Rare birds that breed in and around Birmingham are being trapped, poisoned and their eggs stolen at a shocking rate, new figures show.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ annual ‘Birdcrime’ report show 11 incidents last year in the city region. Four investigations were carried out into egg thefts, four into the trapping of finches and one probable taxidermy offence.
A Birmingham man was also sentenced to 180 hours’ unpaid work for keeping an unregistered merlin – an extremely scarce bird of prey – and illegally trading a goshawk.
Birds face the same level of persecution in neighbouring Staffordshire, where seven cases were probed – one involving the poisoning of buzzards.
Throughout the Midlands, there were 33 reported incidents of bird of prey persecution, six reports of egg collecting and 12 poison and pesticide incidents.
The RSPB revealed the grim figures as the charity steps up its campaign to give legislation safeguarding threatened species ‘more teeth’.
Fen Gerry of the Midlands RSPB said: “The figures show egg collecting and poisoning is continuing in the Birmingham area. It is still happening.
“Fewer incidents were recorded, but birds of prey continue to die at the hands of those who want to remove them from the countryside.
"Too little has been done over the years to stop these sickening attacks on our vulnerable wildlife, but this could change with proposed reforms of wildlife law and policing.”
One culprit, 29-year-old Brynn McDonagh, from West Heath, proved something of a thorn in the RSPB’s side last year.
In April, he was sentenced to 180 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £510 costs after admitting trading a goshawk and keeping a merlin without the correct paperwork.
It was not the first time McDonagh had appeared in court. In November, 2010, he was handed a suspended prison sentence for smuggling 20 birds of prey from South Africa.