A group of walkers have filmed what could be a buzzard being shot in Kent. On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch the bird in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a mobile phone when they suddenly heard a loud shot, and the bird crumpled and fell from the sky.
The witnesses called the police on 101. Kent Police and the RSPB conducted a search of the area, but they could not find the carcase. Nine days later, on 19 October, a birdwatcher reported seeing a buzzard with a broken wing close to where the first bird had fallen. RSPB reserve staff set out and discovered an injured buzzard on the ground. A vet later euthanased the bird.
The RSPB says that an X-ray of the carcase revealed the bird had four pieces of shot lodged in its wing, shoulder and leg. Although it is unlikely that the first bird, if unpicked, could have survived that long, the bird group says that the injury to the wing, which had caused the break, was consistent with the timing of the witnessed shooting. However, the RSPB claims that three of the pellets were older, indicating that the bird had been shot on an earlier occasion.
Police have spoken with a man in connection with the incident.
All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.
Dan Reynolds, BASC England director, says: “As a member of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, BASC is committed to stamping out the last vestiges of these horrific and illegal acts. Great strides have been made to reduce raptor persecution to historically low levels. This incident enrages the shooting community who are responsible for so many good news stories regarding Britain’s growing bird of prey populations.”