01
Oct
14

Stody Estate gamekeeper convicted of poisoning 10 buzzards & a sparrowhawk

allen-lambert-stody-estateBreaking news from @RSPBBirders….

(Former) Stody Estate gamekeeper, Allen Lambert, has today been found guilty of poisoning 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk, and of having a poisoner’s kit.

Sentencing due in November.

Well done indeed to the RSPB Investigations Team, Norfolk Constabulary and the CPS.

RSPB press release, including link to a video of the crime scene and details of other charges to which Lambert had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, here.

We’ll be blogging some more about this case shortly…

Meanwhile, here’s a question. Was/is convicted mass poisoner Allen Lambert a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation? Let’s ask them. Emails to: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

Here are nine of the buzzards he poisoned:

Lambert 9 bz

01
Oct
14

One Million blog views

fireworksThis little blog has now received over one million views.

Massive thanks to all those who’ve read, contributed, commented, shared and supported it. This milestone would have been impossible without you.

Hope you’ll stay with us as our combined voices get louder and louder….

Here are the top ten most-read blog posts:

1. Natural England issues licence to destroy buzzard eggs and nests to protect pheasants (here).

2. Buzzard ‘management’ trial gets govt approval and £375K funding (here).

3. The life, and death, of golden eagle Fearnan (here).

4. Council leader calls for ‘open season’ on hen harriers (here).

5. Ross-shire Massacre: death toll rises to 19 – public protest this Saturday (here).

6. Poisoned peregrine found near Leadhills boundary: police response appalling (here).

7. East Scotland sea eagle chick ‘disappears’ on grouse moor (here).

8. First Irish-bred sea eagle shot and killed (here).

9. Significant haul of poisoned baits found on Leadhills Estate (here).

10. Death toll rises again in Ross-shire Massacre as £5K reward offered (here).

01
Oct
14

Case against Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert: part 6

scales of justiceThe trial of (now former) Stody Estate gamekeeper, Allen Charles Lambert, 65, is due to take place today at Norwich Magistrates Court.

Lambert is facing a series of charges for offences alleged to have taken place 18 months ago in April 2013.

Background to this case here.

UPDATE 18.15HRS: CONVICTED! Details here.

30
Sep
14

Council considers ban on Ilkley Moor grouse shoot

Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley MoorBradford Councillors are meeting this afternoon to consider a grouse-shooting ban on the publicly-owned Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire.

The moor is currently leased for grouse-shooting to the Bingley Moor Partnership, who own private moorland adjacent to Ilkley Moor that is also used for grouse-shooting. The ten-year Ilkley Moor lease has been in place since 2008 but not without controversy (e.g. see here).

Now a local, grassroots, campaign organisation called Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM) has forced the Council to re-think after submitting a 1,000+ signature petition calling for the lease to be terminated and publishing a report detailing their arguments for the ban: Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor report

BBIM is supported by another local group, the Friends of Ilkley Moor, who until recently had remained strictly neutral on the issue of shooting on the moor. The reasons for their change of heart can be read here.

Last year, Bradford Council undertook a review of the shooting lease and, despite some pretty controversial findings, decided to continue with the lease agreement. See here: Scrutiny Review of Ilkley Moor sporting rights deed July 2013

The lead partner of the Bingley Moor Partnership is one Edward Bromet – former Chairman of the Moorland Association who reportedly had a close relationship with former DEFRA Minister (and grouse-moor owner) Richard Benyon MP, apparently discussing hen harriers & other grouse moor related ‘issues’ during a private dinner (see here).

Edward, and the Moorland Association’s current Director, Amanda Anderson, have been doing their best to portray the Ilkley Moor grouse shoot as a ‘tremendous conservation effort’ (see here).

It’ll be interesting to hear the Councillors’ decision, hopefully later today.

UPDATE 18.45HRS: Bradford Council has voted to retain the grouse-shooting lease on Ilkley Moor. The campaign group BBIM has vowed to fight on.

UPDATE October 1st: The following statement has been published on the BBIM facebook page:

A Statement from Our Spokesperson:

Last night at City Hall a motion was narrowly passed to continue grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor. The vote was tight, with 4 councillors in favour and 3 against. Those who supported us must be commended for their honourable decision to place the interests of moor users and conservation above those of grouse shooting parties.

Over the past several months, Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor has cultivated a ground-breaking campaign. We have succeeded where many others have failed, in dragging Bradford Council‘s reputation into disrepute. Many of our reforms have already been realised – shooting has largely been stopped this season and trapping halted – with the only thing lacking now being the political will to enact such. Lastly, we have reached over half a million people with our message. These are monumental successes in their own right.

Let it be known that we have no intention of skulking away like cowards. Instead, we shall continue with our heads held high. From here on we can only evolve and grow, until the day Ilkley Moor is ridden of the grouse shooting blight.

If Bradford Council want to hold this deplorable stance on grouse shooting, let them now defend it in the court of public opinion. The task we now face is to take what is happening on Ilkley Moor and deliver it across the region. BBIM fully accepts this challenge.

Thank you to each and everyone of you for your – continued – support. 

City Hall: We Will Be Back!

