Poisoned red kite in Nidderdale: two local businesses put up a reward

Following the news last week that yet another red kite had been found poisoned in Nidderdale (see here), the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) has published a statement.

It’s well worth a read, here.

[A poisoned red kite]

A selected quote from the NERF statement:

‘The population of Pateley Bridge and surrounding area is less than 3,000 people. Whoever put the poisoned bait out in the open countryside and killed the Red Kite is most likely to live locally, shop locally, use the local pub and may have children or grand-children in the local school. In short if you live in the Pateley Bridge area the person indiscriminately putting poisoned baits out in your countryside, putting your life, the life of your pets and local wildlife at risk is your neighbour.

In addition to the physical threats posed by the use of dangerous poison there is also the reputational damage caused to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and local businesses. This potential reputational damage was recognised by Pateley Bridge businessman Keith Tordoff in 2017 when he and a fellow businessman, jointly offered a reward for information following the unlawful killing of another Red Kite. On that occasion the bird was shot near Greenhow‘.

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A few days ago RPUK was contacted by a local businessman from Pateley Bridge who has once again put up a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspected poisoner(s). The businessman prefers to stay anonymous at this point for fear of retribution but he told us that another local businessman has also agreed to put up a £1,000 reward if the information received leads to a conviction. There may well be other members of the local community stepping forward. The businessmen have been in contact with the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police to facilitate the reward process.

Ongoing concern about the level of wildlife crime in Nidderdale has been raised by residents and visitors alike for a number of years, particularly on the extent of illegal raptor persecution and such is the strength of feeling that the Nidderdale AONB Partnership has now included a specific objective on raptor conservation in its AONB Management Plan. As part of this work, an evidence report was published in September 2019 which placed grouse moor management firmly in the frame.

Incidentally, those of you who read last week’s report on this latest poisoned red kite will know that there was an inexplicable eight-month delay between the discovery of the poisoned red kite and a police appeal for information. It was the latest in a number of cases (as yet unpublished) in North Yorkshire that have caused raised eyebrows, not least because of the previous exemplary efforts (e.g. here) of the North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force, a team which includes some of the UK’s most dedicated and knowledgeable police officers tackling raptor persecution crimes through Operation Owl.

Last weekend at the annual Wildlife Crime Enforcers Conference we were able to have some full and frank discussions about recent events, including the delayed appeal for information about this poisoned red kite, with some senior members of North Yorkshire Police. The response was impressive, the explanations plausible (it would be inappropriate to provide detail here), the admission of mistakes made admirable, and the determination and commitment to target the offenders was unquestionable.

We look forward to being able to report some more success stories from the UK’s worst raptor persecution hotspot.

18 Responses to “Poisoned red kite in Nidderdale: two local businesses put up a reward”

  1. 1 Malcolm Craven
    December 3, 2019 at 10:42 am

    I’d like to support these businesses let us know their names as soon as they are public. Have stopped going to Pateley Bridge because of raptor persecution.

  2. December 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Rewards may well be a way forward, even if they have not worked in the past.
    When the good apples in the grouse shooting industry start putting up rewards we will know that we are winning, but that is very unlikely to happen, unfortunately.
    Their reputation is in tatters, but until they distinguish themselves from the bad apples, it is not surprising that many locals and others feel there are an exceedingly small number of good apples in the industry.

  3. 3 Les Wallace
    December 3, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Several pertinent points here – local community clearly not happy with raptor persecution, but at the same time there’s a fear of retribution that means the individuals providing the reward want to stay anonymous! That’s bloody awful in 2019 in the UK, but pretty much what you’d expect if you’d heard the testimonies of people who’ve crossed paths with ‘sporting’ interests. What locals really think needs to come to the fore, not what the estates say they do. I’ve spent a bit of time in this area, I didn’t see any BoPs, but as anywhere they would’ve enhanced it – no wonder the law abiding locals are pissed off.

