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Rural organisations exasperated by RSPB bird crime report

Writing in the Shooting Times Matt Cross outlines the exasperation felt from rural organisations towards the RSPB.

The RSPB has published its latest ‘Bird Crime Report’ and has used it as an opportunity to push forwards its attacks on shooting.

After making the astonishing claim that 2021 was the second worst year ever recorded for offences against birds of prey, the charity went on to say: “At the RSPB AGM on 15 October 2022, RSPB Chair of Council Kevin Cox communicated a change in policy: for additional regulation of pheasant and partridge shooting. In the context of the nature and climate emergency, voluntary approaches have failed to deliver, leaving additional regulation the only option.”

Shooting and gamekeeping organisations responded with exasperation to the RSPB’s claims. Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, said: “The Scottish Gamekeepers Association recognises the official Scottish government wildlife crime figures, verified by the police, Scotland’s Crown Office and government agencies, not the RSPB’s unverified accounts contained in their bird crime reports.

“The RSPB are a campaigning charity, not a policing body, and their accounts should be treated with the utmost caution. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has no tolerance for wildlife crime. If members are convicted of a wildlife crime, they are removed from membership. This has occurred on eight occasions over the past decade.”

The RSPB claimed that there were 17 offences committed against birds of prey in Scotland in 2021; even by the charity’s own disputed figures this is the third consecutive year of falling numbers.

The Moorland Association also took issue with the report with a spokesperson saying: “Examination of the raptor incidents cited in this report does show a continuing downward trend, in the uplands in particular, and this is to be welcomed, albeit more work needs to be done. It is notable that many of the incidents reported do not occur on land managed for grouse shooting.”

Hen harrier numbers, for a long time the focus of much criticism of shooting, have continued to rise steadily over the last three years. The growth has come in response to changing practices in the grouse shooting sector and a compromise in the form of the hen harrier brood management scheme.


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