Archive for December, 2013

30
Dec
13

31 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions

In April 2012, we wrote an article called ’21 eagles, 6 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

In September 2012, we updated it and called it ’26 eagles, 6 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

In July 2013 we updated it again. This time, ’27 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

Here’s the latest version: 31 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions.

This article should provide some context the next time you hear someone (usually from the game-shooting industry or from the government) say that “we’re making real progress in the fight against raptor persecution”. So much ‘progress’ in fact that 13 of these eagles have been lost in the last 3 years; 4 of them this year, the so-called Year of Natural Scotland.

As before, a number of eagles included in this list (7 of them, to be precise) may not be dead. However, they are included here because their satellite tags unexpectedly stopped functioning (i.e. they’d been transmitting perfectly well up until the eagles’ last known location, often a known persecution hotspot). Two further satellite-tagged eagles (‘Angus’ and ‘Tom’) are not included in this list as although their transmitters stopped functioning, there had been recognisable problems with their tags prior to the final transmissions and so the benefit of the doubt has been applied.

A couple of eagles have been added that should have featured in the previous version but we’ve only just received details about them.

Many of these listed eagles from recent years have only been discovered because the eagles were being satellite-tracked. Much kudos to the dedicated teams of fieldworkers who have put in hours and hours of skilled hard work to allow this to happen. Obviously there are many other eagles out there that have not been sat-tagged and on the balance of probability will have been killed at the hands of the game-shooting industry. 31 eagles in the last 7 years is the bare minimum. The number of prosecutions (zero) is undeniable.

Dinnet & Kinord May 2006MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle was found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation. Seven years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Glen Feshie June 2006JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle was found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launched an investigation. Seven years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Peebles August 2007AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle was found on an estate near Peebles in the Borders. She was half of the last known breeding pair of golden eagles in the region. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Lothian & Borders Police launched an investigation. Six years and 4 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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bird-nNOVEMBER 2007: Tayside Police received a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) had allegedly been shot on a grouse moor estate in the Angus Glens. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. Six years and 1 month later, the bird has not been seen again. With no body, an investigation isn’t possible.

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White G Glenquioch May 2008MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle hatched on Mull in 2007 and known as ‘White G’ was found dead on the Glenquoich Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that included Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also revealed a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fenceposts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests revealed the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contained the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. Five years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Glen Orchy 2009JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle was found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll, close to the West Highland Way. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launched a multi-agency investigation. Three years and 3 months later, estate employee Tom McKellar pled guilty to possession of Carbofuran stored in premises at Auch Estate, Bridge of Orchy and he was fined £1,200. Four years and 6 months on, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning the golden eagle.

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Alma Millden 2009JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle known as ‘Alma’ was found dead on the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Alma was a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements followed by the general public on the internet. Tayside Police launched an investigation. Four years and 5 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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August 2009 Glenogil WTEAUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle was found dead on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Tayside Police was criticized in the national press for not releasing a press statement about this incident until January 2010. Four years and 4 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Skibo GE May 2010MAY 2010: #1 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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Skibo GE2 May 2010MAY 2010: #2 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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ge headMAY 2010: #3 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #1: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #2: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #3: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #4: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: A golden eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. Three years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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WTE Farr & Kyllachy June 2010JUNE 2010: A white-tailed eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. Three years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Lochindorb WTE Dec 2010DECEMBER 2010: A decomposing carcass of a white-tailed eagle was found and photographed on Logie (Lochindorb) Estate, Morayshire. It was reported to Northern Constabulary. By the time the police arrived to collect it, the carcass had disappeared. The police said they couldn’t investigate further without the body.

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ge headFEBRUARY 2011: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle ( ‘Lee’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from the North Angus Glens. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Glenbuchat GE March 2011MARCH 2011: The body of a young golden eagle was discovered on North Glenbuchat Estate, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation and raided the property in May 2011. Two years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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wtseAPRIL 2011: The body of a white-tailed eagle was found at the base of cliffs on Skye. The person who discovered it (a professional medic) considered it to have been freshly shot with a rifle, decapitated with a sharp implement and thrown from the cliff top. He took photographs and alerted Northern Constabulary and RSPB. There was a delay of two weeks before the now probably decomposed carcass was collected. A post-mortem was inconclusive. This incident was not made public until one year later after a tip off to this blog. Two years and 8 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headSEPTEMBER 2011: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Strathy’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from an Aberdeenshire grouse moor. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Lochaber poisoned ge March 2012MARCH 2012: The body of a young golden eagle being tracked by satellite was discovered in Lochaber. Tests revealed it had been poisoned with the banned pesticides Aldicarb and Bendiocarb. Information about this incident was not made public until three months later. One year and 9 months later,  nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headMARCH 2012: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Angus 26’, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. This bird’s suspiciously damaged sat tag was found in the area.

