Last modified: 03 February 2010
Image: Graham Catley
Wildlife Minister Huw Irranca Davies has today accepted a petition signed by more than 200,000 people demanding an end to the killing of birds of prey.
The petition is the largest we have ever collected.
Dr Mark Avery, our Director of Conservation, handed the petition to the Minister in front of a giant mosaic of a peregrine, held aloft by supporters of the campaign.
Dr Avery said: 'We have been impressed and inspired by the huge response to this campaign. That so many people felt moved to take time to add their names to our call for the killing to stop gives it enormous weight.
'We have been impressed and inspired by the huge response to this campaign.'
'Like us they are rightly appalled that birds of prey continue to be killed in our countryside.'
Most birds of prey are recovering in number since the days when they all but vanished because of persecution and poisoning from pesticides like DDT.
As well as legal protection, the birds’ recovery has been helped enormously by the efforts of many conservationists, landowners and gamekeepers. Yet, illegal activity remains a very real threat in some parts of the country.
In 2008, the RSPB received more than 200 reports of birds of prey being shot, poisoned and trapped in the UK.
We have been calling for a review of the way crimes against wildlife are dealt with by the police and courts in England and Wales. A similar review has already been carried out in Scotland.
Dr Avery said: 'While today’s hand-in shows how strongly the public feels about the need to protect our birds of prey, there remains a minority who see them as pests to be exterminated.
'I very much welcome the Minister’s presence here today; His name is one of those 200,000 and he has made the killing of birds of prey one of the Government’s wildlife crime priorities.
'Nevertheless, whoever forms the next Government needs to take positive steps to demonstrate they take these crimes seriously.'
Wildlife Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: 'I’m delighted to support this RSPB campaign and it’s great to see that hundreds of thousands of people want to see these marvellous birds protected and have signed this petition.
'Most of our birds of prey populations are doing well but the persecution of birds of prey is one of the priorities dealt with by our Wildlife Crime Unit who work to protect these very special birds.'
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