Blog readers help to protect Birds of Prey!

Image by Dm Gultekin

As you may remember in October 2009 we spoke to the RSPB’s Northwest Campaign Talks Officer John Loder, about the society’s Birds Of Prey Campaign. Six months on we can report that the campaign has been an overwhelming success.

John has asked me to pass on his thanks to the readers, for your interest in the campaign and support he and the society have received in trying to stop illegal killing of birds of prey.

John used the support he has received from the public to get political support from the Barbara Keeley MP (Deputy Leader of the House of Commons) who has backed the campaign.

The Story So Far

One of the aims of the campaign was to receive 200,000 signatures within three years nationwide and thereby increase awareness of the illegal killing of birds of prey. John reports that this target has been smashed and the 200,000 figure was achieved in just two years. As a result, in February the RSPB were able to hand these signatures to the Wildlife Minister the Huw Irranca Davies MP.

I’m delighted to support this RSPB campaign and it’s great to see that hundreds of thousands of people want to see these marvellous birds protected and have signed this petition.
Huw Irranca-Davies MP Wildlife Minister

The other aims of the campaign such as the continued protection and enforcement of the law can only be assessed at a later date, but so far things seem to be on a positive path.

There Is Still Work To Be Done

In our original interview, John showed us examples of how local economies benefit from birdwatching tourism. The Forestry Commission in January released the figures for 2009 showing that the 10 pairs of white tailed sea eagles brought in 6000 tourist and £2 million to Mull’s economy.

White Tailed Eagles, Soon to be introduce to Suffolk? Image by Surub

Financial figures such as these and the success of reintroduction has lead to the idea of white tailed eagles being released in Suffolk. This has however proved controversial due to the agricultural nature of the county, fears over destruction to livestock and potential habitat/human conflicts. With August 2011 being targeted for the first release it seems there will be further twists as possible impacts have to be studied and fears of the farming community and other locals eased.

It is therefore important to remember that not everyone supports the RSPB’s campaign, comments received on the original post show that the Pigeon Racing Community have major concerns over Birds of Prey. This has been raised in Parliament by Hazel Blears MP. The concern that more and more racing pigeons will be lost as raptor figures rise is quite understandable.

However birds of prey being top of the food chain, will never be vast in numbers and independent studies found only 14% of racing pigeon deaths can be attributed to raptors with the percentages for the rest of the deaths are as follows;

  • 36% straying and exhaustion
  • 19% collisions with solid objects like buildings and windows
  • 15% collisions with overhead wires
  • 14% predation by birds of prey
  • 8% shooting, entanglement in netting, poisoning and oiling
  • 8% predation by mammals, including domestic cats

Final Thoughts

The campaign to date has been successful due to a lot of hard work, but this is only the tip of the iceberg as reintroduced species must in time, become totally independent for reintroduction to be a success. This can only be done by the small steps taken to date and the RSPBs continuing to work with communities such as racing pigeon owners and farmers to alleviate their fears, and to continue to prosecute those who break the law.

Surely their is enough sky for everyone?


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