  4. 4 tim wootton
    December 3, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Pately Bridge – 3000 residents.
    Probably a local person setting poisoned bait.
    “Grouse Moor Management Firmly In The Frame”
    Serously – how many ‘local people’ work on or for the grouse moor estates around Pately Bridge?
    I’m from a similarly sized Yorkshire village and if this sort of thing was happening I’d have a pretty good idea who was behind it.

    • 5 Paul V Irving
      December 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Because Upper Nidderdale is essentially all game estates it could be any one of about 18 grouse gamekeepers ( none of whom live in Pateley I believe)and then again there are a similar number of Pheasant keepers too, some of whom work for the same estates that shoot grouse. If you look at even the distribution of recent cases just in the upper dale only, if it is these shooting estates ( and who the hell else would it be!) it is probably more than one of them involved.

  5. 6 AndyH
    December 3, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Perhaps xxxxx xxxxx knows whodunnit?

  6. 7 Simon Tucker
    December 3, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Surely the level of crime in the area warrants the police making spot checks on farms, estates and other agricultural type operations to search for illegal poisons and traps?

  7. December 3, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    It takes bravery to stand up to these thugs – Id like to thank those locals near or on shooting estates who came to me for help in the past…and now to those at Pately Bridge doing the same. This story gives me hope, local communities can use their collective power against the killers, it would be good to see a general movement, perhaps putting stickers on windows of local businesses near the hotspots..to say that they are against the poisonings, trappings and shooting of protected wildlife in their area. Would love to see this initiative around Leadhills for instance.

  8. 10 Northern Diver
    December 3, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I heard from Keith Tordoff himself in 2017 that he had received “poison pen” letters and nasty things through his letterbox in Pately after putting up a reward last time. Thank goodness some people stand up to intimidation. His MBE was well deserved. It just shows how morally degraded characters who support game shooting are to attack community spirited people like Mr Tordoff. I wish him and the other people putting up a reward well. Of course, rewards shouldn’t really be necessary, just courageous locals.

  9. 12 Bimbling
    December 3, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Am I missing something here. While its great to see a local community making a stand and they certainly need to in this area the idea of rewards seems something of a double edged sword.

    If I was a landowner and grouse moor owner there, employing contemporary intensive management techniques I might be tempted to offer ten grand as a reward, sound off about how important it is to catch the criminal element, and bask in the reputational glow knowing my money is safe!

    • 13 sog
      December 4, 2019 at 10:07 am

      They could try. What’s to stop a conservation organisation opening a crowdfund to double the reward. That might loosen a few tongues.

      I see it as the response of sensible business people who deplore the risk of a bad reputation that the area may be gaining, and wish to avoid potential visitors, like walkers and birders, staying away. I don’t mean to suggest they are mercenary, but are acting to maintain customer spending locally in pubs, shops and the like. And the locals will recognise this.

  10. 14 Jimmy
    December 3, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Hopefully its a trend that will shame government into properly taking on these toxic wildlife criminals

  11. 15 Keith Tordoff MBE
    December 4, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    In 2017 I instigated a reward in Nidderdale as written about in this article. I am again one of the business men offering a reward being described in the article as wishing to remain anonymous. I know the other businessman and respect his reasons for wishing to remain anonymous. As before I have no problem with my name being used and identifying me as offering a reward leading to a conviction. No hidden agenda!
    The law of the ‘land’ should and must prevail.
    Keith Tordoff MBE

  12. 18 Gareth Huw Lewis
    December 5, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I take my hat off to you Keith and the other amazing businessman who has also offered a reward. Clearly the Grouse shooting “industry” and indeed much of other game shooting is completely out of step with modern society and is dominated hugely by bad apples. I despair at the killing of OUR Raptors and other wildlife by this criminal lowlife. It is really our society and particularly our Government and Police and Courts who can make a real difference here-yes as one comment above clearly states-make random checks on these scum estates and properly punish the perpetrators-the cowards who hide behind these despicable estates-custodial sentences should be mandatory-then things will change and the sociopathic behaviour of people who kill our protected species will finally be brought to an end!

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