The British Government: Give custodial sentences to people who kill birds of prey

Many followers of this blog will recall the e-petition created by Chrissie Harper two year ago asking the current Tory government to introduce the law of Vicarious Liability ensuring that shooting estate owners then became legally responsible for the illegal actions of their gamekeeper employees. Scotland already has this law.The petition received over 10,000 signatures, sadly not enough to take the request forward in the House of Commons.


Golden Eagle, one of many found poisoned in just the last decade

This time Chrissie has launched a second but just as important petition, calling upon the same Tory government to introduce custodial sentences for those individuals prosecuted for killing Britain’s raptors. There is now little doubt that throughout the United Kingdom, so called protected birds of prey, are having a very difficult time. The hen harrier has been so badly persecuted on moorland where red grouse are shot that hen harriers no longer breed in England. Just as worrying the peregrine is now going the same way with less that 15 breeding pairs remaining on moorland in northern England where red grouse shooting takes place, a direct consequence of illegal persecution.


Red Grouse shooting is being maintained by extensive illegal activity by the sports supporters.

Recently on this blog we highlighted the plight of the peregrine in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland where, in just the last 4 years, breeding pairs of peregrines have been reduced by persecution from eighteen to just a single successful pair. Think about this statement for a second to appreciate just how serious the situation has been allowed to deteriorate by this ‘caring’ Tory government. Also bear in mind, many Tory supporters together with their MP’s are themselves members of estate shoots where protected raptors like the peregrine and hen harrier are shot. This situation is a blot on the green credentials of our great nation and does nothing to enhance to Tory image, well yes what image. By signing this petition instigated by one of England most prominent raptor supporters you may be able to make a difference- please everyone who reads this message take a minute to sign. By doing nothing the situation can only get worst.


A dead Marsh Harrier, a rare breeder in Britain, but still being shot and poisoned

Why this is important
The persecution of our birds of prey is a disgrace to our country, landowners, gamekeepers and pigeon fanciers think that they have the right to break the law and shoot, poison, trap and beat birds of prey to death in the traps they set; the punishment the persecutors receive in Britain’s courts are a disgraceful and brings shame to our country.
This gamekeeper was seen holding a loaded shot-gun by two witnesses below a peregrine falcon eyrie in the Forrest of Bowland. Reported to the police, the RSPB and landowner, no action taken.
Our birds of prey, including owls, hawks, falcons, harriers, buzzards and eagles are protected by law and until harsher sentences are imposed on the people who break this law raptors will continue to die horrible deaths by people who have no respect for the birds or the law. Please support Chrissie Harper and yourself to make the important difference before all our raptors are consigned to history.



A Tory Christmas Card sent to all their supporters, did you receive one?
Poisoned Peregrine Falcon

23 comments to The British Government: Give custodial sentences to people who kill birds of prey

  • skydancer

    Let’s see if the caring rspb back this this one, what are they now claiming on their new £2 million TV advert? Pity their actions tell a completely different story.

  • I am at a loss to understand why NERF have been so quiet. with regard to the disastrous year in the forest of Bowland, surely they have an opinion or even some suggestions as to why no Peregrines, Hen Harriers, Goshawks or the wonderful Eagle Owls have not bred successfully there, in fact the Eagle Owls were disturbed on a regular basis and no comments were forthcoming.
    I would have thought that this would have been somewhat of a priority , especially as the NWRPG have been refused licenses yet again to the disgust of many, we all know that the RSPB have lost control in Bowland, the lack of raptor success plainly indicates as much and this should be of concern to NERF as it is to a good many of us.
    In a previous comment with regard to the plight of our wonderful Barn Owl it was suggested that people don’t know and don’t care, well it is up to those that do care to educate those that don’t, mainly because they are not aware of the situation.
    It seems to me that the raptors on Bowland have been forsaken WHY ?
    If raptor groups are not voicing their opinions and doing something to rectify this dreadful situation then where does that leave the future of any raptor?

    • bubo bubo

      What has been allowed to occur in the Forest of Bowland just shows how cowardly all the organisations involved in protecting birds of prey in Bowland have become, i.e., the RSPB,NERF and NE. The loss of the majority of breeding raptors throughout Bowland since licenses issued to the NWRPG were with held has resulted in a catastrophe, but not a word of condemnation from any one of these organisations. In particular I single out NERF for not speaking out about this tragedy, but I am am informed they cannot do so without first checking with the RSPB who help fund this paper tiger. I also wonder what the Bowland RSPB wardens will be up to this year because if last year was anything to go by there will be few if any birds of prey to watch or protect? Or is there a hidden agenda in maintaining the RSPB in Bowland?

