Posts Tagged ‘carbofuran


Ross-shire Massacre: unbelievable press release from Police Scotland

RK7Following the mass poisoning of raptors (16 red kites & 6 buzzards) at Conon Bridge, Ross-shire, seven months ago, Police Scotland has this evening put out the following press release:

Appeal for information in relation to death of raptors

Police Scotland has issued a further appeal for information relating to the deaths of raptors in various locations across the Ross-shire/Black Isle area earlier this year.

Following investigation Police Scotland can now confirm that the birds, 12 red kites and four buzzards, were most likely not targeted deliberately but instead were the victims of pest control measures. The raptor deaths occurred over March and April this year.

The criminal investigation into their deaths is still ongoing and Police Scotland continues to work closely with partners.

Detective Superintendent, Colin Carey, said:

“Investigations into the suspicious deaths of wildlife and especially raptors can be difficult and prolonged. The areas covered can be vast and it is seldom immediately apparent why a bird may have died.

“We work closely with partners to identify and thoroughly investigate all wildlife crime. The death of the raptors in Ross-shire remains an on-going investigation during which we are endeavouring to establish all of the circumstances around this crime. We would ask anyone who may have further information to come forward.”

A significant reward is being offered for witnesses or further information.

Partner agencies would seek to remind members of the public that if anyone finds any further dead birds or animals in the area they are asked to make a note of its location and inform the police on 101. Under no circumstances should anyone touch or attempt to recover any dead animal.

If anyone has any information regarding this matter please contact Dingwall Police Station, telephone 101.


This police statement is staggering. Pay close attention to the second paragraph: Police Scotland can now CONFIRM…..

How can they possibly CONFIRM this, without a full confession from the person who laid out the poison baits? Does this CONFIRMATION mean that they’ve got the poisoner? That he/she has been arrested? That he/she has been charged?

The truth of the matter is, they haven’t got the poisoner, so they cannot possibly CONFIRM whether the poisoner meant to target raptors or meant to target a legitimate ‘pest’. Besides, the only legitimate method of poisoning ‘pests’ is by the controlled use of rodenticides. We already know that the poison(s) involved in this case included a banned poison – the police said so months ago. According to the Vice President of the RSPB, the poison used was Carbofuran. We don’t know that for sure because Police Scotland has refused to say, and the Government toxicology lab who would normally publish this information has mysteriously chosen not to on this occasion. We also know that poisoned baits were picked up at the crime scene – as reported here and here. How can this possibly be classified as a ‘non-deliberate’ poisoning?! It’s illegal to even possess these banned poisons, let alone to use them!

What on earth are Police Scotland playing at? This press statement is a disgrace. If we applied their logic to every other raptor that has been poisoned by a banned poison over the last ten years, then they’ve all been accidental! An unfortunate mistake by someone carrying out pest control measures! What sort of message does this police statement send to those who continue to use banned poisons to kill wildlife? ‘Ah don’t worry lads, we know you didn’t mean to deliberately target that golden eagle/red kite/buzzard with your illegal poisoned bait’.


Somebody needs to be asking questions about this. It’s pointless us trying to ask Police Scotland – we’ll just get the stock response of “It’s a live investigation so we can’t comment”. So much for police accountability, eh? All this guff about how the SSPCA shouldn’t be given extra powers because they’re ‘unaccountable’ – Jesus.

So seeing as we have no confidence in Police Scotland to be (a) accountable, (b) competent or (c) trustworthy about this case, how about we ask the partner agencies “working closely” with the police on this case, whether they agree with Police Scotland’s CONFIRMATION that this incident was accidental?

Let’s ask Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB: and let’s ask Mark Rafferty, Head of Special Investigations Unit at SSPCA: We’re not asking them to reveal any confidential information about the case, just whether they agree with Police Scotland’s assertions that these poisoned birds were not deliberately targeted, and if so, on what basis has the assertion been made?


First vicarious liability prosecution: part 2

wane1Last week we blogged about what we believe to be the first prosecution under the 2011 vicarious liability legislation (see here), relating to poisoning offences that took place on the Glasserton & Physgill Estates in December 2012. Gamekeeper Peter Bell was convicted in June 2013 for those crimes, including the laying out of a poisoned bait that subsequently killed a buzzard, and the possession of three banned poisons (Carbofuran, Strychnine and Alphachloralose) which were found in his tool shed and in his home (see here).

The vicarious liability prosecution was adjourned yesterday and the next hearing is due in November.

Definitely one to watch.


Ross-shire Massacre: seven months on

It’s been seven months since 22 birds of prey (16 red kites and six buzzards) were illegally killed in a mass poisoning incident near Conon Bridge, Ross-shire.

Here’s an imaginary update from the police:


No arrests.

No charges.

No prosecution.

No justice.

Previous posts on the Ross-shire Massacre here.


Update on first vicarious liability prosecution

wane1Regular blog readers will know that we’ve been interested in the first prosecution of a landowner under the vicarious liability legislation for some time now….in fact ever since the legislation was enacted as part of the WANE Act on 1st January 2012 (see here for background info on what vicarious liability is and to what wildlife crime offences it can be applied).

We believe the first prosecution relates to the employers of gamekeeper and (now ex) SGA member Peter Bell, who was convicted in June 2013 of various poisoning offences that took place in December 2012 on the Glasserton & Physgill Estates. Those offences included laying a poisoned bait that subsequently killed a buzzard, and the possession of three banned poisons (Carbofuran, Strychnine and Alphachloralose) found in his tool shed and in his home (see here).

