The name of the Perthshire sporting estate raided by Tayside Police earlier this month, following the discovery of poisoned buzzards and poisoned bait in March 2011, has been recently reported on the raptor study group website as Edradynate Estate.
Described by Tayside Police Wildlife Crime Officer Alan Stewart in 2005, “Edradynate Estate, which is owned by an absentee landlord from Hampshire, has probably the worst record in Scotland for poisoning incidents, going back more than a decade. In 14 separateincidents since 1998, 16 poisoned victims (nine buzzards, a cat, a tawny owl, two sparrowhawks, a common gull, a polecat and a crow) and 12 poisoned baits (rabbits, woodpigeons and a pheasant) have been found, with traces of the pesticides mevinphos, carbofuran and alphachloralose”.
His comments were made after the collapse of a trial concerning two gamekeepers from the estate, who were charged with various offences involving the alleged poisoning and trapping of birds of prey. The case was dropped by the Procurator Fiscal, reportedly because of the time taken for the case to be heard. Full story here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/legaleagle43_tcm9-132966.pdf
Since his comments, there have been more discoveries of poisoned birds on this estate, and public denials in the media of any involvement by estate gamekeepers, who claim the dead birds must have been ‘planted’ by someone else. Nobody has ever been convicted for wildlife crime offences on this estate and still the poisoning continues. Let’s hope that Tayside Police are able to detect the perpetrator(s) of the most recent poisoning incident.
Interestingly, it is also reported on the raptor study group website that Edradynate Estate is believed to be a member of the SRPBA and that at least one gamekeeper is a self-confessed member of the SGA. This is difficult to verify though as, conveniently, neither group publicises the names of their members. Both of these groups have made many public statements about how they deplore illegal raptor persecution and how they are working hard to eradicate it. They are both also members of PAW Scotland. It was reported last year that the CEO of the SRPBA paid a visit to Edradynate Estate – perhaps to apply some much needed ‘peer pressure’. If he did, then he is to be congratulated for his efforts, although judging by recent events it would appear that peer pressure was unsuccessful. Or perhaps it was successful, and the latest deaths were attributable to those pesky carcass planters – you know, the ones who have never been seen or heard but who are managing to plant poisoned birds on sporting estates up and down the country…
A few of our readers have e-mailed to ask for an update on the trial of Derbyshire gamekeeper Glenn Brown. The trial started 11 April 2011 and was anticipated to last for 8 working days. We are reliably informed that the trial is now expected to conclude tomorrow (28 April 2011).
A police special constable and wildlife officer in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, is putting Scottish police forces to shame. Special Constable Phil Sanderson, also a retired police officer, has appealed to the public for help in what he believes is a potential poisoning threat to peregrines in his area. Compare Phil’s actions below with those of Tayside Police last week after their raid on an [un-named] Perthshire sporting estate.
A chicken carcass, believed to have been tainted with poison, was discovered in the Ryburn Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, close to a peregrine nesting site. The carcass has been sent to the lab for analysis. Even though West Yorks Police are waiting for confirmation of the poisoning, they were sufficiently concerned, both for the welfare of the peregrines and for humans and domestic pets in the area, to put out a public appeal for information. They released the name of the valley where the suspect bait had been found, and they advised the public on what sort of thing to be suspicious of and what to do about it if they do see something suspicious.
Special Constable Phil Sanderson could teach Tayside Police a thing or two. Well done mate.
A gamekeeper has appeared in court at Chesterfield Magistrate’s today on the first day of a trial where he is accused of seven charges under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Animal Welfare Act 2010.
Glenn Brown, 39, of Old Henry’s Schoolhouse, Derwent Valley, is accused of illegally using a crow cage trap to catch birds of prey on National Trust property, Howden Moor in the Derwent Valley. The case was brought after covert operations carried out by the RSPB.
The District Judge, Caroline Goulborn, is clearly taking an interest in the details of this case as she and other court officials spent the afternoon visiting the trap site. Good on her. The eight-day trial is to be continued…with some high profile expert witnesses for both prosecution and defence…
Last week’s police raid on a sporting estate in Perthshire was widely reported in the media. We were told that three week’s earlier, two poisoned buzzards and poisoned bait had been discovered on the estate, and that this had led to the issuing of a police warrant to search various properties on the estate. What we weren’t told was the name of the estate in question. Was this omission just a genuine oversight? Apparently not. According to an article published in The Courier on 8 April 2011, Tayside Police ‘refused to disclose the exact location of the estate’. This suggests that the journalist from The Courier had specifically asked for the name of the Estate but Tayside Police decided to keep it a secret. Courier article here: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/Living/Outdoors/article/12730/inquiry-into-discovery-of-poisoned-birds-of-prey-on-a-perthshire-estate-continues.html
Similarly, the other agencies involved with the raid (reported to be the RSPB, National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Scottish Government Rural Payment Inspections Directorate) have remained tight-lipped about the operation.
Let’s contrast this silence with the report of another police raid that Tayside Police undertook last week. According to a news item on the Tayside Police website, they raided six properties across Dundee last Friday ‘as part of a pre-planned operation aimed at disrupting a serious and organised crime group believed to be involved in a number of offences including drug dealing, money laundering and mortgage fraud’. Were they silent about the locations of the raids and the on-going inquiries? Were they heck. They named the actual streets where these properties were located, the type of property searched and even disclosed what they’d found so far. See news item here: http://www.tayside.police.uk/default.aspx.locid-013new0k8.Lang-EN.htm
Let’s also contrast the silence with the reporting of the two poisoned peregrines that were discovered at the base of a block of flats in Motherwell in February. The SSPCA, who are leading that particular investigation, immediately released the location of where those poisoned birds had been found. And quite right too. See their press release here: http://www.scottishspca.org/news/571_warning-after-falcons-poisoned
So, why would Tayside Police, the RSPB, NWCU and SGRPID not want to reveal the name of the Estate where they have discovered poisoned birds and poisoned bait? They might argue that revealing the Estate’s name is likely to defeat the ends of justice, for example, that evidence could be destroyed or removed. That would be a perfectly legitimate concern BEFORE the raid took place, but their news release was made AFTER the raid and AFTER they had collected potential evidence, so that particular argument doesn’t wash here.
This silence is also an interesting strategy considering the recent launch of the Tayside Policing Plan 2011-2014 (available for download on the Tayside Police website). This Policing Plan sets out the Force’s ‘high level aims for serving and supporting local communities, the local economy and the environment over the next three years. The plan focuses on two Community Priorities – Public Safety and Public Reassurance’. So, how does keeping quiet about the location of potentially lethal poison (which could kill humans and pets, as well as the wildlife it has already killed), fit in with this new Policing Plan? Does this secrecy benefit public safety? Does this secrecy benefit public reassurance? That’s for the local community to decide – although hang on, they can’t decide because they haven’t been told that this poison was found within their community.
Imagine if Tayside Police had discovered a car bomb in, say, Perth town centre. Would they be so coy about revealing the location? Would we see a press release along the lines of ‘We have discovered a car bomb but we’re not telling you where it is and we’re keeping its location a secret’?
I think not. It would obviously be in the public’s interest to be informed about such a threat. So why does Tayside Police and these agencies think that it’s ok not to tell the public where poisoned birds and poisoned bait has been discovered, regardless of whether they can or cannot identify the individual who laid the bait? It’s all very curious.