On Friday 17 April 2020 the satellite tagged Red Kite named ‘KK’ joined the long list of raptors that have ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North of England. The Police were informed and the location of the last known fix was thoroughly searched using sophisticated tracking equipment. Unfortunately, as we have seen so many times before when a tag stops with no traceable malfunction once again the body was not recovered.
On 1 May we asked – Is the Red Kite named ‘KK’ Covid – 19 collateral damage?
As soon as the lockdown was announced we were immediately concerned that there would be an upsurge in raptor persecution. This was not an unreasonable assumption, many of us had seen a similar pattern during the Foot and Mouth crisis during 2001.
Now that travel restrictions have been lifted and our members are back on the ground it is clear that persecution has been widespread. Breeding attempts that were recorded prior to the lockdown have failed. Breeding territories that have held birds for years are empty and there is a long list of proven persecution cases being dealt with by the Police.
In a recent press release issued by the RSPB, Mark Thomas Head of Investigations said,
“Since lockdown began, the RSPB has been overrun with reports of birds of prey being targeted. It is clear that criminals on some sporting estates both in the uplands and lowlands, have used the wider closure of the countryside as an opportunity to ramp up their efforts to kill birds of prey.”
The full press release, including a comment by Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, can be seen here.
It is abundantly clear that whilst the general population was complying with the Government’s advice to ‘stay home and stay safe’ the wildlife criminals carried on killing. Just another day in the countryside; business as usual and there will undoubtedly be many more cases of Covid – 19 collateral damage to our bird of prey populations in the coming weeks.
If you have any information about raptor persecution, or any other Wildlife crime please contact the Police on 101, or,
Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Alternatively, you can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.
16 May 2020