Press Release

Birds of prey continue to be illegally killed in Wales

The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report published today details the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of protected birds of prey across the UK. Amongst the victims are Buzzards, Red Kites, Goshawks, Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and White-tailed Eagles. All these species are protected by laws designed to help our rarest and threatened species. There is clearly no place for such crimes against some of these rare and protected species.

Posted 4 min read
  • 13% of all UK confirmed bird of prey persecution incidents in 2022 occurred in Wales
  • A number of birds of prey in Wales have been illegally poisoned after being exposed to high levels of the toxic insecticide, Bendiocarb
  • At least 63% of all confirmed raptor persecution incidents in Wales are linked to land used for gamebird management

The latest Birdcrime report documents eight confirmed incidents of raptor persecution in Wales in 2022. A Goshawk and a Red Kite were found shot in Powys and there were three separate incidents across the country involving a total of five Common Buzzards, which all died after ingesting high levels of the insecticide, Bendiocarb.

The abuse of pesticides is a criminal offence but, as evidenced in previous Birdcrime reports, is frequently used to illegally kill birds of prey. Poison baits are illegal but are often  laid out in areas where birds of prey are present. In June 2022, a gamekeeper on a pheasant shooting estate in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog was fined for pesticide storage offences following the discovery of a poisoned Red Kite, a poison bait and a shot Buzzard on the land. In 2021, Bendiocarb was detected in 80% of all bird of prey poisoning abuse cases in Wales. Concerningly, this increased to 100% in 2022. This soon-to-be withdrawn insecticide, is now the most recorded substance in confirmed raptor poisoning abuse cases across the UK.

Birdcrime 2022 also includes two confirmed incidents in Wales where illegal traps were being operated to unlawfully target particular species of birds of prey, such as the Goshawk. The amendments to the General Licences enacted in July 2022 by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which set the rules around the lawful operation of cage traps have been welcomed by RSPB Cymru. These amendments - including the prohibition of two-compartment, top and bottom ‘hawk’ traps - will reduce the risk of accidentally trapping non-target species, such as birds of prey and make it clear when illegal deliberate trapping has occurred.

In 2022, 63% of confirmed incidents in Wales were associated with land managed for gamebird shooting. Evidence shows that on some shooting estates birds of prey are deliberately targeted to reduce potential predation on gamebird stocks and to avoid quarry species being disturbed on shoot days. Many historical raptor persecution cases in Wales, and incidents confirmed in 2022 have been linked to land managed for gamebirds.

RSPB Cymru continues to call for the licensing of gamebird shooting in Wales, to provide a meaningful deterrent and end the illegal killing of birds of prey.

Julian Hughes, RSPB Cymru Head of Species said “The valuable habitat which Wales has to offer makes it a significant stronghold for many birds of prey, but continued persecution means that the survival of many of these species is seriously threatened. Through commitment on the ground and calls for legislative change, we remain determined to put an end to these barbaric crimes. Poisoning, trapping and shooting of these magnificent birds must stop now”. 

Niall Owen, RSPB Cymru Investigations Officer said “As highlighted in the Birdcrime report, although all forms of persecution continue to take place in Wales, concerningly the illegal poisoning of birds of prey seems to have been a favoured method despite the dangers to the public. Due to the remote rural locations that many of these crimes take place, we believe a fraction of the actual number of incidents are detected across Wales and ask the public to remain vigilant. We would like to thank the public for their invaluable assistance in reporting raptor persecution incidents”.

If you notice a dead or injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, call the police on 101 and fill in the RSPB’s online reporting form.

If you have information about anyone killing birds of prey which you wish to report anonymously, call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.