“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
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