More on the ~100 dumped birds in Loch Freuchie

Yesterday we blogged about a muddled article that had been published in The Courier about ~100 dead birds that had been found floating in Loch Freuchie, right in the middle of the Strathbraan raven cull area (see here).

There was talk of an ‘illegal cull’ of ravens, but the birds floating in the loch hadn’t been identified; it seemed the journalist was simply assuming these were ravens because this area is where last year SNH controversially licensed a load of gamekeepers to kill ravens on the basis of ‘seeing what happens’.

The story has continued in today’s press, with The Scotsman headlining with this:

A hundred dead ravens, illegally culled?

Er….not quite.

Here are some photos sent to us by one of our blog readers yesterday afternoon (thank you). It appears, from our reader’s description, that there were indeed over 100 dead birds but most of these (or at least the ones that could be seen) were jackdaws and some rooks. It also appears that these birds were chucked off a bridge in to the River Quaich.

The River Quaich acts as a boundary between two estates and one theory is that these birds were caught legally inside a crow cage trap, killed (presumably legally – by being smashed over the head with a stick) and then were dumped in this particular location specifically to try and drop one of these estates in trouble. At least one of these estates had not wanted to participate in the (failed) revised application to cull ravens this year. Make of that what you will.

Whatever the motivation for dumping these birds, it simply reiterates, yet again, what little regard some so-called ‘professionals’ have for wildlife.

18 Responses to “More on the ~100 dumped birds in Loch Freuchie”

  1. 1 Mike
    July 12, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    why is it when I read about things like this I always get the hunting tune of Appollinia stuck in my head?

  2. 2 R Stuart Craig
    July 12, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Of course we want the press / media to highlight heinous crimes against our native wildlife, but for goodness sake they should get their facts right as any false reporting will be pounced upon by these so called custodians of our countryside to disrespect and dispute any true facts when they are given to the public. The Scotsman has probably done more harm than good by printing its “false news”

  3. 3 Alan Johnson
    July 12, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you for the clarification on further limited initial evidence. (But initial evidence which may take some unnecessary heat out the story – if The Scotsman follows it up at all.) It all underlines again the need for “boots on the ground”. No substitute for informed observation of what’s going on all over our countryside.

  4. July 12, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Legally killed or otherwise it’s a disgrace. No animals or birds should have to suffer this just because a few rich, tweed wearing morons like to blast a different species from the sky.

  5. 5 Iain Gibson
    July 12, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    The statutory protection of ALL wild birds is long overdue. Rooks on farmland control the leatherjacket populations, which is far better than farmers poisoning them (and other so-called “pests”) with toxic pesticides. In fact the use of these chemicals on farms is reducing the terrestrial food supply not only for Rooks, but also other species like Starling, Lapwing and winter thrushes. In west central Scotland at least, these species have all declined markedly, especially within the past decade.

  6. 6 Les Wallace
    July 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Are there enough ravens left in the area for 100 to be dumped in a loch? When the dominant ‘culture’ is what it is in area like this a 100 dead birds dumped in a loch for any of a long list of potential, idiotic reasons is not that out of place. Imagine being a kid growing up in an area where ‘fieldsports’ dominate?

  7. July 12, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    This case says a lot about the Scottish Government General Licensing Scheme when, despite all the shock and horror headlines, the best the culprit could be charged with is littering or fly tipping.

  8. July 12, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Further demonstration that a new licensing system is necessary, by which licenses will be issued only in areas where there are no “mysterious disappearances” or other evidence of questionable attitudes to wildlife – like regarding corvids as pests rather than wildlife, for example.


  9. 9 TonyB
    July 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    So its ok to lure these birds into a cage and then club them to death because they are only rooks!

  10. 10 Wild Detection
    July 12, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    This mass slaughter was definitely as a result of a common practice on shooting estates called ‘rook blasting’. Keepers will locate and target trees carrying nests or young corvids and simply blast gun shot at the nests and any birds on or flying about the trees. This is not a result of legally caught birds in a crow cage trap. There are too many for that, unless they have allowed dozens of birds to be caught before going in to kill them all. That would suggest that the crow cage traps were not being checked and cleared every twenty four hours. No, in my view, these birds, every one a life, were slaughtered in some mass shooting and probably by several people….

    • July 12, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Wild Detection,

      It is certainly possible that they could have been shot out of roost trees, but it is also certainly possible that this many were caught in one, or several, crow cage traps. These traps are designed (and baited) to attract large numbers of victims and we’ve seen cages containing many many birds at a time. It all depends on the trap location, the time of year, and the type/amount of bait used.

      Without collecting the dead birds from Loch Freuchie and sending them for post mortem, it is simply guesswork.

      • 12 Wild Detection
        July 12, 2019 at 5:18 pm

        I agree, at this time and without having been present at the killing of these birds, we can only guess as to how these birds met their end. Whatever the cause, it is a fact that these birds, wild native birds of Scotland, were slaughtered by people who have no respect for our natural world.

      • 13 Iain Gibson
        July 12, 2019 at 6:30 pm

        Having birdwatched in the central belt of Scotland for 56 years, often specialising in farmland surveys, I can confidently say that nest shooting is by far the commonest method of “controlling” Rooks. It is a sickening sight to witness, although the perpetrators often seem to regard it as engaging in entertainment. They certainly seem to have jolly good fun, killing nestlings as well as attendant parents. Sadly this practice has wiped out some of the biggest rookeries in lowland Scotland, with an estimated loss of possibly 75% of the Rook population over the past decade, judging by communal roost counts and rookery monitoring.

        • 14 Wild Detection
          July 12, 2019 at 7:24 pm

          Well commented on Iain, a sickening but realistic account of what is going on in our countryside today….and perfectly legal!

        • 15 Les Wallace
          July 13, 2019 at 7:26 pm

          My understanding is that the evidence for claiming the rook is an agricultural pest is extremely poor. I’m pretty sure that during WWII George Waterton of RSPB fame was commissioned to see if the species was a threat to our food supply – he found it wasn’t. I’d think that would be a pretty robust, objective study. There definitely seem to be a lot less rooks than there were, and I can’t recall the last time I saw a rookery anywhere apart from our town’s park. As is so often the case wildlife is safer closer to urban areas. Shooting a rookery out will be a poor man’s equivalent of standing in a butt with grouse being driven towards you I imagine. They must want any pathetic excuse, including rooks being a supposed predator on songbirds, to justify this. Not hard to believe when you see the slathering idiots on the Fieldsports Channel. In the old NCC days I remember one of their staff telling us a fish farm had ‘dealt’ with a heronry by putting traps on the end of long poles and snagged the chicks out of the nest with them. Wildlife is being slaughtered left, right and centre it’s just that this time someone wanted to leave a message by the look of it.

  11. 16 Oliver Craig
    July 12, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    What kind of birds these are it is still a form of genocide.

  12. 17 Simon Tucker
    July 12, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    It really doesn’t matter what species it is, or how legal the killing was, it shouldn’t be legal. It is an atrocity, plain and simple.

  13. July 13, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    When I was a youngster I remember watching the gamekeeper and farmers blasting into rookeries, wood pigeon nests and squirrel dreys but the dead birds and squirrels were usually unrecoverable and left to rot or to be eaten by scavengers. I now wonder if there could be a natural explanation for this incident such as lightning strike or a flash flood washing out a stink pit? I guess we will never know unless carcasses are recovered and checked for shot, poison and bludgeoning.

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