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Persecution of birds of prey continues in Wales

24 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Male Hen Harrier. Image: RSPB

Stephen Price

The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report published today 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, and incidents confirmed in 2022 have been linked to land managed for gamebirds.

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 This soon-to-be withdrawn insecticide, is now the most recorded substance in confirmed raptor poisoning abuse cases across the UK.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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7 months ago

Shooting estates again eh.
Time the law went after the landowners the game keepers operate on, and go hard financially.

7 months ago

Treat the perpetrators of these crimes as you would a drink driver. A heavy fine, and the removal of the shooting licence.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago

One rule for murderous toffs. one for the rest of us. Same as it ever was.

Ap Kenneth
7 months ago

In UK between 35-45 million pheasants and 7-14 million partridge are released into countryside every year. Then of those shot most are killed with lead shot. How much damage does that all cause to the ecosystem and how many cars are damaged by those birds flying or wandering onto roads. It is about time those people pay for the damage they cause.

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