The National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) and the Countryside Alliance (CA) reacted angrily to the RSPB?s publication last week of its latest Birdcrime 2009 report. The NGO described the charity?s relentless focus on raptor persecution as a ?phoney war?. The RSPB has claimed that 2009 was the second-worst year in the past decade for raptor persecution.

Accompanied by a press release provocatively and sensationally headlined 20 years of shame as war continues against birds of prey, the latest figures in the RSPB?s Birdcrime 2009 report lead the charity to state that: ?The conflict with land managed for the shooting of gamebirds remains the main problem for birds of prey, particularly the upland grouse shooting estates in northern England and Scotland.?

The report called for the introduction of a vicarious liability offence to make managers and employers responsible for the actions of their gamekeepers. The charity also called for modernisation of the regulations governing gameshooting, stating: ?This could include removing the rights to shoot of an individual convicted of bird of prey persecution, or removing the right for shooting to take place over an estate if an employee is convicted, for a fixed period.

?These options would provide a significant deterrent without imposing a burden on the lawabiding majority.? The RSPB wants an improvement in the reporting of wildlife crime and called on the Government to make the killing of birds of prey a recorded crime.

The rest of this article appears in 22nd September issue of Shooting Times.

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