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Iolo Williams shares anger as gamekeeper is charged with attempting to trap goshawks

09 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Iolo Williams. Trapped Goshawk image: RSPB

Stephen Price

Wildlife presenter, Iolo Williams has shared his anger after a man has been charged with attempting to take Goshawks in a cage trap.

The incident, which took place on the outskirts of Wrexham, has received national attention after being highlighted by wildlife campaigners, Raptor Persecution UK.

Birds of prey such as Goshawk are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

“Used to kill”

The 47 year old man from the Wrexham area was charged with using a trap for the purpose of killing or taking a wild bird and possessing an article capable of being used to kill or take a wild bird.

He is due to appear before Wrexham Magistrates Court on Thursday 28 March.

North Wales Police rural crime team say they “will pursue anyone targeting wildlife and continue to work with our partners the RSPB and National Wildlife Crime Unit”.

The naturalist, known for programmes such as BBC’s Springwatch and Wild Wales, shared a post from Raptor Persecution UK’s X account which linked to the case details, saying: “Again and again and again! FFS.”

Iolo Williams has previously shared his dismay at similar cases involving the game shooting industry in Wales.

Speaking with Nation.Cymru as he took part in a guided tour around north Wales last year, Mr Williams said: “Things have to change and we cannot continue as we are.

“We are polluting our rivers and our wildlife is in non-stop decline. We are killing rural Wales, without doubt so we need something that completely changes the situation.”


The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report published in November 2023 details illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of protected birds of prey across Wales. 

Amongst the victims are Buzzards, Red Kites, Goshawks, Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and White-tailed Eagles. All these species are protected by laws designed to help our rarest and threatened species.

The latest Birdcrime report documents eight confirmed incidents of raptor persecution in Wales in 2022. A Goshawk and a Red Kite were found shot in Powys and there were three separate incidents across the country involving a total of five Common Buzzards, which all died after ingesting high levels of the insecticide, Bendiocarb.

Gamebird shooting

In 2022, 63% of confirmed incidents in Wales were associated with land managed for gamebird shooting. Evidence shows that on some shooting estates, birds of prey are deliberately targeted to reduce potential predation on gamebird stocks and to avoid quarry species being disturbed on shoot days.

Many historical raptor persecution cases in Wales, such as one particularly disturbing case from the Glan Usk Estate in Powys, have been linked to land managed for gamebirds.

Male Hen Harrier. Image: RSPB

Because of this, RSPB Cymru continues to call for the licensing of gamebird shooting in Wales, to provide a meaningful deterrent and end the illegal killing of birds of prey.

Poison baits are illegal but are often laid out in areas where birds of prey are present. In June 2022, a gamekeeper on a pheasant shooting estate in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog was fined for pesticide storage offences following the discovery of a poisoned Red Kite, a poison bait and a shot Buzzard on the land.

Survival threatened

In 2021, Bendiocarb was detected in 80% of all bird of prey poisoning abuse cases in Wales. Concerningly, this increased to 100% in 2022. This soon-to-be withdrawn insecticide, is now the most recorded substance in confirmed raptor poisoning abuse cases across the UK.

Birdcrime 2022 also includes two confirmed incidents in Wales where illegal traps were being operated to unlawfully target particular species of birds of prey, such as the Goshawk. 

Julian Hughes, RSPB Cymru Head of Species said: “The valuable habitat which Wales has to offer makes it a significant stronghold for many birds of prey, but continued persecution means that the survival of many of these species is seriously threatened.

“Through commitment on the ground and calls for legislative change, we remain determined to put an end to these barbaric crimes. Poisoning, trapping and shooting of these magnificent birds must stop now”.

Niall Owen, RSPB Cymru Investigations Officer said: “As highlighted in the Birdcrime report, although all forms of persecution continue to take place in Wales, concerningly the illegal poisoning of birds of prey seems to have been a favoured method despite the dangers to the public.

“Due to the remote rural locations that many of these crimes take place, we believe a fraction of the actual number of incidents are detected across Wales and ask the public to remain vigilant.”

If you notice a dead or injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, call the police on 101 and fill in the RSPB’s online reporting form:

If you have information about anyone killing birds of prey which you wish to report anonymously, call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

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4 months ago

Go after the land owners and gamekeeper employers. Then ban game bird shooting.

4 months ago

The 47 year old man from the Wrexham area was postal?!!! charged with using a trap for the purpose of killing or taking a wild bird and possessing an article capable of being used to kill or take a wild bird.

Don’t you have proof readers?

4 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Thanks for the spot, glad you are paying attention 🙂 No there is no team of proof readers, just a small team of humans working hard and fast to keep you engaged. Have a good day.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
4 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

You can be requisitioned by post (charged) to appear before magistrates, you do not need to be charged in a police station, although evidence is of course needed.

Alexa Traylor
Alexa Traylor
4 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Good reply. Well done

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