- RSPB Cymru, along with the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and the four Welsh police forces collectively call for end to the illegal killings of bird of prey.
- Niall Owen begins work as RSPB Cymru Raptor Officer in new Welsh Government-funded role.
- Public urged to remain vigilant and to report crimes against birds of prey – they can be reported anonymously.
In a clear statement of intent in the fight against bird of prey persecution, RSPB Cymru have welcomed new Raptor Officer Niall Owen among their ranks.
Niall Owen is a keen wildlife photographer and has already began undertaking fieldwork. As well as supporting the police with investigations into crimes involving birds of prey, he will be undertaking a satellite-tagging project on hen harriers and monitoring nests belonging to this Red-listed species.
Niall Owen, RSPB Cymru Raptor Officer said: “I’m delighted to become part of a team that is incredibly dedicated, and I revel in the opportunity to join the front-line of conservation, tackling raptor persecution in the hope of putting it to a stop.”
The appointment, part-funded by the Welsh Government, is a pro-active step in protecting the glorious birds of prey that grace Wales’ skies.
Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “As species champion for raptors in Wales, I condemn any continued persecution of our great birds of prey – these acts of violence are totally unacceptable.
“I am pleased we have been able to partly fund the RSPB’s new raptor officer. Niall, along with other colleagues within RSPB, Police Rural Crime Teams, Welsh Government Wildlife Team and Natural Resources Wales will play a key role in ensuring raptor persecution is dealt with effectively in Wales.
“My message to the public is clear, please remain vigilant and report any crimes to the police. Together we can put an end to these senseless incidents.”
The introduction of a new Raptor Officer has been welcomed by all four police forces across Wales.
Rob Taylor, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team manager said: “The police welcome the appointment of a new RSPB Raptor Officer in Wales and we hope he will be able to continue to work closely with and enhance the already professional relationship that exists here today, for the protection of our birds.
“Offences against birds are totally unacceptable, whether it be the persecution of raptors, destruction of habitats or the theft of their eggs and we will continue to take robust action against those who seek to flout the law. We will also continue to work closely with our partnership agencies such as the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and RSPB Cymru to put these types of offences firmly into the history books here in Wales”
The lockdown period has seen people engaging with nature. Yet while most have been indoors over this time, killings of birds of prey - which have caught both the public’s attention and dismay in the past months – have continued.
Patrick Lindley, NRW’s Lead Advisor on Ornithology said: “Birds of prey are a vital part of our biodiversity, of our landscape, icons of our cultural heritage and key to boosting local economies by attracting visitors to Wales.
“We’re committed to working with our partners to stamp out wildlife crime in Wales. We hope that the appointment of Niall Owen will build on the valuable work land management, conservation and shooting organisations are already doing to help protect iconic birds of prey. But we also hope that it spreads the message that we will take stiff action to stop wildlife crime whenever possible.”
All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.
Many of these crimes have taken place in close-knit communities – and therefore it is important to stress that these crimes can be reported anonymously to the police or raptor crime hotline.
If you have any information about birds of prey being killed in your area, call the police on 101 or the RSPB confidential Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101.
- The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations: http://www.rspb.org.uk
- Birdcrime 2018 was published on 29 August 2019, detailing the incidents of raptor persecution reported to the RSPB during 2018 and the wider problem of bird of prey persecution in the UK. For more information go to: http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdcrime
- Welsh Government advice on suspected wildlife poisoning: https://gov.wales/report-suspected-wildlife-poisoning-incident
- UK bird conservation status https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/uk-conservation-status-explained/
- Further information on the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/wildlife-and-the-law/wildlife-and-countryside-act/
The Raptor Persecution Map Hub is the most complete, centralised set of known confirmed raptor persecution incidents in the UK. Use it to quickly and easily see where crimes have taken place and find out more about them. Search by year or location: www.rspb.org.uk/raptormap
Last Updated: Monday 22 June 2020