Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 08:30 UK

Wild bird crime 'still too high'

Peregrine female feeding chicks
Welsh incidents represent 10% of all UK bird crime

The number of reported crimes against wild birds in Wales has reduced slightly - but the figure is still too high, an RSPB report says.

Its investigations unit received reports of 128 incidents of wild bird crime in Wales in 2007, 15 fewer than in 2006, which had seen 143 crimes.

But it was still "significantly higher" than in 2005, which had 91 reported crimes, the organisation said.

Gwynedd was the county with the worst record - 25 reported incidents.

Denbighshire and Flintshire followed with 13 incidents each, making north Wales a hot spot for crimes against wild birds, the Birdcrime 2007 report said.

At the opposite end of the scale, Neath Port Talbot had just one reported incident, followed by neighbouring counties Swansea and Bridgend with just two incidents each.

There were no wild bird crimes reported at all in Caerphilly and Torfaen.

Across the UK, the number of reported incidents has increased from 1,096 in 2006 to 1,209 in 2007, of which Welsh incidents account for around 10%.

Blaenau Gwent - 5
Bridgend - 2
Caerphilly - 0
Cardiff - 10
Carmarthenshire - 6
Ceredigion - 3
Conwy - 5
Denbighshire - 13
Flintshire - 13
Gwynedd - 25
Isle of Anglesey - 4
Merthyr Tydfil - 2
Monmouthshire - 2
Neath Port Talbot - 1
Newport - 3
Pembrokeshire - 2
Powys - 6
Rhondda Cynon Taf - 10
Swansea - 2
Torfaen - 0
Vale of Glamorgan - 6
Wrexham - 8
Total - 128
Source: RSPB Wales Birdcrime 2007, wild bird crimes per county

Dr Tim Stowe, the RSPB's director in Wales, said close links with police forces, tougher legislation and penalties and the work of the RSPB investigations unit means that wildlife crime is taken "more seriously than ever".

"However, there is still significant work to be done to stamp out these crimes completely," he said.

"We are still dealing with archaic practices such as poisoning and egg theft, which have no place in the 21st Century."

Sgt Rob Taylor, North Wales Police's wildlife and environment officer, said he was determined to be tough on bird crime to "keep Wales a safe environment for all birds".

"My work involves a certain amount of bird crime investigations, which I treat extremely seriously on each occasion," he said.

"This ranges from raptor persecution to a recent case where two young men were filmed killing a seagull in Rhyl and will soon appear before Prestatyn magistrates for sentence."

Shooting, illegal trapping, poisoning and egg theft were among the reported crimes in the report, with birds such as red kites and peregrines among the victims.

Indeed, almost a third of the incidents involved birds of prey.

Rhondda Cynon Taf was a UK hotspot for crimes against birds of prey.

Earlier this year, the RSPB launched its birds of prey campaign, to highlight the problem of persecution against raptors and gain public support for the killing to stop.

Wildlife crime 'taken seriously'
01 Jan 08 |  North East Wales
Crimes against wild birds rising
11 Sep 07 |  North East Wales
Inquiry after red kite chick shot
31 Aug 07 |  Mid Wales
Crimes against wild birds go up
11 Sep 07 |  England

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