Gamekeepers’ rep suggests disappearance of hen harrier Vulcan was “set up” by RSPB

At the end of February 2019, the RSPB announced the suspicious disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier called Vulcan who had vanished in January 2019 in an area heavily managed for gamebird shooting in Wiltshire (see here).

[Hen harrier Vulcan, photo by RSPB]

The suspicious disappearance of any satellite-tagged hen harrier in the UK is significant because the loss of any of these young birds is a reminder of just how precarious the hen harrier population is, and as many of them seem to disappear on grouse moors it’s also usually a repeated reminder of how the authorities have failed to address the rampant criminality associated with this type of land management.

Whilst Vulcan’s disappearance was not on a grouse moor, it was in an area managed for pheasant and partridge shooting and his disappearance was still significant because this area from which he ‘disappeared’ was close to the proposed release site of Natural England’s highly controversial hen harrier reintroduction project, a supposedly raptor persecution free zone.

The inevitability of yet another lost hen harrier (the 12th to vanish in suspicious circumstances since last summer) and the significance of Vulcan’s last known location has led Tim Weston, Devlopment Officer for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, to accuse the RSPB of a “set up” (or, in more formal legal terms, of perverting the course of justice [by fabricating evidence]).

We’ve come to expect this sort of nonsense from a small number of pro-shooting, anti-RSPB trolls on social media but to see it from a representative of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) was more than a little surprising.

Here are a series of tweets from National Gamekeepers’ Org employee, Tim:

Zero wildlife crime in this area until [RSPB] tracked HH flies overhead“? Tim must have missed the tweet from the RSPB Investigations Team on Sunday night where they outlined some of the confirmed raptor persecution crimes in this area:

Does the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation endorse Tim Weston’s accusations? Not that it matters anymore, since the NGO walked out of the partnership group trying to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England and Wales (the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, RPPDG). With the gamekeepers gone, hopefully the RPPDG can now focus on the issue at hand instead of being side-tracked and disrupted by distractions like this.

Meanwhile, an organisation which retains its membership of the RPPDG and has played a central role in tackling the illegal persecution of birds of prey in northern England is the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF). NERF has today issued a statement about the suspicious disappearance of hen harrier Vulcan, because even though Vulcan vanished in southern England, he hatched from a nest in northern England where NERF members helped to protect the site. Read NERF’s statement here

30 Responses to “Gamekeepers’ rep suggests disappearance of hen harrier Vulcan was “set up” by RSPB”

  1. March 12, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    ” a set-up”..the language of the petty criminal…

  2. 2 Ivan S
    March 12, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    the responses to the tweet are jaw dropping – but entirely expected

  3. 3 Secret Squirrel
    March 12, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Most gamekeepers I have met haven’t been the sharpest tools in the box (Low cunning perhaps). Tim doesn’t change that opinion

  4. 4 Sue Mason
    March 12, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Why on earth would the RSPB devote the time, money and other resources to arrange a ‘set up’? It all seems like they are becoming paranoid, obviously getting evermore desperate.

  5. 5 Paul V Irving
    March 12, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    This is a combination of stupidity and paranoia. As Secret Squirrel says gamekeepers are sometimes not the sharpest tools in the box and this demonstrates that rather more artfully and completely than any of us might have wished. Conspiracy theorists are rarely anything other than wrong, if I were this guys employer I might consider he was the wrong man for the job, he should be in comedy, unfunny comedy admittedly.

  6. 7 Bill Badger
    March 12, 2019 at 11:12 pm


  7. 8 Duncan Macdonald
    March 13, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Why doesn’t the RSPB challenge these accusations legally? Why do conservation bodies not take this shit head to head? It is ridiculous beyond belief that this kind of accusation is going unchallenged!

    • 9 J .Coogan
      March 13, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      Couldn’t agree more ,we need to get on the front foot with these deceitful b——ds. This this kind of blatant smearing should be robustly challenged at every opportunity we are far to passive.Get some crowd funding organised.

    • 10 Simon Tucker
      March 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      The simple answer is that they will be accused of wasting funds that should have gone towards conservation. It happens every time the RSPCA takes a hunt to court and the judge decides not to award costs against the defendant – even when found guilty. There is a caucus set up to pretend that they used to contribute / be a member but they won’t in future because of the waste of funds that could have gone to “save” a few dogs and cats.

      • 11 J .Coogan
        March 13, 2019 at 2:22 pm

        Oh, lets not bother then !!

        • 12 Simon Tucker
          March 13, 2019 at 3:40 pm

          What a stupid thing to say. I am merely pointing out what will happen, not advocating one way or another, the simple fact is that that is the situation. How do you suggest they go about it without having the Countryside Alliance, You Forgot the Birds and all those other hostile organisations lining up to help deplete their funds? Unlike quite a few who post on these threads (and many others) I don’t criticise the RSPB for the work they do – nor do I criticise them for the work they cannot, or choose not, to do. I don’t know you – and if that is the level of your intellect, I am pleased that I don’t.

