• 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
  • 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
  • Ravens found poisoned on farmland

    This press release has just gone out regionally:

    West Mercia Police undertook an investigation after ten dead ravens, a dead crow and parts of a dead lamb were found close together on farmland near Vron Woods, Beguildy on the Wales/Shropshire border.

    The birds were reported to the RSPB and collected by Natural England in April 2018, who sent the birds to be tested. Government toxicology tests on five of the ravens, the…

    • 19 Feb 2019
  • Marsh harrier found illegally shot

    Locals and conservationists are raising the alarm after a rare and protected bird of prey was found shot near Barton-Upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire.

    The bird – a marsh harrier – was discovered by a woman walking her dog along the bank of the River Humber on 9 September 2018. She reported it to the RSPCA and the police were alerted. An RSPCA officer collected the bird and took it to the East Winch Wildlife Centre near…

    • 8 Jan 2019
  • An Investigations review of the year

    Police arresting gamekeeper Tim Cowin on Whernside Moor

    Yesterday we blogged about a buzzard that was shot in Northamptonshire – a sad end to another rollercoaster year in the fight against raptor persecution. We never know what each year will bring; what crimes might be suddenly uncovered or what events may occur. Here, we reflect on 2018, including the losses but also the determination and the action being taken by…

    • 20 Dec 2018
  • Buzzard shot in Northamptonshire

    A buzzard found shot in Northamptonshire is the latest victim on this year’s list of birds that won’t see in the New Year.

    The bird was found injured but alive in Sywell Country Park, Northamptonshire. A Park Ranger reported it to the police and the RSPB, and the bird was examined by a vet. An X-ray revealed that the buzzard had been shot with lead gun shot – you can see the pellet embedded next to the birds…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • The Illegal Killing of Birds of Prey in Scotland 2015-17

    Scotland’s laws are failing to adequately protect birds of prey, as a new report highlights. Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, explains why those in power must act now to end illegal persecution.

    Scotland’s birds of prey are an integral part of our national heritage. Our country is a key stronghold for many species like hen harriers, ospreys and golden eagles, attracting tourism and bringing…

    • 14 Dec 2018
  • The 30th Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference

    A reflection on this year's conference, held in North Yorkshire

    Building on the work of Chief Superintendent Terry Rands of Essex Police in setting up the Wildlife Crime Officers’ (WCO) network, back in 1989 the RSPB organised the first Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference with support from RSNC, Wildlife Trusts, WWF and the NCC (Nature Conservancy Council – now Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural…

    • 11 Dec 2018
  • Two owls found shot in Peak District

    This is the latest in a catalogue of crimes against birds of prey, which is blackening the National Park’s reputation

    Police are on the trail after two owls were found shot within the Peak District National Park this autumn.

    On 11 September 2018 a local runner witnessed a short-eared owl flying overhead, followed by what sounded like gunshots. The following morning she returned to the spot, near Wessenden Head…

    • 6 Dec 2018
  • Hobby and buzzard found with spring trap injuries

      

    Buzzard with severed foot

    The police and the RSPB are investigating the illegal killing of two protected birds of prey on the Isle of Wight. The birds, a hobby and a buzzard, were found with horrific injuries in woodland near Littletown. Both had lost a foot as a result of becoming caught in a spring trap.

    The buzzard was found dead in March 2018 with a missing foot. The hobby – a small falcon similar to a kestrel –…

    • 4 Dec 2018
  • Rail traps - kryptonite for super-ouzels?

    In August I wrote a blog following the illegal killing of a merlin in a spring trap set on a driven grouse moor in Northumberland. I also raised some wider concerns about the use of spring traps and whether they were actually legal when set as a ‘rail trap’; furthermore about possible impacts on ring ouzels, a declining 'red-listed' species, following several reports of birds being killed in these…

    • 5 Nov 2018
  • Egg collecting: a dangerous obsession

    This summer police made the biggest seizure of eggs in a decade. Jenny Shelton of RSPB Investigations explains more about this deadly obsession which puts declining species at risk.

    Nature is in trouble and needs all the help it can get, which is why any efforts to harm wildlife or prevent it flourishing are particularly worrying.

    Until recently, egg collecting was one of the biggest wildlife crimes the RSPB's Investigations…

    • 16 Oct 2018
  • Goodbye, Bob

    Today we wave goodbye to our fantastic Head of Investigations, Bob Elliot, who on 15 October takes up the post of Director at animal welfare charity OneKind, based in Edinburgh. A passionate conservationist and natural, personable leader, he’s been a key driving force in many of the teams’ successes.

