RSPB must not use raptor persecution reporting as a political tool to attack rural communities

Countryside Alliance Ireland has warned the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RPSB), not to use its annual report of incidents of illegal raptor killings as a ‘political tool to attack rural communities unjustly’.

In Northern Ireland, one incident was confirmed in 2021, when the total for the whole of the UK was 108. All wild birds in Northern Ireland are protected under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

As a result of the low number, the RSPB claims that crime against birds of prey in Northern Ireland must be going undetected and under-reported.

Gary McCartney, Director of Countryside Alliance said: “ The RSPB is getting itself tied up in knots. On the one hand the public are supposed to take its findings of persecution in the rest of the UK as gospel, yet here in Northern Ireland, where the evidence of raptor persecution is very low, it must be because of some warped conspiracy. There must be a zero tolerance approach to any proven case of illegal bird of prey killing, but the issue must not be weaponised as a political tool by the RSPB to attack rural communities unjustly”.

The data also found there had been 30 incidents involving 26 birds in the five years from 2016 to 2020, representing a decline on the 44 birds of prey reportedly illegally killed between 2009-2014.

Countryside Alliance Ireland said that while any incident is unacceptable, it is on the decline.

In 2020, the Countryside Alliance (CA), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Moorland Association (MA) and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) – four of the largest organisations representing shooting in the UK – joined by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) issued a joint statement condemning all forms of raptor persecution.

In response to the RSPB’s findings for the rest of the UK, which found 108 reports of illegal raptor killings, down by 21% compared to its previous report in 2020, the Countryside Alliance said: “There is no excuse for the illegal killing of any bird of prey, and we unreservedly condemn all such acts and have a zero tolerance policy towards any such incident. While many reports of such persecution have proven to be false, the illegal killing of birds of prey continues to be carried out by a small minority of irresponsible individuals who  must be condemned. These people have no place in a sector that is otherwise overwhelmingly positive; one that is the economic driver for many of our more remote communities, and the largest contributor to conservation schemes in England and Wales”.


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