Hen Harrier Rowan’s injuries “entirely consistent with being shot”

In the latest edition of the RSPB’s Legal Eagle newsletter (here), there’s an article about how satellite tag technology is shining a bright light on illegal raptor persecution.

We were particularly interested to read the following paragraph:

In October 2016, Cumbria Constabulary announced that, following some excellent fieldwork by Natural England, one of the Natural England / Hawk & Owl Trust sponsored birds, Rowan, had been found dead on the edge of the county. The Zoological Society of London post mortem examination, including a radiograph of its fractured left leg, showed the bird’s injuries were entirely consistent with it having been shot‘.

Well, well, well. ‘Injuries entirely consistent with being shot‘ is a very different message from that put out by Natural England, Cumbria Constabulary and the Hawk & Owl Trust, who claimed Rowan was only ‘likely to have been shot’ (see here and here).

Indeed, when challenged about the lack of transparency, the Hawk & Owl Trust conjured up this statement:

The initial post mortem results were not wholly conclusive and further metallurgical tests were required” (see here).

Last month we asked the Hawk & Owl Trust three questions about their statement:

  1. Who said the initial post mortem results weren’t wholly conclusive?
  2. Who said further metallurgical tests were required?
  3. Have those further metallurgical tests been done? If so, where are the results? If they haven’t been done, four months on, then why not if they were supposedly “required”?

The Hawk & Owl Trust has not responded. Perhaps they’re too busy looking for a big enough shovel to dig themselves out of the crater.

That’s the thing about cover-ups. They are usually uncovered, especially badly botched ones.

9 Responses to “Hen Harrier Rowan’s injuries “entirely consistent with being shot””

  1. 1 Alex Milne
    March 22, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Every time this is mentioned I’m again surprised how far people who should be to the fore in protecting raptors are prepared to go to try to muddy the waters.
    There is no excuse for this, and we should be very sceptical of these people.
    I would except the police in this case as they were set up for this.

  2. 2 Chris Hall
    March 22, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Hawk and Owl trust hang your heads in shame………………looking out for Raptors. Indeed.

  3. 3 Chris
    March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am

    There is also a big difference between “was likely to have been shot” and was not likely to have been shot. The second of those would clearly suggest a cover up.

    If this was the only evidence in court proceedings, the statement “…entirely consistent with it having been shot.” would be challenged by any half decent defence lawyer. In the greater scheme of things, this splitting of hairs is something of a waste of effort. The change of statement might suggest to me that further metallurgical test results have indeed been received.

    • March 23, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      But it’s not a ‘change of statement’, Chris. This is the first statement we’ve seen from the RSPB and it clearly refers to the ZSL post mortem, not any later metallurgical tests that may or may not have been undertaken.

      It would be easy to have this all cleared up – the Hawk & Owl Trust could answer the questions about whether any additional tests have taken place. That they haven’t responded is quite telling.

      You may think this is just ‘splitting hairs’ but we’d disagree. The choice of words used in the original press statement and the collusion revealed by our FoI requests all point to an attempted cover up, in our opinion. You may not be interested in that but we certainly are.

      • 5 Judes
        March 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        Sorry, but I don’t see why the Hawk and Owl Trust should respond to you, all you do on this site is slate them at every opportunity. Look how you reacted after their Chairman spoke at the Sheffield Conference! Just because they take a stance which differs from yours it doesn’t mean that they are continually the Bad Guys or that they are hiding anything.

        They will post on their own website answers that need to be known. Good for them for not rising in my opinion to what seems to be a continuous form of bullying!

        • 6 Les Wallace
          March 23, 2017 at 4:33 pm

          An awful lot of people are slating the HOT with very good reason, and their chairman’s ‘performance’ at the Sheffield conference was an excellent example of why. P.S it’s not bullying it’s democracy.

        • 7 Messi
          March 23, 2017 at 6:10 pm

          Judes – do you honesty think that members of HoT have no right to be critical of their stance on specific issues? I, and several other members / donors, have contacted HoT several times with perfectly reasonable questions and have not received replies. This smacks of arrogance and, being a charity, they’re on decidedly shaky grounds. It’s remarkable that HoT contends that engaging with all sides is critical to resolving human-wildlife conflict and yet steadfastly refuses to engage its critics – and its members / donors – on this very issue.

          • 8 Peter Hack
            March 24, 2017 at 9:55 am

            Hi, Likely to have been shot is pretty clear to me ! The obfuscation is revealed by the follow up questioning. I think your reaction re “cover up” is a little strong ie maybe dithering, lack of real clarity and a degree of incompetence latterly. Please try and stay calm. I know you are impassioned but calmness is important. Having just got back from India where 6 people have been eaten after getting out of their vehicles at Ranthanbore this past 10 years ( the tigers remain sacrosanct) and a man eating leopard has killed 6 more in 6 months North of Jaipur and still the offending leopard is trapped and investigations persued by Forestry Service before any summary action is concluded……… Can I note the hysteria that seems to pertain in all our wildlife circles from the fox our chief scavenger upwards. This Harrier was quite clearly shot and maybe Hawk and Owl Trust could easilly say so.

  4. 9 Northern Diver
    March 26, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Amanda Anderson has been writing to the Craven Herald again.

    “Monitoring moorland
    We want as many people as possible to see and enjoy Hen Harriers (‘Look out for these majestic hen harriers’, Craven Herald, March 16) and we would like to make clear the position of moorland owners and managers.
    Our members look after vast swathes of moorland, spending £52.5 million a year on protection and conservation.
    Wildlife enthusiasts flock to these spectacular uplands to see rare wildlife and species, that are in serious decline elsewhere, are doing well on land carefully managed for grouse shooting by gamekeepers.
    The Moorland Association and gamekeepers are actively working with government and some of the country’s leading conservation organisations, including raptor specialists, on a range of initiatives including the Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan.
    Shooting organisations also work closely with police to bring to book those who engage in illegal raptor persecution and the declining number of incidents indicates progress.
    We all look forward to the time when Hen Harriers are back on our moors in sustainable numbers, alongside driven grouse shooting.
    The Moorland Association, Well Spring Barn, Austwick

    I’ll be writing to the paper but please can others do so as well. Newspaper catchment covers Dales & Bowland.

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