Charity calls for tougher legislation to prevent shooting, poisoning and trapping of birds such as peregrine falcons, red kites, buzzards and hen harriers
Friday 3 February 2017 12.41 GMT Last modified on Friday 3 February 2017 22.00 GMT
Almost 200 reports of shooting, trapping and destruction of birds of prey were received by the RSPB in 2015, the charity said.
Some 64 out of the 196 reports were confirmed, including the shooting or attempted shooting of 46 birds of prey, including 16 buzzards, 11 peregrines, three red kites, one red-footed falcon and one hen harrier, a new report from the RSPB said.
There were also 50 reported incidents of wildlife poisoning, including confirmed cases of 15 buzzards, four red kites and three peregrine falcons falling victim to poison baits.
Illegal persecution of birds of prey is still happening too regularly in the UK countryside, the RSPB said, and it called for tougher legislation and enforcement to allow the birds to thrive.
The charity repeated its call for reforms to grouse shooting, including a licence system for shoots, as it blamed gamekeepers for targeting birds of prey, in particular hen harriers because they preyed on red grouse.
Hundreds of pairs of hen harriers nest in the UK, but in England they are teetering on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird as a result of historic persecution, with just three successful breeding pairs in 2016.
But in what has become an increasingly bitter debate, the shooting industry says grouse estates spend millions of pounds a year on conservation to support wildlife, and it backs the government’s hen harrier recovery plan.
The industry says it wants to see a well-dispersed hen harrier population which co-exists with local businesses.