Remote raptor tracking the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Northern Ireland) Act 2011, protects wildlife from disturbance. It can be an offence to either recklessly or intentionally cause disturbance or kill or take certain species. Raptors are protected on Schedule 1 of the legislation and some species which protects them from killing at all times of the year and from disturbance during the breeding season. Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus and Red kite Milvus milvus are additionally protected under Schedule 1A of the WANE Act 2011 which further protects them and their nests from disturbance at all times of the year.
Common buzzards, red kites and peregrine falcons have been killed illegally at a number of locations over many years in Northern Ireland and trends in recent years have been analysed by the PAWNI raptor sub-group reports (2009 – 2016). Several key locations have been identified as raptor crime hotspots. The Hawk-Eyes operation is a proactive approach carried out by the PAW NI Raptor Subgroup.
This project will deploy GPS tracking units on common buzzards, red kites and peregrine, three species of raptor which are proven to be most frequently persecuted including within raptor crime hot-spot areas. Daily movements of individual birds will be monitored and blogged about on this website and via social media. Images depicting areas over which birds are moving will be provided but where necessary some information may be kept confidential to protect the breeding locations or suspicious bird activity for example where recorded within crime hot-spot areas.
The location of the birds and operation of these tags will be monitored constantly and should movements indicate the bird has died the carcass will be retrieved and sent for testing and post-mortem, following the recommended protocol. Any suspicious activity including locations of the bird will be investigated by the PSNI in order to help identify the cause of death and offenders where possible. The aim of this project is the implementation of a surveillance and monitoring study to protect breeding raptors, encourage reporting of wildlife crime and prevent crime.
This state of the art technology has been used for studying animal movements across the world and also in the UK and Ireland and is extremely reliable and useful in knowing the areas that raptors are using throughout the day and night. The Hawk-Eyes project is using technology which is monitoring birds 24/7 to help understand movements and important areas locally.