A Birdlife International report on the illegal killing of birds in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus shows the UK at the lowest end of the scale along with countries such as Luxemburg and Switzerland. BASC, which condemns all illegal killing, calls for greater efforts to be made to reduce the figure still further.

The report, the first of its kind, shows that the worst figures for illegal killing are found in countries including Italy and Egypt. Northern European countries in the top twenty for illegal killing include Germany, Belgium and Sweden.

In the UK, BASC is a member of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime and both the England & Wales and Scottish Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Groups. Any BASC member convicted of a wildlife crime faces expulsion.

The Birdlife report goes beyond the evidence by recommending further legislation on illegal killing in the UK, these include shoot licensing, statutory bag limits and reporting system. The UK’s largest shooting organisation insists there is no evidence that these measures would have any impact on illegal killing beyond increasing costs and bureaucracy for regulators.

Dr Conor O’Gorman, BASC’s policy development manager, said: “The UK section of the report is short on facts, estimating the number of birds illegally killed in the UK as anywhere from 300 to 14,500. This isn’t even based on confirmed cases but rather on what the authors say is “qualitative information” and opinion.

“It is, therefore, concerning that such a wide estimate is used to justify recommendations such as shoot licensing, which will not have any impact other than increasing costs and bureaucracy for regulators.

“While the illegal killing of wildlife can never be justified and we totally condemn anybody that persecutes wildlife, it is also disappointing that the report does not give credit for shooting’s massive and well-documented contribution to bird conservation.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “While Birdlife International and the RSPB highlight issues which need to be addressed around raptor persecution, there is a need for clearer thinking on the implications for legislation.

“The shooting community and the welfare lobby have shared interests in high standards and an end to wildlife crime and this needs to be based on the facts and a common commitment to the task.”

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