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Wild bird crime

Tracked golden eagle with trap injury

This golden eagle died as a result of a trap injury

Image: The RSPB

In 2012, we received the following reports:

  • 208 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey
  • 78 reports of poisoning and the use of poisoned baits
  • 25 egg collecting incidents. There were two confirmed and four probable nest robberies of eggs and chicks of Schedule 1 species
  • 25 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of birds of prey
  • 67 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of wild birds other than birds of prey, predominantly finches.

More information is available in our Birdcrime 2012 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.

In particular, the hen harrier situation is of huge concern. A number of studies have concluded that illegal persecution is the principal factor affecting populations of this species. In 2012, only one pair nested successfully in England. By 2013, there were no successful breeding pairs left 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.  In 2011, the Government made a commitment that there should be no human-induced wildlife extinctions in England by 2020. In the case of the hen harrier, there is an awful lot of work to be done to meet that commitment.

In 2012, we received information on 49 individual prosecutions involving offences committed against wild birds. These cases involved a total of 263 charges, of which 234 resulted in a guilty outcome. Fines for the year totalled £13,560 and nine people were given prison sentences (eight of which were suspended).

For a full breakdown of the facts and figures, please download a copy of Birdcrime 2012 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