• 2019... A review of the year by RSPB Investigations

    We look back over the stand-out moments of 2019, from low points to positive steps. A huge thanks to all who have supported us in our mission to end raptor persecution.


    A golden eagle was photographed with a trap on its leg in August 

    2019 has been a year in which the conversation surrounding grouse moor management has gained more momentum. Voices have grown louder, with illegal raptor persecution and the environmental…

    • 19 Dec 2019
  • What the RSPB has done to combat raptor persecution

    The RSPB is part of a Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), chaired by Chief Superintendent Nick Lyall.

    All partners in the group have been encouraged to submit a six-month return, highlighting what they have done to forward the aims of the group in combating raptor persecution in England and Wales. 

    Ours follows the police's 'PIE' model, covering off prevention, intelligence and enforcement.


    • 29 Nov 2019
  • Red kite poisoned in Nidderdale

    Today we have issued this press release regarding a red kite found poisoned in Nidderdale:

    A red kite in flight, c Tim Melling

    North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected red kite was found poisoned in an area of North Yorkshire with the worst record for the illegal killing of birds of prey in England.

    A member of the public found the bird dead under a tree in Blazefield, just…

    • 28 Nov 2019
  • When a fine isn’t fine

    A man who kicked a gull to death was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail last week. But it raises the question: Is the killing of birds of prey such as buzzards, goshawks and owls not a crime worthy of jail, too?

    The dead gull, credit RSPCA

    The event, which took place in May 2019 in the Welsh town of Tonypandy, was caught on CCTV camera. On 30 October 2019 Andrew Lee Jones admitted to killing the lesser black-backed gull contrary…

    • 8 Nov 2019
  • Public asked to be 'hawk eyes' as Northern Ireland raptor persecution data is released

    The latest technology is being harnessed to help fight raptor crime in Northern Ireland.

    The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAW NI) has launched ‘Hawk-Eyes’: a new project involving the tracking and surveillance of red kites, buzzards and peregrine falcons.

    ‘Hawk-Eyes’ is about raising awareness about the illegal activity affecting birds of prey in Northern Ireland, including…

    • 8 Nov 2019
  • Cyprus – the yin and yang of bird trapping enforcement

    It was midnight on Cape Pyla. Under a full moon and starlit sky the insects chirred in the darkness. From the top of the old watchtower, the city lights of Larnaca and Ayia Napa flickered in the distance.

    This watchtower lies within Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), one of two British military bases on the island. During the Second World War it was used by the British to watch for enemy ships and planes. In more recent…

    • 6 Nov 2019
  • Two white-tailed eagles vanish in suspicious circumstances

    Once persecuted to extinction, white-tailed eagles are making a comeback in Scotland, following several reintroduction projects dating back over 40 years. And recently, some young white-tailed eagles have also been released in the south of England.  

    These huge, majestic birds are protected by law. However the threat of illegal killing still looms large.

    In July this year (2019) two young white-tailed eagles, fitted, under…

    • 4 Nov 2019
  • Strange goings-on in Cyprus

    Recent events recorded by RSPB Investigations, BirdLife partners and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) suggest the authorities in the Republic of Cyprus are wilfully turning a blind eye to large scale illegal bird trapping. 

    Cyprus may seem like an idyllic holiday destination to some, but for birds like blackcaps, redstarts and garden warblers, it’s far from paradise. Here, a culture of illegal bird trapping…

    • 10 Oct 2019
  • Operation Owl

    Over the weekend of 21-22 September, the RSPB joined up with police around the country to promote the initiative ‘Operation Owl’. The weekend was designed to raise raptor persecution awareness, encourage people to report potential raptor crimes, and to speak up if they have information about people in their communities killing birds of prey.

    In the UK all wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected…

    • 23 Sep 2019
  • The nocturnal killing of a trapped buzzard?

    In January 2019 RSPB Investigations recorded this footage of a buzzard caught in a crow trap on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire.
    • 5 Sep 2019
  • The Glorious 11th! Hen Harrier Day 2019 in pictures

    Yesterday I joined the crowds for the sixth Hen Harrier day event at Carsington Water in Derbyshire, organised by Wild Justice with help from Severn Trent Water. It's thought that around 1500 people were there at any one time - the largest number for a Hen Harrier Day event ever. It was a brilliant day, the weather held and the crowd enjoyed a terrific selection of great speakers. More details here.

    It hardly seems f…

    • 12 Aug 2019
  • Red kite shot and poisoned in 'worst area in England'

    North Yorkshire Police have just issued a release appealing for information regarding the killing of a red kite in Nidderdale. Anyone with information about this red kite, or any other incidents in the area, should call the police on 101.

    The adult red kite was found dead by an estate worker on 25 October 2018 near Wath, north of Harrogate, within the Nidderdale AONB – an area renowned for the illegal killing of birds…

    • 8 Aug 2019
  • Our appeal to you: help us help birds of prey

    Today (8 August 2019) the RSPB’s Investigations team has launched a new appeal, asking everyone who is concerned about the illegal killing of birds of prey in the UK to become a ‘bird of prey defender’.

