Armed man with tethered eagle owl on a Lammermuirs grouse moor

A couple of weeks ago one of our blog readers was walking on a grouse moor in the Lammermuirs when he came across a live eagle owl tethered to a post and an armed man loitering close by at the edge of a shelter belt of trees where a pair of buzzards is known to hang out.

When the armed man saw the walker, he jumped on a quad bike and drove towards him. When he realised he was being filmed, he swiftly retreated, collected the eagle owl and the post to which it was tethered, and took off at speed across the grouse moor.

Now, what you might think was going on here was reminiscent of what was filmed on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park last spring, where an armed man was seen crouching in heather next to a plastic hen harrier decoy. What you might think was happening here in the Lammermuirs was that the live eagle owl was being used as a decoy to draw in other birds to within shooting range of the armed man. But you’d be mistaken, because using a live, tethered decoy is illegal. Here’s the relevant part of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, Section 5(1)(d):

If any person uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird or other animal whatever which is tethered, or which is secured by means of braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured, he shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to a special penalty‘.

Of course we all know that nothing illegal takes place on grouse moors, ever. No, definitely no criminal offences being undertaken here. This is obviously an armed midwife from Edinburgh, taking a pet eagle owl out for a change of scenery. He only rushed off at the end so he wouldn’t be late for his next shift.


79 Responses to “Armed man with tethered eagle owl on a Lammermuirs grouse moor”

  1. 1 Tim Dixon
    April 3, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Has this been reported as a crime?

    [Ed: no, because it isn’t a crime. Had the armed man been seen actually shooting at something, then it would have become a crime]

    • 2 dave angel
      April 3, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      I can’t help feeling it should have been reported to the police. Let them ascertain whether or not a crime has been committed. At least the incident is then logged on a system somewhere.

      • 3 Phil
        April 4, 2017 at 8:27 am

        Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, S18 Attempts to commit offences etc.

        “(1)Any person who attempts to commit an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the said offence.
        (2)Any person who for the purposes of committing an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part, has in his possession anything capable of being used for committing the offence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the said offence.”

    • 4 Richard Greasby
      April 3, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      To Ed. Sorry but I have to completely disagree with your statement that “it isn’t a crime” [because he was not seen actually shooting at something]. Quite simply there is no way of knowing, without investigation, that this person has a valid firearm certificate for the weapon they appear to be carrying. Just because he was seen shooting at the time how do you know that he hasn’t already shot something? Due to the actions of the said person I believe it is reasonable to suspect that they are there for unlawful purposes. It’s rather different than seeing an individual walking across the moor with a cocked shotgun and a labrador on the [in]glorious 12th wouldn’t you say?

      I’m fairly sure that if they [the police] contacted the Estate management and asked them which employee of theirs was at the said location at the said time with a tethered Eagle Owl and a gun I respectfully suggest that the answer would be “none of our employees”! Therefore at the very least I would say that this would come under Firearms legislation (section 20 Firearms Act 1968) as someone is trespassing with a firearm.

      National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) means that the local Police are obliged to record a crime within a reasonable time frame if all the points to prove of the offence are met (on state offences). Just because it may be established in the fullness of time that an offence was not committed it is not a reason not to record the crime in the first place.

      Simply not reporting incidents like this do not help. Witnesses to these sort of incidents need to report them and not to get fobbed off just because it’s almost impossible to identify and convict the individual.

  2. 7 T Willis
    April 3, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Good grief.

    Has anyone asked the Lammermuirs management for an explanation?

  3. 8 Andy
    April 3, 2017 at 11:54 am

    No crime because no shooting? Dosen’t the law say ‘using a decoy for the purpose of killing etc’, nothing about actually successfully drawing in a bird to shoot. Isn’t the intent illegal?

  4. 12 kelvin thomson
    April 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I share your belief that nothing illegal ever happens on a Grouse moor!!!

  5. 15 Nigel
    April 3, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Yet another scandal being carried out on behalf of the super rich and the so called gentry!

  6. April 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    it’s not always the super rich who are involved in this grotesque abuse of wildlife; plenty of people out there are doing this for kicks and for money. Why are our authorities so supine? I’m very glad Raptor Persecution is on the case.

