Raptor Persecution: Correspondence between one of our followers & Defra

We are all concerned about the on-going persecution of protected birds of prey throughout our landscape. Recent events culminating in the disappearance of two Montague’s and two Hen Harriers which appear to have vanished in the Sandringham area and on moorland the Forest of Bowland shortly after these birds fledged from their nests highlights how existing legislation, designed to protect these wonderful raptors, is not fit for purpose. Raptors when passing over shooting estates are running an ever greater risk of being shot, with impunity is does appear.

Gamekeeper-nine-buzzards

10 Poisoned Buzzards & 1 sparrow-hawk this week, the tip of a huge expanding ice-berg which England’s Wildlife Legislation is unable to prevent. 

This week Raptor Politics have been asked to publish correspondence between one of our followers and Defra, showing deep frustration, anger and concern at the lack of action by Defra to protect birds of prey in England. You can draw your own conclusions about the way Defra have phrased their reply, but in our view the words used do not instil any confidence that the situation will improve any time soon.

Dear Raptor Politics,

I have just read with much interest your ‘Raptor Persecution in England, Concerns raised with Defra – the lack of a Credible Deterrent and Inadequate Enforcement’ containing Dr Webster’s letters and replies from Kevin Woodhouse-Customer Contact Unit.

I too wrote to DEFRA recently on this very subject and was brushed off with a similar worthless reply from DEFRA’s office admin person, Kevin Woodhouse – Customer Contact Unit. I have copied below my letters to
DEFRA and my replies from Kevin Woodhouse for you to see. Words cannot convey my frustration and disgust at DEFRA’s obtuse attitude regarding this most grave situation and the realistic option of a solution for raptor persecution in Vicarious Liability. My correspondence with DEFRA:

Ms Kim Crudgington
BA Law (Hons)

Criminal Raptor Persecution in England
Kim Green Crudgington 25/08/2014
To: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Dear DEFRA,

I feel so strongly about this matter that I must write to you.

Gamekeeper beats buzzards to death in a cage as posted on Youtube. He is being dealt with by police but his employer, who pays him to criminally kill these birds within his employment, is untouchable. There is nothing in wildlife protection law to stop this; it continues happening again and again and again. Hen Harriers are on the brink of extinction in England; raptors are not being protected. Vicarious Liability will bridge the gap in the law.

To do nothing is to condone and the law protecting wildlife is not fit for purpose. The inclusion of vicarious liability into this area of law needs to be done now; not next year, not after lengthy discussion or subject to lengthy procedures. It needs to be done as an emergency measure. Now. It is intolerable that we lose any more of our ‘protected’ raptors to cruel, abhorrent CRIMINAL persecution leaving more species to stand where the Hen Harrier is now, on the brink of extinction in England.

The government must stop turning a blind eye. We are past the point of thinking about it. What will you do to expediently include vicarious liability in Wildlife law so it does protect birds of prey as is its purpose?

Yours Sincerely,
Kim Crudgington (MS)

Defra’s first reply

To: Kim Crudgington
ccu.correspondence@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Ms Crudgington

Thank you for your email of 25 August in which you call for the introduction of vicarious liability in England. I can assure you that we are committed to ensuring the strict protection afforded to wild birds of prey under our wildlife legislation is effectively enforced. There is a robust legal framework for protecting such birds with strong penalties for offenders, which can include imprisonment. It is encouraging that in recent years the populations of many species, such as the peregrine falcon, red kite
and buzzard, have increased.

The introduction of new regulation requires evidence that it will be effective and we are not yet aware of any prosecutions or any compelling evidence that the introduction of vicarious liability in Scotland has had a significant deterrent effect on those who persecute birds of prey. There are, therefore, currently no plans to introduce vicarious liability in England but we will continue to monitor the situation in Scotland and to consider whether this or a similar offence is necessary and proportionate to assist in tackling wildlife
crime in England.

You make specific reference to hen harriers. The Hen Harrier Sub-Group, which was tasked with finding a sustainable solution to improve hen harrier population growth together with the needs of grouse moor managers, has now developed a draft Joint Action Plan. The Plan contains a complementary suite of actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier population in England and Defra officials are currently working with Sub-Group members to finalise it.