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ge headMAY 2012: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (#32857) unexpectedly stopped transmitting when the bird was north-east of the Cairngorms National Park. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Deeside GE May 2012MAY 2012: The dead body of a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (hatched in 2011) was discovered near a lay-by in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. The data from its satellite tag & the injuries the bird had when found (2 broken legs) suggested it had been caught in an illegal trap on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens and then removed, under cover of darkness, to be dumped in another area where it was left to die, probably a slow and agonising death. Information on this incident was not released until almost five months later, by the RSPB. It appears the police failed to properly investigate this incident as we understand that no search warrants were issued and no vehicles were searched. One year and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Wanlock Head GE Oct 2012OCTOBER 2012: An adult golden eagle was found shot and critically injured on grouse moor at Buccleuch Estate, near Wanlockhead, South Lanarkshire. The bird was rescued by the SSPCA and underwent surgery but it eventually succumbed to its injuries in April 2013. One year and 2 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headMAY 2013: The signal from a two-year-old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Angus 33’, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after it’s last signal from North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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ge headJUNE 2013: A dead golden eagle was found on an RSPB reserve on Oronsay. This bird had been shot although it is not known whether this was the cause of death or an historical injury.

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ge headJULY 2013: The signal from a young satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Cullen’, hatched 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after its last signal in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Fearnan Angus Glens Dec 2013DECEMBER 2013: A two year old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Fearnan’) was found dead on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

24
Dec
13

Perfect gift for the gamekeeper in your life

Last minute Xmas shopping? Here’s the perfect gift for the gamekeeper in your life….

ccoffee jars

Happy Xmas to all our blog readers!

23
Dec
13

Case against Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert: part 2

allen lambert stody estateLast week we blogged about Norfolk gamekeeper Allen Lambert who had been charged with seven alleged wildlife crime offences including the killing of 14 buzzards, 1 sparrowhawk and 1 tawny owl (see here).

The case against 64-year old Lambert, a gamekeeper on the award-winning Stody Estate, was heard last Thursday (19th December 2013) at Kings Lynn magistrates court.

It has been reported that Lambert pled guilty to keeping banned pesticides (Mevinphos & Aldicarb) but denied killing raptors and keeping some of their bodies.

His case was adjourned until 22nd January 2014.

Interestingly, the news report calls Lambert a ‘former’ gamekeeper.

News report from EDP24 here.

 

23
Dec
13

Case against Scottish gamekeeper James Marsh to continue in Feb

scales of justiceCriminal proceedings against Scottish gamekeeper James Marsh continued at Stirling Sheriff Court last Thursday (19th December 2013).

Marsh, 49, of Middle Ballewan near Blanefield, Stirling is facing charges related to alleged wildlife crime and animal welfare offences which are said to have taken place near Duntreath Castle in April 2012.

The charges, which Marsh has denied, relate to the alleged trapping of a Tawny owl and other associated offences.

His case was continued on Thursday and is expected to conclude in February 2014.

Previous blog post here.

20
Dec
13

The life, and death, of golden eagle Fearnan

Yesterday we learned that yet another young golden eagle had met an untimely death at the hands of an industry incapable or unwilling to move into the 21st century (here). The shocking result of a series of secretive, evil acts pervading the remote glens and mountainsides of Scotland. Secretive yet relentless. A lonely agonising death as the eagle spasms and fits and gasps its last breath, its feet clenched in chemical paralysis.

To most of us, Fearnan is just another statistic; one of a growing list of eagles lost in the most barbaric way. But here is his story, in the words and pictures of Keith Brockie, a man who knew Fearnan well. Thanks, Keith, for sharing with us.

Male golden eagle chick in his eyrie in Glen Lyon, Perthshire with oven-ready red grouse and red-legged partridge as prey. 25th June 2011:

Fearnan1

Portrait of the eaglet prior to being satellite-tagged:

Fearnan2

Holding the young male golden eagle chick prior to tagging the chick. Ringed by my wife, Hazel, her first eagle chick ringed:

Fearnan3

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB, fitting the satellite tag harness onto the eaglet prior to stitching and glueing the harness bands to establish a good fit:

Fearnan4

Fearnan flying alongside a hillside in Glen Lyon on 18th December 2011. You can clearly see the satellite tag and aerial mounted on his back. Unusually he stayed with his parents hardly venturing more than a few kms out of his natal territory from 23rd July when he fledged ’till 4th March 2012. His parents no doubt forced him out of their territory as they were about to lay eggs:

