How to report crimes against wild birds
If you witness a bird crime or suspected offence against birds, here are some details about who to contact and what details to record.
How to report crimes
You play a major role in the fight against wild bird crime as our eyes and ears: Recognise, Record, Report.
If an offence:
a) Is ongoing/urgent consider calling 999 if you need an immediate police response.
b) Otherwise report to the police on 101 and remember to ask for a reference number.
c) Involves suspected poisoned birds, animals or baits contact the government Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) on Freephone 0800 321600. If outside office hours/urgent contact the police (See above).
d) Involves animal cruelty call the RSPCA 0300 1234 999/ SSPCA 03000 999 999/ USPCA 02830 251000
You may also need to report the incident to us (see ‘What to report to RSPB Investigations’ below).
How to record a wildlife crime
Please take the utmost care and do not put yourself or others at risk.
If possible, and if it is safe to do so:
• Take particular care if incidents involve several suspects or the use of firearms.
• If safe to do so, watch and note what is happening – try to make a written note of anything you see and keep this in a safe place.
• Take photos and/or video.
• Note the date, time and weather conditions.
• Note the location accurately. If possible, record a grid reference, or ideally a GPS reading, of both the scene and where you witnessed the incident.
• Note a description of person/s involved including gender, age, height, clothing, behaviour, anything carried etc.
• Note any vehicle registration numbers, make, model and colour or distinctive features.
• Consider humanely killing a bird which is seriously injured and beyond recovery and no help is available.
• Identify other witnesses and obtain their name and contact details.
• Disturb evidence by moving items or walking around the scene unnecessarily.
• Touch or move dead animals or birds – they may have been poisoned so obtain advice. Consider carefully covering any suspected poisoned baits or victims to prevent any animal or person coming into contact with them.
• Remove live birds of prey from crow cage traps.
• Destroy or interfere with legal countryside practices such as correctly set traps and snares. If you are uncertain about what to do, take a photo and contact the police (101) or RSPB Wildlife Enquiries (01767 693690).
• Do not publish details of suspected crimes on social media as this may hinder an effective investigation.
What to report to RSPB Investigations
Please contact RSPB Investigations if your information relates to the following:
• Crimes against wild birds of prey, owls or ravens – particularly shooting, trapping, poisoning or nest destruction
• Suspected wildlife poisoning where birds are victims or vulnerable (e.g. a poisoned bait placed in the countryside)
• Egg collecting or trading in birds’ eggs or chicks
• The trapping and trading of wild finches or other wild birds
• A dead/injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances
• Offences against Schedule 1 birds
This ensures we are best placed to help authorities by providing advice, expert witness, intelligence and investigative support. Note that RSPB have no direct enforcement powers. As a small team, we prioritise crimes involving species/issues of conservation concern, as listed above. We read every report sent to us, but due to the high levels of correspondence we receive, if your matter doesn’t relate to the above, or has been covered by our online guidance and we have nothing further to advise, you may not receive a further reply from us. If in doubt about what to report to us, call RSPB Wildlife Enquiries on 01767 693690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to report to us
Use the online reporting form or call Investigations on 01767 680551 (England, Wales, NI) or 0131 3174100 (Scotland), or email email@example.com.
You can also speak to RSPB Investigations directly via our confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ 0300 999 0101 but note this should ONLY be used if you have sensitive information specifically relating to the illegal targeting of birds of prey (raptor persecution).
All methods of contact with us are in complete confidence, no calls are recorded, and we cannot pass your details on to anyone else without your permission. Note that it is significantly more difficult to investigate offences if you send information to us anonymously, as often we need a detail that is not included. Please therefore consider providing means of temporary contact, which we will delete at your request once we have the information we need.
If the incident relates to hedge destruction, please see Hedge cutting and the law
How you can help
Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.
Become a Bird of Prey Defender
You can help the RSPB’s Investigations Team fight for the future of birds like hen harriers by becoming a Bird of Prey Defender for just £3 a month, or through a one-off donation.