The RSPB claims that 2007 was the worst year for red kite poisoning since 2001. In a statement, the RSPB said: “Sadly, nine of the illegally killed red kites were recovered from shooting estates. New crime statistics show that a staggering 74% of those successfully prosecuted for wildlife crime in the UK over the past decade have been involved in gameshooting.”

Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, contested the allegations, saying: “Once again the RSPB is attempting to take the moral high ground with its massaged statistics implying gamekeepers are poisoning wildlife all over Scotland.” He believes the RSPB needs to set its own house in order before publicly condemning sporting interests for crimes against wildlife: “There is little evidence to suggest that it is gamekeepers who are poisoning any of these birds.

The 11 red kites and the eagle found dead last year have not resulted in a single prosecution being brought and yet the RSPB is extremely quick to condemn sporting estates before evidence is brought forward. The incident of the harriers allegedly shot at Sandringham last year is a prime example of the RSPB’s apparent commitment to ‘spin before fact’.”

The rest of this article appears in 10 January issue of Shooting Times.

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