Letters: Adrian Blackmore, December 11, 2015

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, Scotland. June ENGANL00120121119105640

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, Scotland. June ENGANL00120121119105640

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I refer to the article “Norfolk has highest rate of bird crime in the East” which is, in places, both misleading and inaccurate.

While there may have been 28 incidents reported in the county in 2014, just four of those are shown in the RSPB’s birdcrime report to have been confirmed. This did not make Norfolk the worst county for bird crime either in the East, or elsewhere for that matter. It has also been incorrectly claimed that incidents included the illegal poisoning of nine buzzards in north Norfolk. That offence was committed in April 2013, and the figures were included in the birdcrime report for that year – not in this year’s report. Of the 46 recorded incidents in Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, only seven are shown in the report as being confirmed, which further highlights the importance of using the figures for confirmed, as opposed to reported, incidents. And in 2014, we actually saw a welcome reduction in the number of confirmed incidents of bird crime in the UK when compared with those for 2013, the number of cases of shooting and destruction of birds of prey falling by 33 per cent, and those for poisoning by 41 per cent.

Birds of prey are one of the UK’s great conservation success stories, with landowners and conservation organisations working together across the country to re-establish and increase the populations of many species. Any act of illegal persecution is unacceptable, and it is therefore excellent to see a reduction in the number of confirmed incidents when the populations of many are now at their highest levels since records began.

Adrian Blackmore

Countryside Alliance