• Another Satellite-tagged Hen Harrier ‘suspiciously disappears’ in the Angus glens in Scotland

    • A young Hen Harrier fitted with a satellite-tag to monitor its movements ‘suspiciously disappeared’ in Glen Esk, in the Angus Glens in late February 2024.
    • This is the fourth sat-tagged Hen Harrier to have suspiciously disappeared in the area since 2017.
    • Hen Harriers are being persecuted across the UK with many confirmed incidents associated with land managed for gamebird shooting.

    RSPB Scotland are appealing…

  • Men given community order for possession and trade of 22 wild Peregrines

    • On 11 December 2023 Timothy Hall and his son, Lewis Hall pleaded guilty to multiple offences relating to the possession and trade of wild Peregrines in Scotland and were both handed community service orders yesterday for these crimes.
    • Without the introduction of sentencing guidelines for wildlife crimes offenders will continue to receive penalties which do not reflect the severity of their crimes.
    • Peregrine eggs and…
  • The story of Inger - the 28th satellite-tagged Hen Harrier to have ‘suspiciously disappeared’ in Scotland over the last 10 years

    By Will Hayward, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, Scotland

    Since 2014, the RSPB has been fitting satellite transmitters to juvenile birds of prey across the UK to gather information about these magnificent birds. Data gathered from sat-tags have resulted in a better understanding of the ecology of some species, and has unexpectedly shone a light on suspected incidents of persecution. Often, these incidents where protected…

  • Reflecting on 2023 – a year in RSPB Investigations

    As we step into 2024 with continued commitment to tackling the issue of raptor persecution, it’s worth reflecting on 2023 and the work of the RSPB Investigations Team. Like most years, 2023 was full of highs and lows with the issue of raptor persecution persisting throughout. As seen in previous years, despite their legal protection, certain individuals intentionally and often regularly kill raptors. These incidents largely…

  • A case of land mis-management: valuable breeding bird habitat destroyed during the breeding season

    by Andrew Gouldstone, RSPB Ecologist and former Senior Site Manager, Rainham Marshes

    The RSPB’s Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve is an important site for wildlife, sitting alongside the River Thames in east London, and inside the orbital M25. It rests in a very urban and industrial landscape, surrounded by housing, industry, transport corridors and a large waste landfill and recycling site.

    The reserve itself is…

  • Short-eared Owl shot on moor: An eyewitness account

    While we too often come across the bodies - birds either dead or injured containing shot, or caught in traps - it's not often we get a first-hand, eyewitness account of a bird of prey being killed.

    Last summer, an individual (who understandably has asked not to be named) had the unhappy experience of seeing a Short-eared Owl shot in front of his eyes while birding on Broomhead Moor in the Peak District. His fast actions…

  • Hopes dashed for vanished Hen Harrier Anu, whose tag was found cut off after roosting on grouse moor

    By Tom Grose, Investigations Officer

    Satellite tags have been fantastic for helping to shed light on the lives of a wide variety of animals around the world. One outcome from their use on birds of prey in the UK has highlighted the scale of persecution facing some of these species. A peer-reviewed paper utilising the tagging data of 58 Natural England tagged Hen Harriers was published in 2019. The science showed what was…

  • Attack on nature in microcosm: demolition work devastates gull colony

    By Guy Shorrock, Volunteer with RSPB Investigations

    A Herring Gull - a ‘red-listed’ species of high conservation concern (Guy Shorrock)

    The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries with huge pressures on existing wildlife populations. Further developments such an Avian Influenza are having devastating impacts for several species including many seabirds. In late 2022, a furore erupted after the RSPB…

  • Regime Change in the Peak District

    This is a story about the illegal use of rodenticides. It is also a story about one particular rodenticide called brodifacoum. There have been some serious incidents where dogs out for walks have died from ingesting brodifacoum due to its illegal use. And the misuse and deliberate abuse of brodifacoum is having a troubling impact on our wildlife too, on a scale not yet fully understood but it is now widely recognised as…

  • Lowland shoots and poison – a toxic situation

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer

    On 16 February 2023, Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen received a 15 week prison sentence (suspended for 12 months) at Weymouth Magistrates Court, Dorset after pleading guilty to the possession of dead raptors and poisons

    A poisoned Red Kite found next to a dead rat on the Shaftesbury Estate

    This investigation was triggered when a walker found a dead Red Kite next to the carcass…

  • RSPB joins up with wildlife vet to crack down on raptor crime

    The RSPB Investigations Team has launched a free online learning module for veterinary professionals, to help identify potential incidents of raptor persecution which might otherwise go undetected and unreported.

    Raptor persecution (predominantly shooting, trapping and poisoning)  is a UK wildlife crime priority and RSPB Investigations team works closely with enforcement agencies to tackle the issue. 