  7. 17 Alan Johnson
    April 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Pity the individual realised filming was occurring; it would have been interesting to have any conversation which might have followed related to us all!

  8. 18 Simon Tucker
    April 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    What about “going equipped”? If it applies to burglars or car thieves, why not wildlife criminals?

    • 19 Chris Roberts
      April 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Wildlife criminals, especially on grouse moors, are a breed above the law Simon.

    • 20 Richard Greasby
      April 3, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      It is an offence to be in possession of a firearm with the intent to commit an indictable offence but not a summary offence. In this situation it appears they were intent on shooting a buzzard which would be a summary only offence. As per my earlier comments I think it would rather be a stretch to suggest that they were intent on committing murder etc. Going Equipped would not relate to this unfortunately.

  9. 21 johm coleman
    April 3, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Enough information to identify and track the quad bike/machine ,the driver and his links.What about a gathering and event

  10. April 3, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Leaving aside whether or not the character here was actually breaking the law, would this incident be enough for any subsidies or grants to be withdrawn? Have the CA or other pro-DGS organisations made a statement yet? These isolated bad apples do get about ….

  11. 23 Keith
    April 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Is the eagle owl ringed? Who keeps eagle owls locally? Is it captive bred? Do Lammamuirs allow this activity? Do they know the identity of the individual? Can the police ask him what his intentions were?

    • 24 Andrew
      April 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      In most cases it should be ringed and have a CITES license. DEFRA only hold the breeder details so the current owner is not easily traceable.

      • 25 Jo
        April 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

        In any case, it would be difficult obtaining details if they were held elsewhere on a database – IBR for instance …….

        • 26 Andrew
          April 3, 2017 at 11:17 pm

          You think this individual would have made any voluntary registration with the IBR?

          • 27 Jo
            April 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

            No – I’m saying that it would be difficult to trace any details because of the DPA no matter where those details are held ….. I gave the IBR as an example …..

  12. 29 crypticmirror
    April 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Would it be wrong of me to think that if they hadn’t seen the individual filming them, then they might have been prepared to hand out a beating and even a threat of an “accidental” discharge of the gun? Obviously I am not making an accusation, just wondering. I’ve met gamekeepers (and cops, and farmers) in the wild in the ages before smartphones and auto uploading into the cloud, and my bones do ache in the wet weather these days; if you take my meaning.

    It is horrible that this is legal, especially when it seems so very close to setting up something illegal.

    [Ed: It’s probably not helpful to suggest that violence might have occurred, because that would take this incident to a whole other level. Violence didn’t occur, so let’s just leave that line of thought there]

  13. 30 Jimmy
    April 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    No doubt the Lord Muck who owns the land will have no idea who or what was going on

  14. 31 chris lock
    April 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Obvious what was happening, buzzards would mob an eagle owl and then, you have got it in one; not rocket science. As for violence, very likely, nothing new here just the usual grim stuff.

  15. April 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    it just goes to prove that the more people who walk in the hills, the more raptors we shall have. Clearly an estate which needs more hill walkers.

    • 33 Michael Haden
      April 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      I was thinking the same. Without a right of access then the person filming this is in the wrong. No wonder the landowners fought against access rights in England.

    • 34 heclasu
      April 3, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Hear hear!

      • 35 Mike Haden
        April 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        Have any though been give to an article in the hill walking Mags (tTrail and TGO) , I was a lapsed birder that got into climbing and walking, I didn’t realise the extent of ‘management’ that these places get, and until recently I wouldn’t have know what a pole trap was. The more walkers and climbers are aware of what to look for and more importantly how to react if they find anything, then it could start to make life more difficult for the moor managers.

  16. 37 alan ward
    April 3, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    To assume that the landowner knows about this may well be incorrect,he probably has little or no contact with somebody so low on the employee scale.I cannot imagine that he,the owner,would issue orders for something so potentially damaging to his private and professional standing.There are irresponsible,irrational idiots who would do something as stupid and obvious as this,look how close he is to a fence,anyone with half a brain would ensure they were safely well inside the estate and hidden from view.No blame the perpetrator if you will but I belive he`s acting on his own initiative.

