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85 birds of prey illegally killed in 2019, report reveals
"There could be more than 12 times as many hen harriers breeding in England if illegal killing stopped" - Mark Thomas, RSPB head of investigations.
RSPB calls for urgent action to ensure that grouse shooting operates legally and sustainably.

There were 85 confirmed cases of bird prey persecution in the UK in 2019, including shooting, trapping and poisoning, according to the latest RSPB Birdcrime report.

Figures show that between 2012 and 2019, half of confirmed bird crime incidents took place in protected landscapes. The RSPB is now calling for governments to take 'urgent action' to end the killing of raptors and to ensure that grouse shooting operates 'legally and sustainably'.

Mark Thomas, RSPB head of investigations UK, said: “At a time when the world – and the UK in particular – is seeing catastrophic declines in wildlife populations, the destruction of rare wildlife looks like the opposite of progress. Healthy bird of prey populations are key indicators of the health of our environment. Yet there could be more than 12 times as many hen harriers breeding in England if illegal killing stopped.”

He continued: “The shooting community has had decades to get its house in order, but it is abundantly clear that they cannot control the criminals within their ranks. Current legislation has failed to protect our birds of prey, and the time has come for urgent, meaningful change.”

Among the confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution include red kites, golden eagles, buzzard and hen harriers. The highest concentration of these crimes occurred in the upland areas of the North of England and Scotland, particularly where land is managed for driven grouse shooting.

Mr Thomas said: “The illegal killing of birds of prey is just one of the symptoms of a wholly unsustainable driven grouse shooting industry. The burning of internationally important peatlands is another hugely important issue.

“This destructive grouse moor management practice not only releases carbon into the atmosphere, it degrades the peat, impoverishes wildlife and increases the flow of water across the bog surface, in some cases causing devastating flooding in local communities downstream. In a climate and ecological emergency, this is simply not acceptable. Today, at the start of the annual burning season, the RSPB is renewing its call for moorland burning on peatland soils to be banned by Government.”

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to intentionally kill or injure a bird of prey. Doing so could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months imprisonment.

In the past decade, despite the combined efforts of authorities, conservationists and volunteers, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK.

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AWF Student Grant Scheme opens for applications

News Story 1
 The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) is inviting applications to its 2021 Student Grant Scheme for innovative projects designed to impact animal welfare. The scheme welcomes proposals from undergraduates studying veterinary and animal welfare degrees, but students from other disciplines are also welcome to apply.

Grants will fund projects on animal welfare topics that are relevant to the veterinary profession and help develop the student's skills as a researcher. This year, the AWF is also accepting projects which are carried out alongside EMS so long as they are supervised. For more information and to apply, visit 

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News Shorts
Bristol Vet School announces new PhD Studentship opportunities

Bristol Veterinary School has announced four new PhD Studentship opportunities with a focus on cattle welfare. The projects include:

Developing a novel approach to improve the welfare of dairy cows; The impact of early life programming on resistance to helminths in ruminant livestock; The impact of change and the ability to deal with it on an individual's affective state and welfare; Harnessing 3D cameras and deep learning for on-the-fly automated body condition and mobility analysis to improve cattle welfare.

For more details and how to apply, visit the University of Bristol's website.