18
Feb
11

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Chief Questioned over Dead Sea Eagle.

Mr Alasdair Laing, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Scottish committee chairman, has been questioned by police, according to The Scotsman, following the discovery of a dead sea eagle on his Logie Estate, Morayshire, which was joint winner of the Purdey Award for Shooting and Conservation in 2008.

The dead eagle (released in East Scotland in 2008 as one of the reintroduced birds from Norway) was apparently found by an employee of RSPB Scotland whilst walking  in the snow on 15th December 2010.  The dead bird was reported to Northern Constabulary the same day but when officers returned to investigate the incident the following morning the carcass had mysteriously disappeared.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident but say they are unable to determine how the bird died without a body. Gamekeepers at the Morayshire estate, as well as Mr Laing, are understood to have been spoken to by investigators. The head keeper has been previously described as ‘a prominent  member of the SGA committee’ and has been praised for his conservation work (see here). Alasdair Laing was a signatory to the May 2010 SRPBA letter to the Environment Minister, one of over 200 landowners who condemned illegal raptor poisoning.

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said “An investigation was launched by the area wildlife crime officer, but to date no remains have been recovered. There is also no evidence as to how the bird died, given the fact there was no body”

It seems strange that this incident happened on 15th Dec 2010 and this is the first media report about it. It seems to fly in the face of other investigation techniques where evidence is gathered as soon as possible whilst events are clear and fresh in potential witnesses minds.

Full story here – http://www.scotsman.com/environment/Conservation-chief-questioned-by-police.6720123.jp?articlepage=1

Alasdair Laing’s letter of response published in The Scotsman: http://news.scotsman.com/letters/Letter-Estate-work.6720703.jp

An interesting insight into how the Lochindorb Shoot (on Logie Estate) is managed, including the culling of mountain hares: http://www.shootingtimes.co.uk/features/387120/The_Lochindorb_Shoot.html

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7 Responses to “Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Chief Questioned over Dead Sea Eagle.”


  1. 1 Stewart Love
    February 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    It says that the RSPB Scotland Employee was walking in the snow when he found the Sea Eagle. Just wonder why the Police could not have followed footsteps in the snow back to whoever lifted the carcase of the Eagle. I walk in the hills on snow regularly and you cannot hide footsteps if you are there soon after they were made. I think therefore the police were a tad late in getting there, so normal service from the police again. Questions should be asked as to why this case has just came out now it looks as if Northern Constabulary have been dragging their feet on this again. They will be getting a bad name, maybe getting accused of taking sides with the Landowners if they are not careful.

  2. 2 Mike Groves
    February 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Interesting comments from Stewart Love regarding footsteps in the snow and delay in releasing information into the public domain. While reading this article a couple of questions spring to mind,could someone kindly shed some light on whether this WTE was/wasen’t radio-tagged and did the RSPB Scotland Employee get any photographic evidence?

    • 3 Dougie
      February 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

      The Scotsman article stated that the bird had a radio tag that was not working when the WTE was found.

      • 4 Mike Groves
        February 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm

        Hi Dougie,

        The reason I asked this question was because the Scotsman report to me was a bit vague ‘The dead bird was thought to be wearing a radio tag, but it is understood that the tag was no longer working by the time the bird was found’.
        Surely if this bird had been radio-tagged someone would be watching it’s movements and when the bird became stationary for a prolonged period of time, alarm bells would have started to ring?

  3. 5 Jock Scott
    February 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Mike, it could be that the sat tag was out of power due to the battery being dead or if it was a solar unit being low on charge due to the short, dull days at this time of year.

    It seems incredible that this case should have remained without any media coverage for 8 weeks and it would appear that the case has only come to light after some excellent investigative journalism by The Scotsman.
    It may be perceived by some (careful now!)that Northern Constabulary were trying to keep this case quiet. It would certainly be advantageous to the grouse shooting fraternity to keep reports like this “quiet” until passage of the WANE bill is complete.
    These cases of raptor persecution that keep getting supressed from media attention seem to be a common factor in raptor persecution cases in the Northern Constabulary area.

    Jock

  4. 6 Dougie
    February 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Possibly the tag had ceased working some time before the bird died and no trace was found at it’s last known location.
    Unfortunately I don’t hold out any hope of a favourable outcome in this case.

  5. 7 paul irving
    February 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I must say I find the whole thing sadly familiar and it seems that we are up against not only the powerful landowning fraternity but also police poor judgement yet again. Its hard enough finding the few birds that we do of the many that doubtless meet an end due to illegality without any further uphill struggles caused by such problems. This will doubtless be another unsolved case of many that allow the culprits to say in the cynical way they do not us gov there is no proof. As they have implied in their pathetic criticism of the harrier framework document, not taking fox or eagle interactions into account when we all know that they are two more species almost as rare as an unmolested harrier on grouse moors.


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