East Arkengarthdale Estate: some questions for the grouse shooting industry

Following on from today’s earlier news that in December 2014 a poisons cache had been uncovered on a driven grouse moor at East Arkengarthdale Estate in Yorkshire, and that a gamekeeper had admitted that he was responsible for placing poisons in the cache, but he avoided prosecution and had his firearms certificates reinstated (see here), we’ve got some questions for the grouse-shooting industry.


Let’s start with questions for the Moorland Association. Email: amanda@moorlandassociation.org

  1. Is East Arkengarthdale Estate a member of the Moorland Association?
  2. When were you first aware of the discovery of this poisons cache, that was found two years ago?
  3. Were you aware of it when you gave evidence at Westminster on the petition to ban driven grouse shooting?
  4. If East Arkengarthdale Estate is a member, will you be expelling them from your organisation?
  5. If not, why not?
  6. Will you be publishing a statement about the discovery of a poisons cache on a driven grouse moor in Yorkshire?
  7. If not, why not?
  8. Will you be praising the superb work of the RSPB Investigations Team for uncovering this poisons cache on a driven grouse moor?
  9. Can you confirm whether Adrian Thornton-Berry, a Moorland Association official, was the sporting agent (via Dalesport Sporting Agency) at East Arkengarthdale Estate in December 2014 when the poisons cache was discovered?
  10. Did Amanda see the poisons cache through her kitchen window?

Questions for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. Email: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk 

  1. Is this (unnamed) gamekeeper a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation?
  2. If yes, do you intend to expel him from your organisation?
  3. If not, why not?
  4. Could you explain why this gamekeeper had an electronic calling device (typically used to attract predators) with a series of raptor calls stored in it?
  5. Could you explain why this gamekeeper was visiting a poisons cache on a driven grouse moor?
  6. Could you explain why those poisons had been hidden in a bucket, underground?

Questions for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Email: info@gwct.org.uk

  1. When did you first become aware of the discovery of a poisons cache at East Arkengarthdale Estate?
  2. Were you aware of it when one of your 2014 auction prizes (some driven grouse shooting on 4 Yorkshire grouse moors, including East Arkengarthdale Estate) was fulfilled in October 2015?
  3. Have you received funding/donations from East Arkengarthdale Estate?
  4. Will you be accepting any further funding/donations from East Arkengarthdale Estate in light of today’s news?

Questions for BASC. Email: click here

  1. Why did your senior staff member, Dr Colin Shedden, tell a Scottish parliamentary committee that “any hint of illegal activity can lead to the right to hold a [shotgun] certificate, and the ability to shoot, being withdrawn“, when on the very same day, the BASC Chairman was defending the right of a gamekeeper to keep his shotgun certificate despite him admitting to placing poisons in a secret cache?

30 Responses to “East Arkengarthdale Estate: some questions for the grouse shooting industry”

  1. December 9, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I’ve sent an email with all those questions to the bodies shown. Yes, I’ve got nothing to do…

    [Ed: thanks!]

  2. 4 Northern Diver
    December 9, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I wonder what Mrs Caroline Rosemary Thornton- Berry, MBE; ex-High Sheriff of Yorkshire(2004/5); Deputy Lieutenant of N.Yorkshire; Justice of the Peace; Chair of YDNP Planning Committee (2015); Chairman of Richmond Council; Secretary of Mid-Dales branch of the Conservative party etc etc thinks of her husband’s business interests and association with East Arkengarthdale Estate?

  3. December 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Keep joining the dots….. however I am fairly sure I know the picture that it’s going to reveal. A great big pile of stinking…..

  4. 7 Peter Hack
    December 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    You could not make the Post Script up.

  5. 8 Iain Gibson
    December 9, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    So, according to Dr Colin Shedden of BASC, “any hint of illegal activity can lead to the right to hold a [shotgun] certificate, and the ability to shoot, being withdrawn.” Apart from the fact that any half decent lawyer could have that particular prosecution case dismissed, if Dr Shedden’s statement were true, there would hardly be a gamekeeper remaining in the whole UK!

  6. 9 Fraser Cottington
    December 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Yep, sent the same questions to all parties, scum bags all of them

  7. 10 Doug Malpus
    December 9, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    I’ve gone and done it! Sent emails to Dear Amanda at MA, BASC, NGO and GWCT and cc’s to my MP.

