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Last Updated: Tuesday April 22 2008 07:00 GMT

Birds of prey 'being hunted'

Golden Eagle

Birds of prey are themselves being hunted and in some cases they are close to being wiped out in the UK.

That's the message from the charity RSPB, which has launched a campaign to boost the numbers of these birds, which include golden eagles and falcons.

Birds of prey - which hunt for food - are being killed illegally in national parks and country estates.

It's thought they're being killed to stop them eating other birds used in organised shooting.

Charity spokesman Dr Mark Avery called it "outrageous".

What's a bird of prey?
Peregrine falcon flying
They can also be known as Raptors
They hunt for food, mainly from the air
They have great senses, especially sight
Their beaks and claws are large and sharp
He said: "The skies are owned by no one, but a callous few want to deprive the nation of some of our most charismatic wildlife."

The killing looks set to stop golden eagles returning to live in southern Scotland and northern England, and it is putting the future of hen harriers in danger.

Those most at risk are eagles, peregrine falcons and hen harriers which nest in upland areas that are prime sites for grouse shooting.