Thank you for contacting me about raptor persecution and the death of two white-tailed eagles in the south of England. I understand these birds are undergoing post-mortem examinations to discover the cause of their deaths.

The persecution of birds of prey is still a huge issue, and more action must be taken to prevent the illegal killing of protected wildlife, including birds of prey.

I will always support motions to improve animal welfare. As a vegetarian of over 20 years and a long-standing campaigner on animal rights, these issues are really personal to me.

I am concerned that illegal killings are linked to areas where there are grouse moors. I therefore support the introduction of a licensing system for grouse shoots in England to ensure these habitats are managed responsibly.

I am aware of a report from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) published last year which found the highest recorded number of incidents of persecution of birds of prey in 30 years. I am concerned that funding cuts have left these birds vulnerable to poaching, with fewer police preventing it and fewer officers available to catch those responsible, and with Natural England, the conservation watchdog, having faced budget difficulties. In my view, we need a new approach to protecting and restoring the numbers of these iconic raptor species.

As you may know, all wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which provides a framework for the conservation of wild birds, their eggs, nests and habitats. The Government says it is committed to ensuring the protection afforded to birds of prey under this legislation is effectively enforced. It noted that white-tailed eagles are one of several raptor species of particular concern.

The Government has also said it would carefully consider the UN’s recommendations for tackling raptor persecution in its Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit Report, published by the UN in August 2021.

Protecting biodiversity, halting the decline of nature and restoring habitats and wildlife need to be a priority. This includes in discussions at the next UN Biodiversity Conference COP15, as the issue is also an international one.

I can assure you I will continue to call for action to ensure that those who illegally kill protected species and other birds of prey and predators are brought to justice.


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