Bill Oddie: We must ‘name and shame’ landowners who poison birds of prey

Landowners who allow their gamekeepers to poison rare birds of prey should be “named and shamed”,  claims the well-known birdwatcher and TV presenter Bill Oddie.

[singlepic id=430 w=460 h=225 float= centre]

One of 3 Golden Eagles all found poisoned on the Skibo Estate in Scotland.

According to the RSPB annual bird crime report released last Thursday, 20 red kites, 30 buzzards, five golden eagles and eight peregrine falcons were among the 128 birds found poisoned in 2010. Though the rates were lower than the five-year average of 150 incidents, the RSPB pointed out that there were “very serious” incidents including the first poisoning of a golden eagle in Northern Ireland.

Oddie backed the RSPB’s call to make ownership of deadly poisions an offence, and said those who poision such birds should be publicly named, “even if the status of the names may cause embarrassment”.

“The intention to criminalise possession of various poisons was announced five years ago, but as yet the names [of the poisons] have not been specified. Why not? Everyone involved knows what they are. The police, and the NGOs are doing a terrific – and often dangerous – job. There is widespread public approbation and co-operation. Offenders are being caught and punished. And yet the cruelty continues, as people with money are offering money and making money. Gamekeepers know they are not above the law, but there are landowners who may think they are. They must be named and shamed.”

[singlepic id=417 w=540 h=405 float= centre]

Poisoned Buzzard.

Oddie also said: “In the majority of cases the crime is committed by a gamekeeper. His job is to protect the ‘game’ birds, that are also of course destined to die, ‘bagged’ by ‘sportsmen” who will pay handsomely for the privilege. Not even the most myopically sentimental nature lover could deny that the diet of some birds of prey does include game birds, and their chicks and even eggs. Predators are of course part of the ‘natural balance’ of things, but on a shooting estate the aim is to maintain an unnaturally large population of – literally – ‘target’ species.”

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, which represents the gamekeeping profession in England and Wales, said: “Naming and shaming would legally only be possible where individuals had been found guilty in a court of law but in those circumstances we would have no objection to it. It is, after all, what happens in court reporting already.”

[singlepic id=80 w=560 h=280 float= centre]

This two year old bird was found on the slopes of Beinn Udlaidh in Glen Orchy on the Auch estate Nr. Glen Coe on 7 June 2009 Golden Eagle.

He said that the RSPB’s annual reported demonstrated gamekeepers were showing tolerance to birds of prey, despite the “problems” they cause: “As for raptor persecution generally, we note that the RSPB’s own latest figures show an 18% decrease in reported incidents involving birds of prey since the previous year. This welcome fall comes despite the fact that the surge in bird of prey numbers generally over recent decades means that the problems they can cause have never been more apparent. The tolerance shown by the vast majority of gamekeepers is commendable.”

[singlepic id=425 w=540 h=405 float= centre]

Poisoned  Peregrine.

 A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said: “We are carefully considering the laws surrounding possession of pesticides that are harmful to wildlife. Many of the substances listed in the [RSPB] report do not have UK approval or have had it revoked, so to own them is actually illegal. There are already strict laws in place to stop the persecution of birds of prey and protect them. We will continue to work with the police and conservation bodies to do all we can to crack down on anyone breaking these laws.”


14 comments to Bill Oddie: We must ‘name and shame’ landowners who poison birds of prey

  • I totally agree with naming and shaming, have done it myself in the past and it really works, I have said time and time again that I will have no problem with reporting anyone who harms not only raptors but any animal.

    Since becoming a partner in PAW I have become even more determined to do my bit, the things people do to our wildlife for monetary gain never ceases to sicken and sadden me. We name murderers and other criminals The same should apply to the individuals and their employers, perhaps they might think twice if they knew that their names would be posted for all to see, but as we all know they are devious people and it is hard to catch many of them but they should ALL BE AWARE that we are many and we are watching and waiting.

  • In America, if you have money and are busted for poisoning raptors, all you get is a slap on the wrist and a hefty fine. It’s all about MONEY here.

    Although there are Federal laws prohibiting the harm/harrassment/killing of raptors, the Georgia state law says it’s OK to put out steel traps for raptors up to 200 yards from chickens. Talk about a crazy dichotomy…

  • Coop

    The “forked tongue” of the NGO is glaringly apparent when their spokesman refers to a “welcome fall” in reported persecution incidents, but then goes on to incite the pig-ignorant with statements about “apparent” problems caused by raptors. Furthermore, he uses the deliberately misleading term “surge in bird of prey numbers” instead of the more accurate “recovery”. I suggest that it’s obvious to anyone with an ounce of intelligence that individuals like him are the “problem”, not raptors.

  • paul williams

    A surge in bird of prey numbers!!! Where? Certainly not in Lancashire, Yorkshire or Cumbria. And most certainly not in the Forest of Bowland.

  • che

    A surge of Bird of Prey numbers found poisoned would have been a more truthful and accurate statement.

  • John Miles

    These people don’t shame easily. Again when you have so much money given to them by the public via stewardship and wind farms they can laugh in your face all the way to the bank.

  • So there it is, we should all now be grateful for the commendable tolerance that gamekeepers are apparently showing towards our birds of prey, so says a spokesman for the National Gamekeepers Organisation.
    I think that keepers should realise that unless they start living within the laws of the land, then the British public will decide we will no longer tolerate keepering.

  • I would be very happy to set up a Facebook Page to publicise and name and shame landowners, gamekeepers, shooters or any individuals who persecute birds of prey, just post the facts on it.
    The facts and any pictures, plus names of people and the estates etc that they own or work on as well.
    The information posted must be true and proven, I know a few people who have evidence and pictures of Peregrine persecution but won’t come forward because they have been warned off by, would you believe, police officers.
    Let me know your thoughts, it won’t take long to set up.

  • Doug, if I can get the support, as I did with the Eagle Owl Facebook Pages, well over 4,000 people from here and abroad then I will certainly go ahead with it. If everyone is willing to give their support I can get it up and running very quickly.
    Has anyone any suggestions , sensible ones please, on what name we should give the group.
    This is a serious business and the persecution of our raptors is spiraling out of control, it is clear to us all that what Richard Benyon says are adequate laws to protect them can not be policed or enforced so it is left to us to move things forward and do what we can.

  • paul williams

    Two years ago it was reported to United Utilities that a Private Estates gamekeeper was observed underneath a historic Peregrine Falcon site with a loaded shotgun. This incident was witnessed by 2 North West Raptor Protection Group Members. Armed trespass is a very serious offence, and yet the Manager of the Bowland estate Ian Grindy who was unaware of the incident at first, later provided retrospective permission to the keeper to enter the estate disregarding the seriousness of what had been witnessed.

    This is proof of intent to persecute Birds of Prey otherwise why have a loaded gun at the ready? Why after being seen then hide in a rocky outcrop next to a stone wall then jump over the same wall onto Private Estate moorland and hide in a grouse shooting butt to avoid capture? WITNESSED then swept under the carpet to avoid embarrassment of both parties. This gamekeeper did NOT have permission to be on United Utilities land….he admitted it when questioned at the scene in front of both witnesses!!!

    Mr Grindy should answer for covering up this serious matter. Had a bird watcher been caught below the nest site where a fresh nest scrape had already been located without a licence he would have been charged.

  • Fellwalker

    Re the above posting, may be pure coincidence but there was NO Peregrines at that site this year, nor were there any Peregrines at the other breeding sites in the area???

  • frank hopkin

    i am just a raptor lover!go ahead chrissie-best of luck

  • frank hopkin

    go ahead chrissie-best of luck