The National Trust has threatened to close down shoots on its land in the Peak District if the downward trend in bird of prey numbers in the area is not quickly reversed.

Writing on the blog of former RSPB conservation director Mark Avery, the Trust?s natural environment director Simon Pryor said the Trust was ?unequivocal and public? in its condemnation of any persecution of birds of prey, ?by anyone and anywhere, but particularly on its land?.

He wrote: My local colleagues are unequivocal when they say a change in the fortunes of birds of prey on Trust land in the Peak District will be an expectation in any shooting tenancy.

Mr Pryor went on to write that the renewal of shooting leases in the area would depend on the results of the Trust?s High Peak Moors Master Plan consultation, which would be used to guide the management of the area over the next 25 years.

He said: I can assure you that the conservation of rare species (including birds of prey) will be a key objective [of the Master Plan].

As part of this exercise, we will be working with our current sporting tenants to see whether the Trust?s objectives for conservation and access are compatible with their shooting objectives.

Mr Pryor?s comments come not long after the failure of gamekeeper Glenn Brown to overturn his conviction for attempting to kill birds of prey on Trust land in the Upper Derwent Valley.

The Trust?s relationship with its shooting tenants has been strained recently with several tenancies terminated due to conflicts with Trust objectives.

Access was also the reason given last year for the termination of the leases at Polesden Lacey in Surrey, and at the Wallington estate in Northumberland.

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