The RSPB is calling for stiffer penalties for those involved in wildlife crime, following a ?shameful year? of bird of prey persecution.

The charity?s latest Birdcrime report, published last week, reveals a total of 90 confirmed incidents in 2011, and points the finger of blame for the poor breeding success of hen harriers and peregrines at land managed for grouse shooting.

Outlining a ?manifesto for change?, director of conservation Martin Harper pointed to the Law Commission?s current wildlife law review, stating: ?This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal shooting and poisoningof some of our most magnificent birds. I hope that tougher laws and penalties for wildlife offenders will help consign their crimes to the pages of history, where they belong.?

Among the RSPB?s proposals are heavier penalties, the introduction of an offence of vicarious liability, and an option to withdraw the right of an individual to shoot game following conviction for a wildlife offence.

The rest of this article appears in the 10th October issue of Shooting Times.

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