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Humans have shot raptors for centuries. However, in many countries these actions have been illegal since the mid-twentieth century. Despite this history, there is not a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of this activity, its frequency, and why it occurs. We used literature review and principles drawn from ecology, sociology, and criminology to understand this problem. First, we review literature on raptor shooting globally to explore documented motivations for shooting and we describe the history of raptor shooting in the United States of America (USA). Then, to illustrate the contemporary frequency and geographic breadth of the shooting of raptors, we systematically compile records from scientific and media reports from across the USA. Finally, we outline a transdisciplinary framework to meet the challenge of understanding and managing illegal shooting of raptors. Our framework encompasses six best practices: (1) understand the biology of the problem, (2) build professional networks and partnerships, (3) leverage engagement and public support, (4) apply insights from study of human-wildlife interactions, (5) draw lessons from criminology, and (6) use implementation science to evaluate outcomes. We illustrate application of these best practices with a case study from an Illegal Shooting Working Group recently formed in Boise, Idaho, USA. There is growing recognition that illegal shooting of raptors is a pressing conservation challenge. Solving this challenge can be facilitated by inclusion of information from multiple fields of study; the approach we outline provides one potential mechanism to address this issue.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.