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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 2014, we received the following reports:

  • 179 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey
  • 72 reports of poisoning and the use of poisoned baits involving the confirmed poisoning of at least 53 individual birds or other animals.
  • 27 nest robbery incidents, including two confirmed and seven probable nest robberies from Schedule 1 species 
  • 17 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of birds of prey
  • 44 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of wild birds other than birds of prey, predominantly finches

More information is available in our Birdcrime 2014 report, which you can download from this page.

Birdcrime is a unique publication. It is the only centralised source of incident data for wild bird crime in the UK. The 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. 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 gauged by scientific studies such as Scottish Natural Heritage's golden eagle conservation framework report ( and The Joint Nature Conservation Committee's hen harrier conservation framework report (

The hen harrier population continues to reflect this persecution and is still a cause for concern. In 2015, there were only 12 breeding pairs in England (six successful), 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 UK Governments to modernise the regulation of game shooting, including the option to withdraw the right to shoot game for a fixed period following conviction for a wildlife offence, if we are to address this situation properly.

In 2014, we received information on 19 individual prosecutions involving offences committed against wild birds. These cases involved a total of 77 charges, of which 62 were proven. Fines for the year totalled £10,750, and five people were given prison sentences (four of which were suspended). For the first time, a person (a gamekeeper) was jailed for illegally killing birds of prey.

For a full breakdown of the facts and figures, please download a copy of Birdcrime 2014 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