The Majesty of Raptors
The Majesty of Raptors
Why Outdoor Provisions are using their 1% for the Planet commitment to support the RSPB’s Investigation Team in their efforts to end raptor persecution in the UK.
The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force.
What do you see when you are outside? Sky? Trees? Mountains, if you’re lucky. A bird of prey? More often or not, when we were out riding, running, swimming, we’d end up pointing to the sky as a raptor soared above. Kaa Kaaaw! Sometimes, if you’re up early, you might catch one up close, perched motionless on a fence post, or startling upwards from a low branch. They are the moments you feel the most ‘outside’; birds of prey are unquestionably part of the British wild experience.
It’s from this that a raptor became our symbol and a piece of our identity. The Outdoor Provisions interpretation is loosely based on a buzzard, but we just call it the raptor.
Ever since we started to become aware of the scale of raptor persecution, it has made our blood boil. Unbelievably, birds of prey are shot, poisoned and trapped in parts of the UK, most frequently in upland areas where we spend a lot of time riding and yomping - The Dark Peak, North Yorkshire and the Scottish borders are particular black spots.
Many of the crimes occur where driven grouse shooting and private land ownership is in place... don’t get us started on land ownership choking the fun out of England’s outdoor scene. On driven grouse moors, managed to support large numbers of red grouse to be shot, predators including birds of prey are often seen as unwelcome visitors. As a result, they are systematically, and illegally, killed.
All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence.
RSPB INVESTIGATIONS TEAM
The RSPB Investigations Team was established to provide an insight into the impact of illegal bird of prey persecution in the UK – a persistent problem which the RSPB urges the Government to tackle. The team helps support police investigations, carries out important fieldwork and gathers intelligence about raptor persecution, with the aim of ending these crimes and building a brighter future for birds of prey.
We spoke to Jenny Shelton from the RSPB investigations team about the current problems the team faces in bringing perpetrators to justice and where donations will be used.
“We once had a climber contact us – he had been watching a red kite while climbing in the Peak, near Manchester, when the sound of a gunshot rang out and the bird fell from the sky. He said it was, ‘like a balloon bursting’. It was a shock for him, and he did the right thing in reporting it. The importance of the public – walkers, climbers, wild swimmers – in reporting these crimes can’t be overplayed. You are our eyes and ears.”
Jenny explained that, frustratingly, most raptor crimes go unpunished.
“Most raptor crimes take place unseen, in remote places and often at night. So while we may find the body of a red kite which, under x-ray, turns out to be full of shot, or a hen harrier that has been poisoned, tracing that back to the culprit is extremely hard. However, we know who the main players are. Since 1990, 67% of those convicted of raptor persecution offences were gamekeepers. There is a clear correlation between high concentrations of confirmed raptor persecution incidents and land managed for driven grouse shooting.”
“It’s no coincidence that, when we look at population studies, raptors are often completely missing from these areas. The Dark Peak, for instance, used to be the place to go to see Goshawk. The population began to dwindle from 2001 and by 2006 the area had no breeding Goshawk at all. Today, there is just a small population clinging on, due to protection.”
“Hen harriers are teetering on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England; in 2019 there were only 12 successful Hen Harrier nests in the whole country. Research published in 2019, based on the UK Government’s own data, showed that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers in their study were killed or likely killed on British grouse moors. We are so close to losing these incredible birds.”
Enable and Protect
Outdoor Provisions became a 1% for the Planet member in early 2019 to honour our third signpost, Enable and Protect. It reads ‘We will use profits to give back to organisations and initiatives that enable and protect the outdoors’.
We’re proud to make this our first partnership with the RSPB and to work towards protecting a fundamental part of the British wild experience. 100% of profits from our £6 raptor pin badge will go to the RSPB Investigations Team.
So, get one for yourself, order one for a friend and wear it with pride to show that you’re for ending raptor persecution in the UK. Kaa kaaaw!
SUPPORT THE CAUSE, BUY A RAPTOR PIN BADGE HERE ↦
£6, including postage.
WE NEED YOUR EYES AND EARS
Here’s where our community of fresh-air-heads can play an even bigger role. As you lot are out and about so much, you may be the ones that spot something odd and can feedback valuable information.
What to look out for:
- Large cage traps containing a live bird of prey or a decoy pigeon
- Spring traps set in the open or on posts
- Dead/injured birds of prey in suspicious circumstances
- Dead birds of prey lying next to possible poisoned bait eg a pheasant/rabbit/pigeon carcass
DO: Take photos and make a note of the location. A grid reference or GPS reading is brilliant.
DO: Make a note any people or vehicles in the area.
DON’T: Remove a bird from a trap, interfere with a trap or touch anything around the scene.
If you see suspicious activity, find evidence of illegal traps or find a dead or injured bird of prey, please:
- Call the police on 101 immediately.
- Call the RSPB’s Investigations Team on 01767 680551 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0131 3174100 (Scotland) or report it online at rspb.org.uk/reportacrime. Reports are treated in the strictest confidence.
- If you have information about someone killing raptors and want to remain anonymous, there’s also the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.
Thank you. Christian, Luke and the RSPB Investigations team. Kaa Kaaaw!
Raptor illustrations courtesy of Dick Vincent @dickvincent