RARE birds of prey are being shot, trapped, poisoned and sold for profit in East Sussex.
That is the claim being made by conservation group the RSPB.
Now they are calling on animal lovers to play an active role in helping to protect birds of prey.
Birds of prey are protected by law, yet the latest figures published by the RSPB reveal yet another shameful year of poisoning, shooting and trapping for hen harriers, red kites, buzzards, peregrine falcons and other persecuted species.
In the South East, 40 incidents of wild bird crime were reported to the RSPB Investigations team last year, which accounted for just under 7% of the UK incidents reported in Birdcrime 2011.
These included 21 reported incidents of bird of prey persecution, 2 reports of egg collecting and 11 reports of the taking and sale of wild birds.
Samantha Stokes, speaking for the RSPB in the South East said: “We currently have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle these crimes in England and Wales.
“Too little has been done over the years to tackle these sickening attacks, but this could change with proposed reforms of wildlife law and policing.
“The RSPB believes a consultation of wildlife protection legislation being conducted by the Law Commission provides a golden opportunity to address the problem of illegal bird of prey killing in England and Wales; but we need people to add their names to our campaign, rejecting a future where lead shot and poison steals away our natural inheritance.
“The more people that write to the Law Commission, the greater our chance of securing a richer countryside for us and future generations to enjoy. We’ve more information online, but do mention in your letter that you want an end to the killing, increased fines or longer jail-terms and crucially the ability to prosecute those who instruct others to kill on their behalf.”
The report, Birdcrime 2011, provides a full account of the birds of prey and owls found dead as a result of persecution across the UK as well as details of wildlife crime prosecutions. The report reveals a total of 461 incidents were recorded last year.
Miss Stokes added: “How much longer will we be able to enjoy the sights of wintering hen harriers across the south east without the introduction of tougher laws and penalties.”