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Wild bird crime

Poisoned golden eagle

This satellite tagged golden eagle was found poisoned on a grouse moor in Angus

Image: The RSPB

In 2013, we received the following reports:

  • 164 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey
  • 74 reports of poisoning and the use of poisoned baits
  • 14 nest robbery incidents, including four probable nest robberies from Schedule 1 species 
  • 29 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of birds of prey
  • 36 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of wild birds other than birds of prey, predominantly finches

More information is available in our Birdcrime 2013 report, which you can download from this page.

The Birdcrime report does not record all categories of crimes against wild birds, but focuses on wild bird crime affecting species of higher conservation concern, and crime that is serious and organised. Birdcrime is a unique publication. It is the only centralised source of incident data for wild bird crime in the UK. 

We believe that these published figures represent only a fraction of the total number of incidents, as many crimes remain undetected and unreported, particularly those that occur in remote areas. A more robust measure of the impact of crime against wild birds can be seen in the populations of some species severely impacted on by human persecution.

The hen harrier population continues to reflect this persecution and is still cause for concern. In 2013, there were no successful breeding pairs left in England despite there being enough habitat to support over 300 breeding pairs. They are similarly now absent from swathes of suitable habitat in southern and eastern Scotland. It is time for the Government to introduce legislation that will hold grouse moor owners to account for the actions of their employees if we are to meet the target of no human-caused species extinctions in England by 2020.  

In 2013, we received information on 32 individual prosecutions involving offences committed against wild birds. These cases involved a total of 139 charges, of which 118 were proven. Fines for the year totalled £21,285 and four people were given prison sentences (two of which were suspended).

For a full breakdown of the facts and figures, please download a copy of Birdcrime 2013 from this page.

How you can help

Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.

Report a wildlife crime