First Person: Bird of prey persecutors must be brought to justice
RECENT months have seen a spectacular congregation of birds of prey on the Humber, with up to 30 marsh harriers and five highly endangered hen harriers roosting in the wetland reedbeds.
This is great news, yet I am still extremely worried about the future of both of these species, as well as several of our other birds of prey in the UK.
Back in the 1950s, both species declined dramatically due to illegal human persecution and the effects of insecticide DDT which caused many thousandsof deaths of many birds in our countryside.
Harriers – being at the top of the food chain – were particularly badly affected and by the early 1970s there was only one pair of marsh harriers breeding in the whole of the UK. Hen harrier numbers tumbled as they continued to be persecuted on grouse moors because of their habit of making off with the odd game bird.
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DDT has long since been banned but sadly, bird of prey persecution continues.
For example, there was the recent case of a male marsh harrier that was intentionally poisoned and killed around the Humber last summer and which was busy feeding a nest of three young chicks.
There was also the recent case of the buzzards which were poisoned by bait laced with carbofuran near to Scunthorpe. This banned substance will also kill dogs, cats and people. It is incredibly toxic, with only a few grains sufficient to kill a bird.
The RSPB's annual Birdcrime report reveals in 2011 it received 100 reports of poisoning and a further 202 reports of the shooting and destruction of birds of prey. . Often, the only evidence we have is an absence of birds where there should be lots.
Bird of prey persecution is illegal so we need the resources to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
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