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.

A dead buzzard in suspicious circumstances like this should be reported to the police on 101 and the RSPB

When it comes to keeping wildlife – especially birds of prey – safe from being illegally killed or harmed, the role the public plays can’t be understated.

This summer we’re probably all looking forward to some fresh air time, and one of the things that makes a hike in the hills or a camping trip under the stars so memorable is the wildlife we encounter along the way. The sudden sight of a mighty golden eagle soaring through a glen, or a buzzard being mobbed by a tenacious hobby, are experiences to be treasured. But as many of you will be aware, birds of prey are not always safe, even in protected landscapes.

The shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey sadly continues, often in connection with areas managed for driven grouse shooting. Where creating ideal habitat for huge numbers of red grouse is prioritised, even predators which are protected by law, like all birds of prey, can end up in the firing line.

Hen harriers, for example, are a long way from reaching a healthy, self-sustaining population. In much of Northern England and Scotland, there are huge areas of suitable upland moorland habitat, with plentiful available food, but harriers and other birds of prey are largely absent. The number one cause of this is persecution by humans.

And it’s not just birds of prey that can be victims of the criminals. Poison baits laid out to target raptors can have deadly results for pets. Last year one devastated family in North Yorkshire lost their dog after it inadvertently came across a poison bait, just off a busy public path.

While the RSPB employs a dedicated Investigations Unit, focussing on detecting and preventing raptor persecution, and assisting the police, you can play an important role in helping us end this injustice and make our countryside safer. We need you to be our extra eyes and ears.


What to report:

  • A dead or injured bird of prey or owl in suspicious circumstances
  • Metal spring traps set out in the open or on poles
  • Cage traps with a bird of prey inside
  • Suspected wildlife poisoning eg dead birds lying next to a pheasant, rabbit or pigeon carcass or chunks of meat


A pole trap: if a bird lands on this, it will spring shut, crushing its legs

What to include in your report:

  • Date, time and location (grid reference/WhatThreeWords if possible).
  • Description of person/s involved including gender, age, height, clothing, behaviour, anything being carried etc.
  • Any vehicle registration numbers, make, model and colour or distinctive features.
  • Take photos and/or video if safe to do so.

NOTE: Please do not put yourself or others at risk. Do not interfere with traps or touch anything.

How to report potential bird crimes:

  • Call the police on 101 (ask for a crime reference number)
  • Report it to us using our online form.
  • If a crime is in progress, call 999.
  • If the crime involves suspected poisoned birds, animals or baits contact the government Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) on Freephone 0800 321600. If outside office hours/urgent contact the police (See above).
  • If you are concerned about an animal or bird’s welfare, call the RSPCA 0300 1234 999 (for England & Wales)/ SSPCA 03000 999 999 (for Scotland) / USPCA 02830 251000 (for Northern Ireland)
  • If you have sensitive information specifically relating to the targeting of birds of prey call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101

Birds of prey should be free to soar, and everyone has a right to see them in the skies where they belong. We hope you don’t see any of these awful signs of crimes, but if you do, your report could be the missing piece in preventing more birds meeting with a dreadful fate. Please let us know. Thank you.


NOTE: All methods of contact with us are in complete confidence, no calls are recorded, and we cannot pass your details on to anyone else without your permission. Note that it is significantly more difficult to investigate offences if you send information to us anonymously, as often we need a detail that is not included. Please therefore consider providing means of temporary contact, which we will delete at your request once we have the information we need.