    • April 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Although it is accurate to say that we cannot know how far this or any landowner may, or may not, be aware of the details modus operandi of their staff, I think your comment is hopelessly naive. In the case of raptor persecution in general, it would take a very obtuse owner not to know about the current controversy. I find it hard to suppose that they’ve not noticed a striking absence of raptors on many intensively driven grouse moors. In this context, if they are genuinely concerned that their staff abide by the law then one would expect them to appoint staff with the right attitudes and track record. Neither would be hard to ask those in charge ‘Where are the nesting Buzzards, Peregrines, etc this year?’ and make suitable enquiries if the answer is negative. Frankly, the time is well past that owners should think that they can take a Nelsonian attitude and express surprise regarding the activities of their underlings. Whatever the owner’s level of knowledge, they cannot escape the ultimate responsibility for the actions of their staff whom they have a responsibility.

  17. 39 BlueSkyBirding
    April 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I would argue strongly that there is enough evidence for Police action here.

    You’ve correctly quoted the law as …

    ‘If any person uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird or other animal whatever which is tethered, or which is secured by means of braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured, he shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to a special penalty‘.

    There is clear evidence available to show the presence of a (live) decoy for the Police to follow-up, to identify the perpetrator and to interview him under caution. He would need to explain what he was doing with a live decoy in that seemingly remote location, whilst armed with a gun.

    Then, based on his response, an informed decision could be made as to whether or not the reasons given might be convincing in a Court of Law. Ideally, it would appropriate to let a Court to decide whether or not the purpose was what we all know to be the case.

    • 40 Dylanben
      April 3, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Wasn’t aware of this post when I submitted mine below. I’m pleased that we are in agreement that there had apparently been a crime committed through the keeper tethering a decoy and concealing himself with a gun. As you will see, it is my case that he could have been found guilty of two offences, had the case been reported and he had been charged. These matters are for the courts to decide. Given the evidence held, I would suggest that it is still not too late for the matter to be reported.

  18. 41 Les Wallace
    April 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    A few weeks ago I asked my cousin who goes walking in the Lammermuirs what wildlife he sees there – ‘grouse and sheep’ certainly no raptors, he sees more of them in Haddington where he lives. This isn’t surprising is it? I’ve seen and heard wild birds mob an eagle owl (probably escaped) that sat on our roof way back in 1999. I have no doubt that one on tether would be a magnet to other birds of prey. Thank god we have RPUK to highlight these 21st century anachronisms.

  19. 42 Dylanben
    April 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Although there might be any number of fanciful explanations for what was going on here, it is quite clear what was really happening. This person had a tethered Eagle Owl and was hiding, with a gun, in wait for anything he didn’t like being attracted into gunshot range. He could have been charged under Section 5(1)(d) of the WCA for using a decoy. It would have been up to a court to decide whether he was guilty or not.

    No mention has been made above of Section 18 of the WCA relating to intention to commit an offence. Section 18(2) states ‘Any person who for the purposes of committing an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part, has in his possession anything capable of being used for committing the offence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the offence,’

    Nothing anywhere here about firing a shot. He could have been found guilty on two charges – the setting up of the decoy and the intention to shoot a protected species.

  20. 43 Iain Gibson
    April 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I suspect your use of sarcasm in this piece was lost on a few of the commenters. There does seem to be rather a lot of confusion about legal aspects, and more than a hint of naivety about the activities and motives of gamekeepers and their relationship with their masters. I applaud the suggestions that more birdwatchers and caring individuals access the grouse moors and keep an eye out for this sort of potentially illegal activity. We need to let these people know we are watching them more than ever before, and report anything at all suspicious to RSPB and Police Wildlife Crime Officers. Either this or more radical (non-violent) direct action is required. Currently I feel we’re at a bit of a stalemate, although I say this with great respect for the work of RPUK, without whom we would have little clue about what’s going on out there on those wild and windy moors. I still come across a depressing amount of apathy shown by the average birder.

  21. 44 Paul
    April 3, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I walk regularly in the lammermuirs and have recently started watching the two or three buzzards and a couple of kestrels in one of the valleys. Seems a wee conicidence that suddenlty this occurs after I was spotted and spoken to by one of the gamekeepers a month or so ago. They won’t stop until they’ve spoiled everybody’s enjoyment of the countryside, until it’s a barren and lifeless.

