The death toll in what we are calling the Ross-shire Massacre has risen again today with the discovery of another poisoned raptor. Today’s dead red kite is the 10th to be discovered in the last fortnight in a small area in Conon Bridge, along with four buzzards, bringing the total found to date to fourteen.
RSPB Scotland is offering a £5,000 reward for any information that leads to a successful conviction. Their money is probably quite safe.
Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, Alex Hogg, has put out the following statement:
“The discovery of so many birds in one area is unprecedented and alarming“.
He’s either deliberately lying to make out that the mass killing of raptors in one area has never happened before or he has a very short memory:
In 2004, a gamekeeper on the Barns Estate in the Scottish Borders was convicted of poisoning 20 raptors (18 buzzards, 1 goshawk and 1 tawny owl). 25 dead raptors had been discovered but five were too badly decomposed to establish their cause of death (see here).
In 2013, gamekeeper Colin Burne was convicted of killing seven buzzards at the Whinfell Plantation, Penrith, Cumbria. A total of 12 dead birds had been found but five were too badly decomposed to establish their cause of death (see here).
This year, there is an on-going court case against a gamekeeper from the Stody Estate, Norfolk, after the discovery of 16 dead raptors (14 buzzards, 1 sparrowhawk and 1 tawny owl). Allen Lambert has admitted to storing two banned pesticides but he has denied killing the raptors. His trial begins in May (see here).
So far from this current incident being ‘unprecedented’, there are examples dating from 10 years ago right up to the present day of multiple dead raptors being found in a single incident – a telling indictment of just how little progress has been made in addressing this disgusting crime.
There’s also a statement on the SGA facebook page that includes this:
“Articles in the Telegraph and Herald this week indicated, through research, that there is little or no shooting interests in the area” [Conon Bridge, Ross-shire, where the latest atrocity is gradually being revealed].
That’s also inaccurate. There may not be a driven grouse moor in the immediate area but there certainly are shooting interests…
Photo of red kites at Gigrin Farm, Wales, by David Bowman.