Red kite illegally trapped on Scottish grouse moor has to be euthanised

rk by David TomlinsonThe BBC news website is reporting that a red kite that had been illegally trapped last week has had to be euthanised due to the severity of its injuries.

The kite was found ‘in distress and seriously injured’ on Wednesday 13th May 2015.

The article (see here) is fairly low on details, but what has been written is actually quite informative.

It quotes a Police Scotland spokesman: “This was clearly an intentional act with the sole purpose of trapping this kind of bird of prey“.

That tells us that the bird probably wasn’t caught inside a crow cage trap (by accident), but more than likely was caught in an uncovered, illegally-set spring trap, baited and deliberately placed to trap a bird of prey by its leg(s).

The article also states that the bird was found trapped ‘on moorland west of Stirling’. This is also pretty revealing. There isn’t much moorland to the west of Stirling and the moorland that is there is managed for grouse shooting (for those who don’t know the area, have a look on google maps and look for the tell-tale muirburn strips that identify the land as a grouse moor).

This latest raptor persecution crime is not the first one reported from this area in recent months. In July 2014, a poisoned red kite was found in the area. This crime wasn’t publicised by Police Scotland and didn’t reach the public domain until we blogged about it in January this year, when we found the details hidden away in a government report. At that time, we asked blog readers to contact SNH to ask whether they had issued a General Licence restriction order for the land where the poisoned kite had been found (see here).

In February 2015, Andrew Bachell, Director of Operations at SNH responded by saying the case was ‘under consideration’ (see here).

Meanwhile, later in February, a poisoned peregrine was found on the same estate (see here). It, too, had been killed by ingesting the banned poison Carbofuran.

According to the SNH website, a General Licence restriction order has still not been issued for this estate (or any other estate, come to that).

And now, three months later, an illegally trapped red kite is discovered in what appears to be the very same area.

Somebody (or some people?) is clearly conducting a campaign of raptor persecution crimes in this area. Where’s the enforcement? Why hasn’t a General Licence restriction order been issued for this area of moorland? Had one been issued for the poisoned red kite (July 2014) or the poisoned peregrine (Feb 2015), this latest crime may not have occurred and this poor red kite may not have had to suffer such appalling injuries that it had to be euthanised.

We think it’s time to ask Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod some questions about the apparent lack of enforcement action in this area. Only last month she wrote an article stating that “wildlife crime will not be tolerated in modern day Scotland” and she specifically mentioned the General Licence restriction orders: “Arrangements are also in place for SNH to restrict the use of general licences where there is evidence of wildlife crime” (see here).

So, if “arrangements are also in place”, why hasn’t a General Licence restriction notice already been enforced in this particular area and when might we see notification that one has been issued? It’s time for the Government Minister responsible for tackling wildlife crime to show her mettle. Emails to: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Red kite photo by David Tomlinson

17 Responses to “Red kite illegally trapped on Scottish grouse moor has to be euthanised”

  1. 1 Les Wallace
    May 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Last year I finally managed to make a long promised trip to a red kite feeding centre not that far from the site where this bird was trapped as the kite flies and dies. A wonderful experience that made you wonder why anyone would want to shoot a practical conveyer belt of driven grouse/pheasant instead. I chatted to one of the volunteers and got the interesting info that in the early days the farm had continued to operate a pheasant shoot as well as red kite feeding. Unfortunately a lot of shooters had not very good bird ID skills and apparently took pot shots at the kites ‘mistaking’ them for pheasants. To their credit the farm dropped the pheasant shoot and hasn’t looked back since. The Black Isle is obviously the area where illegal persecution of red kites is most conspicuous, but here in central Scotland red kites seem to have been suspiciously slow to expand too. The unsurprising reason why is now presenting itself. Utterly scunnered that but for this idiocy we might now be seeing red kites regularly in Falkirk, will that ever happen?

    Slight digression, but relevant. On Saturday I presented a motion to the Friends of the Earth Scotland AGM that it initiate a formal campaign against the damaging practices of Scottish sporting estates which obviously means raptor persecution along with so much else. It was passed, but with an amendment that they’d support the principle of having a campaign rather than an actual one just yet (so bit of a fudge). Slightly alarming how little many of the delegates knew of the damage the estates do, but were not pleased when they heard what was really happening. I believe that the fight against the bad estates is seriously hampered by the fact that two key players, Scottish Green Party and Friends of the Earth Scotland are doing next to nothing at present. Could make a huge difference if they came on board.

    • 2 Jimmy
      May 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      That doesn’t suprise me as they are the same groups supporting the construction of wind farms right across prime raptor habitat in Scotland.

      • 3 Les Wallace
        May 20, 2015 at 7:12 pm

        Have to agree somewhat, went into this knowing that environmental action seems to be about screaming at politicians re carbon emissions and not much else these days. Almost made remark at the AGM that if the damage to Scotland’s land could be attributed to climate change rather than bog standard mismanagement it would be top of their agenda. Didn’t, now wish I had. The Scottish Green Party has ten current campaigns, one involves football club members having greater ownership rights over their teams, and one on CCTV cameras – apparently my personal liberties are affected by cameras in public places which is news to me I’m a bit more worried about being jumped at a cash machine. On stopping and repairing the damage to one of the most degraded landscapes in Europe or even world, millions of acres worth, absolutely nothing. FoE groups and Green Parties elsewhere have significant policies on wildlife and natural environment even where their problems are nowhere near as bad as ours. Infuriating.

        • 4 Jimmy
          May 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

          Very true Les. I had those arguements with some of them about wind farms killing and displacing rare raptors. Their response is usually along the lines of “cats and buildings kill more birds”. Obviously too ingnorant on the subject to know that cats and building are not a threat to large soaring raptors, many of whom already have a poor conservation status. As you say few of them have any idea of the enormous and immediate pressure coming on wildlife habitats out side of the “climate change” issue which wind farms will do little to solve in any case given winds unreliability. By the time “climate change” has any noticiable effect on the BI most of these species will be long gone thanks to gamekeepers,intensive farming, developers etc.

    • 5 Dave
      May 28, 2015 at 12:18 am

      I suspect lack of habitat as much as anything else has hampered the spread of the kite in Scotland. there just aren’t the tracts of broadleafed woodland that you get in the South East of England, and that seems to be what they prefer

    • 8 Ben
      August 14, 2015 at 8:19 am


      Just wondered if there re any updates as to whether a prosecution has been brought against the estate?

      If not what can we do about it?

  2. May 20, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    This doesn’t say much for the claims of Ian Gregory (from You Forgot the Birds) on Farming Today, that gamekeepers and the grouse shooting industry all love birds. Never mind the hypocrisy of loving to kill them for sport as well.

  3. 10 AnMac
    May 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Such a sad end for such a lovely bird. When will the destruction of our avi-fauna stop?

  4. 11 Chris Roberts
    May 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I have nothing but utter contempt for the filthy scum that manage these grouse moors, and will be watching with great interest what actions Dr Aileen McLeod takes with regard to these killing estates.

  5. 12 Stephen MacSweeney
    May 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks Have emailed Minister

    Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

  6. 13 Graham
    May 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I had some information from a local farmer about a red kite poisoned in that area last year. No doubt the one you mentioned and it was also before you publicised it. I emailed the RSPB Investigation Unit to try and give them some info. Not even the courtesy of a response from them.

  7. 14 Pete Woodruff
    May 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Graham said….’I emailed the RSPB Investigation Unit to try and give them some info. Not even the courtesy of a response from them’….Well there’s a tick for one of Ian Botham’s boxes I’m afraid Graham.

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