Raptor persecution is the shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. All wild birds are protected by law, yet buzzards, red kites, peregrines and other iconic species continue to be killed, often in connection with land managed for gamebird shooting. For rare hen harriers, this is having a devastating effect on their entire UK population. In a nature and climate crisis, this cannot go on.
Sadly the illegal killing of birds of prey - also known as raptor persecution - is a continuing problem in the UK.
What is bird crime?
Read our latest report
The RSPB's 2020 Birdcrime report was released in October 2021 and reveals a shocking insight into these crimes, including where they occurred, why it is happening, and what needs to change in order to secure a better future for birds of prey. There were 137 confirmed incidents in 2020: the highest total since recording began in 1990.
Our previous reports
Produced by the RSPB's Investigations Unit, Birdcrime is the only comprehensive guide to known offences against birds of prey in the UK. You can read previous years' reports here.
Raptor persecution - mapped
Our interactive Map Hub is the most complete, centralised set of known raptor persecution incidents in the UK.
It shows where confirmed incidents have taken place, and reveals raptor persecution blackspots. Use filters to view by year, or narrow it down by persecution type – eg poisoning, shooting, trapping.
Types of wild bird crime
Shooting and destruction
The illegal shooting, trapping and destruction of birds of prey is a continuing problem, even today.
Poisoning wild birds
The laying of any poisoned bait in the open is illegal, whether it's laid to kill a bird of prey or for a fox or magpie.
The taking of eggs or chicks has, historically, contributed to the decline of many bird species.
Golden eagle persecution
Research shows a strong association between poisoning of golden eagles and land for driven grouse shooting.
The peregrine is a targeted bird, prized by egg collectors and illegal falconers.
Hen harrier persecution
The hen harrier, relative to its population, is considered the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK.
Stop the killing
The RSPB employs a dedicated Investigations team, who work day and night gathering evidence and assisting with police investigations. Your support is vital. If you as outraged as we are about raptor persecution, help us combat it by making a donation to the team.