  • nirofo

    You can understand up to a point why NE did nothing to protect the Raptors, after all their strings are very tightly pulled by government ministers and DEFRA, (or is that one and the same thing?) and we all know where their priorities lie. NERF, well I’m not sure I ever knew what their particular role was in all this, they certainly didn’t have much effect whatever it was. As for the RSPB, they should hang their heads in shame for the way they are standing on the sidelines while the owners of the Red Grouse shooting estates are allowed to literally get away with the murder of our Raptors. For an organisation which supposedly stands for the protection of birds their track record on the Bowland estate in particular is abysmal, those responsible for that fiasco should be sacked immediately, (you know who they are). The only way for the RSPB to get themselves out of the mess there is to reinstate expert help, use the expertise and knowledge of ornithologists known for their years of good work on Bowland, beg NE to reinstate licences to them. Don’t let the inflated ego’s of the present RSPB prima donna’s influence your judgement, they’re just a detriment to the welfare of the birds, do the right thing, don’t be cowards, use the full power of your large membership and influence to protect the Raptors against the Red Grouse shooting estate owners then the serious ornithologists might start to believe in the RSPB again.

  • kevin moore

    It’s no real surprise that none of the professional organisations involved in supposedly protecting our birds of prey in Bowland have made any statement condemning the disaster which has taken place. These organisations certainly will not condemn their landowner associates or the gamekeepers they work so closely with for what has been allowed to take place. i consider it truly amazing the RSPB are still prepared to work with groups responsible for the disappearance of almost all raptors in Bowland. We will probably at some time get the same old drivel about the weather or a lack of prey being the reason for the disappearances, don’t bother we have heard it all before.

  • Stephen wood

    So sad to see this still going on so prolifically, these birds need all the help they can get! Hopefully this petition gets some seriously needed momentum going!

  • Ryan Finn

    Absolute disgrace

  • dan seeds

    Utter disgrace.

  • Hilary Mallela

    Unbelievably short sighted. What a dirty word “Bowland” has become.

  • There are many major problems with this petition. The main one is that custodial sentences can already be given for killing protected birds of prey!! …
    The paragraph describing the petition is grammatically wrong and as such reads as gobbledygook. What should be the first two sentences are joined together as one…
    Also not ALL gamekeepers, landowners and pigeon fanciers think they have the right to break the law and kill birds of prey….
    Few people are going to sign for custodial sentences, but they may sign a petition asking for harsher sentences and more effort from the government to investigate more and try harder to bring raptor killers to justice….
    There is a petition running just now started by someone from my town which has gained 17,500 signings in the same length of time as your petition. Please take a look and sign and share.
    .. I believe that he last petition failed because of the wording “vicarious liability” which no normal human being would ever know the meaning of.
    … The raptor politics website doesn’t even have a link to the new petition or at least not an obvious one.
    The biggest problem with birds of prey is that they are being shot ,poisoned or whatever and most times nobody sees anything at all. \therefore there is no good evidence by which to prosecute any suspects.
    What I do not like about this website is the amount of anti RSPB feeling which almost amounts to hatred in some comments.
    Please google RSPB Legal Eagle and you will see what their investigations department actually does.They got some fantastic covert footage of the guy in Cumbria killing buzzards….
    I didn’t vote on the last petition and I won’t be voting on this one.
    In fact the whole of this website seems to revolve around prejudiced views.
    I did look at the site for a short period in the past and this is my first look for a year or two!

  • Jane Ann

    Absolutely disgusting that these monsters are allowed to get away with murdering these beautiful creatures.

  • Dave, it is so easy to critise someone like me, at least I am trying to do something whilst others are sitting on their backsides doing nothing but watch it happen. What gives you the right to critise me, what are you doing ?
    I am not stupid, I have campaigned for raptors for many years, I know the law so don’t preach to the converted, who has been given a prison sentence for killing raptors, please tell me, not many if any at all.
    This is about politics and the unethical way certain organisations say one thing and do another, please tell us all why no raptors are breeding on places like Bowland or other areas where game shooting occurs, I am not disputing that their are good gamekeepers and pigeon fanciers, in fact I know quite a few, they are horrified at the actions of the rogue element who tar them all with the same brush.
    We are asking for the correct punishment which up until now is not happening and is no deterrent to the people that do these deeds, we have to stand up and be counted.
    I and many like me don’t give a hoot, pardon the pun, whether you vote or not, armchair warriors like yourself have no interests to people who donate their lives to what they believe in, I will continue to campaign as will many others with or without people like you who seem to think you know better.

