Last June we blogged about an illegally-killed hen harrier that had been found dead on moorland near Muirkirk in south west Scotland. The adult female’s corpse was discovered close to a nest containing two live chicks (see here).
At the time, Police Scotland refused to reveal the cause of death. Det. Inspector Graham Duncan of Kilmarnock CID was quoted as follows:
“Whilst at this time we cannot divulge how the bird was killed, we do believe it was the result of a criminal act and we need to establish why this has happened“.
Pretty much everyone in the country will know exactly ‘why this has happened’ – well, everyone it seems except Kilmarnock CID.
We suggested the harrier had probably been shot, although one of our readers commented that it could also have been clubbed to death – as has happened previously to hen harriers at Muirkirk.
Eight months on and the cause of death is still being withheld. Here’s what the latest SASA report says about this case:
‘Cause of death withheld due to specialist knowledge‘.
It’s also interesting to note that SNH has not enforced a General Licence restriction on the land where this bird was found. Just as we discussed yesterday with the case of the poisoned red kite (see here), the illegal killing of this harrier seems to meet all the criteria needed for immediate enforcement action:
This hen harrier is not the first to be illegally-killed in the Muirkirk area – it’s one of many in a long, long line – read this article from 2008(!) detailing what was going on in this so-called Hen Harrier Special Protection Area; the conservation impact of killing a hen harrier is obvious; and the evidence [her carcass] was fresh.
So why the delay in enforcement?
Why is it so difficult to get the police (and in this case, SNH) to do their jobs properly?