23
May
19

Two buzzards found shot next to grouse moors in North Pennines AONB

Northumbria Police have launched an investigation following the discovery of shot buzzards, in two separate crimes, both close to grouse moors in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Northumbria Police press release (22/5/19):

POLICE INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED AFTER BIRDS OF PREY SHOT IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Officers are investigating after two separate reports of buzzards being shot and killed in the Hexham area.

One incident occurred on April 25, in Steel, Hexham where enquiries established the bird had been shot and injured. It was taken to a Wildlife Sanctuary and subsequently examined by a local vet where it had to be put to sleep.

The second occurred on May 13, in Blanchland, Hexham where the bird was found dead near the river Derwent.

[Photos and x-rays from Hadrian Vets]

[RPUK map showing the location of Steel and Blanchland in the North Pennines AONB]

PC Lee Davison, Northumbria Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer, said: “Northumberland is home to a variety of wildlife-including birds of prey. The persecution of birds of prey like buzzards is quite rightly an emotive issue and I want reassure the public that we take it very seriously. It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing and we are working with partners to identify suspects. I would ask anyone who has any information to get in touch with us.”

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations team said: “Buzzards are beautiful birds which bring pleasure to many and are a crucial part of our natural landscapes and ecosystems. All birds of prey are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Yet buzzards, peregrines, red kites and other birds of prey are being illegally killed in Northumberland, and other upland areas in the UK.”

Anyone who has information that may assist police should contact officers on 101 quoting log 722 14/05/19 or report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk

Anyone wishing to convey information in confidence can call the Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101, which has been set up for those within the shooting community who wish to speak out about raptor persecution.

ENDS

What the police statement doesn’t include is detail about the local land use and the history of illegal raptor persecution in the area (shootings, poisonings, pole traps). That information has been provided by the RSPB in their own blog here.

Some of us were in this part of the AONB just a few months ago having a look at this extensive area of grouse moors (although not believed to be the grouse moors mentioned in relation to these current cases), and we noticed a lot of signs like these:

[Photos by Ruth Tingay]

These public information/warning signs had been endorsed by various authorities such as Natural England and the North Pennines AONB (see logos) and undoubtedly provide a useful public service:

Isn’t it time we also saw other public signs, endorsed by the authorities, highlighting areas that have been identified as raptor persecution hotspots and warning people to be alert to the evidence of such crimes and what to do if they stumble across such suspected evidence, i.e. who to report it to?

Presumably the grouse shooting estates wouldn’t object to this sort of signage being attached to posts next to their land given that they all denounce illegal raptor persecution and claim to want it stamped out (the crimes, not the raptors).

Perhaps this could be a consideration for Supt Nick Lyall and his reinvigorated Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)? Given that the North Pennines AONB is in the process of joining the RPPDG, they could trail blaze this initiative as an indication of just how seriously they’re taking illegal raptor persecution on their patch.

Wouldn’t it be great to see other RPPDG ‘partners’ such as the Moorland Association, Countryside Alliance and BASC helping the North Pennines AONB to raise funds to support such a scheme and/or providing the labour to install the signs.

UPDATE 25 May 2019: Brilliant response from North Pennines AONB to illegal buzzard shootings (here)

UPDATE 25 May 2019: The second buzzard shooting incident was originally reported as being on 14 May 2019. We’ve now been advised (by North Pennines AONB Director Chris Woodley-Stewart), that the bird was found on 13 May 2019. Text now amended above.

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7 Responses to “Two buzzards found shot next to grouse moors in North Pennines AONB”


  1. 1 Dougie
    May 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)”

    We need a new title … AONC – Area of Outstanding Natural Criminality

  2. 2 Mairi L
    May 24, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Don’t see why there can’t be signs as you suggest. Where car parks in ‘out of the way’ places have been targeted by criminals, signs are put up to warn people to keep a look out. Where’s the difference?

  3. May 24, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Hallelujah! Public signs. This is precisely what should happen. Regardless of the continued ‘alleged’ lack of evidence as to who is responsible the ‘where’ is a fact, therefore, such notices would be pertinent. Being as the land owners proport to uphold the law there can be no objection. A case for Wildjustice, I think.

  4. 4 Paul Fisher
    May 24, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    ‘The persecution of birds of prey like buzzards is quite rightly an emotive issue and I want reassure the public that we take it very seriously. It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.’
    I have to say this statement doesn’t fill me with confidence. An emotive issue? Is that like murder is an emotive issue? will look to identify offenders? Is that like looking very very hard, or just looking the other way?
    He wants to reassure the public, well I am joe public and I’m not reassured, not at all.

    I do not believe a statement for a rape or murder would be written like this and a crime is a crime. You do not have greater or lesser crimes. If it’s criminal, it’s a crime. Treat it as such.

    And btw, would this be any different with licensing? And how so?

    • 5 Dougie
      May 24, 2019 at 9:01 pm

      I agree with your sentiments.
      Basically the police are saying that we cannot spend much time on such crimes, but if someone hands us evidence on a plate we see what we can do.
      The police and, it must be said, politicians etc. seem to think that their bland statements about taking it seriously will sound convincing. They are, of course, not remotely convincing and are obviously no more than a futile platitude.

    • May 27, 2019 at 11:29 am

      I had the same thought. ‘Emotive’. Giving a false equivalency to those who disagree with the law. And this is from the police!


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