Latest report shows that more must be done to reduce wildlife crime

Written by James Swyer, Director of Membership and Marketing

James Swyer Birdcrime Quote (large)

Wildlife crime needs to stop. The sixty-one confirmed incidents of the illegal killing of wildlife detailed in the RSPB Birdcrime report published today are crimes which we condemn in the strongest terms and those committing them should rightly be brought to justice.

The small number of individuals committing these crimes undermine the reputation of the thousands of people doing wonderful work in our countryside, without whom we wouldn’t have the biodiversity, habitat, social cohesion and cultural traditions that so many of us cherish. We can turn this corner together, calling out these crimes for what they are and celebrating the initiatives that work to boost the numbers of our red-listed species.

For example, the hen harrier population in England is now at a 200-year high, with 141 chicks fledging successfully in 2023. Since the first year of the Brood Management Scheme in 2019, 58 chicks have been taken, safely reared and released back into the wild population and these chicks have shown higher-than-average fledging and survival rates.

While the report rightly highlights the need for action, we disagree with some of the solutions. The authors of the report claim that ‘the immediate licensing of driven grouse shooting is essential’ and call for additional regulation of lowland gamebird shooting, but punishing the many for the actions of the few risks disincentivising those who manage our countryside lawfully, correctly and with positive outcomes for conservation. The clear and evidenced results of the Hen Harrier Brood Management Scheme, as outlined above, are a real conservation success story and one we are proud to be a part of. The continued opposition from the RSPB is disappointing when the species is at its highest number since the Industrial Revolution.

Our countryside thrives because of those who live and work in it. It’s essential that we don’t let those who act otherwise ruin it. We call on all members and supporters of the GWCT to report wildlife crime wherever they see it.

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Wildlife crime

at 23:29 on 30/11/2023 by Gavin Meerwald

I am disappointed that Mike Kettlewell feels his local shoots may not be cleaner-than-clean when it comes to wildlife crime. I have only been involved with a couple of shoots as a beater and shoot helper during the summer and would be happy to stand up and say there is nothing I feel uncomfortable about. This may be a generational thing where keepers of the past were almost encouraged to wipe out anything that posed a threat to their game birds. I honestly don't think that this is the case with contemporary keepers and wildlife managers. They realise the consequences of a criminal record on their job, home and family is not worth the risk. If Mr Kettlewell is genuinely concerned about his neighbours and has credible proof then he MUST contact the authorities.

Wildlife crime

at 14:21 on 28/11/2023 by Mike Kettlewell

It is encouraging to see the GWCT seeking to condemn and ostracise those in the countryside who commit these crimes, but can the GWCT be quite so confident that it is the few that are to blame. As a farmer in an area with many shoots I am less confident of this position, while accepting that some shoots do a lot for local ecology alongside their sport.

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