The RSPB’s new report examining raptor persecution has come under fire from the Countryside Alliance, which maintains the charity has used misleading figures in an attempt to make headlines.
The charity’s annual Birdcrime report, which was published on 27 July, claims reported crimes committed against birds of prey have soared by 40% in the past year, which has prompted a backlash as gamekeepers are once again implicated as chief culprits.
RSPB figures suggest it received 262 reports of illegal shooting, trapping and nest destruction of birds of prey during 2007, compared with 185 reports in 2006.
Tim Baynes, moorlands director at the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA), has accused the RSPB of painting a misleading picture by basing its findings on reported incidents, rather than those that have been confirmed or led to prosecutions.
The SCA claims confirmed poisonings in fact decreased to 76 last year from 85 in 2006 and prosecutions involving wild birds almost halved from 62 in 2006 to 33 in 2007.
The ‘confirmed’ section of the RSPB’s report includes data relating to the unsubtantiated shooting of two hen harriers on the Sandringham estate in October last year.
A police investigation revealed that the alleged incident was without foundation no carcases or other evidence was found to corroborate the claim of persecution.
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