    X-ray of dead raptor…

  • Five shot goshawks found in forest: Suffolk Police and RSPB issue big appeal for information

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    Widespread shock as five shot Goshawks found dead in Suffolk Forest

    • Five dead Goshawks containing multiple pieces of shot found in Suffolk
    • The juvenile birds, which probably hatched only last summer, were found dead together in Kings Forest in Suffolk
    • The RSPB is offering its highest ever reward - £5,000 - for anyone who has information which leads to a convicti…
  • Reflections on a poisoning

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer

    One of the buzzards found illegally killed at a pheasant shoot in Norfolk

    On 5 October 2022 gamekeeper Matthew Stroud was convicted of a litany of offences at Norwich Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to the killing six buzzards and a goshawk, placing poisoned baits, possession of the banned poison strychnine hydrochloride and the illegal release of gamebirds onto a Special…

  • Gamekeeper fined for pesticide offences after illegally killed birds of prey found on pheasant shooting estate

    A gamekeeper has been fined for pesticide offences after a shot buzzard, a poisoned red kite, a poison bait and banned pesticides were found on a pheasant shooting estate in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.

    A shot buzzard found dead on the North Wales pheasant shooting estate

    On 6 June 2022 at Wrexham Magistrates’, David Matthews - a gamekeeper on the McAlpine Estate - pleaded guilty to one charge relating to the possession…

  • Bringing up the bodies

    Gamekeeper Archie Watson 

    On 1 June 2022 at Swindon Magistrates’ Court gamekeeper Archie Watson (21) received a 12-month community order to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and told to pay £393 costs for pleading guilty to offences relating to the possession of five buzzards and three red kites. This conviction was the conclusion to a complex multi-agency raptor persecution investigation involving the largest number of…

  • Buzzard found shot dead in Peak District

    Image credit: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group 

    The body of the bird was discovered in woodland at Langsett, within the Peak District National Park, an area sadly tainted by systematic raptor persecution

    South Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot dead in the Peak District National Park.

    The body of the bird was discovered in woodland at Flouch, near the popular…

  • Time to step up for birds of prey

    By Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Global Conservation Director

    A recent UN report, commissioned by Defra, and subsequent responses to Parliamentary Questions continue to cast serious concerns about the resolve of the Westminster government to tackle raptor persecution and other areas of wildlife crime. 

    In March last year Defra announced the UK as the first G20 country to have invited a UN-backed assessment of wildlife and forest…

  • Keeper caught on camera killing buzzards in cage trap

    By Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations

    Today a gamekeeper has received a total of 20 week’s imprisonment suspended for one year and a £1000 fine after he was caught on camera killing two buzzards in the space of two days, on a pheasant shoot in Nottinghamshire. Investigations Officer Tom Grose takes us through the story, from the beginning.

    Shortly before New Year 2021 two members of the public found a live buzzard…

  • Cage traps in the spotlight across the UK

    At the end of this month a gamekeeper from Nottinghamshire will be sentenced for several offences including the intentional killing of two common buzzards which were caught in a crow cage trap during harsh weather in January last year. This, and three other recent cases, have once again brought into sharp focus the concerns about the persistent misuse and abuse of these traps for the illegal taking and killing of birds…

  • Man fined after sparrowhawk starves to death in trap

    An amateur gamekeeper has received an £800 fine after a sparrowhawk starved to death in a trap in Cheshire.

    Photo credit RSPB

    At Manchester Magistrates’ court today (16 December 2021), Hilton Prest pleaded guilty to unlawfully using a trap on or before 10/2/21 contrary to Sec 5(1)(b) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. He was fined £800 (plus £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge). A charge against a second man was…

  • Gamekeeper given community order for pesticide and firearms offences

    A part-time gamekeeper has been given a community order and ordered to pay £200 costs, having previously pleaded guilty to six charges in relation to pesticide and firearms offences.

    Police searching Leech's property

    Shane Leech, 33, of Maids Cross Hill, Lakenheath, Suffolk was sentenced today (8 November) at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, following the report of an illegally poisoned buzzard. Leech was given…

  • Stopping illegal poisoning – just what will it take?

    Today another conviction at court for the illegal keeping of pesticides (along with firearms offences) once again highlights the problems of trying to establish who was actually responsible for the poisoning of a bird of prey.

    The laying of poison baits in the open countryside has been illegal for over 100 years yet here in the 21st century this pernicious practice continues. Whilst shooting raptors is of course illegal…

  • Partnership increasing pressure on the raptor killers

    Recent multi-agency work by statutory agencies and RSPB Investigations has demonstrated what can be achieved with a collective approach.

     Next week I will have been working for RSPB Investigations for precisely 30 years and raptor persecution has never been far from the headlines. Whilst there has been a welcome increase for many species, such as common buzzards, red kites, marsh harriers and ospreys, the picture for several…

  • Scottish hen harrier Reiver disappears in suspicious circumstances

    Another satellite tagged hen harrier has suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared, strengthening the RSPB’s call for the urgent licensing of grouse moors.

    Reiver being tagged as a chick in 2021

    Reiver, a young female, fledged from a nest on Langholm Moor in the south of Scotland this summer. She was fitted with a satellite tag while still in her nest, as part of an RSPB project to help understand the journeys made…

  • How you can help us tackle raptor persecution

    This summer, for many of us, the allure of an escape to the Lakes, the Dales, the Peak District or the Highlands of Scotland is more appealing than ever. With more folks holidaying closer to home, the RSPB’s Investigations Team is asking locals and visitors alike to be alert to threats and dangers to wildlife, and report anything which might appear suspicious, to help keep our countryside safe for people and wildlife…