Satellite tracking devices are to be fitted onto birds of prey and nesting site surveillance installed in the latest fight against wildlife crime.
‘Hawk-Eyes’, an advanced technology project, is being launched by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAW NI), alongside their ‘10 Years of Persecution’ Report.
The Report reveals that from 2009-18, there were a total of 72 incidents of confirmed raptor persecution in Northern Ireland, resulting in the death or injury of 66 birds of prey and the destruction of two nesting sites.
DAERA Wildlife Officer Dr Jon Lees said buzzards and red kites are amongst the most common victims of persecution: “Sadly, a small proportion of our population still seem to think it’s ok to destroy these magnificent birds at the expense of the environment and the rest of the community.
“Raptors such as buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons and Sparrowhawks, have been illegally targeted right across Northern Ireland to such an extent some areas are at risk of losing their natural top predators,” explained Dr Lees.
“The methods these criminals use, such as poisoned bait, are often highly dangerous, putting livestock, pets and people at risk. These offenders care little for people’s safety. We rely heavily on the vigilance of the public to report these crimes and any evidence to the police or Crimestoppers,” Dr Lees added.
The “Hawk-Eyes” project received funding of £8,262 from the Department of Justice Assets Recovery Community Scheme (ARCS). The Project is managed through PAW NI, which brings together government Departments, PSNI and other enforcement agencies, environmental organisations, animal welfare groups and country sports associations with the common goal of combating wildlife crime through publicity, education and campaigning.
PAWNI Partner Dr Eimear Rooney from Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group said: “We are confident the satellite tracking devices, which will provide near real-time remote tracking of the birds to monitor their movements and survival, will effectively give us ‘eyes in the skies’, helping raise awareness of the vulnerability of these birds to crimes.
“Often crimes go undetected because they happen in remote areas, with these devices we can act quickly if the birds stop moving. We are also installing wildlife surveillance cameras near to nesting sites to remotely monitor bird behaviour and movements when adults and chicks are at their most vulnerable.”
Some of the birds’ tracking information will be publicly available on the project website at http://wildlifecrimeni-hawkeyes.com, which will allow people to help protect these special birds by reporting such crimes.
PAW NI encourages people across Northern Ireland to be vigilant. If anyone sees or knows of any wildlife crime, report it to the PSNI by calling 101 or, in an emergency, 999. Crime can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Notes to editors:
The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Northern Ireland) Act 2011, protects listed wildlife from disturbance, injury and death. It can be an offence to either recklessly or intentionally cause disturbance or kill or take certain species.
While all nesting birds are protected from disturbance, injury and death, raptors, as well as many other species, are protected under Schedule 1 of the legislation which carries extra penalties which can include a custodial sentence and/or up to a £5,000 fine per offence. Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus and Red kite Milvus milvus are additionally protected under Schedule 1A of the Order which further protects them and their nests from disturbance at all times of the year.
More information on the Hawk-Eyes project can be found at www.wildlifecrimeni-hawkeyes.org
Summary of the “10 Years of Persecution” report:
- Bird of prey (‘raptor) persecution remains one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities.
- A total of 72 confirmed bird of prey persecution incidents were recorded in Northern Ireland over the 10 year period 2009-2018, in 46 separate 10km squares which amounts to a quarter of the squares in Northern Ireland.
- The total number of confirmed killed or injured birds over the 10 year period is 66, with a further 2 incidents of nest destruction, across a total of 58 incidents.
- The remaining 14 confirmed incidents involved poisoned baits and/or other poisoned wildlife in circumstances where it is believed birds of prey could have been killed.
- Eight different raptor species were victims of persecution over the 10 years of reporting with buzzard being the most common victim (49%), followed by red kite (21%) and peregrine (19%).
Further information on the work of the PAW NI group, and on Wildlife Crime, and the PAW NI published crime reports can be found at: www.wildlifecrimeni.org
PAW NI gratefully received £8,262 from the Department of Justice (DoJ) - Assets Recovery Community Scheme (ARCS) in 2017/18. The ARCS scheme is administrated by DoJ and funded from money that is received by the Courts through Confiscation Orders made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. As such the scheme allows the proceeds of crime, that have been confiscated from criminals, to be reinvested into projects that prevent crime or reduce the fear of crime and that therefore benefit communities, victims and the environment.
All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
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