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30 November 2012
We must stop birds like this peregrine suffering from cruel and illegal persecution
Image: The RSPB
Killing birds of prey was made illegal more than fifty years ago, but a callous few are choosing to ignore the law. We need your help to finally stop the cruel and unacceptable killing of these magnificent birds.
Please show your support for our bird of prey appeal today and help consign the killing to history.
When the RSPB was founded in 1889, birds of prey were systematically persecuted. By the early 1900s, five of our 15 species of birds of prey were exterminated as a breeding species.
Others managed to hang on against the odds, not helped by the introduction of a chemical called DDT that was introduced into farming in the 1950s. We can not allow this to happen again.
Many of the UK's birds of prey have been gradually on the road to recovery.
Successful campaigns to ban DDT, and to gain full legal protection for all birds of prey have meant that over the last 50 years, many birds of prey are recovering well.
Other birds of prey have needed a helping hand.
Red kites and white tailed eagles have been successfully reintroduced to parts of the UK where they were once found. These are all important successes that are worthy of celebration. However, this is not the whole story...
Since 2006, 2,578 incidents of bird crime involving or targeting wild birds of prey in the UK have been reported to the RSPB.
Shooting, poisoning and trapping continue to be the most frequent forms of illegal killing.
Illegal killing often occurs in remote locations and is therefore difficult to detect. We believe that reported incidents represent a fraction of what actually takes place. The majority of those found guilty of offences involving birds of prey are associated with the game shooting industry.
Red kites have been reintroduced into the Chilterns in England and the Black Isle in Scotland.
The same numbers of birds were released at both projects, but amazingly there are now over 500 pairs in the Chilterns compared to just over 50 pairs in the Black Isle.
The shocking truth is that this huge difference can be entirely explained by illegal poisoning in areas managed for grouse shooting close to the Scotland release site.
The English population of hen harriers is being held well below its natural level by persecution.
In 2012, just one pair of hen harriers bred successfully in England - there is sufficient suitable upland habitat to support a population of 323-340 pairs.
Scientific studies by the Government's nature conservation advisers, Natural England, have found that illegal killing and destruction of nests is the main cause of this discrepancy.
Incidents of persecution are strongly linked to land managed for intensive 'driven' grouse shooting.
In Scotland, where most of the UK's population is found, it has been estimated that the number of hen harriers would increase by 13% each year if illegal killing was eliminated.
In Scotland, golden eagles face a similar problem.
A number of scientific papers, including a Scottish Government published report, have shown that illegal persecution is the biggest factor limiting their current range and population.
It has also been shown that pockets of illegal activity have a detrimental effect over a much wider area. Dispersing young golden eagles are attracted into areas of apparently suitable habitat, only to then disappear due to persecution.
Persecution is still causing the deaths of hundreds of birds of prey every year. A donation to our appeal will help us put these awe-inspiring birds back in the skies where they belong.