Monday, 14 November 2011

A century of protection for Britain's birds of prey but the poisoning goes on

128 cases of illegal poisoning last year alone
November 2011: Exactly a century ago, the barbaric acts of putting baits laced with deadly poisons out into the countryside to kill wildlife was outlawed. But a new RSPB report has revealed the practice remains a major threat to the UK's birds of prey.

Based on these shocking findings, the wildlife charity is calling on the UK government to outlaw the possession of these poisons in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Government has already put such measures in place.

The RSPB Birdcrime 2010 report reveals there were 128 reports of illegal poisoning in the UK, and the early figures for this year suggest a similar pattern. In 2010, 20 red kites, 30 buzzards, two goshawks, eight peregrines, five golden eagles, one white-tailed eagle and one sparrowhawk were found poisoned in the UK. The RSPB believes that the number of recorded incidents is way below the real figure.

This has been illegal for a centuryMartin Harper, the conservation director at the RSPB, said: ‘It has been illegal to poison birds of prey since 1911. But in a bizarre quirk, it is not illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for individuals to possess some of the most deadly poisons, even though they have no legitimate use for them.'

The list of chemicals used to illegally poison birds of prey includes a host of agricultural pesticides, such as Carbofuran, Alphachloralose and Bendiocarb. The poisoner will usually douse the carcass of a pheasant, rabbit or a pigeon with the poison and leave the bait in a place where a bird of prey is likely to find it.

The RSPB is calling for the law to be enacted, which prevents individuals from having named poisons in their possession if they have no legal use for them. Martin added: ‘Our report shows there are a number of poisons commonly used to illegally poison wildlife for which those people responsible can have no legitimate use.'

Banned pesticides have not been listed by the GovenrmentThe previous Government accepted in 2006 that it was sensible to make it illegal for unauthorised people to possess these poisons, but despite the law being in place, the Government hasn't listed the banned pesticides. This is despite the controls being in place in Scotland since 2005, where police find it a very useful tool in the fight against wildlife crime as ten convictions have already been secured.

Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Richard Crompton is the lead on wildlife crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers and said: ‘Of particular concern are those offences that target or involve birds of prey and which affect the conservation status of those birds and it is quite right that the police should consider such offending as a matter of priority.

‘The police service is absolutely committed to bringing those who commit wildlife crime to justice.'

I love seeing these magnificent birdsChris Dowse - the Farmers Weekly Countryside Farmer of the Year 2011 - is the manager of a 6,000-acre estate in Lincolnshire. He said: ‘I love seeing red kites and buzzards over the estate. Only a couple of decades ago that would have been impossible and the recovery of these species is a testament to what can be achieved when we all work together.

‘Anyone who persecutes birds of prey is not only breaking the law, they're preventing people seeing these magnificent birds and destroying the reputation of our entire community. All law-abiding gamekeepers and shooters should join me and step up with the RSPB to condemn anyone who breaks the law and kills birds of prey.'

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