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Man charged after Peregrine eggs stolen from three nests in the Peak District for Middle East

[Falcony in the Middle East - Credit: GJ]

Game keepers have been under a sustained and coordinated attack for many years from opponents of grouse shooting.

Every effort is made by organisations like the RSPB, Raptor Persecution UK and Wild Justice to slander an entire industry, despite the number of incidents of raptor persecution being in significant decline.

It was no surprise to see last week the news that over two thirds of gamekeepers have been threatened or abused. People should not underestimate the toll this plays on people's mental health and the stress placed on family lives.

[Martin Harper, from the RSPB]

These attacks on gamekeepers can be linked to the ongoing vitriol and barrage of often unsubstantiated claims that people like Martin Harper (RSPB), Ruth Tingay (Raptor Persecution UK), Mark Thomas (RSPB), Tim Birch (DWT) and others have been pushing for years on the gamekeeping community. Indeed, there was even an incident reported earlier this year of birds that had died of natural causes being stuffed with lead shot and planted on grouse moors to frame gamekeepers.

What these organisations and individuals too often fail to appreciate is that the industry has largely moved on to an approach of sustainable moorland management; it is no surprise therefore that in the recent grouse shooting season there were more reports of raptor sightings that in any previous season.

Despite this, whenever there is a disturbance or a missing bird of prey the blame is almost always put on the door of the gamekeeping community.

Raptors die for a whole range of reasons including: predation, wind turbines, egg thefts and road traffic accidents, such as the unfortunate Osprey that was crushed by a truck on the M6 earlier in the year, and others.

This week the Derbyshire Constabulary charged a man for the alleged theft of multiple peregrine falcon eggs stolen from three nesting sights in the Peak District. He was said to have been stealing them to supply an order from the Middle East to be used for falconry.

[Derbyshire Constabulary released CCTV Images of man they wanted to talk to]

Fortunately there was clear enough evidence following an ongoing surveillance for the individual to be charged and his ultimate intentions for the eggs uncovered. Had he not been pursued and caught, but the peregrine eggs were known to have gone missing, quite clearly we know who would have once again got the blame.

Next time a bird of prey is reported missing, or is found dead in unknown circumstances, people need to recognise the reality is it could be down to any number of reasons or causes. What is increasingly clear, based on the number of raptors now living on grouse moors, is that it will unlikely be the result gamekeeper persecution.


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