Suffolk: RSPB brands county one of worst nationwide for persecution of birds of prey

AN RSPB report has labelled Suffolk as one of the worst counties for birds of prey persecution.

The east of England is named as the region with the third highest number of reported crimes against birds of prey, with Suffolk and Norfolk both noted as counties with high levels of persecution.

The RSPB’s annual wildlife crime figures reveal the levels of persecution facing endangered birds, with more than 10% of the crimes coming from the east of England. Birds such as red kites, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, goshawks and other persecuted species have all been poisoned, shot or trapped in various parts of the UK.

There is now just one pair of hen harriers breeding in England, a species for which Suffolk is a key wintering area. A Government study has suggested the killing of hen harriers, especially on grouse moors, is a factor in their decline.

RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: “It’s been over 100 years since poisoning of wild birds was outlawed in the UK and yet our report shows we’re still witnessing the slaughter of kites, eagles and buzzards.

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“Fewer incidents were recorded last year but, as our report highlights, birds of prey continue to die at the hands of those who want to remove them from our countryside.

“Thankfully, vastly more people are inspired by the homecoming of eagles, ospreys and peregrines and recognise these charismatic species bring huge enjoyment to people and benefits for tourist economies.”

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The result of a parliamentary inquiry into wildlife crime will be published this month, and a review of wildlife protection legislation by the Law Commission is currently being consulted on.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal shooting and poisoning of some of our most magnificent birds,” Mr Harper said. “I hope that tougher laws and penalties for wildlife offenders will help consign their crimes to the pages of history where they belong.

“An essential first step is to secure the future of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which only has guaranteed funding until March next year.”

The RSPB report, Birdcrime 2011, details more than 200 reports of the shooting and destruction of birds of prey. There were 100 reports of poisoning incidents with the confirmed poisoning of at least 70 birds or animals.

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