Fearnan5

His movements were monitored by Roy Dennis (see here where you can see his movements throughout Scotland). This map shows his last movements ’till his untimely death on 22nd November 2013. Prior to this he had travelled from Loch Awe, Ben Dearg, spent much of his time in North Perthshire and the Monaliaths ’till he made the fatal mistake of visiting the grouse moors of Angus. Indeed whilst I was doing golden plover monitoring on Dunmaglass estate near Inverness in June this year, Fearnan flew past only 50 metres away:

Fearnan6

Fearnan lying dead on a hillside overlooking Glen Lethnot on 3rd December 2013, when he was picked up by RSPB Investigations personnel (photo courtesy of them) and police. Later veterinary investigations revealed that he had been poisoned by carbofuran, a highly poisonous systemic insecticide (now banned) which is particularly toxic to birds. The golden eagle was recently voted most popular of the ‘Big Five’ wildlife species in a poll by Scottish Natural Heritage. This is the way they are treated in the ‘Year of Natural Scotland 2013’:

Fearnan7

The area where Fearnan was found dead is really bad for the persecution of raptors. Here are some of the known examples, merely the ‘tip of a very large iceberg’. 2008: a white-tailed eagle and a buzzard found poisoned, with 32 meat baits and a baited mountain hare also found. 2009: a white-tailed eagle and 2 buzzards found poisoned on one estate and a poisoned golden eagle and buzzard found on another estate. 2010: a poisoned red kite and nearby 2 poisoned buzzards with pigeon baits laced with poison. 2011: a buzzard seen shot. 2012: a tagged golden eagle trapped and transported overnight into a Deeside wood with a feather trail from a lay-by where it later died. 2013: the first white-tailed eagle eyrie in Eastern Scotland for 200 years chopped down by a chainsaw! These are just the known raptor deaths. Considering four satellite-tagged eagles have been killed in this area recently and fewer than 10% of young golden eagles are tagged each year in Scotland, how many moor are lying rotting amongst the heather on these grouse moors – another 36? These grouse moors where the persecution is taking place are acting as a sump, constantly killing immature eagles trying to find vacant territories. THE TIME IS LONG OVERDUE FOR SHOOTING ESTATES TO BE LICENSED to add further pressure on estates to curb the illegal persecution of raptors. The SGA and SLE would have you believe that persecution is declining but those of us who monitor raptors know differently! Please write to the Environment Minister to express your disgust: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Fearnan8

19
Dec
13

Golden eagle found poisoned on Angus grouse moor

A two-year old golden eagle named ‘Fearnan’ has been found dead on a Scottish grouse moor. He had been poisoned with a banned pesticide. The poison hasn’t been named but we’ll take an educated guess at Carbofuran, the gamekeepers’ poison of choice.

Interestingly, there are three separate press releases about this latest disgraceful crime:

One from the government via PAW (here)

One from the police (here)

One from RSPB Scotland (here)

Usually, we’re lucky to see anything for at least 4-5 months after the crime so it’s somewhat surprising to see the scuffle for media attention on this one. Could this be a sign that Environment Minister Wheelhouse has put his foot down and demanded that timely press statements are released? We can’t think of any other reason why the police should suddenly change their tactics from seemingly apathetic to seemingly responsive.

Of course, regular blog readers will already know that Fearnan is not the only poisoned eagle to have been found dead in the Angus Glens. In fact, there’s been a fair bit of raptor persecution over the last nine years. Here’s a list of incidents we’ve compiled from various published reports:

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle. Prosecution? Highly unlikely!

We think you’ll agree, this is overwhelming evidence that some people in the Angus Glens are systematically persecuting birds of prey, they have been for many years, and those same people are avoiding criminal justice for their disgusting and illegal activities. We call them The Untouchables.

Why have they been able to avoid prosecution for so long?

Now would be a good time to ask the Environment Minister for an explanation. While you’re at it, please also mention your revulsion about the continued practice of illegal raptor persecution on driven grouse moors. The time for estate licensing is here; the game-shooting industry, quite clearly, cannot or will not self-regulate.  Emails to: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

RIP Fearnan.

posioned GE Lethnot 2013

18
Dec
13

Gamekeeper convicted of setting an illegal pole trap

Here’s another example of how our fine ‘custodians of the countryside’ are the “most effective conservationists working in the British countryside today“.

On 9 December 2013 at Herefordshire Magistrates Court, 39-year old gamekeeper Wayne Priday was convicted of setting an illegal pole trap close to his pheasant release pen near Elton, close to Ludlow, in August this year.

