Raptors being killed by a mystery virus, not by illegal persecution

virusA top virologist has declared that we’ve all got it wrong – raptors are not being systematically slaughtered across Scotland and northern England – they are falling victim to a mystery virus.

Professor McPasteur, a distant relative of Louis Pasteur, has been studying the new virus in his top secret laboratory in Ross-shire. He said:

This is a real breakthrough in the world of virus discovery. We’ve uncovered what we believe to be the cause of extensive raptor deaths that have previously been blamed on the activities of gamekeepers. We don’t yet know a lot about this virus but we do know it is transmitted on the breath of grouse moor gamekeepers and is highly contagious. Some gamekeepers have developed a high level of immunity and appear not to be infected; however we have yet to develop an effective vaccine and at the moment the only known control is to isolate the host carriers from the rest of the community“.

He goes on: “This virus is very clever. It can mimic the presence of several banned poisons, but particularly Carbofuran, leading crime investigators to mistakenly attribute a bird’s death to illegal poisoning. It can also fell nest trees, set illegal traps and cause shotguns to self-trigger. It really is remarkable“.

The results of Prof McPasteur’s experiments are expected to be published in the Ross-shire Science Journal in the coming days.


29 Responses to “Raptors being killed by a mystery virus, not by illegal persecution”

  1. 1 michael gill
    April 18, 2014 at 10:37 am

    very droll

  2. April 18, 2014 at 11:09 am

    This story’s surely 17 days too late?

  3. 3 Jimmy
    April 18, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Shure don’t you know that the SGA and friends are very keen on science and facts when it comes to raptors

  4. 4 Chris Roberts
    April 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Certainly a good idea to isolate the host carriers!

  5. April 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    What a ridiculous article regarding such an important issue. Seriously, how do articles like this help anybody, let alone the birds?

  6. 6 Fay M
    April 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t know any virus’ that wear size ten boots

  7. 7 nirofo
    April 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    It must surely be the ALPHACHLOROLOSE VIRUS, it’s a common one on most grouse moors and easily recognised, it’s normally transferred to Raptors via the corpses of the dead birds or animals they feed on. The gamekeepers have to be applauded in their attempts to wipe it out by exterminating as many birds of prey as possible in order to reduce the spread of the virus, they’ve nearly succeeded but hopefully with the help of various environmental organisations the Raptors will become immune to this dastardly threat to their survival. One suggestion I’ve heard that may help to remove the main cause of this disease is to reduce the numbers of grouse on the moors to natural sustainable levels, this will have the knock on effect of reducing the need for the high numbers of gamekeepers and their attempts to totally destroy the birds of prey.

  8. 8 lindaken
    April 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    COme on this story is absolutely rubbish, the birds were confirmed by the police that were poisioned – McPasteur in a secret lab in Ross-shire come on!

  9. 9 Circus maxima
    April 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    The truth is out there……….hen harriers are kidnaped by aliens. Fact. Their migration route takes them through Area 51…..and that’s when the Sat tracker goes dead. The shooting estate story is just a cover-up.

    • 10 nirofo
      April 19, 2014 at 2:24 am

      I thought that was the black holes of grouse moor estates where the sat trackers go dead !!! I have it on good authority that it’s the sophisticated electronics that are the problem, they’re susceptible to the gamekeepers chain home beacon, I first heard it via the SGO.

  10. 11 Dougie
    April 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Virologist – I could think of a few other names for him. I think that story can be filed along with the other two that were in the former Sunday Sport. I am referring to the two cover stories it carried about the U-boat and the B52 found on the Moon.

  11. April 19, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I don’t think vitriolic satire of this sort is appropriate to the reported incidents.

  12. April 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    This lookis like another 1 of your sarcastic stories, it’s clear that something terrible has happend, I doubt it was a virus, but I am sure that there are no driven grouse moors within a 10km radius, so who are you going to blame this time?

