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RSPB calls on Government to review the law
4:00pm Tuesday 9th October 2012 in Farm & country
A BIRD charity wants the government to be tougher on people who persecute birds of prey after publishing its wildlife crime report.
The RSPB believes that the current review of wildlife protection legislation by the Law Commission provides a golden opportunity to address persecution of birds such as the peregrine falcon, goshawk and golden eagle.
In the Lake District, incidents of bird of prey being killed included a poisoned red kite and a shot red kite – with a tawny owl shot near Carlisle.
RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tackle the illegal shooting and poisoning of some of our most magnificent birds.
“I hope that tougher laws and penalties for wildlife offenders will help consign their crimes to history.”
Just one pair of hen harriers bred young in England in 2012 and the Government’s own studies suggested that illegal killing was a major factor in the decline.
The report, Birdcrime 2011, provides a full account of the birds of prey and owls found dead as a result of perse-cution across the UK, as well as details of wildlife crime.
It catalogues 202 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey in 2011 – there were also 100 reports of poi-sonings, involving at least 70 individual birds or animals.
Victims included a golden eagle, 17 red kites, 17 buzzards and seven peregrines.
Mr Harper said he wanted the future of the National Wildlife Crime Unit to be secured because its funding was due to run out in March 2013.
Nevin Hunter, the new head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “It is unacceptable to persecute birds of prey and there is a need to work to address it across the UK.”
This month will see the publication of a House of Com-mons environmental audit committee inquiry into wild-life crime while the imminent reorganisation of police forces will provide further chances to prioritise wildlife crime.
Mr Harper added: “Fewer incidents were recorded last year but birds of prey continue to die at the hands of those who want to remove them from our countryside.
“Vastly more people are inspired by the return of eagles, ospreys and peregrines and recognise these species bringing huge enjoyment and benefits for tourism.”