The headline says it all: ‘Reward offered as more birds of prey are illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’. Amongst many press releases issued yesterday by Derbyshire Police, between a couple dealing with illegal off-roading in the Dales and romance fraud, Derbyshire Police and RSPB offered £1000 for information on yet more birds of prey being killed in the Peak District National Park. This time it’s an Osprey and a Buzzard which were found dead near Glossop in September.
The Osprey is obviously a bit more interesting than the Buzzard, being a rare visitor just passing through on migration. This Osprey was given a warm Peak District National Park welcome by having both of its legs broken in a spring trap, it is thought. The Buzzard was shot. This Osprey, passing through the Peak District on its way to Africa for the winter, was killed in a national park set up to conserve and enhance natural beauty. Not doing too well there, are we?
The Peak District has a terrible record for illegal raptor killing and even when it sets up a collaborative project amongst all stakeholders it fails. People have even written reports about how bad things are here, and that was years ago – see here and here. But now the deaths of birds of prey just count as ‘More birds of prey illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’.
As you enter the Peak District National Park you are entering a wildlife crime scene – a hotspot for bird of prey persecution, not a haven for our threatened wildlife. If we were setting up National Parks today would we grant NP status to a wildlife crime hotspot? An area notorious for its wildlife crime?
I’ll be driving past where these two birds were found dead next week on my way to talk to the High Peak group of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – my message to them will be that we should ban driven grouse shooting and that if we needed anywhere to start then it should be in our national parks. What place does this unsustainable sport have in conserving and enhancing natural beauty? I’d love to see you there but if you haven’t got a ticket already then I’m afraid I won’t – it sold out weeks ago, showing that people care about what is happening at least.