Government and rural groups have worked together to create maps revealing the worst locations for raptor persecution in a bid to crack down on bird crimes.

New interactive maps have been hailed as a valuable tool in the fight against raptor persecution.

The maps detail incidents involving the shooting, poisoning and trapping of birds of prey, and the destruction of their nests in England and Wales.

They were developed by the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), which counts Defra, the National Wildlife Crime Unit, BASC, the Countryside Alliance and the RSPB among its members.

These online maps currently cover the period between 2011 and 2015 and Defra identified North Yorkshire as a priority area as the highest number of incidents (39) took place there, followed by 17 incidents in Norfolk and 11 in Cumbria.

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Hot spots have been highlighted

Announcing the maps, wildlife minister Thérèse Coffey said: “These maps highlight hot spots across the country for crimes against these precious birds, enabling the police to crack down with increased enforcement in areas where it’s needed most — building on the valuable work land management, conservation and shooting organisations are already doing to help protect iconic birds of prey.”

BASC acting chief executive Christopher Graffius said: “For the fight against raptor persecution to be successful, it is essential that credible intelligence is available to enable enforcement to be focused in the most effective manner.

“These maps should serve as a wake-up call for those who are doing a disservice to the entire shooting community by committing crimes against birds of prey,” he continued.

“The message should now be heard loud and clear that illegality has to stop. BASC fully supports the publication of these maps and hopes they will prove to be a valuable tool in the fight against raptor crime.”

Stamping out raptor persecution

A statement released by the Countryside Alliance read: “The publication of these maps allows for enhanced targeting of resources and information gathering, furthering our aim of stamping out raptor persecution.

“The work of the group is to be applauded and once again showcases the ability of different stakeholders to work together to the benefit of wildlife in this country. Raptor persecution is decreasing across the UK and the Countryside Alliance hopes that the maps will help aid the National Wildlife Crime Unit and rural police crack down on any remaining illegal activity.”