Worry over illegal bird of prey killing

Bird of prey: One of two Hen Harriers which disappeared from a nesting site in the Forest of Bowland.

Bird of prey: One of two Hen Harriers which disappeared from a nesting site in the Forest of Bowland.

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Lancashire is one of the worst counties in England for bird of prey persecution, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The RSPB is challenging the shooting community to take action.

Birdcrime 2013 revealed 164 reports in the UK of shooting and destruction of birds of prey including confirmed shooting of two hen harriers, two marsh harriers, five peregrines and 28 buzzards. It also included 74 reported incidents of wildlife poisoning and pesticide-related offences.

In Lancashire in January 2013 a dog walker discovered a peregrine near Preston that had been shot in its wing. In October, a dead buzzard in the Lancaster area was found with four shotgun pellets lodged in its body.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “Witnessing a hen harrier’s dramatic skydancing display flight, or seeing the world’s fastest animal in action as a peregrine stoops over the moors is enough to take your breath away.

“These are sights that we should all be able to enjoy. Unfortunately, we are being robbed of the chance to see these beautiful birds flourish because of illegal persecution.”

Anne Selby, chief executive of The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, said: “It is worrying to read the Birdcrime report and to hear that Lancashire is among the worst counties for bird of prey persecution. The report again proves that some individuals have little regard for our wildlife.”

However, Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “One bird of prey death from an illegal act is one too many, but the RSPB continues to invest time and money in unofficial reports to inflate the issue of birds of prey crime. At a time when most of Britain’s birds of prey are at an all-time high with hundreds of thousands of individuals, the MA continues to advocate legal solutions for rural conflicts.”