Looking out for Scotland's birds of prey

The detection of crimes against raptors is extremely difficult. This is mainly due to the location where the persecution of these birds takes place. Whether it is poison bait which is laid out on a hillside, a spring trap set on a fence post or even somebody attempting to shoot a bird of prey, these incidents will almost exclusively occur in remote areas of the Scottish countryside where very few people rarely venture. Any crimes against raptors that are uncovered within the countryside will only be the tip of the iceberg with countless more incidents going undiscovered.   

Often the perpetrators of these crimes are familiar with the land and so have the advantage of knowing the best location to carry out their illegal activities where there is little chance of being caught. Here on ‘Eagle Eye’ we will give you a guide on helping to look out for the welfare of raptors when you are out in the countryside.

Here are the main methods that criminals use to persecute and kill birds of prey:

Poisoning, cage trapping (killing method after capture would be bludgeoning to death or shooting), leg hold trapping, shooting, egg destruction, nest destruction and the killing of chicks (using various methods). This guide will help you understand and identify some of the most common methods that wildlife criminals will use to persecute and kill birds of prey and who you can contact to report a crime.

Live bait spring over trap

This trap may be found in open areas of woodland or on open moorland. When active, the trap will have live bait such as pigeons or doves. If you discover such a trap report it immediately to the telephone numbers given on this site.

Poison trap

Killing raptors in the UK by poisoning has historically been the favourite choice. Poison will be put onto or into a dead animal such as a rabbit or hare or may be sprinkled on a piece of meat.

Rifle used for shooting raptors

All birds of prey across Britain are strictly protected by law and so you should never have to witness these birds being shot. Wildlife criminals will shoot raptors any time of the day and occasionally in the early evening or even during the night whilst the birds are roosting.

Pole trap

A pole trap is an illegal and another extremely cruel method of killing a bird of prey. Often the trap itself is legal and the most common trap used to capture raptors is the Fenn trap, illustrated here on the right.

Live bait trap

These are cages which are often built to legally capture birds such as crows and rooks. There are generally two types of crow cage traps, a funnel trap and a ladder trap.

Clam trap

This is a trap which up until recently was being used on shooting estates across Scotland, but was not a recognised or an approved trap. Its official use is to capture birds such as magpies, rooks and crows, however evidence gathered suggests that this trap was also being set up to catch and kill raptors.

Raptor nest

Destruction of a raptor nest is a serious criminal offence as well as being extremely cruel and can have a significant impact on raptor populations.

Mobile phone

Project Raptor would always advise and encourage anybody who has come across something that they believe to be suspicious in relation to a possible wildlife crime offence, to make contact as soon as possible with the people who can help.

Latest report

Project Raptor warns local community of poisoning

After more poison was discovered in the area of Abington and Leadhills in South Lanarkshire, this time found in the body of a peregrine falcon, Project Raptor has again visited these local communities and distributed posters alerting them to the persecution of birds of prey in their area as well as to the dangers of coming into contact with the poison.

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About Project Raptor

Hen Harrier

We will offer you reports and images related to the threats that raptors are facing within the Scottish countryside today. This website will be of interest to those who are active in raptor protection and conservation and people who would just like to learn more about the threats facing birds of prey.
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What you can do


On our ‘Eagle Eye’ page we also offer advice and guidance in identifying the various methods that criminals may use to target and kill raptors as well as directing you to the people that can help if you do come across an incident which you believe may be related to raptor persecution.
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