You may be interested to learn that there are four hen harrier nests this year with good numbers of chicks, and some are now fledging.

Thank you for making us aware of your views on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Woodhouse
Defra – Customer Contact Unit

Kim Crudgington’s second reply to Defra 

Kim Green Crudgington 09/09/2014
To: ccu.correspondence@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Mr Woodhouse,

Thank you for your reply to my email of 25 August 2014, received today.

Your sentence referring to the 4 hen harrier nests with fledging chicks says it all. The reality of the situation is that there are only 4 nests in ALL of England and each is under 24 hour guard (and not by DEFRA). The odds are that these fledgling chicks will not survive due to persecution once they leave the nest site. And while DEFRA keeps its head firmly stuck in the sand doing nothing under the guise of ‘monitoring’ and ‘considering’ Hen Harriers and other birds of prey continue to be illegally persecuted; suffering appalling
cruelty as they are removed from our landscape.

Surely, gamekeepers criminally persecuting birds within the scope of their employment are acting as their employer’s agent. How nonsensical that the employer is not responsible for the criminal actions of their employees committed within the employment. Where criminal acts are being committed within employment it is not a ‘deterrent’ that is immediately needed but full enforcement of the law on all participants of the crime. A strong law with punishment proportionate to the crime will naturally act as its own deterrent. Vicarious liability is a vital cog missing in wildlife protection legislation.

It is blindingly obvious that Wildlife protection law is not protecting these birds and neither is DEFRA.

Yours Sincerely,
Kim Crudgington

Kim Crudgington’s Final Reply From Kevin Woodhouse at Defra:

Dear Ms Crudgington

Thank you for your further email of 9 September about vicarious liability.

There is nothing I can usefully add to my previous reply, but we appreciate your comments, which have been noted.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Woodhouse
Defra – Customer Contact Unit

Raptor Politics, if there is anything you can suggest I can do to help raptors and to get vicarious liability into wildlife protection law, please let me know.

Yours Faithfully,
Ms Kim Crudgington
BA Law (Hons)

5 comments to Raptor Persecution: Correspondence between one of our followers & Defra

  • kevin moore

    So Mr Woodhouse from defra seems to think that everything is ok because there where 4 hen harrier nests with chicks this year, does he not realise that 4 nests is equal to less than 2 per cent of the amount of nests there should be on the uplands of England.
    The dismissive attitude he showed in his final reply to Ms Crudgington is nothing short of rude and shows that Defra has no interest in the Hen Harrier.
    .

  • Kris Moore

    Well done Kim, in exposing the mandarins that live in the bubbles – but who apparently runs the country? That probably went down as a good days work in the office there! ARGHH Kris

  • Over the years I have dealt with Defra or Animal Health as it is now known I have been very lucky to have had three case officers who were knowledgeable, very helpful and caring, sadly that is no longer the situation.
    When you call now you speak to whoever answers the phone, there are no more case officers, so if it an ongoing issue you might speak to a different person every time and have to explain things over and over again usually getting nowhere in the process.
    I find the manner and the way people are spoken to by some of the employees disgraceful especially when we are trying to help birds out of our own pockets and feel that their attitude does nothing to indicate that they care about anything other than money, much like all government departments these days.
    Without the backing of these people how can we possibly protect our wonderful raptors? You tell me as I am at a loss to even understand their way of thinking, it is very obvious that we do not have enough laws in this country to protect our raptors and that those we do have are impossible to enforce so where do we go from here and how do we move on?

  • I apologise for my absence from here over the last months but I am fighting a battle here that is unbearable, my husband is terminally ill and things are not easy for me but I have not and will not give up my fight to protect our raptors you can rely on that.
    I have also taken in nearly eighty injured and sick owls and birds of prey this year my busiest year ever and will continue to do all I can.
    I fully support Raptor Politics and have become very concerned at the escalation of raptor persecution, this web site must continue to make the public aware of this dreadful situation and the total lack of interest by the present government.

  • paul williams

    Defra have no interest in Peregrines either if the poorly co-ordinated ringing of chicks is anything to go by.