  22. 45 lothianrecorder
    April 3, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    In our South-east Scotland Bird Atlas 2007-13 fieldwork the local population estimate was 3,500-4,000 prs of Buzzard in our region, up from c. 300 pairs in the previous local atlas 1988-94, driven in part by a mass colonisation of the lowlands (though the range expansion was closer to a factor of 3) and found in a total of 1531 tetrads (out of 1770 in total); interestingly in the same timeframe virtually all of the 27 “lost” tetrads were on high ground, including 10 in the Lammermuirs and adjacent Moorfoots, some of these will have been random effects at edge of range, i.e. edge of open ground, but considering the overall buoyant numbers through the general increase these would be expected to be relatively few…

  23. 48 Keith
    April 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Report it to the Police. Even if it some do not consider it a crime let them decide. Intelligence also forms a major part of their operations.

  24. 49 Nevil Hutchinson
    April 3, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    What is there to lose by reporting it to the police?

    • 50 Dylanben
      April 3, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      Absolutely nothing to lose and, quite likely, something to gain. That individual should be recognisable to the local constabulary. At the very least, he and his employer should be paid a visit.

  25. 51 Paul V Irving
    April 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    What I find most fascinating about this and yes it is clearly an intent to commit an offence under the WCA is that here in wildlife crime free North Yorkshire( its called irony). i know of three keepers locally that have big owls and everybody knows what they have them for but nobody follows this up. One keeper who is quite good at having confrontations with film crews now has a Snowy Owl and the other two also in the Nidderdale AONB have female Eagle Owls.

  26. 52 Nicky Hirst
    April 3, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    These people are Vermin.

  27. 53 Phil
    April 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, S18 Attempts to commit offences etc.

    “(1)Any person who attempts to commit an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the said offence.
    (2)Any person who for the purposes of committing an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part, has in his possession anything capable of being used for committing the offence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the said offence.”

    This offence includes S5.

    Please ask the person who took footage of the incident to report this crime. Thank you.

    • 54 Iain Gibson
      April 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      A very good point, and I hope that the witness does report the crime. However a point to be wary of, and I can’t help notice a slight degree of naivety in some comments, is that the average gamekeeper does not find it particularly difficult to shoot a Buzzard, particularly if the nest site is known. There is no need to use a live Eagle Owl as a decoy. The tree line nearby with nesting Buzzards may or not be relevant. It seems more likely that the target raptor will be Hen Harrier this early in the season. Harriers are easy prey for a gamekeeper once they have a nest with eggs, even easier after the eggs have hatched. That’s why there were only three pairs nesting in England last year, after years of intense persecution of the species.

      • April 6, 2017 at 8:10 pm

        Presumably a raptor killer would want to do commit the crime well before nesting. First to stop any predation but also because the risk of being caught must be higher once others know about nest sites.

        • 56 Iain Gibson
          April 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm

          It’s common practice, particularly with Hen Harriers, to nip any “problem” in the bud at the earliest opportunity. There is less likely to be any evidence of foul play to be found at the pre-nesting stage. The use of gas guns is primarily intended for this purpose, under the pretext of scaring off flocks of Ravens. The deviousness of gamekeepers knows no bounds.

  28. 57 Raymond
    April 4, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Great place for a golden eagle release project.

  29. 58 Andy Field
    April 4, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I really think this should be reported to Police Scotland, perhaps it should have been before it was released on social media etc. It’s great to get immediate updates on the ongoing slaughter (and attempted slaughter) of our birds of prey but surely the prime aim is to get the authorities to act to put a stop to it. I know that’s not happening at the moment but surely the more crime that’s reported, the more difficult it becomes for the Police/Government not to act. As has been said above, what harm is there in reporting this to the Police? If nothing comes of it, as history suggests it won’t!) nothing is lost and at least the Police won’t be able to say that they couldn’t act because the incident wasn’t reported to them. Hopefully whoever took the video, (and well done for doing that) will report it now if they haven’t already. Apart from that, keep up the excellent work Raptor Persecution UK, if it weren’t for you I’d only get to hear about a fraction of the raptor crime that is committed!

