CRIME against wild birds hit record highs and lows last year, says a report out today.
Sixteen red kites were poisoned - the most in any one year - but egg- collecting reached an all- time low, with only nine confirmed cases, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Its Birdcrime 2003 report documents 560 crimes against wild birds during the year.
They include 143 cases of shooting and destruction of birds of prey and 91 cases of illegal poisoning.
A spokesman said: "The poisoning of 16 red kites in one year is shocking."
But the threat to birds from egg collectors seems to have fallen dramatically.
In some years in the 1980s up to one quarter of all kite nests in Britain were robbed.
The spokesman said: "The sharp decrease in the number of nest robberies is because seven egg collectors have gone to prison since the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act allowed judges and magistrates to impose custodial sentences, instead of just fines.
"Building on this success is a major challenge," he added.