Campaigns update

Emily Williamson; one of the RSPB’s campaigning founders Photo: RSPB

The RSPB has been a campaigning group from the start when it was formed by Emily Williamson and her associates in 1891 to counter the trade in feathers and plumage. It continues to be so today.  After all, if we don’t stand up for birds and other wildlife then who else will?

In what will be an ongoing website feature, here’s news of some current wildlife related campaigns in which your involvement would be more than welcomed. Given the dynamic nature of campaigning, this will be a frequently changing page so come back regularly to keep up with what’s going on in our local area and further afield.

Save our seabirds! Back a ban on sandeel fishing

Puffin at Bempton Photo: Geraldine Bennet

Our threatened seabirds need your help. The UK Government could make the game-changing decision to ban industrial sandeel fishing in English waters.  

Sandeels are massively important for UK sea life. They’re a vital source of food for many seabirds including puffins and kittiwakes which are globally threatened with extinction. Every summer, hundreds of thousands of UK birds rely on them to feed their young. But right now, sandeels are under immense pressure.

With sandeels in short supply, seabirds are struggling to find enough food to feed their chicks and populations are suffering. We need to protect sandeels to help build resilience in our seabirds and other marine wildlife who are facing a mounting number of threats across our increasingly busy seas.

None of the UK Governments support sandeel fishing in our waters but they all need to ban it, to actually stop it! Right now, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are holding a crucial consultation which offers the opportunity to end the industrial sandeel fishery in English waters. If agreed, this will be a much-needed step towards a UK-wide ban – the single greatest thing we can do right now to help our most threatened seabirds.

Please take action today to help make it happen. Visit the RSPB website to find a quick and easy form to complete which will then automatically write and send an email to DEFRA in support of a ban.

Birdcrime

Despite strenuous and ongoing efforts, illegal killing of protected birds of prey continues – with the Birdcrime 2021 report revealing 108 confirmed UK incidents of persecution. This total includes 50 Buzzards, 16 Red Kites, seven Peregrines and three Goshawks. Rare Hen Harriers and White-tailed Eagles also continue to be affected. But scientific studies, intelligence and satellite tagging of key species suggest the annual Birdcrime totals are only the tip of a far larger iceberg, and that many killings go undetected and unreported.

Buzzard Photo: Edwyn Anderton
Buzzard Photo: Edwyn Anderton

In 2021, more than two thirds (71%) of all confirmed incidents were associated with land managed for gamebird shooting. The majority of these birds had been either shot, trapped or poisoned. Although illegal persecution of birds of prey is often associated with upland grouse shooting areas, two of the worst counties in 2021 were Norfolk and Dorset, both lowland areas dominated by Pheasant and Partridge shooting. But, taking data over the past ten years into account, our neighbouring county of Derbyshire is still also on the list of raptor crime ‘hotspots’.

Mark Thomas, RSPB head of investigations said, “The data in this report clearly shows that raptor persecution remains at a sustained high level. Illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey has no place in modern society. In a nature and climate emergency, the deliberate destruction of protected species for financial gain is completely devastating and unacceptable. The time for reform is now long overdue.”

Red Kite Photo: Edwyn Anderton
Red Kite Photo: Edwyn Anderton

Strong enforcement partnerships, a robust RSPB Investigations team and a passionate body of supporters are creating a force to be reckoned with against raptor persecution. But only Government action will ensure birds of prey are kept safe from illegal persecution for good.

This is where you come in! Public pressure on governments is crucial in turning the tide on raptor persecution. A growing body of people are speaking out against this injustice. The louder and stronger those voices are, the closer we come to securing a brighter future for birds of prey and their habitats. Although the RSPB employs a dedicated Investigations Team, focused on detecting and preventing raptor persecution, gathering intelligence and evidence, and assisting the police, reports and intelligence from members of the public are crucial in helping set those investigations in motion.

If you see suspicious activity, find evidence of illegal traps or find a dead or injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, please:

  • Call the police on 101 – or 999 if a crime is in progress
  • Email the RSPB Investigations Team at: crime@rspb.org.uk
  • Call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101

You can also help the RSPB’s Investigations Team fight for the future of birds like Hen Harriers by becoming a Bird of Prey Defender‘ for just £3 a month, or through a one-off donation. This will help continue the vital work of monitoring problem areas, installing covert cameras and gathering evidence of crimes. Find out more at www.rspb.org.uk/join-and-donate/donate/appeals/birds-of-prey-defenders

Attack on Nature update

Houses of Parliament Photo: Julian Osley
Westminster: Houses of Parliament Photo: Julian Osley Image taken from the Geograph project collection. The copyright on this image is owned by Julian Osley and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

The outpouring of support for nature in the second half of 2022 was crucial and powerful in showing that nature matters. Well over 100,000 people wrote to their MPs asking them to stop the attack on nature.

Following the progress made in the Autumn, the ‘Retained EU Law Bill’ which would have automatically removed many EU-derived laws that protect nature and the environment is now not going to proceed further.

But there’s still tons to do. In particular, we need to see farmers properly supported for restoring nature and we need to know much more about how the UK Government is actually going to deliver on its Environment Act, including in order to restore 30% of land for nature by 2030. It’s great to have targets but, if inadequate action is taken to achieve them, then they will not be worth the paper they are written on.