    • 59 crypticmirror
      April 4, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Reported to the Police immediately after release to social media might be better, otherwise it would be three years of xxxxxxxxx’d posts because it was an ongoing case that couldn’t be talked about. Release the info, then report it, that way the word is out and PS cannot cover it up.

      • 60 heclasu
        April 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

        How about:
        1. Report it to the RSPB Investigations Unit
        2. Report it to the SSPCA
        3. Report it to Police Scotland

        • 61 crypticmirror
          April 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm

          Social media it before all of those. Too often authorities will only act because public opinion forces them to or it becomes professionally embarrassing not to. That means individual incidents have to be put in the public domain early and often, before anyone can bring down the institutional veil of silence. Also we have to admit that individual incidents are probably not going to lead to prosecution and are lost causes, so the way to go is to not worry about prejudicing them but to bring as many instances of malpractice and the methods of malpractice into the public domain as often as possible to target the legitimacy of the industry itself. Trying to bring individual cases, which can be stifled for years and are often lost causes from the start, is no longer a viable strategy. Publicise and poison the well of public opinion. The Scottish Electorate is not large and so it takes relatively little shift in it to effect real change.


  30. 62 Winston Roberts
    April 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Is a copy of the full video available anywhere for viewing?

  31. April 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Good quote from the law but the second comma should be after word ‘whatever’ not after ‘tethered’. The meaning of the quote is totally wrong because of this error.

  32. 66 Raymond
    April 5, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Many game keepers keep and use live birds or prey and plastic bird of prey as decoys.

    Which can be used;
    legally as a decoy to shoot crows.

    Illegally as a decoy to shoot raptors

    Without witnessing raptors being shot it woukd not be possible to prove the persons intent.

    • 67 Gordon Milward
      April 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!. Although HIGHLY UNLIKELY, an admission is evidence of intent/guilt. There are too many people who are not prepared to try. Faint heart never won fair lady!

    • 68 Iain Gibson
      April 5, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      There is no credible science which shows that Carrion Crows (or indeed Ravens) have any significant impact on Red Grouse productivity. It is almost entirely based on received wisdom handed down through generations. Why do we ignore this fact? Why do so many conservationists even accept it as truth? The excuse that gamekeepers use that they are after crows, not protected raptors, would vanish if crows were afforded legal protection, which would be perfectly logical. It won’t happen overnight, but I see no reason why this measure should not be advocated, apart from the same deeply ingrained prejudice that causes suffering to raptors.

      • 69 Dylanben
        April 7, 2017 at 11:11 pm

        This is why the General Licence is a total farce. It is supposed to permit the prevention of ‘serious damage’, whereas we all know, for example, that the use of Larsen Traps is a totally habitual and unregulated practice which occurs irrespective of the number of crows in the area. Time that it was done away with.

        • 70 Iain Gibson
          April 8, 2017 at 12:47 am

          I must check if it’s still in the Act, but there used to be a clause that General Licence users should be able to demonstrate that their target species are actually causing significant economic damage to their commercial interests. It would be interesting to see how this could possibly be done in the case of grouse v crows, not to mention pheasants v buzzards. Having researched breeding Hen Harriers and their prey species for over twenty years now, I have sufficient data to write several papers dispelling certain myths about harriers, perpetuated mainly by GWCT, SGA, etc., but despite having been a member of my local Raptor Study Group since its inception, I am frustrated by my own colleagues inexplicably not allowing me permission to use the Group’s valuable data. It makes me wonder why some people bother to gather all that data but do little constructive with it.

          • 71 JP
            April 8, 2017 at 1:20 am

            A word of advice Iain Gibson. If you want people to collaborate and share their data with you its best not to keep slagging them off in public. I don’t know you but I can tell you if I was in your group there’s no way I’d contemplate handing over my long term data sets to you. Why would I? Do you have a strong publication record? It doesn’t seem so as I’ve not come across your name in the scientific literature. Get on with writing up your own research and you might gain some respect and credibility. You say “I have sufficient data to write several papers” so why not get on with it and stop bitching about everyone else.