    • 17 nirofo
      April 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Not all shoots or gamekeepers are on grouse moors, in many places Pheasants and Partridges are reared in huge numbers and put out for the guns to shoot. The lowland agricultural farmland and woodland areas situated all around the recent Red Kite and Buzzard killing fields are ideal for Pheasant and Partridge, don’t forget, many farmers also have keen shooting interests, not that I’m saying the farmers are to blame for this dastardly act of course !!!

  13. April 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    More like one too many. It just highlights what’s happening on grouse moors, but due to there remoteness it doesn’t get discovered to the same extent.

  14. 19 John Cavana
    April 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Makes we wonder how raptors have managed to increase in both range and numbers, yet they have!!

  15. April 21, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    John, you’re obviously not referring to raptor populations on grouse moors.

    • 21 John Cavana
      April 22, 2014 at 7:32 am

      yes I am, Merlins are doing better on Grouse moors, and most raptors have increased nationally, stop blaming keepers and making fiction, look at the facts and work together.

      • April 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        These two statements hardly matter in this discussion. Merlins are not particularly attracted to the poisoned carrion or bait that seems to be found on managed grouse shoots and the proportion of the country taken up by commercial grouse moors is miniscule (lucky for raptors in my opinion).

      • 23 nirofo
        April 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        I don’t know where you get your information from but with just a couple of minor exceptions it’s way out ! Merlin numbers are well down, Hen harriers are seriously well down, peregrine numbers are well down except in urban environments, Golden Eagle are only just about holding their own and Goshawks don’t even dare to show their face. All these are Raptors most associated with moorland type habitat where unfortunately for them the Red Grouse is the dominant species, pampered to the extreme by gamekeepers who don’t give a damn for legally protected birds of prey and go out of their way to ensure that they don’t live around their particular patch for too long.

        The facts are the shooting estates and their gamekeepers are destroying our so-called protected birds of prey and the natural moorland environment they live in at an unprecedented rate since the Victorian era, and this is not fiction, it’s a well documented fact if you care to look for it. They have no intentions of working together as you put it, as has already been proved, their idea of working together is to create an agreement between themselves and the appropriate environment agencies where it would be ok for them legally kill birds of prey in order to increase the number of grouse available for the guns to shoot. I can’t imagine any scenario where it would be right to kill legally protected Raptors, it’s obscene to think that this is just so that the shooting estates can produce even more unnaturally high levels of semi tame grouse for the paying guns to blast out of the sky for their pleasure. Is this is the 21st century or are we still living in the 19th century ???

        • 24 John Cavana
          April 23, 2014 at 6:49 am

          So, hidding behind fiction with fictisuous names, DONT THINK THATS THE ANSWER! I think you will find that only the Kestrel and Hen Harrier are raptors in decline, not all moors are managed for Grouse, several thousands of arces are managed by the RSPB, Hawk and Owl Trust, MoD, National Parks etc (and are low in raptor numbers) lets remember we do need to work together and accept the science, sure some illegal persecution is going on and needs to be dealt with, at the same time I can give you instance of nest abandoment of Merlins after interferance from ringers, Montagues Harrier next being allowed to be predated and several other instances that are FACT but hidden. It was after the all RSPB that left the meetings rather than stick it out and use science instead of speculation. Sure these birds need help, something is wrong, massive decline in HH on the islands around Scotland due to changes in sheep management (no gamekeeper involved) stop manupulating figures and hidding behind speculation, just because you dont agree with shooting dosnt make them the culprit, thats just prejudice, STAMP out what is illegaly going on but then look at long term solutions……Oh and I say all this as former senior wildlife ranger for the Hawk and Owl trust, sorry for spelling its very early in the morning.

          • 25 nirofo
            April 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm

            First of all I don’t hide behind fiction with a fictitious name, I use an anagram made up of the initials of my real name as is well known to many people. Why would I want to think that’s the answer ? If you want my full name you only have to ask admin to forward your request to my email address.

