Ross-shire Massacre: death toll rises to 19 – public protest this Saturday

The number of dead raptors found in the Conon Bridge area of Ross-shire has risen to 19. These include 14 red kites and five buzzards.

Toxicology tests so far have determined that 12 of them (9 kites and 3 buzzards) had been poisoned. Tests have not yet been completed on all the corpses.

In response to one of the worst mass poisoning incidents in recent times, RSPB Scotland is organising a public protest in Inverness town centre this Saturday. The key aim of this protest is to let the Scottish Government know that we all want action to prevent this criminal persecution of our raptors from happening again.

Protest Date: Saturday 12th April at 2pm.

Meet at the top end of the pedestrianised High Street, Inverness (near Marks & Spencer & Santander).

All welcome (including children) and protesters are encouraged to make their own banners.

If you can’t attend the protest, please consider showing your support by donating to the reward fund HERE.

Previous blog posts on the Ross-shire Massacre here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Here are some pitiful images of some of the victims (via @RossKites)







35 Responses to “Ross-shire Massacre: death toll rises to 19 – public protest this Saturday”

  1. 1 Balbuzard Pecheur
    April 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Absolutely horrendous. The person (s) responsible need to be stamped on hard and jailed.

    [Ed: Thanks for your comment. We’ve edited the second word of the second sentence as the occupation of the criminal(s) is not yet known].

  2. 2 Chris Roberts
    April 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Even one Red Kite, is far more important to Scotland than the murdering scum that carried out this atrocity. A long jail term is the only sentence to fit this crime, that is if the cowardly scum is ever caught.

  3. April 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Hopefully this demonstration will raise the profile of the need to tackle wildlife crime.
    I won”t be attending from Leicestershire but good on ya anyone who takes the time to attend.

    I just noticed on your cluster map that blog visitors from the USA is 7,700 a similar figure for London. What a great advert for Scottish tourism – NOT!
    Scottish Tourist Board take note and apply pressure where needed.

    Perhaps a blog highlighting these facts would not go amiss. I haven’t found a way to get notifications for every comment and not every one will subscribe to all comments.

  4. 4 Scott
    April 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I have holidayed in this area many times and it is not remote. For this reason it must be extremely worrying for locals and holidaymakers as many of the properties have large accessible areas for families to walk and play. Perhaps children wouldn’t touch dead raptors but if any family pets were affected directly or indirectly by the poison the children may touch them and some of these poisons are very deadly. I will not manage to attend the demonstration but I will contact the Environment Minister with my concerns.

  5. 5 Carrie
    April 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I’m gutted that I have to work on Saturday or I’d definitely be there. Those images are sickening. What a disgusting, sick excuse for a person it must take to do something like this.

  6. April 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Why did it take so long for Police Scotland raid the properties where suspicion fell? The Scottish Government has got to take the kid gloves of when dealing with raptor persecutors, & instruct the police to commit the resources to catching these criminals, allow the SSPCA the full powers to investigate & to ensure that the courts know that maximum sentences should be handed out to the despicable perpetrators, meaning nothing less than time behind bars. And why have we not heard anything from the Scottish Governments so-called experts in the field, namely SNH. Not a cheap has come from them. They more than anyone should know the situation with the illegally suppressed Black Isle red kite population & be advising the Government on the necessary means to increase & expand the range of these fabulous birds in the north.

    • 7 raptor1
      April 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Greengrass – you make some very good points. SNH simply pass the buck in my experience. Despite giving them some information on a previous confirmed poisoning incident in this area they said everything was up to the police (understandable in some respects). When I phoned back a few weeks later they had not even bothered to contact the police to find out the status of the investigation despite the fact that the incident had occurred on land that they hold an advisory input on (windfarm application).
      If the police put this information in the public domain before they had raided any suspected properties then I completely despair. What chance of finding the poison now?

  7. 8 Chris
    April 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I note from the photos that some of the red kites appear to have already been partially consumed by something else. Does this mean that the poison will continue to be claiming further victims from this?

