Archive for June, 2012


Golden eagle poisoned in Lochaber

A golden eagle is poisoned with banned pesticides in Lochaber and the police/RSPB wait for three months before appealing for information. What’s the point? Can anyone explain the purpose of this delay? Even the Scotsman comments on it (here). Can anyone think of another type of crime where these reporting delays are common?

RSPB press release here

Please note: this dead golden eagle is not the same dead golden eagle we reported on the 18 June (see here). We’re still waiting for an official press release about that one. But anyway, that’s two known illegally-killed golden eagles reported in the space of 10 days, and we understand that at least two others have been ‘missing’ since May, according to their sat tag data. Looks like we’re going to have to update our dead eagle page (here).


Gamekeeper convicted after trapped buzzard starved to death

Following the post we wrote on 31 May 2012 (see here), another Scottish gamekeeper has been convicted of a wildlife crime offence, this time for allowing a buzzard to starve to death inside a crow cage trap.

Jonathan Smith Graham (30), a gamekeeper on Glen Lyon Estate in Perthshire (see here), pleaded guilty to using a crow cage trap in which a buzzard was trapped and then starved to death. He has been fined £450 which is pretty pathetic when you consider the scope of available penalties (up to £5,000 &/or 6 months in prison), but perhaps more importantly he has now been banned from operating a crow cage trap for five years. Sheriff McCreadie’s comments about Graham’s actions (and in-actions) were also greatly encouraging and are welcomed. Credit to Tayside Police for undertaking the investigation on their own initiative and to wildlife fiscal Shona McJannett for a successful prosecution.

For the details of this case see here, here and here.

Some questions:

1. Will Jonathan Smith Graham be sacked from his gamekeeper job at Glen Lyon Estate now he has a wildlife crime conviction? Ask them directly:

2. Was he/is he a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association? (His defence lawyer was David McKie – the SGA’s solicitor – just coincidence?). If he is a member, will he be expelled now he has a wildlife crime conviction? Ask them directly: and while you’re there, ask them if they’re ready to say yet whether convicted gamekeeper Robert Christie (Lindertis Estate) is/was a member (see here).

3. Why hasn’t the SGA issued a public statement condemning the actions of this gamekeeper? Ask them directly:

4. Is Glen Lyon Estate a member of Scottish Land and Estates? Ask them directly:


What aren’t they telling us and why aren’t they telling us?

It seems blogger Alan Tilmouth was much more astute than us. Last week we blogged about Alan’s FoI to DEFRA to find out which Northumberland shoots were set to host the DEFRA buzzard ‘study’. DEFRA wrote back to Alan to ask whether he still wanted to proceed with his FoI even though the ‘study’ had now been cancelled. Alan saw this as a ‘concealment’ attempt by DEFRA – we saw it as just a delaying tactic (see here). We were wrong!

DEFRA has now written to Alan again, this time to tell him that yes, they hold the information he requested but no, they aren’t going to reveal it for ‘public safety’ reasons!!! See Alan’s blog here for their full statement.

Public safety my arse! Does anyone else smell the rancid odour of a cover up? Time to write to the Information Commissioner, Alan!

It seems DEFRA aren’t very good at responding to FoI requests, especially those relating to the game-shooting industry. Mark Avery has also been having trouble getting DEFRA to respond to his FoIs about Walshaw grouse moor (see here).

Talking of cover ups, still no official word from Tayside Police, Grampian Police or the RSPB on that dead golden eagle that we reported on Monday (see here). Hmmm…


Another dead golden eagle: surely not a cover up?

Information has been received about the recent discovery of a dead golden eagle in Scotland, whose injuries suggested it had been killed illegally (poison is not thought to have played a part in this one).

The discovery of the eagle’s body and an assessment of its injuries, along with tracking data from its satellite tag, led to a joint police/RSPB search of a well-known sporting estate last month.

Why hasn’t there been any public statement about this incident from the two police forces involved (Grampian & Tayside) or the RSPB? Fair enough for investigators to keep quiet prior to the search so as not to alert any potential offenders, but it’s now several weeks later and still no statement? Surely this incident is of significant public interest?

If it hadn’t appeared on this blog, would this incident ever have come to the public’s attention? It certainly wouldn’t be included in the ‘official’ annual persecution stats because those figures only relate to known poisoning incidents; they don’t include incidents where other methods of persecution have been employed such as shooting, nest destruction or trapping. It might get published in the RSPB’s list of ’probable’ persecution incidents in their 2012 annual review, but that won’t be published for at least 18 months (winter 2013) by which time this latest eagle death would be considered ‘old news’. How convenient, for one sector of society at least.

For the time being, specific details about this incident, including the nature of the eagle’s injuries and the name of the estate that was subsequently searched have been deliberately excluded from this post as it will be claimed the investigation is still ‘live’. Even if that’s true, what, or who is preventing the police/RSPB from issuing a preliminary press release about their investigation into yet another suspicious death of a golden eagle on yet another Scottish sporting estate?


Traps in our countryside: a walker’s guide

Thanks to Steve from the animal protection charity OneKind who has advised that his 2010 article, ‘Traps in our countryside: a walker’s guide’ has now been updated.

This excellent illustrated guide provides detailed information for the general public on how to distinguish a legal trap from an illegal trap. The updated version also includes information about a new trap which is known by several common names: clam trap, snapper trap, butterfly trap and Larsen mate trap. This particular trap is causing controversy: the game-shooting industry argues it is legal and safe whereas others strongly disagree and some have even suggested its use could be an offence under animal welfare legislation, although this has yet to be tested in a court of law. It is understood that SNH is still consulting about the lawfulness of this trap and more information should be forthcoming in the near future (see here).

The SGA’s views on the clam trap can be read here and here. A copy of their consultation response to SNH on the use of clam traps can be read here.

A copy of the SRPBA’s (now called Scottish Land and Estates) consultation response to SNH on the use of clam traps can be read here. Its interesting to compare this with the SGA’s response – copy and paste, anyone?

Click here to read OneKind’s updated article – Traps in our Countryside: a walker’s guide.

Click here to read our recent article – Crow Traps: what you should know.


Another peregrine site attacked

The BBC is reporting an attack on a peregrine site at a quarry in Staffordshire.

Someone tried to steal or kill three chicks at the site between Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Quarry staff found a rope above the nest site, and the three chicks were found scattered across the site. It’s understood all three are now safe. Police are investigating.

BBC news article here


Devon & Cornwall police issue bird poisoning alert

Devon & Cornwall Police continue their impressive proactive stance against wildlife crime by today issuing a press release to warn the general public to be on the look out for poisoned birds and poisoned baits.

The alert has been issued to the local community in an area with a history of raptor poisoning, including previous attempts to poison peregrines. The public have been warned about the potentially fatal consequences of coming in to contact with the poisons used, and have been reassured that regular police patrols will be undertaken in the area.

We don’t see enough of this sort of proactive approach (although last year West Yorkshire Police did send out a public warning after poisoned bait was discovered – see here, as did Northern Constabulary, see here).

Once again, Police Wildlife Crime Officer PC Josh Marshall deserves huge plaudits for his efforts. Earlier this year Josh was behind a scheme to attach covert cameras at vulnerable raptor nest sites that resulted in catching two men disturbing a peregrine site within 48 hours of installing the equipment (see here). Somebody needs to get him and his enlightened bosses up to Scotland to provide training workshops for every single police force.

See here for the police poisoning alert.

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