BASC battles RSPB on raptors

The RSPB has used its latest Birdcrime report to accuse shooting of having a “culture of criminality”.

In a scathing and sensationalist report, the organisation reported that there were 87 incidents of bird of prey persecution in 2018, leading it to declare that “raptors are being systematically and illegally eradicated” from moors.

Going beyond merely reporting on crime figures, the charity directly calls for grouse shooting and management to be restricted: “Raptor persecution is part of a wider problem with upland management.

“The UK is facing a climate and ecological emergency, and urgent reform is needed if the government is to meet its own targets in this area.

“As a result of intensive management with the sole aim of producing vast numbers of red grouse… huge areas of our uplands now lack biodiversity.”

It then calls for a licensing scheme for grouse moors to be established and a widespread review into grouse shooting to be conducted, labelling it “an industry that relies on criminal, unsustainable and environmentally damaging practices.”

In fact, it recently emerged that hen harriers continued their recovery in 2018, with 47 chicks recorded in England, up from 46 in 2017. And BASC pointed out that the latest raptor crime figures are below the five-year average.

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “With confirmed cases down and population trends on the rise, the RSPB’s focus should be on seeing enforcement enhanced and penalties increased – as BASC has repeatedly called for.

“The majority of raptor species across the UK are at their highest ever levels. This is thanks to several successful reintroduction plans, species-specific action plans, and wildlife crime delivery groups. This is where success stems from.

“BASC will continue to work in these partnerships, alongside stakeholders,
and with members on the ground, to ensure that raptor persecution is completely stamped out to ensure the future of shooting.”

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