  8. 9 merlin
    April 9, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    In 2012 there were 3 acknowledged instances of poisoning although these figures were disputed by the RSPB who actually put the figure at seven. Much back slapping and self congratulations were in evidence from the shooting fraternity, much was made of a 70 to 75% decrease in confirmed cases. Much was also made about the RSPB’s claims that the figure was 7 instead of the alledged 3. just a few reflections from 2012

    Environment Minister and chair of PAW Scotland Paul Wheelhouse issued the following statement.

    “I very much welcome the significant reduction in the number of birds of prey poisoned which I hope signals the real change in attitude that is required to end this outdated and cruel practice.
    “2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, and our birds of prey are both a vital part of the natural environment and a stunning spectacle which attract visitors to our countryside from home and abroad. It is our duty to protect them and I believe that new measures brought in by the Scottish Government over a year ago – which mean that landowners and managers can no longer turn a blind eye to offences against wild birds on their land – are a major deterrent to those who think they are above the law.

    Douglas McAdam, chief executive of SLE, issued the following statement (in part)

    Our members abhor wildlife crime and condemn it out of hand. We are fully committed to its eradication.
    “It is right the RSPB report highlights the unacceptability of wildlife crime but we believe it would be more productive if the charity focused more on promoting what can be achieved in tackling the issue rather than trying to point fingers.”

    A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said:

    All PAW partners, including ourselves, are fully behind the printing of the official statistics. While we have been encouraged by the progress made – with the official statistics stating only three confirmed cases of illegal poisoning of birds of prey in 2012 – reports such as this damage on-going partnership efforts designed to reduce crimes against birds of prey.”

    2014 has now seen an unprecedented rise of over 600% in Raptor poisoning incidents and we haven’t even got through the forth month of the year.

    Will the above partners in PAWS now admit that they have got things drastically wrong.

    Paul Wheelhouse gets an extremely good wage paid out of public funds, will he now stand up and implement some kind of control over these people or will he resign.

    Douglas McAdam, estate owners take on average over £150,000 per annum in state subsidies (again tax payers money) yet most complain they are still making a loss despite the rights for shooting Grouse costing £150 a brace and the estate keeping the rights to sell the shot grouse on to restaurants afterwards for a token amount, just an example albeit a good season, one estate alone shot 10,000 grouse in one season. The maths makes it almost impossible to make a loss but apparently some still do.

    At what point will they stop blaming everyone else and take responsibility for the actions of their employees, withstanding that at what point will they admit they have no control over their staff and they need help, just a thought but we have pig and chicken farmers going bust because they cant afford to feed their animals. these are family run concerns that have lasted generations, They could do with these subsidies and would probably turn a profit.

    SGA, words fail me, you’ll never produce a working mans hero, bought and sold. theres not a union man amongst you.

    2014, 600% increase already, should some of the members of PAW be offered the chance to resign, they were quick to take the credit, lets see if they are as quick to act when they’ve been proved wrong

    • 10 Marco McGinty
      April 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Very good points, Merlin.

      Is it just coincidence that in 2012, the year that Vicarious Liability was introduced as a means of combatting wildlife crime, that poisoning incidents fell, then when the landowners realised that VL was never going to be used against them, we have witnessed an ever-increasing rise in poisonings? Back to normal for the countryside killers.

      As for the inept Paul Wheelhouse, as evidenced by the email chain between him and myself, he has no intention of taking a hard-line approach to the widespread criminal activity being carried out on these game estates. I say the email chain was between him and myself, but that is not strictly true, as despite requests for him to respond personally, he has refused to do so, leaving it to his minions to do his dirty work and spout the same old shite we’ve been hearing for years.

  9. 11 Jimmy
    April 10, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Raids should have happened when the first birds were found and before the media got hold of story. Its all just window dressing now. A serious amount of planning would be needed to kill so many birds and the poison used was clearly very toxic. I take it that the police are now sure of the site of said incident. Will vicarious liability be an issue??