            • 72 Iain Gibson
              April 8, 2017 at 2:19 am

              I was only expressing sadness and disappointment at the lack of cooperation. I’m afraid that despite the sterling work they do, some members of Raptor Study Groups are well known in wider ornithological circles for being too secretive and exclusive. It’s only recently, after nearly forty years, that the Raptor Groups have started cooperating with the Rare Breeding Birds Panel for example. And that was down to me lobbying for it. If no-one expresses problems openly things will never change. I’d like to see the Groups growing and taking on new recruits, but the closed attitude of some puts others off. You have no right to criticise me as you know next to nothing about the huge efforts and sacrifices I’ve made in my life to help raptors and wildlife in general. If I thought you had a clue about the background to this issue I might respect your opinion, but what you’ve said is extremely unhelpful, almost libellous. I would go ahead and publish, but can’t do so without access to the necessary amount of local group data to compare two separate SPAs statistically. As I’ve had to give up hope (and your message has helped to reinforce that – congratulations!), it means that nearly all of my research has been in vain, a waste of many years of collating data on breeding success and prey preferences which could have provided some very sound arguments against the forthcoming brood meddling plan by Defra in England. Others in my Group knew what my purpose was, but waited until I requested final permission before indicating they weren’t prepared to release it. It would NOT have placed any confidential nest locations into the public domain. You say you’re unfamiliar with my name, so how come you think you have the right to criticise and presume I’m the one who’s out of order? I’d discuss this with you but have no idea who you are, JP.

              • 73 Iain Gibson
                April 8, 2017 at 2:31 am

                I should have mentioned that it’s more than discourteous and dishonest of you to state that I am “bitching about everyone else.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I was a founding member of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and have enormous respect and good will for the vast majority of its members. It horrifies and appalls me to think that anyone would think differently. My problems have been caused by a very small caucus of like-minded individuals who have been unable (or unwilling) to explain why I cannot be trusted with confidential data. I’m used to working in an organisation for which trust is a fundamental requirement, so in a sense it is the worst insult I’ve ever encountered in 50 years as a dedicated ornithologist. I do not deserve it, just as I do not need lecturing from yourself. Just who are you to judge?

            • 74 lizzybusy
              April 8, 2017 at 6:21 am

              Personally, I find the contributions to the many debates on this site by Mr Gibson interesting and informative. Raising concerns and highlighting shortfalls in working strategies can be helpful.

          • 75 lizzybusy
            April 8, 2017 at 6:14 am

            That is the purpose for one of the general licences. Any breaches are a criminal offence and are a police matter. However, with no requirement for users of these licences to keep records of report to Natural England demonstrating that an offence had taken place would be just about impossible IMO.

  33. 76 Andrew
    April 5, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Another point on this is that there has to be a reasonable return on investment. Go to the trouble of purchasing and looking after an owl and one supposes it has to be used regularly, and we can all guess what for.

    There is also an animal welfare issue to be considered in this case. A quad bike travelling at speed on that terrain is not acceptable for a boxed owl. An issue for the sspca?

    • 77 Iain Gibson
      April 6, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Ironically some gamekeepers keep captive raptors for their own recreational purposes, and enjoy going out hawking with them. One keeper near me (now deceased) used to keep two Golden Eagles, three Goshawks and a Peregrine, not to mention a regular turnover of Sparrowhawks which he trained some local youths to find for him. Yet he was a ruthless killer of wild Buzzards which ventured onto his pheasant patch.

  34. 78 Thomas David Dick
    April 9, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Have come to this post rather late in the day……I have to say [probably for the first time in many years!] that I totally disagree with your decision not to report this as a crime. This is a well known raptor killing technique, [its also been used legitimately by licensed individuals to mist net raptors for ringing] with absolutely no credible “falconry” or animal welfare reasoning. I understand your informants may be nervous about getting involved but its out in the open now – it MUST be reported to the police. If it isn’t, the first people who will complain will be the shooting lobby who will accuse you of double standards. As many above have done I also assure you that there are wildlife offences here. I would have been delighted to get that report when I was with the RSPB, far better initial evidence than is usually available. ..and its not too late!!

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