Luke Steele
Spokesperson
On behalf of Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor

29
Sep
14

New sea eagle ‘management plan’ on the cards

wte-mike-watsonIn January this year, the National Farmers’ Union (Scotland) called for ‘action’ against Scottish sea eagles, and although they weren’t explicit about what that ‘action’ might be, they did mention [unspecified] ‘control measures’ (see here).

SNH responded quite strongly by saying ‘no’ to control measures (see here).

In February, a former Crofting Commission rep said that “Nothing short of complete eradication will do” and that sea eagles “should be absolutely destroyed” (see here).

In May, NFUS launched its ‘Sea Eagle Action Plan’, which laid out the usual unsubstantiated accusations that sea eagles are responsible for a loss of biodiversity and have detrimental effects on golden eagles, mountain hares, lapwings, curlews, black grouse, otters and rabbits, and of course, sheep farming. For a species that they claimed to know so much about, it was quite surprising to see the front cover of their report – it was apparent they couldn’t even tell the difference between a golden and a white-tailed eagle (see here).

A couple of days ago, it was reported (sensibly here and here but with a hysteria-mongering headline here) that NFUS and SNH had signed a joint accord to work towards a new ‘Sea Eagle Management Scheme’. This will include a new scheme to start in Spring 2015 to compensate farmers and crofters for loss of stock to eagles (a continuation of a previous scheme) subject to funding approval, and the development of a new sea eagle ‘action plan’ to be published by September 2016 and implemented by March 2017.

Whilst it’s encouraging that NFUS and SNH have agreed to work cooperatively, we can’t help but be suspicious of the term ‘management scheme’. What does that mean, exactly? We often hear the term ‘well-managed grouse moor’ used to describe practices that include the systematic eradication of all predators, just so there are more grouse for the guns to kill. That’s not our definition of ‘well-managed’. The term ‘management’ was also used by DEFRA when it tried to implement its controversial ‘Buzzard Management Scheme’ a couple of years ago – in that case, ‘management’ meant removing buzzards so that there were more pheasants for the guns to kill.

Hmm. Hopefully the NFUS and SNH are not planning on ‘removing’ sea eagles as a ‘management’ strategy (the NFUS has previously suggested this could be an option). At least for now, the NFUS has stated that ‘management’ in this case does not mean shooting the eagles (see the BBC report).

The BBC’s report on the new accord does reveal some of the proposed management strategies. One of them is this:

‘Contractors will also be available, free of charge, to record incidents of eagle predation and to offer advice on how to scare away the birds’.

That doesn’t seem to have been thought through very well. The sea eagle  has extra special protection as it’s listed on Schedule 1A of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) – that means it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass this species at any time of year, not just when it’s close to or on its nest (see here). The NFUS and SNH will need to be very careful indeed if they’re planning on ‘scaring away’ sea eagles.

Thankfully, not everyone shares the NFUS’ view of sea eagles. The Mull Eagle Watch Project (based around the island’s thriving sea eagle population) has just been awarded VisitScotland’s prestigious 5 star Wildlife Experience rating for the third year running (see here). Congratulations to all involved.

White-tailed eagle photo by Mike Watson

28
Sep
14

Mountain hares massacred on Lammermuir grouse moors

Environmental journalist Rob Edwards has published a disturbing article today about the mass slaughter of between 1,500-1,700 mountain hares by landowners in the Lammermuir Hills (see here).

This industrial-scale killing of mountain hares is not restricted to grouse moors in the Lammermuirs. Last year we blogged about the scale of the killing on grouse moors in Aberdeenshire (see here) and also the Angus Glens (see here).

mh1

We encouraged blog readers to write to SNH to question them about their long-term failure to implement an effective monitoring scheme to help protect what is known to be a species under threat. They responded by saying they did not support “indiscriminate, large scale culls” of mountain hares but it was hard for them to regulate the practice because they hadn’t yet worked out how to count mountain hares and thus couldn’t say if these indiscriminate, large-scale culls were affecting the population as a whole (see here).

MSP Alison Johnstone (Lothian, Scottish Green Party) lodged a number of parliamentary questions asking the Government to state how it controls mountain hare culling and what conservation action was planned to protect the species. Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse responded by saying that SNH is still issuing licences to allow the killing of mountain hares outside of the closed season, and that SNH was still trying to figure out how to count mountain hares so the effect of the culls could be measured (see here).

One year on and the unregulated massacre continues.

In Rob Edwards’ latest article, a Scottish Government official said: “We do have concerns about the intensification of management on some driven grouse moors, especially if it is associated with unlawful activity“.

The article also says that SNH has the issue under review and a report is expected in December. We’ll be watching with great interest.

27
Sep
14

Case against gamekeeper George Mutch: part 9

scales of justiceCriminal proceedings continued on Wednesday with hearing #10 in the case against Scottish gamekeeper George Mutch, of Kildrummy Estate, Aberdeenshire.

Mutch is pleading not guilty to a suite a charges relating to offences that are alleged to have taken place over two years ago, in August 2012. The charges relate to the illegal use of a trap for the purpose of taking or killing wild birds (goshawk and buzzard) and to the killing, injuring or taking of wild birds.

This case has dragged on and on and on (see here for background) and looks set to drag on even further. Yet another intermediate diet has now been set for 15th October…




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