Posts Tagged ‘carbofuran


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


Raven found poisoned at Killard Nature Reserve

raven poisoned KillardThanks to the contributor who sent us a copy of the following article, published in the (County) Down Recorder, 23 July 2014. We’ve shortened it slightly:

The poisoning of a raven at Killard Nature Reserve, County Down, has prompted a police investigation and raised serious concerns amongst environmentalists.

The dead bird was found on 15th March 2014 but it has only now been confirmed that it was poisoned with the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Situated at the mouth of Strangford Lough opposite Ballyquintin, where walkers are attracted by the area’s rich wildlife and interesting rock formations, the site is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

An NIEA spokeswoman said they were “deeply concerned” and advised members of the public at Killard not to pick up any dead wildlife in case they are poisoned. She explained that the raven, protected by the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985, was found by one of their wildlife officers on the cliff top above Benderg Beach.

“The dead raven was found in an unnatural posture which, from experience, led the officer to believe that it may have been poisoned”, said the spokeswoman. “Despite a thorough search no evidence was found that poison had been laid in the reserve. Tests completed in early July revealed that the raven had died as a result of ingesting Carbofuran, a poison banned for use throughout the EU. It is likely that the bird picked this up from a poisoned bait within 100 metres of where the raven was found.

“NIEA is deeply concerned, not only the poisoning of a protected species nesting locally, but also that it took place on or near a protected site where wildlife should be safe”.

NIEA said it wasn’t aware of any other incidents at the reserve but issued the following advice: “Members of the public visiting Killard are asked to avoid handling any dead animals such as rabbits or birds in case they may have been poisoned or baited with poison. Dogs should be kept on the lead and prevented from approaching any such corpses, and dogs are not permitted on the Reserve when livestock graze there over the winter months.

“If members of the public in the Killard and Ballyhornan area do come across any dead crows, birds of prey or foxes, or find any suspicious carcasses or rabbits or chickens covered in granular or powdered substances, or see any suspicious activity which could relate to illegal poisoning, they are asked to contact Downpatrick PSNI”.

A spokeswoman for the RSPB in Northern Ireland said the incident was “very disappointing”.

“All cases of birds or wildlife being poisoned by an illegal substance are worrying, but this incident is particularly concerning because the County Down area is a stronghold for the threatened red kite”, she said.

“Having been persecuted to extinction in Northern Ireland more than 200 years ago, kites were reintroduced here in 2008. Sadly, last year alone around 30% of the breeding population were confirmed poisoned, making it more difficult for the species to thrive.

“Leaving out poisoned bait is an illegal practice as it is indiscriminate and can affect not only scavenging birds like red kites, but also pets, livestock and humans”.

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