“Wildlife crime has no place in our com­mu­nity”

To kill rap­tors il­le­gally is a fool’s bar­gain that could bring the end of shoot­ing and the ben­e­fits it brings, says BASC act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Christo­pher graf­fius

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

BASC has warned its mem­bers that rap­tor per­se­cu­tion risks “ter­mi­nal da­m­age” to shoot­ing. Act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Christo­pher Graf­fius made the com­ment in an ar­ti­cle in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Shoot­ing and Con­ser­va­tion mag­a­zine, which was picked up by The Times last week.

“Rap­tor per­se­cu­tion is the most com­mon crit­i­cism of shoot­ing,” he said. “I’ve met many BASC mem­bers who would be ap­palled at the il­le­gal killing of a pro­tected species... but all of us need to re­alise that the killing of rap­tors is do­ing us no favours. It risks ter­mi­nal da­m­age to the sport we love. We must make it clear that wildlife crime has no place in our com­mu­nity.

“Of course rap­tors take game birds; stud­ies have shown that fewer than five per cent of pheas­ant poults were taken by rap­tors be­fore the start of the sea­son,” he added. “The sit­ing of pens and other man­age­ment mea­sures can re­duce that loss. To kill rap­tors il­le­gally for that five per cent is a fool’s bar­gain if it means the end of shoot­ing and the ben­e­fits it brings to the en­vi­ron­ment and econ­omy.”

Coun­try­side or­gan­i­sa­tions have said that the whole sec­tor must work to­gether to erad­i­cate wildlife crime. This comes af­ter the RSPB re­leased its Bird­crime 2016 re­port last week, which re­vealed 81 con­firmed in­ci­dents of il­le­gal rap­tor per­se­cu­tion in 2016.

The char­ity stated that out of the 81 of­fences last year, it was “the first time in 30 years” that no prose­cu­tions were brought.

6 • Shoot­ing times & Coun­try mag­a­zine The RSPB has called for the in­tro­duc­tion of “a li­cens­ing sys­tem for driven grouse shoot­ing”.

RSPB con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor Martin Harper com­mented: “There are laws in place to pro­tect these birds but they are clearly not be­ing put into ac­tion.”

But sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions said there is no need for any fur­ther leg­is­la­tion.

Moor­land As­so­ci­a­tion di­rec­tor Amanda Anderson said: “Thou­sands of peo­ple ac­tively in­volved in grouse shoot­ing fully wish to see the erad­i­ca­tion of all forms of wildlife crime.

“Any in­ci­dent of bird of prey per­se­cu­tion is un­ac­cept­able and the full force of the law should be felt by those break­ing it. The sta­tis­tics in the lat­est re­port show that the num­ber of such in­ci­dents con­tin­ues to de­cline sig­nif­i­cantly and there has been a very sub­stan­tial drop in in­ci­dents over the past five years. This is what we all want to see.

“Of course more can be done, par­tic­u­larly in the restora­tion of hen har­rier pop­u­la­tions, and the best way to achieve progress is for peo­ple across the sec­tor, in­clud­ing the RSPB, to con­tinue to work to­gether con­struc­tively.”

BASC chair­man Peter Glenser added: “While the RSPB high­lights is­sues that need to be ad­dressed around rap­tor per­se­cu­tion, there is a need for clearer think­ing on the im­pli­ca­tions for leg­is­la­tion.

“Shoot li­cens­ing is not the an­swer; it will not have any im­pact other than in­creas­ing costs and bu­reau­cracy for reg­u­la­tors.

“The best way to achieve sig­nif­i­cant progress is for the shoot­ing com­mu­nity and other or­gan­i­sa­tions to work to­gether.”

“All of us need to re­alise that the killing of rap­tors risks ter­mi­nal da­m­age to the sport we love”

The RSPB’S Bird­crime 2016 re­port re­vealed 81 of­fences of il­le­gal rap­tor per­se­cu­tion

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