    I now await with bated (oops) breath the answers from them all????? Or will it be a knock on the door during hours of darkness?


    • 11 Doug Malpus
      December 15, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      I received an answer from my MP. Quite pointless:

      Dear Doug,

      Thank you for updating me on your communications with the Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation.

      As you are aware I am also in favour of increasing regulations surrounding grouse shooting. However, having previously written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on your behalf, the Government has made their position very clear.

      I will continue to support calls to tighten regulations and afford greater protection to grouse and I hope that you receive the answers from these organisations that you are looking for.

      Many thanks and best wishes,

      John Pugh MP


      He has lost the plot, “protecting grouse”, well ok but what about raptors and the environment????


  8. 12 Tony Warburton MBE
    December 10, 2016 at 12:22 am

    How can we get the last two blogs from RPUK into the national daily newspapers? It’s time the man/woman/person in the street had knowledge of what is going on. Don’t hold your breath too long you good people who have emailed the bodies listed above by RPUK – I am still waiting for replies to emails sent to them by me re. Billy Dicks and his estate memberships! RPUK, you go from strength to strength and surely these revelations will bring the sinning estates ever nearer to their end?

  9. 14 Mike
    December 10, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Well well, this case may not have resulted in a successful prosecution but it is so blatantly obvious, from this and other recent events, as to the level of denial and deceit exhibited by all those from Government level down to the game keepers, shooters and supporters. Whether MP’s in the Westminster ‘debate’, National Park Authorities involved, CA, BASC, NGA, individuals in the judiciary, Beefy – the whole bang shoot, your credibility hangs in tatters.
    Now just watch it unfold, slowly!

  10. 15 Tricia Newey
    December 10, 2016 at 10:05 am

    I am new to your website and utterly dismayed by what I have been reading over the last few weeks. Would some kind of petition on AVAAZ or 38 degrees, or both, raise the public profile? Just in case you have not already thought of it.

  11. 16 Les Wallace
    December 10, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    All emailed. Incredible piece of work the RSPB investigations team uncovering this, feel so sorry for them, must have been akin to finding needle in haystack. The poison cache and the electronic bird call must actually be pretty standard part of kit for many keepers, this was a very rare situation where someone else managed to find it. Shedden and Baynes looked like rabbits caught in a car’s headlights, nervous. Alison Johnstone didn’t have to be acerbic or loud to make her point just stated the obvious anomalies between their claims and reality – if illegal persecution isn’t that significant where are all the raptors then?

  12. 17 Paul V Irving
    December 11, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    This is one of five estates in the Yorkshire Dales NP where the head keeper is licensed as an agent to visit and monitor Merlin nests. This proposal was We were told to move the situation on from the apparent conflict between raptor workers and estates/ keepers, this shows that argument to be the utter tripe we knew it was. So some more questions
    1 Did NE know of this poison find when this estate was suggested as part of the proposal, championed by Simon Lovel in the local office.
    2 Will NE and BTO now withdraw the licence from this estate or indeed from all five estates currently in the scheme.

  13. 18 Iain Gibson
    December 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Paul, that’s an appalling fact you’ve just presented to us, but worth knowing. Who on Earth would give a raptor nest disturbance licence to a gamekeeper? They may as well be handed out to an egg collector or a falconer, or any old Tom, Dick or Prince Harry!

    • 19 Paul V Irving
      December 12, 2016 at 8:41 am

      It was a deal apparently done between senior people in NE and the MA, just wrong in our eyes. You can see from the essential failure of the Peak park raptor initiative that we way to move forward is a cessation of any persecution, that is the only way to build cooperation and trust. There are estates out there who are creating that trust and cooperation but this scheme was always a road heading now where but disaster. No training, no vetting, as far as we know no supervision and now it seems no careful choice of candidate estates. WIIS knew of this crime so NE MUST HAVE ALSO KNOWN! Yet the head keeper was and is? a suitable candidate for a license, sheer bloody lunacy. This should be a headline scandal.

