Co Down among worst areas for attacks on birds of prey
BIRDS of prey were targeted in almost 20 separate incidents in Co Down over a five year period, new figures reveal.
RSPB's Birdcrime 2017 - the only report summarising offences against birds of prey across the UK - revealed 48 shooting, nine poisoning, three trapping, four nest destructions and many other incidents.
Evidence suggests this is the tip of the iceberg with many killings going undetected or unreported.
There were 19 `persecution' incidents in Co Down alone between 2012 and 2017.
Across the north last year, there were numerous confirmed incidents. Buzzards, peregrine falcons, a red kite and sparrowhawk were all targeted.
Red kites were reintroduced to Northern Ireland in 2008 and there still is not a stable population, yet between 2012 and 2017 nine were killed in Co Down.
Roisin Kearney, RSPB NI Conservation Officer said the persecution of birds of prey was a widespread problem.
"It's a grim statistic that Co Down is sixth in terms of persecution incidents from 2012 to 2017. It's sad that in 2018, which marks the 10th anniversary of red kites being reintroduced to Northern Ireland, we are still seeing red kites and other birds of prey being targeted," she said.