Posts Tagged ‘carbofuran


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”.


East Scotland sea eagle chick fledges: what fate awaits this one?

For the second consecutive year, a young white-tailed eagle has successfully fledged from a nest in east Scotland.

His sibling, who hatched in 2013, un-mysteriously ‘disappeared’ earlier this year in a notorious raptor persecution blackspot in the Cairngorms National Park (see here and here). He was the first sea eagle to fledge in east Scotland in over 200 years but he didn’t even survive to see his first birthday. His satellite transmitter went silent after he’d visited a driven grouse moor where previously a head gamekeeper had been convicted of poisoning offences (2006), a poisoned golden eagle had been found in 2011 (no prosecution), a poisoned buzzard had been found in 2011 (no prosecution), poisoned bait had been discovered in 2011 (no prosecution) and a short-eared owl had been found in 2011 that had been shot and shoved underneath a rock (no prosecution). The police raided the estate in April this year but found no trace of the eagle.

He might not have been the first sea eagle to fledge in Scotland in over 200 years if another east Scotland pair had not had their nest tree felled by someone with a chainsaw (see here – no prosecution).

The BBC is running an article on this year’s fledgling (see here) and includes a telling remark from RSPB Scotland saying they hoped the young bird would avoid areas where birds of prey have been poisoned or trapped. In other words, steer clear of driven grouse moors.

He’s got at least five years in which to run the gauntlet before he becomes mature enough to breed – we don’t rate his chances much.

Go west, kid, go west.

wtse fife 2014 ian francis


Poisoned bird found on former DEFRA Minister’s grouse moor: why no publicity?

BenyonIn February 2009, a dead raven was found on a Scottish grouse moor. Nothing surprising about that.

The dead raven was sent off to SASA for toxicology tests and their investigation concluded the bird had died from ingesting the banned poison, Carbofuran. Nothing surprising about that.

There wasn’t any subsequent publicity about this incident. Nothing surprising about that.

There wasn’t any subsequent prosecution. That’s kind of what we’ve come to expect so no surprises there, either.

However, this wasn’t just any old Scottish grouse moor. This was a grouse moor on Glenmazeran Estate in Inverness-shire. Glenmazeran Estate is, according to Andy Wightman’s brilliant website ‘Who Owns Scotland‘, owned by the Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Ltd, c/o Englefield Estate Office, Theale, Reading.

According to further information provided by the Who Owns Scotland website, “Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Ltd is a company registered in England No. 02065923. One of the beneficial owners is Richard Benyon, the Environment & Fisheries Minister in the UK Government (data accurate at August 2011)”.

At the time of this poisoned bird’s discovery, Mr Benyon MP was the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, until the 2010 general election when he entered Government. He was subsequently appointed the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, with special responsibility for biodiversity and the natural environment, amongst other things, until he was booted out in Cameron’s reshuffle in October 2013.

While Mr Benyon was in post at DEFRA, the government sanctioned the controversial buzzard ‘management’ trial and committed £375k of taxpayers money to help support it (see here), although they swiftly backtracked after a huge public outcry against the plan (see here). However, the following year Natural England, acting on behalf of DEFRA, decided to go ahead and issue a licence (to a gamekeeper with a past conviction for wildlife crime) to destroy buzzard eggs and nests to protect pheasants (see here).

Mr Benyon also decided there was no need to introduce vicarious liability to England because “there are very good laws in place to punish the illegal killing of any animal. If they are not being effectively enforced, they must be and we will take steps to make sure that happens. However, this is a good opportunity to applaud gamekeepers for the wonderful work they do in providing excellent biodiversity across our countryside” (see here and here).

Mr Benyon also refused to criminalise the possession of the poison Carbofuran in England (see here and here).

These actions can be seen in a whole new light given what we now know was discovered on Glenmazeran Estate back in 2009.

Of course, the discovery of the poisoned raven on Glenmazeran doesn’t mean that Mr Benyon or anyone else connected with the estate was responsible. Some gamekeepers on some estates are known to place poisoned baits along the boundary of an estate, presumably to make any police investigation that much more difficult and to potentially deflect attention on to someone else. Glenmazeran is not known to us as an estate where frequent raptor persecution takes place, but it is situated in a notorious raptor persecution area and several other estates in the area are suspected to be regularly involved with criminal activity and some of them even have convictions for these offences.

What’s intriguing about the Glenmazeran incident is the complete silence about this case. Did the police (it would have been Northern Constabulary at the time) investigate? Did they search Glenmazeran or other nearby estates? Why didn’t they issue any media statements about this discovery? Would public knowledge of this incident have jeopardised Mr Benyon’s political career? It shouldn’t have, as he was never implicated in the crime, so why was it kept quiet?

What we do know is that the ‘landowner’ (whoever that was) was informed about the crime. This from the SASA report:

Raven found dead in remote area. The analytical investigation established that carbofuran poisoning was responsible for the bird’s death. The police have informed the landowner of the incident but the source of the chemical has not been established“.

Fascinating stuff.


Ross-shire Massacre: the pig’s ear of an investigation continues

RK5Ten days ago we blogged about the progress (or apparent lack of) being made in the Ross-shire Massacre case, four months on from the discovery of 22 dead raptors in one of Scotland’s worst raptor poisoning incidents (see here).

A couple of days ago, somebody told us that the ‘official’ number of birds confirmed poisoned was now 16 (12 red kites + 4 buzzards), according to Police Scotland.

We found this news intriguing. Did it mean that the remaining six carcasses (4 red kites + 2 buzzards) had not been poisoned?

No. What it turned out to mean was that toxicology tests on those remaining birds are still “continuing”, according to a news report in The Press and Journal (see here).

Still continuing, four months after discovery? Is that because the poison is proving difficult to detect, or is it because the tests have not been given priority? If not, why not?

What a shambles. And that’s only the start of it…..

Previous posts on the Ross-shire Massacre here

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