    Bob joined the RSPB Scotland Investigations unit as head of the team in 2007 and quickly established himself…

    • 5 Oct 2018
  • Shot red kite sadly euthanised

    The stark contrast between the terrible actions of one human being and the kindness of another can sometimes knock you sideways. We see this a lot when dealing with incidents involving birds of prey that have been deliberately (and illegally) killed or injured.

    Earlier this month, a red kite which was shot and injured, and cared for by vets and raptor workers, sadly had to be euthanised.

    The bird, a female, was found…

    • 18 Sep 2018
  • Short-eared owl shooting - A tale of the unexpected


    The one thing I really like about my job is the unexpected. It can be a bit inconvenient at times – but when certain jobs come in, you’ve got to drop everything if you’re to have a chance of securing that all-essential piece of evidence to bring a wildlife case to court. During my career, this has involved some really memorable moments and some long adrenaline-fuelled days. But few can top one particularly unexpected…

    • 28 Aug 2018
  • Spring traps and grouse moors - a bridge too far?

    A range of environmental concerns have been raised about land intensively managed for driven grouse shooting and RSPB is calling for a licensing system to promote accountability and good practice. A recent incident has also highlighted concerns about the use of spring traps for predator control.

    On 12 July this year, a fell runner was out on a large driven grouse moor in Northumberland when he came across this trap containing…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • Mapping raptor persecution in the UK

    Sometimes the extent of a problem becomes much clearer once it’s visualised.

    Today, we’re very pleased to be launching the Raptor Persecution Map Hub – a set of online maps which we believe provide the most complete picture of known, confirmed raptor persecution incidents across the UK.

    For some time, we’ve felt the need for a centralised ‘hub’ for raptor persecution data to sit, and be easily accessed…

    • 16 Aug 2018
  • Peregrine persecution filmed in Bowland

    As the red grouse shooting season approaches the RSPB are once more calling on the government to consider extra legislative measures to tackle raptor persecution. The following case continues to show just how difficult it is to investigate and prosecute for offences occurring in remote parts of our uplands.

    Despite plenty of available habitat, food and nesting sites, peregrine falcons are not doing well in Lancashire…

    • 8 Aug 2018
  • Persecuted peregrine goes on to raise chicks

    A peregrine that dodged death has gone on to raise two chicks this summer. 

    This morning we had an update on a male peregrine which we reported on last year, after it was found shot but still alive in King Somborne, Hampshire. The bird had a broken wing, which an Xray confirmed was caused by shooting. Police have identified no leads as to who was responsible.

    After some rest and rehabilitation at Andover Hawk Conservancy…

    • 16 Jul 2018
  • Op Easter (3 of 3) – nearly cracked!

    In the previous two blogs I outlined the background to egg collecting when I started at the RSPB in 1991 and the formation of Operation Easter in 1997. So, the police were now getting organised to tackle the threat of egg thieves – but it was clear that court sentencing options were no meaningful deterrent for persistent serial offenders. Things needed to change.

    In a rather timely reminder that egg collecting has…

    • 23 May 2018
  • Operation Easter (2 of 3) - Hatching a plan!

    The second of three blogs about the formation of Operation Easter – an initiative started 21 years ago to tackle the scourge of egg thieves.

    Barn doors and bad guys

    White-tailed eagles are big birds. Whoever first christened them as flying ‘barn doors’ probably did not expect this phrase to be so well-used to describe these magnificent birds.

    But like many raptors, they have been subject to extensive…

    • 14 May 2018
  • Operation Easter (1 of 3): the beginnings

    Last week saw the conviction of egg collector James North from Devon. This was a timely reminder that this spring marks 21 years since the launch of Operation Easter, an intelligence-led operation to target the UK’s egg thieves. At the start it was run jointly by Tayside Police and RSPB, with the NWCU later picking up the baton. In a series of three blogs, I’ll be reflecting on the development of Operation Easter…

    • 9 May 2018
  • All goes south for North

    On 3 May 2018, Jason North pleaded guilty at Plymouth Magistrates to eight charges of disturbing rare breeding birds (golden eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon and little-ringed plover) in Devon and Highland, Scotland and the taking of three osprey eggs from Scotland. All offences occurred during the 2016 breeding season. North received six weeks jail on each charge (to run concurrently) suspended for a year. He was also…

    • 4 May 2018
  • Raptor Persecution in the Peak District National Park

    Mark Thomas of RSPB Investigations is one of the authors of a new paper published today (28 April 2018) in the journal British Birds. Read his account of what the results of this paper mean to him, and for all of us.

    Watch Mark's video here.

    Like so many birders, nature lovers and tourists I have at times sought both mental and physical wellbeing in one of the UK’s amazing National Parks. A peaceful, beautiful…

    • 29 Apr 2018