Wild bird crime
2 October 2012
In 2011, we received the following reports:
202 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey
100 reports of poisoning and the use of poisoned baits
30 egg collecting incidents. There were three confirmed and six probable nest robberies of eggs and chicks of Schedule 1 species
26 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of birds of prey
69 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of wild birds other than birds of prey, predominantly finches.
More information is available from our 2011 Birdcrime report, available to 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. The Police National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) receives data on incidents of wild bird crime from police forces across the UK, as well as the RSPB and RSPCA. This enables NWCU to publish a total figure for all wild bird crime in the UK in its annual report, at the end of each financial year.
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 persecution such as the hen harrier. By 2012, there was only one breeding pair left in England despite there being sufficient habitat to support over 300 pairs.
In 2011, we received information on 42 individual prosecutions involving offences committed against wild birds. These cases involved a total of 152 charges, of which 137 resulted in a guilty outcome. Fines for the year totalled £37,960 and four people were given prison sentences (one of which was suspended).
For a full breakdown of the facts and figures, please download a copy of Birdcrime 2011 from this page.
The Law Commission is consulting on wildlife law reform until the end of November 2012. If you want to know more click on the link (top right).
How you can help
Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.
Contact us for advice about bird crime