• Eyewitness describes hen harrier 'exploding'

    By Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer

    You’ll probably know as well as we do that helping to catch those responsible for killing raptors is no easy task. We might have a body, we might find an illegally set trap, but all too often the person responsible walks free.

    At the end of last year (2019), we became aware of an incident in the Forest of Bowland: a reliable witness gave an account of seeing someone shoot…

    • 2 Jun 2020
  • Unhappy Valley: raptor crime in Pateley Bridge

    North Yorkshire regularly emerges as the worst county in England for the illegal killing of birds of prey. In the past seven years, RSPB data shows that more protected raptors like red kites and buzzards have been shot, trapped and poisoned here than anywhere else.

    Within North Yorkshire, the countryside around Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale – which is heavily dominated by driven grouse shooting – is a particular blackspot…

    • 29 May 2020
  • Bird of prey persecution crimewave during lockdown

    • The RSPB has received a surge in reports of birds of prey being illegally killed since lockdown began 
    • The majority of incidents have been on or close to sporting estates managed for game bird shooting 
    • The public are being asked to stay vigilant and report crimes against birds of prey 

    The RSPB’s Investigations Unit has been ‘overrun’ with reports of birds of prey being illegally killed in recent weeks. 

    • 15 May 2020
  • Red kite vanishes in suspicious circumstances

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    Durham Police, the RSPB, the North Pennines AONB Partnership and Friends of Red Kites are appealing for information following the disappearance of a red kite in County Durham.

    KK being tagged as a chick

    The young bird was fitted with a satellite tag at Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead in June 2019 by Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) with NERF support. It has been monitored…

    • 30 Apr 2020
  • Red kites shot in Powys

    Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the shooting of one red kite, and the suspected shooting of two more in Wales.

    The third bird, found by Iolo Williams

    A protected red kite was found shot dead in Tregynon, near Newtown, Powys on Sunday 19 April 2020. At least two more are suspected to have been illegally killed in the area, which is managed for pheasant shooting.

    A local woman found the two dead…

    • 22 Apr 2020
  • Sparrowhawk shot near Plymouth

    The RSPB has just issued this press release:

    Devon and Cornwall Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected sparrowhawk was found illegally shot near Plymouth.

    The female bird was discovered alive but injured in a paddock in Tamerton Foliot, Plymouth. Seeing it was unable to fly, the finder recovered the bird and contacted the police on 2 February 2020.

    The bird was x-rayed by Westmoor Veterinary…

    • 9 Mar 2020
  • Two birds of prey illegally shot

    We have just issued the following press release:

    Police and the RSPB are investigating the illegal killing of two protected wild birds of prey.

    A red kite was found dead in a field in Wigmore, Herefordshire on New Years Eve 2019 by a member of the public. The RSPB and West Mercia Police were notified. When the police collected the bird, they noticed a large hole in the bird’s body.

    The RSPB arranged for a post…

    • 6 Mar 2020
  • Portsmouth sparrowhawk killer fined

    The following press release has just been issued by the RSPB.

    The man was caught on camera shooting at the hawk from a garden fence

    • Yovanis Cruz, who keeps racing pigeons, admitted killing the protected hawk by firing ball bearings at it with a catapult after it attacked one of his birds
    • The crime was caught on CCTV by a neighbour’s camera
    • Cruz, who ‘acted without mercy’, was fined £801 at Portsmouth Magistrates…
    • 25 Feb 2020
  • Putting bird crime on the map

    Today the RSPB has released further data revealing more clearly than ever where the raptor persecution blackspots in the UK occur.

    Map 2, showing raptor persecution blackspots

    Readers of this blog will know that birds of prey (raptors) are sadly routinely being illegally shot, trapped and poisoned, and that often this is associated with driven grouse shooting.

    The Raptor Persecution Map Hub, which was launched in 2018…

    • 13 Feb 2020
  • Licence to kill?

    Do government General Licences which allow lethal control of certain bird species using cage traps afford enough protection to birds of prey? With the General Licences for bird control currently under scrutiny, and the English ones due to expire at the end of February 2020, we believe this is an opportunity to ensure the system keeps protected birds of prey safe.

    In February last year the newly formed not for-profit organisation…

    • 10 Feb 2020
  • Rare hen harrier illegally poisoned in Ireland

    The RSPB has just issued the following press release:

    • The female bird, named Mary, had been fitted with a satellite tracking device.
    • The bird’s body was found dead beside a pigeon and meat baits laced with poison.
    • Conservationists unite in condemnation of this appalling crime and call for a thorough and transparent investigation.

    A rare, protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned near Drumconrath in…

    • 30 Jan 2020
  • Police investigate deaths of three kestrels

    Police and the RSPB are appealing for information about three potentially shot kestrels (two confirmed), which have come to light since Christmas.

    Photo: Vale Wildlife

    The most recent was found in Newent, Gloucestershire. Two members of the public heard a shot and saw the bird fall from the sky at the junction of Strawberry Hill, Tewkesbury Road and Ford House Lane, by the entrance to a caravan/camping site, on 12 January…

    • 24 Jan 2020
  • Buzzard poisoned in Peak District National Park

    We have just issued the following press release:


    A protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned in one of the UK’s worst raptor persecution blackspots.

    In April 2019 a member of the public found a buzzard freshly dead in woodland near Tintwistle, just north of Valehouse Reservoir, in the Peak District National Park. Close by were the remains of a red-legged partridge.

    A post-mortem and toxicology tests under…

    • 22 Jan 2020
  • 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