          • 13 PF
            March 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm

            Judging someone’s intellect, whilst showing blind loyalty to an organisation.

            • 14 Simon Tucker
              March 13, 2019 at 8:40 pm

              Another idiotic comment: I have disagreed with the RSPB on many occasions on many topics, but I recognise the good they do and how important they are.

              • 15 PF
                March 13, 2019 at 10:18 pm

                “I don’t criticise the RSPB for the work they do – nor do I criticise them for the work they cannot, or choose not, to do.”

                Instead of the weak insults, you should concentrate on what you actually type.

                • 16 Simon Tucker
                  March 14, 2019 at 11:14 am

                  Clearly nuanced comment is too difficult for you. I apologise for not using shorter words and assuming a level of intelligence that clearly doesn’t exist.

                  • 17 PF
                    March 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm

                    There was nothing ‘nuanced’ about your comment whatsoever; it was plain for anyone to read, along with your projection.

  8. 18 Janet Hoptroff
    March 13, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Such ridiculous accusations of “set up” indicate guilt and desperation to me.

  9. 19 Iain Gibson
    March 13, 2019 at 5:25 am

    What sort of idiot is this Tim Weston?

  10. March 13, 2019 at 6:41 am

    The keepers organisation have thrown their dummies out of the pram.

  11. 21 Jeff P
    March 13, 2019 at 9:10 am

    LOL; this is what you get when you feed people a potent diet of lead and paranoiac propaganda as pumped out by the shooting orgs and in the shrill pages of ShTi (“the antis are out to get us!!!”).

    There’s a business opportunity here: tin foil-lined tweed shooting caps, anyone?

  12. March 13, 2019 at 9:11 am

    This idiotic conspiracy theory is deeply unhelpful. It has no basis in reality, and just tells us lots about the game shooting industry they’d far rather we didn’t know. It’s what Jung called the projection of the shadow personality. Where if you want to discover someone’s hidden dark personality, you just ask them to tell you what they don’t like in others, and they are really talking about themselves.

    Firstly, this is utterly disingenuous. Game managers know very well that the main reason satellite tagged Hen Harriers are disappearing is because they have a covert policy of illegally persecuting them. However, because they are so deceitful and devious about what’s happening, they imagine their opponents are engaged in the same subterfuge that they are. It’s the worst type of pathological paranoia.

  13. 23 Alan Davies
    March 13, 2019 at 9:25 am

    For FFS what sort of cretins are gamekeepers?!! What a total pile of garbage!!

  14. 24 Paul Chandler
    March 13, 2019 at 11:01 am

    suppose the Gamekeper saw flying pigs as well the term Gamekeeper is a travesty the do not keep they kill they ae responsible for vast majority of deaths of raptors and carnivores in UK. Touch their forelocks to the Elite break the law with impunity and are a throwback to Victorian times and morals regarding animal abuse.

  15. 25 Simon Tucker
    March 13, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Funnily enough, I also live in Wiltshire and am well aware that many of the shoots in the north of the county exercise some degree of control: only shooting pheasant and red-legged partridge but not snipe or woodcock. I am not aware of illegal killing of birds of prey in the Braydon Forest area, where I do most of my birding and ringing.

    However, I am acutely aware of the wildlife crimes listed by the RSPB. The area around Pewsey is particularly notorious as a danger area for birds of prey and Salisbury Plain, since taken over by an NGO and subsequently abandoned by the Military Police, is pretty well lawless.

    • 26 John Miles
      March 14, 2019 at 9:00 am

      Do you watch Hen Harriers using cropping then? It seems this crop draws harriers to feed due to the number of small birds, mice, rats and voles present. When Red legs are present this may encourage some one to think the harriers are after the partridge!!

      • 27 Simon Tucker
        March 14, 2019 at 11:26 am

        The only place close to me where I see Hen Harrier is on passage at Blakehill Farm – which is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve. I don’t tend to frequent Salisbury Plain, it is hassle to get to and my spare time is spent on half-a-dozen ringing projects. The commercial farm that I survey (BBS and ringing) runs a shoot: pheasant and red-legs, but the farmer is a bird enthusiast and is very happy to have the many buzzards and red kites that frequent his farm. He is even tolerant of Corvids. Mind, he rears his game birds in covered pens, so they are not available as prey items.

  16. 28 Jimmy
    March 13, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    The likes of Weston is only digging a deeper whole for his type as they continuely insult the intellegiance of the averge punter. As others have said though, the likes of the NGO are too stupid and arrogant to realise it!!

  17. 29 Messi
    March 31, 2019 at 9:11 am

    I asked Tim and Twitter if some of his tweets were appropriate and now see his Twitter account has vanished, so assume I’ll not get a reply. Presumably he’ll re-appear.

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