REPORTED bird crime is on the rise in the two counties and nationally.

There were three reported crimes against wild birds in Worcestershire and Herefordshire last year compared with none the previous year, a new report has revealed.

The figures form part of a report compiled by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which shows that wildlife crime doubled across the UK.

The society is worried there is still a significant hazard to some of our most threatened birds, despite the fact it is 25 years since the Wildlife and Countryside Act gained royal assent.

Of particular concern is the number of incidents against birds of prey such as peregrine falcons, buzzards, hen harriers, kestrels and goshawks.

A total of 1,109 incidents of wildlife crime were reported across the UK in 2006 compared with 726 the previous year. Investigators at the RSPB believe the increase in the number of reported incidents is partially a direct result of improved procedures for recording wildlife crimes.

However, it is also believed the figures represent only a fraction of the total number of incidents as many remain undetected and unreported, particularly those that happen in remote areas.

The RSPB's conservation director Dr Mark Avery said: "After 25 years of legal protection, we should be seeing dramatic cuts in wildlife crime.

"Of particular concern is the number of reported crimes against birds of prey.

"Thankfully, some birds of prey are heading towards recovery in the UK, but let us not forget that illegal slaughter of birds of prey that caused their extinction in the first place.

"We mustn't allow age-old attitudes towards birds of prey once more put these magnificent birds under threat. Visitors to some of our most beautiful countryside should be able to see birds of prey easily."

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