            I think you need to check with the Scottish Raptor Study Groups for up to date info regarding the real non fiction population levels of Scottish Raptors, it’s all well documented in detail from many experienced sources. Contact Brian Etheridge, he was the well respected Scottish Raptor Study Groups co-ordinator for many years, I’m sure he’ll be only too pleased to put you in the picture! If then you don’t like the truth, that’s your prerogative.

            You say several thousands of acres of moorland are managed by the RSPB, Hawk and Owl Trust, MoD, National Parks etc, (and are low in raptor numbers), doesn’t this make you wonder why? If these lands have suitable habitat for Raptors don’t you think it strange they are so low in numbers, could it be that adjacent grouse moors predator control could be the reason the numbers are down. While I can’t speak about the Hawk and Owl Trust or the MoD, I can say that the RSPB and the National Trust doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to protecting Raptors on or near grouse shooting estates. This doesn’t mean to say that the gamekeepers or anyone else for that matter should be allowed to continually break the wildlife protection laws any time they please just because they can get away with it.

            As a former senior wildlife ranger I would have thought you would be very aware of the extent of the Raptor persecution at the hands of the shooting estate gamekeepers, but then I suppose it depends on what type of wildlife ranger you were and to what extent you assessed the importance of the problem !!!

          • 26 Marco McGinty
            April 24, 2014 at 3:30 am

            John, if a Merlin’s nest was abandoned due to interference from ringers, then I am sure you would agree that this would not have been the ringers’ aim when they approached the nest. If a Montague’s Harrier nest was predated, then this is a perfectly natural occurrence, just the same as a Montague’s Harrier could predate the nest of another rare or scarce species. I sincerely hope you are not trying to suggest these examples should be treated on a par with deliberate raptor persecution.

            Many people on here would accept shooting if there was an end to the criminal aspect, but sadly the current management of the majority of shooting estates dictates that there should be game birds and very little else, and this attitude is all too prevalent when it comes to predatory birds and mammals.

            But here’s a simple solution that would put an end to the conflict – stop driven grouse and pheasant shooting and adopt only a walked-up approach. There would be no need for the big bags, meaning less expenditure in trying to maintain areas for large numbers of grouse/pheasants only, allowing raptors and other predators to live in peace, and as a result of an enhanced biodiversity, the estates could supplement their income by offering wildlife tours and photographic tours throughout the year. Photographic hides could be built in different habitats, viewpoints could be set up if certain species are found to be nesting (Osprey, Goshawk, Peregrine, etc.). You just have to look at the popularity of the Loch Garten Osprey Centre, where people queue up in the early morning for a glimpse of a Capercaillie. Look at the burgeoning tourism industry on Mull, the local benefits brought about by the Lake District Osprey Project, and a large number of other raptor watchpoints scattered throughout the UK, all of which attract many thousands of people each nesting season, and bring in many thousands of pounds in income.

            It’s all straightforward – if landowners want to change from the outmoded cultural practices of large bags, and away from the lust and desire to rid the land of predatory creatures, this alternative approach is easily achievable.

            There’s been decades of dialogue, and we’re just going round in circles. Illegal killing continues and nothing has changed, but change has to come, and it must come from the shooting industry. You have to remember that it’s not this side that is repeatedly breaking the law.

  16. April 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Only Merlin’s John, that obviously confirms my statement.. Looking at the facts has you suggest shows raptors are relentlessly being illegally & barbarically killed on grouse moors.

  17. 28 Paul Dunham
    April 23, 2014 at 9:59 am

    So those full of lead died from a virus did they??? Those body’s riddled with carbofuran died of a virus too did they??? Those Harrier nests with eggs and chicks stamped on were killed by a virus??? and this virus happens coincidentally mainly on shooting estates where estate owners are trying to get rid of birds of prey??? The research is grasping at straws and will be torn apart under peer review.. All species on the planet carry and died from viruses.. it’s the normal order of things.. Even if dead specimens are found to carry viruses it doesn’t mean it killed them… Analysis of any wild species will find evidence of viruses which kill a proportion of infected birds… It’s called EVOLUTION… Survival of the fittest..

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