  • Dave Hickson

    Chrissie I believe it is admirable what you are trying to achieve, but what have you achieved?. You are now petitioning for something that already exists and are therefore wasting the opportunity of what these petitions can achieve and also wasting the time of the people filling out your petition.
    The 1981wildlife and countryside act states that Anyone found guilty of an offence against wildbirds is liable to a fine of upto £5000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6months or both. This is effectively what you are petitioning for .
    In the case of the Cumbrian gamekeeper who clubbed several buzzards to death, this is what the judge said ; He received a 70-day jail sentence, concurrent on each charge, suspended for 12 months. In sentencing, the Judge stated that had it not been for his ill health he would have considered jailing him.
    It is the judges who decide whether someone be jailed or not.

    Editor’s comment, Dave we think Chrissie was asking the courts to use the powers they already have by imposing custodial sentences, rather than handing down community service which as we all know is not a deterrent

  • kevin moore

    Keep fighting Chrissie. People that genuinely love birds of prey like you do are with you .

  • Falcoscot

    Custodial sentences was the turning point for falconry related thefts of raptors from the wild, there were two high profile cases in the 80s that completely changed the attitude of people who saw taking eggs or chicks as a bit naughty to something a lot more serious. This needs to happen to the game shooting industry to get the message across.

    editor’s comment. very good comment and to the point, all that is now needed is for the courts to use the powers they have been given

  • As I stated previously, I know the law, I have worked with raptors for over twenty years, the gamekeeper mentioned got a suspended sentence because of ” Ill Health “, he wasn’t too ill to bludgen the poor Buzzards to death, caught on film which made me feel sick. He committed an evil crime and got away with it, custodial sentences should mean what they say.
    I asked you to tell me Dave who had been given a prison sentence for killing birds of prey, you come back with this sorry tale of a gamekeeper who escaped prison, like many more before him, I rest my case
    What have I achieved? The satisfaction that I am not sitting on my backside letting it all happen without voicing my opinion and keeping it all in the public eye.
    The Editor clearly understands where I am coming from, until custodial sentences are given, which means that the culprit actually goes to prison, nothing will change, the words ” would have considered jailing” are not good enough.
    I don’t feel that I am wasting my time and the people who sign the petition obviously don’t feel it is a waste of time, I have nothing more to say on the matter.

  • Annelie Duffy Lindström

    I do not live in England, but we are all part of the world and to eradicate various species in different parts of the World, has consequences everywhere. We should be so enlightened now, so we know that everything we do affects the whole world.

  • Natowllover

    Please sign everyone name counts……….we must get this passed through Parliament thanks Chrissie

  • Terry Smith

    “ACTION IS NEEDED NOW” This is now becoming too ridiculous,custodial sentences mean just that,the law has to change their views on our beloved wildlife,if the law does not care,but we the millions do,so please take action now,you the government of the UK.!!!,

  • Tom Scullion

    Hard to prosecute but where the proof can be found the sentences should be severe.

    Editor’s Comment. There lies the difficulty, courts do not seem to be inclined to impose custodial sentances for convicted gamekeepers. On the other hand when it comes to egg collectors or falconers the same rules are not applied for some reason.

  • Nigel Everett

    Hi, where I fly my bird there used to be a pair of buzzards. Last year my bird and the buzzards became very familiar with each other. And in the snow we would leave them some rabbit. Unfortunately I found the male at the base of an oak tree without his talons, and lying along side lay a cartridge from a shot gun. The farmer has informed me of no knowledge of anyone shooting on his land. I do like gamekeepers.????????????

    Editor’s Comment.Hi Nigel do you mean the talons were cut off? Did you obtain any images of the dead Buzzard? Did you inform the police?

  • Steve Volpe

    Sparrow Hawks and Peregrines are the blight of the pigeon fancier, who in many areas of the British Isles can no longer let their birds out without being stressed over attacks by these raptors.

    If you would read a copy of a weekly publication called “The British Homing World” you will pick up on how raptors are devastating a sport/hobby that has been around for many years.

    The pigeon fanciers blame the raptors for the fact that we have hardly any small birds visiting our gardens. I know that compared to 30 years ago, it was then that I would see flocks of starlings around the north east of England as common place, as well as House sparrows and Thrushes etc. there is a worrying decline in the evidence of appearance in our gardens of these small birds.
    Or is it because of the culture of “low maintenance” gardens and such like that there are less birds, bees and butterflies. Surely it is not all down to the fact that most people have block paving or Tarmac instead of lawns and vegetable patches that is the reason for raptors attack racing pigeons.
    I used to keep racing pigeons in the 1970’s and I never read any reports in the BHW of raptor attacks on pigeons, like there are every week now in this journal.
    Surely you’s bird watchers must have some sympathy for the pigeon fancier?