The move comes after two gamekeepers reported fellow keeper Kyle Burden to the police in July 2007 for illegally killing buzzards and badgers on the Kempton estate in Shropshire.

“The gamekeepers who came forward to let us know what was happening were incredibly brave and public spirited,” said a spokesman for the RSPB.

“What they did was right, but it must have been very hard.” The RSPB told Shooting Times the hotline will be up and running in the “very near future”.

The spokesman added: “We have huge respect for the knowledge and skills gamekeepers bring to the countryside. It is quite wrong that some should feel under pressure from their employers to break wildlife laws, especially as they are the ones who will be left to face the consequences. We want this phone line to be a simple, confidential way for people in a similar position to the witnesses in the Kempton case to report what they have seen. When people do what is right by wildlife and by their profession, they should have a trusted point of contact and know something will be done.”

Shooting organisations pointed out that contacting the police is an equally effective method of reporting wildlife crime. BASC’s Christopher Graffius said: “Persecuting raptors is a crime that damages shooting. BASC advises anyone with evidence of wildlife crime always to contact the police.”

The rest of this article appears in 23 October issue of Shooting Times.

What is YOUR opinion?

Join other ST readers in our forums to discuss your views.

Like this article? Mark this page on a social bookmarking website…

What are social bookmarking sites?