Archive for July, 2012


Glen Orchy poison case: sentence due today

It’s been a long time coming. A very long time. Over three years. But today is the day Tom McKellar is sentenced for possession of Carbofuran, found at his house in June 2009 during a police investigation into the poisoning of a golden eagle (see here, here, here and here).

McKellar wasn’t charged in relation to the dead eagle, just for possession of a banned pesticide, to which he pleaded guilty. There’s a lot more to this case than has previously been reported, and once sentencing has finished we’ll have a few things to say.

So what do you think his punishment will be? Six hours on the naughty step?


Some not so depressing news for a change

Sick of reading all the depressing news on this site? So are we, so as a one-off-feel-good-Friday special, here’s a link to some positive raptor news in Scotland, thanks to the efforts of Forestry Commission Scotland and their partners.

Follow this link (here) to find out about this year’s Aberfoyle ospreys & buzzards, Tweed Valley ospreys, Huntly peregrines and Mull sea eagles.

Tune in next week for a return to depressing news. Monday will be a big day…


All the fun of the fair!

We were somewhat surprised to read last night that Raptor Politics is promoting a mini shooting fair at the E.J. Churchill shooting ground: “E.J. Churchill hoasting [sic] their own Game Fair this weekend” (see here for post).

According to the E.J. Churchill website (here), the award-winning E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground is based on the famous West Wycombe Estate, home to Sir Edward Dashwood (see here).

Ring any bells? See here.

This isn’t a dig at Raptor Politics, by the way. We all know how hard it can be to keep track of who’s who in the shooting world and RP should be applauded for their continued efforts to expose illegal raptor persecution.


Photo: clam trap – why haven’t these been banned?

This is a photograph of a clam trap, also known as a snapper trap, butterfly trap and Larsen mate trap. They are used to trap corvids, although obviously the traps are indiscriminate and can also be used to catch raptors and other protected species. We’ve recently blogged about clam traps and the controversy over whether they are a legal or an illegal trap (see here).

The clam trap photographed here shows a slight variation of use. Usually the trap will be held open by a false perch that collapses when weight is applied (e.g. when a bird lands on it) which causes the trap to snap shut. In this photo the false perch is absent and instead, the trap is set to snap shut when weight is applied to the base (e.g. when a bird lands on the bait).

It’s quite incredible that SNH has not yet banned the use of these traps on welfare grounds. Just look at the photograph. Imagine if a large raptor (e.g. buzzard, kite, goshawk, eagle) is caught in one of these things. Apart from the injuries that could be caused to the bird when the trap snaps shut (they are designed to shut with speed and force so it’s highly probable that the bird’s wings will still be open and thus caught in the jaws of the trap as it snaps shut), the trapped bird then has to endure up to 24 hours inside this cage before it is checked by the trap operator. Would it be able to move inside the trap? Does it have a perch? Does it have water? Does it have shelter? All these are basic requirements covering the use of crow cage traps and Larsen traps where a decoy bird is in use. Why should a clam trap be exempt from these welfare requirements? Is it because there isn’t a decoy bird in use? What about the welfare requirements of the trapped bird, whether it be a target or a non-target species? It’s probably fair to say that it would be stressful for any large raptor to be caught inside one of these things, whether it’s injured or not, and to be trapped like that for up to 24 hours? That’s assuming the trap operator bothers to do the 24 hour check. In our view it fails on all welfare considerations. The general licences used to permit the use of crow traps also explicitly ‘do not permit the use of any form of spring-over trap’. What’s this then if it isn’t a form of spring-over trap? Some organisations have argued that it isn’t a form of spring-over trap…no prizes for guessing who that was.

Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association supports the use of these traps (see here and here) as does Scottish Land and Estates [formerly known as SRPBA] (see here).

Whilst we all wait for SNH to make a decision on the legality of clam traps….if you see one of these traps you are advised to report it immediately to the police, SSPCA and RSPB. As with the other crow cage traps, the clam trap should have an identification code attached along with the telephone number of the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer. See here for a discussion on the legalities of other crow cage traps and what to do when you find one.


Police investigate attempted peregrine poisoning

Police are investigating the attempted poisoning of peregrines after the discovery of a live pigeon, covered in poison, was found tethered to a rock at a quarry in North Wales.

Well done to Sgt Rob Taylor, the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer, for highlighting the incident and for warning the public about the danger to walkers and dogs.

The newspaper report suggests this isn’t the first tethered & poisoned pigeon to be used as live bait at this site.

News report in the North Wales Daily Post here


Scottish birdfair: unaware or just dinnae care?

Some surprising news emerged this morning….an announcement has been made that the RSPB’s Scottish Birdfair will probably take place again next year (ironically 2013 is ‘The Year of Natural Scotland’) at the same venue: Hopetoun House (see here for announcement).

Why is this surprising? Well, for a start this choice of venue for the inaugural Scottish Birdfair 2012 raised plenty of eyebrows, and for very good reason (see here). If that wasn’t reason enough for RSPB management to reconsider their options (and it clearly wasn’t), then how about this:

Scottish Land & Estates (Andrew Hopetoun is a Director, remember?) issued a press release a couple of weeks ago that implied their support for buzzard ‘control’ (for control read ‘licences to kill buzzards’), basing their argument on the ‘evidence’ from that now infamous ‘buzzard snatches osprey chick’ video. The Chief Exec of SLE (Douglas McAdam) said:

 “This video provides the sad but clear and conclusive evidence of the serious impact that this growing population of Buzzards is now having“. [See here for SLE’s press release].

Actually Douglas, it provided no such thing. What it showed was an example of intraguild predation – a common and perfectly natural ecological phenomenon where a competitor kills and eats another competitor.

Come on, RSPB. Surely you can find a more suitable venue and partner for the next Scottish Birdfair? Sure, there are advantages to holding it at Hopetoun, e.g. the geographic location can catch punters from both sides of the border, then there’s……well actually it’s hard to think of another advantage. But maybe things like venues and partners don’t matter to the public? Another surprise this morning was to learn that this year’s Birdfair at Hopetoun House attracted almost 4,500 visitors. Were those visitors unaware of the Hopetoun/Leadhills connection, or was it just a case of knowing but not caring? You’d have to guess that if they were attending a Birdfair then they were probably into birds, in which case it’s probably likely that they were unaware of the connection, rather than not caring. You’d hope so anyway.


Photo: hiding the evidence

This is a photo of a dead buzzard inside a hole. How did it get there? Did the person who illegally killed the buzzard stuff it inside the hole to hide the evidence from casual passers-by? Or did the buzzard crawl inside the hole to die of natural causes? Yep, that must be it. Didn’t 13 of them do the same thing on a Scottish sporting estate a few years ago? Interesting that they all chose rabbit holes within close proximity to a crow cage trap. Oh and then there were the gunshot wounds…

Red kites have also been known to do it, funnily enough on another Scottish sporting estate. First they removed their wing tags, placed them in a hole and then covered the hole with moss. Then they severed their own legs, placed those in holes and also covered the holes in moss. Remarkable.

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