We’ve been asking whether there would be a vicarious liability prosecution against Bell’s employers for over a year, but each time we asked, various obstructions were put in our way (see here and here). However, in May this year, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced during a parliamentary debate on raptor persecution that vicarious liability proceedings had commenced (see here).

Since May, we’ve heard nothing at all, which we find surprising given the high level of public interest in how this new (well, nearly 3-year-old now)  and significant legislation will work.

We’ve been doing quite a lot of research since then and have finally discovered that this case is indeed in progress, and the next court hearing will take place next week. It won’t be an evidence-led hearing – it’s a special hearing that is designed to hear legal arguments. What happens next will depend on what the Sheriff decides at the end of the hearing. We’ll keep you posted.

We’ve also heard that there is a second vicarious liability case underway…..more on that in due course.


Cairngorms National Park Authority wants ‘action’ against raptor persecution

Duncan BrydenThe Convenor of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CPNA), Duncan Bryden, has written to the Environment Minister to tell him that continued incidents of raptor persecution and ‘disappearing birds’ in the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park “threatens to undermine the reputation of the National Park as a high quality wildlife tourism destination“.

He has asked for the Minister to attend a meeting of stakeholders in the Eastern Cairngorms (including RSPB Scotland and, er, Scottish Land & Estates) to discuss ways to address this on-going issue.

That’ll be interesting, seeing as though SLE continue to deny the extent of the problem (e.g. see here) and only last year gave membership to the ranks of SLE to the North Glenbuchat Estate – a grouse moor in the National Park that has been at the centre of wildlife crime investigations for years, most recently following the ‘disappearance’ in April of the first fledged white-tailed eagle in eastern Scotland for 200 years – it’s final signal reportedly came from North Glenbuchat estate (see here). The eagle is presumed dead but it’s body has not been recovered, just like the bodies of three other young satellite tagged eagles that ‘disappeared’ in the area in recent years. The body of a fifth eagle was found on North Glenbuchat Estate in 2011 – it had been poisoned with Carbofuran. As had a poisoned buzzard, also found in 2011, as well as a poisoned bait. A dead short-eared owl was also found in 2011 – it had been shot and stuffed under a rock.

Good luck to the CNPA in trying to oust the raptor-killing criminals from the National Park and well done Duncan Bryden for taking a stand.

Download: CNPA letter to Paul Wheelhouse May2014

Download: Paul Wheelhouse response to CNPA

CNP map



Another peregrine poisoned in Derry

Peregrine Steve WaterhouseLast week we blogged about the suspected poisoning of a famous peregrine that had been found dead in the grounds of St Columb’s Cathedral in Derry (see here).

Seven days on and we’ve been told by one of our contributors (thank you) of another dead peregrine in Derry, this time confirmed to have been poisoned.

The dead bird was discovered at the Carmean Road in Moneymore on the afternoon of Tuesday July 15th. The carcass was taken to a vet at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for a post mortem. Tests revealed it had been killed by ingesting the banned poison Carbofuran.

Police in Magherafelt have launched an appeal for information about this incident and about any suspicious activity around the local quarries. Anyone with information is asked to contact Magherafelt Police Station on Tel: 101.

This is the 19th peregrine known to have been targeted in these isles this year. And these are only the ones that have been reported. Details of the first 17 can be found here, details of the 18th here.

Peregrine photo by Steve Waterhouse


Ross-shire Massacre: six months on

rk5It’s been (just over) six months since 22 raptors were poisoned in a single incident at Conon Bridge in Ross-shire.

So far, we know that 16 of those birds (12 red kites + 4 buzzards) were killed by ingesting “an illegally-held poisonous substance”. We know that the name of the poison has been redacted from official government documents in the public domain. We know that nobody has been arrested.

That, in a nutshell, is about the sum total of the ‘official’ information that is available about one of the most high-profile wildlife crimes in recent years.

Isn’t that amazing? Six months on and that’s all there is?

However, if you’d been sitting in Lecture Marquee #3 at the Rutland Birdfair on Saturday 16th August, you’d have heard that the poison used to kill all those birds was Carbofuran, and that the perpetrator is known. Indeed, the (alleged) perpetrator was virtually named and anyone sitting in that marquee who had any local knowledge of Conon Bridge would know exactly who was being implicated.

It was an astonishing talk delivered by Sir John Lister-Kaye, who introduced himself as a Vice-president of RSPB. It was astonishing both in the level of detail about the case that was delivered, but also in the level of inaccuracy about raptor persecution in general. For someone with Lister-Kaye’s credentials, the content of that talk left our jaws hanging open.

Given the wholly inaccurate statements he made about raptor persecution in general (including a claim that Carbofuran could be used under licence to treat seed crops (!!) and that raptor killing in Scotland has never really been widespread until very recently and then only as the landowners’ angry backlash following the introduction of vicarious liability), his statements about the Ross-shire Massacre need to be treated with caution.

Nevertheless, whilst he deserves to be pulled up on his shoddy research skills, he deserves credit for standing up in that marquee and giving more information in 20 minutes than Police Scotland has managed in six months.

Previous blogs about the Ross-shire Massacre here

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