  14. December 12, 2016 at 12:26 am

    This type of crime warrants being placed amongst the worst types of wildlife crime, on a par with poaching of elephants and rhinos.
    That may sound ridiculous to some, but think about it, our raptors are at the top of our natural heritage, key indicators of how our environment is faring.
    How and why anyone can think they can destroy the UK’s top predators and pretend that they’re doing it for the good of the grouse moors is a national disgrace.
    It is now time for all nature-minded folk to fight the system that is allowing this criminal activity to continue.
    Fight it hard, spread the word, and read up on the subject in order to gain the knowledge so that you can counter the criminals, and make the unaware aware.

    • 21 AlanTwo
      December 12, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Are there people who make it their business to try to get this kind of information out to a wider audience? Here is some terrific work by RPUK, the RSPB and some individual commenters. Regular readers here find it all adds up to a totally compelling and damning indictment of the shameless behaviour of some sections of the shooting fraternity. But how many people, outside this small circle, ever get to hear of it?
      Is there a behind-the-scenes system for getting this information out to journalists, police commissioners, local councillors, MPs, NP officials and so on, not to mention the general public?
      If there isn’t, should this be where we focus our efforts? Do we need professional help in this, in which case we should work to raise cash, or do we know people who can use social media for effective campaigning?
      I know that I spend too much time hand-wringing and preaching to the choir – is there something more useful that we can do?

      • 22 Northern Diver
        December 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm

        I agree. Otherwise we are preaching to the converted. The local paper appropriate to East Arkengarthdale should be given this information. Whether they would use it is questionable. Local Wildlife Trust groups ought to be informed for their newsletters. And all the above that you mention. I’d contribute some cash to help get the message out.

        • 23 Secret Squirrel
          December 12, 2016 at 8:29 pm

          This may be redacted by RPUK but it’s not difficult to find out who this individual was if you know where to look

        • 24 AlanTwo
          December 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm

          Thanks ND. Let me spell it out. Is RPUK just a fact-finding outfit, or does it regularly push the evidence it uncovers out to others who might be able to influence things? Does Mark Avery do anything similar?
          Would some extra pairs of hands help? Would some extra cash help?
          Or is there nothing more that can be done? Some of us are going nuts out here.

        • 25 Iain Gibson
          December 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm

          Possibly even worse than apathy is the reluctance, by various conservation and natural history bodies, to engage with their own members and the public to communicate everything that’s wrong with grouse shooting and the general exploitation of wildlife. How we break through this barrier is beyond me. Of all ‘citizen science’ organisations, the Scottish Raptor Study Group should be the one which goes further than merely studying raptors, but in my experience, despite consisting of dedicated and hard working individuals who carry out the essential monitoring role, they can be remarkably low key in their approach to campaigning. In some circles campaigning is regarded as a dirty word, as if the purity of the science is tainted or somehow compromised by stooping to that level. This is evident on Hen Harrier Days, when fewer than 50% of the members turn up to show their support for the more active campaigners.

          It strikes me as ironic that the merest hint of criticism or forthright speaking by RSPB draws attention by people on this blog showering praise upon the individual spokesperson, when with its million members the society could do a lot more for the cause. From the outside it’s difficult to understand, because it’s unusual to speak to a member of staff privately and find that they go along with the party line on not rocking the boat. So one can only conclude that the fault lies at Directorate level and it appears that the strict marketing policy line does not permit anything resembling free corporate speech. The inhibitory effect of the Royal Charter doesn’t help.

          I agree with Northern Diver in that our message does not reach out significantly beyond the converted, and sometimes it is quite agonising to read the RPUK blog and realise the impact it could make if communicated more widely. Various factors must limit this opportunity, and it is always going to be difficult to advocate on behalf of a minority interest when we live in a world in a state of constant turmoil, war and corruption. If we can’t rely on bird clubs and local natural history groups to support the fight against the wildlife killers and criminals, who can we turn to? There are many individuals who do a great job, but general support from interested bodies is not as forthcoming as it needs to be. There is so much agreement expressed within this blog about the outright and utter scandal that grouse moor management practices involve, and widespread public revulsion at the cruelty and unnecessary death inflicted upon wild animals. Surely there must be some way of getting this through the barrier presented by the mass media? The BBC’s contrived and condescending ‘impartiality’ takes the debate nowhere.

  15. 27 TGS
    December 13, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Email sent out to all organisations with a foreword explaining a locals view. I know this man…he is [Ed: rest of comment deleted as defamatory]

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