Not so long ago, I wrote an article on a red kite in yorkshire that had been the victim of a shooting. Luckily, the female bird survived and was taken into an animal rehabilitation unit to receive immediate treatment. Happily, she has now been released back into the wild in full health, after a few weeks of medical care. This is undoubtedly very good news, not just for the red kite herself, but also for her species and us raptor lovers. Hooray! Raptors 1, persecutors 0.
However, this good news has been immediately followed by some rather ugly and disappointing news. For in Chopwell Wood, Northumberland, a red kite has been found dead. Shot. Shot with either an air rifle or a shotgun. The area of Gateshead where the bird was found, is one of the key breeding and reintroduction areas for the red kite in England. The project, which took place between 2004 and 2009 has been highly successful, however, this news has come as a huge blow. In fact, it comes just a year after 3 red kites were poisoned in 2015. So far, no culprit has been identified.
It now seems as if such news just joins the long reel of other raptor persecution cases across the UK. They all have the same theme, with birds being shot, poisoned or trapped and the culprits either never being found, or getting away with very small punishments. For a moment, I found myself thinking, why bother writing about this incident? It’s just another case of illegal persecution, which we are so used to reading about. But that was a moment of weak mindedness and I tell you now that it won’t happen again. To take that approach, to almost accept this trend in society and this black mark on the work of conservationists, would be the same as holding up our hands and admitting defeat. Standing on the rooftops and shouting ‘I give up! You win!’ After all, this is an illegal activity and should therefore attract as much attention as is possible. To raise awareness of these crimes and to put the public on high alert for the execution of these crimes is vital when it comes to protecting our raptors.
‘Operation Raptor’, which I have previously written about, is an initiative that has been successfully put in place in Northern Ireland. Aimed at targeting those who persecute birds of prey, the project involves identifying raptor persecution hotspots and distributing anti-persecution posters. These posters hope to encourage the public to report and to be aware of bird of prey persecution and to remind culprits that if they are found, they will be punished. Due to the recent killings of birds of prey, there are talks of brining ‘Operation Raptor’ to the North East to protect our raptor species.
Stand up against raptor persecution!
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