The RSPB has launched a confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ (0300 999 0101) to help whistle-blowers within the shooting industry come forward with information about bird of prey persecution.
The link between driven grouse shooting and the illegal killing of birds of prey, such as peregrines and hen harriers, has been widely documented. The RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report revealed over 80 confirmed raptor persecution incidents had taken place in 2016, with many more likely to have gone undetected. It also showed that North Yorkshire has had more than twice as many confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county for the last five years.
The RSPB would like to see much more acceptance from shooting organisations about the scale and conservation impact of the persecution and more support to clean up the industry and help root out those involved.
Senior Investigations Officer Guy Shorrock, of the RSPB, said: “Illegal killing is not only robbing people of the chance to enjoy watching birds of prey but has serious consequences for their populations. We are sure there are people within rural and shooting communities who know who is committing these crimes but are cautious about speaking out. This 24-hour hotline provides a completely safe and confidential way to pass on information – calls are not recorded and are treated in the utmost confidence.
“We would like to see shooting organisations showing their support by including the hotline on their websites and encouraging their members to come forward with information regarding crimes against birds of prey in the UK.”
Over the years RSPB Investigations staff have spoken in confidence with gamekeepers and others within the shooting industry and received graphic reports of routine and intensive raptor persecution on many sporting estates. In addition, it has provided a disturbing insight into management culture and the pressure put on gamekeepers, often from the very start of their careers, to kill protected wildlife. The RSPB will continue to push the government to introduce licensing of driven grouse shooting to improve accountability of these estates and to promote good practise.
Guy Shorrock: “I’ve spoken with several gamekeepers about the raptor killing they are expected to do as part of their job. It is abundantly clear that without any meaningful accountability for managers and employers on intensively managed driven grouse moors the situation will not change.”
Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Oliver of North Yorkshire Police commented:
"The launch of the RSPB's confidential 'Raptor Crime Hotline' is welcomed. I would always advise the public who wish to report any wildlife crime to contact the police, however I believe a further confidential contact point such as this will help contribute towards the fight in reducing the persecution of birds of prey and bringing those committing this despicable crimes to justice.”
To launch the hotline, last weekend (17-18 February) RSPB investigations staff and North Yorkshire Police distributed promotional beer mats, featuring the hotline number, around some of the pubs of North Yorkshire: a particular hotspot for raptor persecution. This was part of the public awareness-raising initiative ‘Operation Owl’, aimed at informing local people of the impact raptor persecution has on bird of prey populations, tourism and the wider countryside.
If you have information about the illegal killing of birds of prey, please call the police on 101 or, to speak to someone in confidence, call the RSPB’s Raptor Crime Hotline for free on: 0300 999 0101.
Last Updated: Monday 26 February 2018