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. It was taken to a vet where it was X-rayed, revealing a shotgun pellet in the stomach, several fragments of shot and a fractured wing and leg. Due to the severity of these injuries it was unlikely to recover, so sadly the bird had to be euthanised.

A shotgun and fragment, plus a fractured wing and leg showed up under X-ray

The second bird was found freshly dead by a walker on 13 May 2019 in Blanchland, Hexham, between two grouse moors. It too was seen by a local vet, who X-rayed the bird and confirmed that its death was as a direct result of shooting.

Here you can see as many as eight pieces of shot and some fragments:

Images courtesy of Hadrian Vets

There is a long history of birds of prey being illegally shot, trapped and poisoned in this area. In 2015 a buzzard was found shot near Blanchland, and in 2010 two red kites were found poisoned with alphochloralose near Steel. There was also a prosecution in 2002 after a set pole trap was discovered and a gamekeeper caught on film resetting the trap, near Stanhope. This resulted in two gamekeepers being prosecuted, and their employer was also prosecuted relating to pesticide matters.

We can see from this how little the laws put in place to protect these birds mean to some people, and how inadequate the current legislation is proving. 

Police enquiries into these latest incidents are ongoing. We don’t know who killed these birds or why, but there will certainly be someone out there who does.

If you have information about birds of prey being targeted in your area, please call the police on 101 immediately. Alternatively, two years ago we set up a confidential Raptor Crime Hotline (0300 999 0101) so that people from within the shooting community can speak out in confidence. We'd be very happy to take your call.

Killing birds of prey continues to give the shooting industry a bad name and can benefit no-one. There are no winners here. Illegally killing protected wildlife should be condemned by the rural community just as it is by us, and everyone who wants to see birds and wildlife thrive and our natural landscapes flourish.