I applaud them for that!
I’m not one to dwell on doom and gloom, I mean I’d never make it out the door if you look at January 2020 for raptor persecution! I don’t laugh in disbelief or cry in anger anymore I just think to myself that another case of persecution is even more reason to fight – every life matters and people need to be brought to justice and just as importantly everyone needs to have access to the information that’s helps them make an informed decision.
If you’re new to this you might be thinking OK how can I help?? Well firstly don’t think raptor persecution doesn’t happen in your area – it happens everywhere! Last year in my home county of Cheshire a Raven was found dead with shot inside it and only a few weeks later a young Peregrine was found grounded unable to fly with lead shot inside it causing a break in its wing. Persecution of these birds is not restricted to Grouse moors or Pheasant shoots, please bear that in mind.
With this in mind keep your eyes and ears open – if you are unfortunate enough to find a bird of prey dead or injured and you believe it to be down to illegal persecution ring 101 and if the bird is still alive try and get it to a wildlife rehabber or vets if it is safe to do so. I should just point out that if you believe the bird to have been poisoned or have found what you believe to be a poisoned bait DO NOT touch it or the surrounding area and move away whilst calling 101 to report it. Many of the poisons used to kill birds of prey are incredibly toxic and can be life threatening to both humans and animals! If you feel that yourself and the public are in immediate danger then ring emergency services straight away (999).
You might not find a bird, it might be that you over hear a conversation in a pub mentioning raptor persecution. This might sound hard to believe but I have personally on several occasions been told directly by someone about an incident of persecution they witnessed or heard about in open conversation. Sadly nothing surprises me nowadays.
You can also lobby MP’s and the government too introduce stricter sentences or actually enforce the law when people are caught. You only have to look at how serious Spain takes wildlife crimes to deter people from carrying out these crimes. There are also loads of brilliant organisations out there who do their bit to help combat raptor persecution such as the North of England Raptor Forum and Scottish Raptor Monitoring Groups– 99% of you may have never heard of these amazing collective groups but they are worth their weight in gold (and some) when it comes to protecting our countries birds of prey and they all do it for free!
We are appalled when we read about Elephants or Rhino’s being killed for their ivory in Africa It really hits a nerve with most people. We should be equally aware and appalled about the persecution facing many of our birds of prey here in the UK. If you have an interest in the natural world and wildlife you need to fight for it – Raptor Aid won’t be stopping anytime soon!