He was fined £375 and ordered to pay £170 costs. Gosh, a £545 fine – that’ll learn ‘im.

Priday was caught thanks to covert video footage filmed by the RSPB Investigations Team. (Remember, this is in England where covert video evidence is readily accepted by the courts, unlike here in Scotland).

RSPB investigators visited Priday’s pheasant pen on 7th August 2013 and found a pole trap set in position on top of a post. The trap had been camouflaged with moss. Investigators disabled the trap and set a covert camera in place to identify the trap user.

The following day, along came Priday who was filmed examining the trap and clearly looking puzzled that it had been sprung without catching anything (see the covert video footage here – it’s hilarious). He unfastened the trap, put it in his vehicle and drove away.

Priday was later interviewed by West Mercia Police and he admitted setting the trap, although he claimed it was for squirrels.

Well done to the RSPB Investigations Team and also to West Mercia Police for a successful conviction.

We wonder whether Priday is a member of the National Gamekeepers Organisation? And if so, whether they will be expelling him from their club or whether they think Priday’s crime is not a ‘wildlife crime’ (e.g. as they did here). Shall we ask them? Emails to: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

Pole traps have been illegal in the UK since 1904. Essentially they consist of a spring trap which is attached to a post, often by a chain. Posts are often used by birds of prey to perch on to give them a good vantage point. When the raptor lands on the set pole trap, one or both of its legs gets caught in the jaws of the trap. When the bird attempts to fly away it is prevented from doing so because the trap is attached to the post. This causes the bird to dangle upside down where it will inevitably die a prolonged and horrific death. It is probably one of the most barbaric traps around, hence it being banned for over 100 years.

Here is a photograph of a buzzard (still alive) caught in another pole trap. It did not survive its injuries.

18
Dec
13

Poisoned buzzard found dead in Stirlingshire

S44-477413Here we go again…

A dead buzzard found in Stirlingshire in September had been illegally poisoned, according to Police Scotland. Three months on, they are now appealing for information.

The buzzard was found by a member of the public in the Sheriffmuir area, north of Bridge of Allan. The name of the poison used has not been revealed.

Adding this incident to the already swollen tally of illegally-killed birds found in 2013, it is abundantly clear that illegal poisoning is most definitely not decreasing, despite what the game-shooting industry would have you believe. We have calculated a 66% increase in poisoning crimes this year, and there are still a couple of weeks to go.

You might want to email the Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, and ask him (a) why the police appeal for information is three months late, and (b) what else he proposes to do about this disgraceful situation seeing as  illegal raptor poisoning in Scotland is back on the increase and current government measures to stop it are clearly not working.

Emails to: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

News article here

17
Dec
13

Gamekeeping orgs’ half-witted attempts to blur the truth

Birdcrime 2012Earlier this month the RSPB published two reports: one detailing raptor persecution crimes in Scotland during 2012 (see here) and one detailing raptor persecution crimes throughout the UK in 2012 (see here).

You’d think that the RSPB’s so-called ‘partners’ in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) would welcome the reports, highlighting as they do the continued criminal persecution of birds of prey. That’s what PAW partners are all about, right? Raising public awareness and finding ways of cracking down on wildlife crime?

Apparently not.

Here is the response of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to the RSPB’s UK-wide report. In case they decide to remove it from their website, we’ve reproduced it here:

NGO Comments on the RSPB 2013 Birdcrime Report

Saturday 14th Dec 2013

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has issued the following comment on publication of the latest edition of the RSPB Birdcrime Report.

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “The NGO stands for keepering within the law and automatically condemns illegal activity. That is why the NGO is proud to be a member of PAW – the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime. Furthermore, science has proven gamekeepers to be some of the most effective conservationists working in the British countryside today.

Intriguingly the RSPB’s shrill comments on persecution appear to lack the context that is essential for the public to form its own considered opinion. What the RSPB fails to mention in its news release is that the UK’s bird of prey population, taken as a whole, is thriving, with almost all species at record high levels. 

This seems a curious oversight for a charity required by law to educate the public in a balanced manner. This very important omission is intriguing, given the RSPB’s usually conscientious approach to its work. I believe it is fair to ask whether it’s perhaps to encourage charitable donations to the RSPB in the run-up to Christmas, a time of year when people are quick to put their hands in their wallets?

To view the RSPB 2013 Birdcrime Report News Release visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/media/releases/359085-sixty-years-of-protection-but-the-killing-continues

Good god, where do we start? With the bit about gamekeepers being ‘some of the most effective conservationists working in the British countryside today’?!! Or the bit about how we, the general public, are unable to form our own ‘considered opinion’ because the report apparently ‘lacks context’?!!