  10. 12 joke tamsin
    April 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

    The incident is bad enough but the word on the street is that the investigation was a complete blunder…..press releases prior to searches..xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx….i hope there is a transparent enquiry into the police handling of this incident.

    Surely lessons have to be learned or do we continue to stumble on and at what cost. This is a very bad advert for Scotland……

    [Ed: Partly edited – we’re aware of that but unwilling to publish it at this stage].

    • 13 Dougie
      April 12, 2014 at 10:15 am

      If you are expecting transparency don’t hold your breath waiting for it. One thing that followers of this blog will have noticed is that things happen that simply should not happen. The whole area of wildlife crime is epitomised by a remarkable failure to prevent such crime and a more remarkable failure to catch and punish the perpetrators.

  11. 14 Circus maxima
    April 10, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Although the demonstration will stand more chance of press coverage in the centre of Inverness…..why not go up the hill and knock at SNH’s door….oh of course they wont be in on a Saturday…..well they are never in any day…..

    …..what is the point of this silent organisation?

  12. 15 Dougie
    April 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

    This horrendous occurrence is inevitably affiliated to the abject failure of the government and criminal justice system to tackle wildlife criminals. Detection rates are insignificant. Court processes seem designed to hinder and endlessly delay trials. Punishments are derisory to such a degree that they are pointless.

  13. 16 s manning
    April 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Friends @Raptor Persecution/Scotland,

    Please, please ensure that you get absolute national (meaning the BBC, ITV, Channel 4), and all the national newspaper coverage (even if it means doing something nasty to a Sassenach) for the Saturday demonstration, because there has been No news coverage of this entire event south of the border. I guess you’ll know why, the establishment don’t wont to stir-up the masses over a wildlife crime – perpetrated by them and their own – against the nations wildlife!

    Best wishes and good luck,

    Michael Watts.

  14. 17 Fiona
    April 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Someone knows who the culprits are……shame on you for not coming forward.

  15. April 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Actually, ref. s manning’s comment above, the massacre was a topic on BBC’s ” Breakfast” last week & someone from the RSPB down south was on the sofa. However it warrants a slot on national TV evening news plus an in depth report on “Countryfile”. Anyone out there with contacts should notify them immediately.

  16. April 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for the idea Greengrass, I’ve now emailed “editor@countryfile.com” to inform him/her of the out of control raptor persecution in Scotland & highlighting the Conon Kite Massacre. Hope many other bloggers will do likewise.

    • 20 crypticmirror
      April 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Trouble is that it’ll just get bumped to Landward instead. The problem with that is that the entire viewership of Landward are farmers and keepers.

  17. April 11, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Here in Gateshead’s Derwent Valley, Friends of Red Kites are following this tragic series of events. Every piece of news is on our website and I am personally putting entries on BirdForum, Twitter and Facebook.

    Tim Watson and I are hoping to be at the Protest Rally tomorrow, to offer our Group’s sympathy and support and to join in condemning the perpetrators of these crimes.

    We have lost a significant number of kites since our re-introduction in 2004, to carbofuran poisoning and shooting. We understand the effect this tragedy has had and will continue to have on the Black Isle and all those who are actively involved with Red Kites, especially Brian Etheridge and those who work at Tollie.

    Our local Community have taken the kites to their hearts; it is when the birds attempt to disperse away from the core area of the lower Derwent Valley westwards into Tynedale and into Northumberland that they face the threat of extinction.

    June Atkinson
    Press & Publicity

  18. April 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    This is one of the worst incidents of this kind, although illegal poisioning is still quite widespread. I have 2 poems about the wonderful red kites on my blog. ;-)

  19. 24 Judi Mahon
    April 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    This has provoked me into starting an e-petition which needs 100,000 signatures to get it debated in Parliament. Please sign and get this brought to the wider audience. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/63769

    • 25 Marco McGinty
      April 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Well done, Judi. Let’s keep the pressure on the evil that frequents the countryside, the evil that wilfully kills legally protected birds and mammals for their own selfish and outdated practices.

