Birdcrime 2012 was published today, setting out the statistics for all recorded offences against wild bird legislation in that year. If this seems a little late just three weeks from the start of 2014, it's because meticulous care is taken to collate the data and ensure that it's accurately represented. Rather than write about it myself, allow me to direct you to Martin Harper's excellent and highly articulate blog "Bird Crime: a test of anyone's temper" - I couldn't have said it better.
For now though, I leave you with two photos of "Bowland Betty", one of the last hen harriers to fledge from the Forest of Bowland. The first as she was on her nest, having her satellite tag fitted in 2011. The second, as she was found, having been shot through the leg on the edge of a grouse moor in North Yorkshire, 2012.
Shooting community, I implore you once and for all - cast out those who tarnish your reputation by commiting these crimes.
There has to be a way beyond this.