How about the statement: “What the RSPB fails to mention in its news release is that the UK’s bird of prey population, taken as a whole, is thriving, with almost all species at record high levels“.

The reason the RSPB ‘failed to mention’ this is probably because it’s a big fat massive distortion of the truth! ‘Almost all species at record high levels‘? That would be ‘almost all species’ apart from golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, hen harrier, red kite, goshawk, peregrine; all of which are being held at unnaturally low population levels thanks to illegal persecution, according to countless scientific studies.

And what on earth does ‘taking the UK’s bird of prey population as a whole‘ mean? Where’s the scientific validity of that? It’s absolutely meaningless pseudo-scientific rubbish! It’s like saying there’s no need to be concerned about the near-extinction of rhinos or elephants in Africa because big mammals ‘as a whole’ are doing ok.

sam4Not to be outdone in the idiot stakes, the NGO’s Scottish colleagues at the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association have published their own statement in response to the RSPB’s Scotland Persecution report.  We’ve reproduced it here:

SGA STATEMENT: RSPB BIRD OF PREY REPORT

Following the release of an unofficial report by the RSPB today on the Illegal Killing of Birds of Prey in 2012, the SGA issued the following response. An SGA Spokesman said: “The RSPB has clearly spent a lot of money in writing this report, which entitles them to put forward their own viewpoint. “With this agenda in mind, it is important, that the public refer to the actual crimes, as published annually by the Scottish Government with information provided officially by the Police and SASA, rather than speculative possible or suspected cases, which are clearly going to confuse the public. “All PAW partners, including ourselves, are fully behind the printing of the official statistics annually, based on actual legal cases, and see no reason why this should change. “While we have been encouraged by the progress made, with the official statistics stating a record of only 3 confirmed cases of illegal poisoning of birds of prey in 2012, reports such as this do little other than damage to on-going partnership efforts designed to reduce crimes against birds of prey. “As stated consistently, the SGA continues to advocate legal means to solving countryside conflicts. Because of this, the clarity and impartiality provided by law is important to us.”

Again, not what you might expect from a PAW ‘partner’. According to the SGA, the public are ‘clearly going to be confused’ by the report’s contents. Really? Is anybody ‘confused’? We’re not – the report presents the facts in the most clear way possible – the illegal persecution of raptors continues to take place on game-shooting estates up and down the country. Our raptors are still being poisoned, trapped, shot, and bludgeoned to death on sporting estates and the majority of the criminals are still avoiding prosecution: we call them The Untouchables.

It’s also interesting to see the SGA continue to peddle the myth that poisoning is in decline. According to our 2013 figures, poisoning in Scotland has actually increased by 66% in this, the Year of Natural Scotland, and that’s not including the discovery of poisoned baits…if we included every single poisoned bait found this year (as each one had the potential to kill at least one raptor had the baits not been discovered and removed), then the figure would jump to a phenomenal 1,333% increase in poisoning!!!

The SGA claims that the RSPB’s report does ‘little other than damage the on-going partnership efforts designed to reduce crimes against birds of prey’. We would argue that the SGA’s continued involvement in the PAW Scotland raptor group, and the NGO’s continued involvement in the English PAW group, does little other than taint the credibility of the PAW concept. In fact it doesn’t just taint it – it soaks it in implausibility. The sooner the other PAW partners realise this and vote these gamekeeping organisations off the panel, the better. PAW is not going to achieve anything as long as some of the ‘partners’ continue to deny and distort the facts. Oh, and harbour convicted wildlife criminals.

17
Dec
13

Case against gamekeeper George Mutch: part 5

scales of justiceCriminal proceedings against Scottish gamekeeper George Mutch of Kildrummy Estate, Aberdeenshire, continued yesterday at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

This was the 5th hearing for offences alleged to have taken place in August 2012.

Mutch was facing six charges of alleged wildlife crime. Yesterday he pled not guilty to all six. The court accepted his not guilty plea for two charges (under Section 1 subsection 2A of the Wildlife & Countryside Act: relating to the possession of dead birds) but four other charges remain.

The remaining four charges come under Section 5 subsection 1B of the WCA (relating to the use of a trap for the purpose of taking or killing wild birds) and Section 1 subsection 1A of the WCA (relating to the killing, injuring or taking of wild birds).

An intermediate diet will take place on 17th March 2014, and a provisional trial date has been set for 28th May 2014.

Previous blogs about this case here, here, here and here.




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