Norfolk has highest rate of bird crime in the east

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Police and wildlife experts have seen a rise in the number of incidents reported against birds in Norfolk.

The county has the highest rate of incidents against birds in the eastern counties, with 28 reported during 2014, according to the Birdcrime report.

The county has seen a 55 per cent increase on the number of incidents. The 2013 total was 18.

A total of 19 of the incidents were reported against birds of prey, including the illegal poisoning of nine buzzards in north Norfolk.

The figures have been released days after a rare red-footed falcon was found shot in the Whittlesey area.

Dr James Robinson, Director of the RPSB in Eastern England, said: “Illegal persecution of wildlife has no place in any society and incidents like the shocking poisoning of nine buzzards here in Norfolk are abhorrent to anyone who loves wildlife.

“The Birdcrime 2014 report makes a clear case for closer cooperation between conservation charities, landowners, farmers, game keepers and police, as well as public users of the countryside, to ensure that the laws that protect wildlife are effectively enforced so we can end wildlife persecution here in the east.”

Birdcrime 2014 documents 179 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey, and 72 of illegal poisoning of birds and other animals, in the UK in 2014.

Neighbouring Lincolnshire recorded 10 incidents, with eight in Cambridgeshire, 13 in Suffolk but the lowest is five in Bedfordshire.

Police work closely with the RSPB but the figures in the report are believed to represent only a fraction of incidents in the UK as many are thought to be going undetected and unreported.

The RSPB is calling for better application of the laws that protect raptors throughout the UK. The recovery of stone-curlews in their home in the Brecks has been driven by their protection under the EU Nature Directives.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “To protect our magnificent birds of prey we must defend for the laws that protect them, including EU Nature Directives.

“When applied properly, these laws can help protect our most valuable wildlife and sites.

“All evidence points to the need for a consistent approach and effort across all four UK countries in protecting our most threatened birds of prey, such as the hen harrier and golden eagle, from illegal persecution.”