      I have just signed the petition, but I do have some concerns about the way it is handled by government. Before I signed, the number of signatories stood at 3. I added my details, awaited the confirmation email and clicked on the necessary link. This took me to the page stating that “Your signature has now been added to this e-petition.”, below which was another link to view the petition. I clicked on this link only to find that the number of signatories remained at three. I refreshed the page, yet still it remained at three.

      Considering that the vile bastards are the ruling party at present (yes, I know there is a coalition, but anyone that follows tory party principles isn’t any better in my book, so in my opinion the LibDems are every bit as bad – look how much Vince Cable has changed since the unholy alliance!), we have to realise that petitions against their beloved shooting interests could be subject to dishonesty, manipulation, or downright blatant, deceitful corruption.

      I’ve refreshed it about a dozen times now, and the total stands at six, so if anyone else has suffered similar, please say so. If anyone has yet to sign, please make a note of the number of signatories before submitting any details, then make a note of the number after the “Your signature has now been added to this e-petition.” part.

      • 26 crypticmirror
        April 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm

        Those epetition things don’t update quickly. It takes anywhere up to an hour for the updated number of signatories to show. It’s well documented bug, which the govt. IT bods have no intention of ever fixing.

        • 27 Marco McGinty
          April 12, 2014 at 1:44 am

          Thanks for that.

          It’s a well documented and recognised problem, yet the government chooses to ignore the issue and allow the problem to persist. Does that seem familiar to anyone?

          • 28 Circus maxima
            April 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

            I’m not sure if the way this is worded could actually deliver what we want. Its the Scottish Government that is charge of the subsidies in Scotland.

      • 29 Kathleen connor
        April 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Well done. I have signed the petition myself, and placed the link on my facebook account/Forums Kx

  20. 30 Stewart Love
    April 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Petition stood at 19 when I signed.

  21. 31 s manning
    October 10, 2014 at 10:53 am

    They only say they will “consider” what action can be taken? I guess we will have to wait and see.


    Mike Watts

  22. 32 Michael Watts
    October 15, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Dear all at RPS,

    I have written a short paper on the English Hen harrier and its continuing illegal persecution in England that I believe is also pertinent to Scotland.

    I have endeavoured to get it published in various magazines, from ECOS, the publication of the British Association of Nature Conservationists, British Wildlife, British Birds, the Guardian Newspaper, The Independent, and so on; all to no avail. ECOS came back with We would have difficulty prioritising it!

    I also sent copies to Dr Mark Avery and Sue Armstrong Brown, his assistant, when he was the RSPB’s head of conservation, as well as to Chris Packham, whilst he was with the BBC on Springwatch; neither acknowledged or replied.

    I contacted Charlie Moores of Birders against Wildlife Crime, who, after initially reading it and calling it a great piece of work they would be happy to publish, subsequently changed his mind and now no longer wishes to publish it.

    I have concluded that the paper’s political content probably scares potential publishers; would you be interested in reading it?

    Yours truly,

    Michael Watts. MA, Conservation Policy.

    • October 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Hello Michael,

      If you’d like to email it to us, we’ll certainly take a look. Email: raptor.persecution.scotland@hotmail.co.uk

    • 34 Marco McGinty
      October 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Michael, have you considered publishing it on your own blog? I’m sure there are many people that would like to read it, and you would probably reach a greater audience that way.

      • 35 Kathleen connor
        October 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        I agree as this issue needs to be resolved by a blog, and to have people like you, Macro, who help the problem as it stands. Michael you bring it all home. I, myself do not have a blog for unforeseem circumstances at the moment that need to be resolved – but until they are resolved, I will happily answer, and support people like yourself, Michael, about this subjec..as it very close to my heart.
        Kathy and Dave x (RSPB member for 41 years)

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