    For as little as £3 per month, supporters can directly help the team working hard to end raptor persecution. As you know, despite legal protection, birds of prey are being routinely killed especially…

    • 8 Aug 2019
  • Shot hen harrier found on North Yorkshire grouse moor

    By Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations, RSPB.

    Another satellite-tagged hen harrier, found dead on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire, has been confirmed as shot.

    River being tagged as a chick in 2018

    You may remember River, the young female hen harrier who suddenly disappeared in November 2018 in suspicious circumstances. We wrote about it here. Now, further information has emerged – and it’s not good news.…

    • 11 Jul 2019
  • Bird trappers feeling the heat in Cyprus

    Today four more bird trappers in Cyprus have received stiff sentences following further covert surveillance work by the Sovereign Base Area Police (SBA), supported by BirdLife Cyprus, RSPB Investigations, and CABS. Three of the men received 18 months jail sentences, suspended for three years, fines of 600 Euros plus hunting bans within the SBAs for ten years and an exclusion order preventing them entering the trapping…

    • 10 Jul 2019
  • Going the distance!

    Lots of people are really passionate about nature and the environment, whether they are wanting to enjoy it, study it or protect it. Raptor persecution remains a highly emotive issue and Yorkshireman and ultra marathon runner Henry Morris decided to go to the distance, quite literally, to demonstrate his concern about the illegal killing of hen harriers.

    Ultra marathon runner Henry Morris - going the distance for hen…

    • 9 Jul 2019
  • The weight of the law?

    Unfortunately, 2019 has seen more problems with the illegal use of rail traps posing a risk to birds and other non-target animals. The RSPB is increasingly concerned about the lack of consistent enforcement action in relation to these reports.

     Last year I wrote a couple of blogs here and here about our increasing concerns over the use of rail traps. These relate to two areas. Firstly, when rail traps are considered correctly…

    • 20 Jun 2019
  • Shining a light in dark places

    Yesterday (11 June 2019) a satellite tag training seminar was held in North Yorkshire to demonstrate the incredible value this technology can provide for both conservation and law enforcement.

    For many years, satellite tags have been used to monitor birds like hen harriers and golden eagles. These lightweight GPS tags are fitted to the birds as chicks, to help us follow their movements and identify the risks they come…

    • 12 Jun 2019
  • Raven poisoned in Wales - near where two hen harriers vanished

    This press release went out today:

    A dead raven found on Ruabon Moor, near World’s End, North Wales, has been confirmed as deliberately poisoned – triggering a police investigation.

    The bird was found dead on 28 August 2018 by a man who had been out photographing birds.

    He said: “I was coming home from Wrexham when I noticed the bird on the ground, away from the road in a little clearing of grass. It was…

    • 31 May 2019
  • Two shot buzzards found in Northumberland 'problem area'

    The RSPB is demanding that the problems in our uplands are urgently addressed as raptor persecution continues, seemingly unchecked.

    Today, Northumbria Police issued news of two illegally shot buzzards, found close together in Northumberland, both adjacent to grouse moors in an area with a string of historic persecution incidents to its name.

    The first bird was found alive but injured on 25 April 2019 in Steel, Hexham…

    • 22 May 2019
  • Raven found shot in Cheshire

    This press release has gone out today 16/05/2019:

    A protected raven has been found illegally shot near Delamere Forest, Cheshire, triggering a police investigation.

    The bird was found in a field by a man walking his dog along the edge of the forest. The bird had no head but had no other injuries. He contacted the RSPB’s Investigations unit for advice, and they arranged for the bird to be collected and x-rayed.

    • 16 May 2019
  • Poisoned raven found in Peak District National Park

    The countryside is somewhere everyone should be able to enjoy. Getting outdoors is good for our health and wellbeing, and connects us with nature – a connection we need to hang on to more than ever these days. National Parks should offer the perfect places to do just this.

    But in some areas, as you may know, our countryside is being undermined by criminal activity. Some wildlife is seen as a threat to commercial…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • Raptors killers – the arms race

    In the long and sorry history of raptor persecution those involved have used a wide range of methods to carry out their dark deeds. Traditionally, this has involved an array of firearms, traps and poisons.

    During my 27 years working with the RSPB there have been significant technological developments, such as covert cameras and satellite tagging, which have helped uncover evidence of criminal offences and located key areas…

    • 12 Mar 2019
  • Man seen with gun at hen harrier roost site

    When RSPB Investigations followed a satellite-tagged hen harrier’s movements, it led to the discovery of a new hen harrier roost site – plus another more concerning surprise. Assistant Investigations Officer Tom Grose was there that day.

    In the fight to protect hen harriers the satellite tag – a piece of kit smaller than a matchbox – has emerged as one of the major weapons in the conservationist’s arsenal…

    • 1 Mar 2019
  • Buzzard found shot and poisoned in East Yorkshire

    Some birds are devastatingly unlucky.

    Today (20/2/2019) Humberside Police issued a press release about a dead buzzard found poisoned in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The bird also had a nasty head wound, still fresh at the time it was picked up. What’s more, after the bird was examined, it was clear it had also survived being shot at an earlier point in its life.

    That’s pretty shocking for just one bird.

    • 20 Feb 2019