Witness observes buzzard shot dead in Norfolk

From today’s Eastern Daily Press (11/4/18):


A buzzard has been shot dead in the West Norfolk fens.

A gardener believes he saw a man shoot the protected bird of prey at Boughton, near Downham Market this lunchtime.

It came down near the home of retired insurance broker Paul Coulten, 77, who is now preserving the carcass until it can be examined by police wildlife crime officers.

My gardener was out walking the dogs on my land when he heard some gunfire,” said Mr Coulten. “The next thing he saw a buzzard come down in the woods and saw a man on a quad bike in the distance.”

Police confirmed the incident had been reported to them and officers had arranged to visit Mr Coulten.

[Photo of the shot buzzard, by Susan Simper]

I hope someone gets nabbed for it,” he said. “We’re getting fed up with it around here, there are no foxes because they all get shot to death, so I’m hopeful the police will progress it.”

Buzzards are one of our commonest birds of prey. They are frequently seen soaring on their large, broad wings, when warm rising air creates convection currents over woods and farmland.

The species is protected by the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Anyone convicted of killing one could face an unlimited fine and up to six months’ imprisonment.

Despite this, the RSPB says birds of prey are still persecuted. In 2016 – the latest year for which figures are available – some 40 were shot, including 14 buzzards, 11 red kites, seven peregrines and two hen harriers. Some 22 birds, including 13 buzzards, were also poisoned.

The RSPB, which fears the figures are the tip of the iceberg, says there were no prosecutions during that entire year.

Norfolk is one of the worst areas for bird crime. A total of 262 incidents were recorded between 2011 and 2016 across England and Wales, with 146 of these caused by shooting and 66 by poisoning.

Norfolk recorded the second highest number of incidents at 17 after North Yorkshire at 39.

Its senior investigations officer Mark Thomas said of the latest killing: “Raptor persecution, the illegal killing of birds of prey, is really common, it’s widespread across the UK. What should happen now is it should be X-Rayed, there would have to be an investigation, it’s very likely they’ll find out who’s responsible.”


UPDATE 12 April 2018: EDP now reporting the buzzard was not shot (here)

16 Responses to “Witness observes buzzard shot dead in Norfolk”

  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    April 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Buzzards used to be seen quite regularly in the Aviemore area of the Cairngorms National Park – but no more !

    • 2 Dave J
      April 11, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      I visited the Scottish highlands as a group of 11 birders last year. Only one Buzzard was seen in 4 days. The day after I arrived back home I saw 5 birds displaying over a wood next to a housing estate. At least they’re not persecuted everywhere. Needless to say there are no grouse moors in Northants.

    • April 11, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      Really? I live near Grantown-on-Spey and I see buzzards almost every day. Saw two driving to and from Aviemore today.

  2. 4 Alan Johnson
    April 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    In these circumstances in a local community the police MUST be able to find the “man on the ATV” and who he works for. Let’s get it in the local press FAST!

    • April 15, 2018 at 11:12 am

      i agree. when I lived in FOD buzzard was found shot . it was a letter in the local paper that suggested the locals knew the shooter. we had a brilliant wildlife policeman and the info was given to him. what he did was left to our imaginations but probably just a word in the dullards ear.

  3. April 11, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    No doubt the magistrate attends the same masonic lodge as the character who shot the buzzard, and as a result will not even get a slapped wrist.

  4. 7 Peter Seaman
    April 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I wonder how long it will be before someone “rubbishes” the witnesses statements

  5. 8 Alan Gregory
    April 11, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Nothing will come of it, even when there’s video evidence it gets kicked out of the courts – no doubt by some gun toting Beak ! We need a Govt that isn’t afraid of changing the laws more favourable towards wildlife protection and not the shooting industry.

  6. 9 Libby Routh
    April 11, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Hopefully the person responsible for this crime will be caught…It really is about time the law was upheld, and a prosecution brought

  7. 10 Libby Routh
    April 11, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I really hope the person who committed this crime, will be caught and prosecuted!! Too many people are getting away with shooting birds of prey It makes me so angry 😡!

  8. April 11, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Just a thought, but is it possible to tell anything from the shot in the bird? Can a manufacturer at least tie it to a particular brand?

  9. 12 Jimmy
    April 11, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    These criminals appear to be getting more brazen with each passing year – says alot about the states failure in this area!!

  10. 13 Fiona
    April 11, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    SSPCA have successfully investigated a very similar incident. Pity giving them additions all powers was not supported. I cant find any other successful examples.


  11. April 13, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    ..followed by a police report saying that this bird [and another reported] were not shot….it is self defeating to go off half-cocked on situations like this – certifying cause of death is the most important part of any initial investigation. This just give ammunition to the anti-conservationists out there.

  12. April 15, 2018 at 11:07 am

    locals know who do the killing. they know who goes out at night killing badgers and foxes for for fun. they know and the quad bike ? I know Hunts breed foxes in artificial earths and the pheasants are bred to give shooters fun too. its tragic .]

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