Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group fully understands and supports the position taken by the RSPB with regards to the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative, PDRMG will continue to work closely with the RSPB regarding population data and raptor persecution. After 6 years involvement it is clear that illegal persecution remains the main issue impacting breeding populations of the larger raptors (including Raven and Short-eared Owl) in our study area. Disappointingly the initial objectives of the Initiative have not been met and despite assurances from the representatives of the Grouse shooting interests sitting on the Initiative, the Moorland Association, that there was a willingness to work towards increasing breeding populations of raptors in the Dark Peak there has been little evidence on the ground of any genuine intent amongst the shooting estates involved.
We were particularly disappointed that when the 2016-17 report was eventually published that the group was unable to unanimously agree the strong public statement that the results merited (the only dissenting member being the MA). It was even more disappointing to read the comments from the gamekeepers’ representative published on Raptor Persecution UK blog, especially as the Initiative have been assured repeatedly that persecution issues are acknowledged and that steps were being undertaken to ensure a resolution. It is clear from the comments that this is not the case, coupled with the fact that they refused the opportunity to further engage with the Initiative when asked to participate directly. PDRMG will continue to assist the authorities with regards to any suspected cases of illegal persecution of raptors in our study area.
We have considered carefully our options with regard to our further involvement in the Initiative. It hasn’t been an easy decision and it remains an issue of contention, however, we are going to continue (in the short term at least), to support the efforts of the Peak District National Park Authority to continue with the Initiative.
We are hoping that 2018 will be seen as a real opportunity for the Grouse shooting interests operating in the Dark Peak to try and demonstrate that shoots can be viable without having to resort to illegal persecution of our iconic birds of prey.
PDRMG will continue to monitor site occupation, nesting attempts and outcomes of all our study species providing information to the Bird of Prey Initiative, the RSPB and the BTO. We hope to see a noticeable increase in occupation of historic breeding sites of the larger species and that there is no evidence of continuing illegal persecution. We will review our position at the end of Spring by which time we should know if species such as Goshawk and Peregrine are being allowed to breed without incident.