• 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…

    • 13 Jun 2022
  • 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…

    • 1 Jun 2022
  • 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…

    • 4 Mar 2022
  • 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…

    • 15 Feb 2022
  • 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…

    • 28 Jan 2022
  • 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…

    • 13 Jan 2022
  • 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…

    • 16 Dec 2021
  • 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…

    • 8 Nov 2021
  • 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…

    • 8 Nov 2021
  • 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…

    • 21 Oct 2021
  • 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…

    • 18 Oct 2021
  • 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…

    • 23 Aug 2021
  • RSPB produces raptor crime enforcement guide

    Plenty has changed over the past year, but raptor persecution sadly remains a problem that won’t go away. Last spring the RSPB reported on the ‘surge’ in cases during the first lockdown, and while the RSPB Birdcrime 2020 report won’t be published until later this year, early indications suggest 2020 was a depressingly bad year.

    With this backdrop, it is clear that increased pressure on the raptor…

    • 12 May 2021
  • Police appeal for information following suspected poisoning at Clee Hill

    We were devastated to learn of yet another suspected poisoning incident at Titterstone Clee, Shropshire, resulting in the death of at least one peregrine and the failure of any eggs they were incubating.

     The Shropshire Peregrine Group, who had been observing the site, were glad to see the return of a pair of peregrines to the disused quarry in early April this year. This is a nest site which has been used in the past…

    • 7 May 2021
  • Yarrow is latest hen harrier to vanish in suspicious circumstances

    Yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier has disappeared in suspicious circumstances at a crucial time in the breeding season.

    Yarrow being fitted with her satellite tag last summer. Photo credit John Wright

    Yarrow, a female hen harrier, hatched in the Scottish Borders in summer 2020. She was fitted with a satellite tag, which provided scientists with regular updates on her whereabouts. But transmissions from her tag…

    • 29 Apr 2021
  • Suspended sentence for egg collector

    • The repeat offender was caught with nearly 200 birds’ eggs at this home
    • Among the collection were curlew eggs, a species in rapid global decline

    Black-headed gull eggs at Potter's home

    A man found with a collection of almost 200 eggs has been sentenced today at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court. Terrance Potter, 63, was given a 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, for offences relating to the taking and…

    • 23 Apr 2021
  • Be our eyes and ears this breeding season

    In 2020, the Welsh Government provided supportive funding for an investigative role in Wales, in an effort to monitor the extent of raptor persecution across the country and bring those responsible to justice. Niall Owen, our newly appointed Raptor Officer gives an overview of his work, what is to come, and how you can help in the fight against raptor persecution.


    Wales is known for its natural beauty, and we are privileged…

    • 31 Mar 2021
  • Hen harrier Tarras disappears from area dominated by driven grouse shooting

    Another hen harrier has disappeared in suspicious circumstances in an area dominated by driven grouse shooting, this time a young female named Tarras.

     Tarras was satellite-tagged as a chick in the nest on Langholm Moor in Scotland in 2020 as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE project. After fledging, thanks to data sent by her tiny tag, we followed Tarras as she explored the North Pennines Area of Outstanding National Beauty…

    • 15 Mar 2021
  • Two buzzards lured to their deaths on North Yorkshire grouse moor

    By Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer

    Throughout 2019 and 2020 the RSPB Investigations team were watching a grouse moor in North Yorkshire where a live, tethered eagle owl was being set out in the open as a gunman waited nearby. What was he doing? Our suspicions were confirmed when we caught a shocking crime on camera at the height of lockdown last spring.


    Lockdown last spring was an anxious time and, for us, brought…

    • 8 Mar 2021
  • Peregrine poisoned in Peak District National Park

    • Yet another bird of prey illegally killed during lockdown 2020
    • The RSPB and National Trust are calling for urgent action to end the illegal killing of birds of prey

    A peregrine falcon, which was found dead on a driven grouse moor in the Upper Derwent Valley, has just been confirmed as illegally poisoned following official toxicology analysis – adding to the growing list of protected birds of prey illegally killed…

    • 2 Mar 2021
  • Old habits die hard

    A recent graphic case of a red kite killed by a pole trap unfortunately shows the barbaric methods still being deployed to kill birds of prey on shooting estates in quiet parts of our countryside.

    There are many ways to target and kill birds of prey (raptors). In a previous blog I mentioned some of the new technology being used by the raptor killers. One of the most unpleasant ‘traditional’ methods is the use of metal…

    • 11 Dec 2020
  • Auction to raise funds for hen harrier tags

    Could you help us tag more harriers?

    The Nidderdale Raptor Study Group, in collaboration with the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) have set up a new and generous fundraising opportunity to raise money for the RSPB Investigations Team.

    Yorkshire-based artist Dan Evans is kindly creating an A2-sized oil painting of a male hen harrier, which has been donated to the Nidderdale Raptor Study Group for an online auction;…

    • 2 Dec 2020
  • Young buzzard found dead had been illegally shot

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    • The bird was found freshly dead within the Peak District National Park
    • An x-ray revealed a piece of shot lodged in the bird’s chest
    • The RSPB encourages anyone with information to come forward

    The bird, which hatched only this year, will have been in the air barely eight weeks

    The RSPB is appealing for information regarding the death of a protected buzzard…

    • 19 Nov 2020
  • A Welsh whodunnit

    Continuing advances in wildlife forensics can sometimes help establish the circumstances of a bird’s death or injury. However, some cases will probably always remain a mystery.

    We recently received the result of wildlife DNA forensic work undertaken by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in relation to two hen harrier deaths. The most recent case related to a failed breeding attempt in Forest of Bowland…

    • 18 Nov 2020
  • Horror as buzzard gunned down on nature reserve boundary

    The RSPB is appealing to the public for information regarding the illegal shooting of a protected bird of prey.

    The buzzard was taken to a vets but sadly had to be euthanised due to its injuries

    On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch a buzzard in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a…

    • 13 Nov 2020