1. ITV Report

Cumbria among worst areas in the UK for birds of prey killings

Nineteen confirmed cases in Cumbria between 2012 - 2017 Photo: PA

Cumbria is one of the worst counties in the UK for the persecution of birds of prey, according to figures released by the RSPB.

Cases of crime against raptors have been confirmed in Cumbria between 2012 and 2017.

Four of these incidents took place last year including the shooting of a buzzard anda peregrine. Most recently, two short-eared owls were shot by gamekeeper, Timothy Cowin. He was caught by RSPB cameras trying to dispose of the bodies.

Timothy Cowin Credit: RSPB

RSPB’s Birdcrime report revealed that these incidents are just the "tip of the iceberg" compared to the actual number of illegal killings, as many are often undetected or unreported.

Conservationists say introducing a licensing system for driven grouse shooting would help tackle the problem that occurs on grouse moors, whilst also protecting the interests of landowners.

RSPB conservation director, Martin Harper, has urged the government to address illegal killings to protect the UK's raptors.

Birds of prey are part of our heritage and inspire us. We should all be able to enjoy seeing these magnificent birds, however illegal activity continues to put species at risk. There are laws in place to protect these birds but they are clearly not being respected or adequately enforced."