Archive for July, 2020

31
Jul
20

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland: Where eagles are poisoned, trapped & shot

Here’s a new poster for the Cairngorms National Park, created by one of our blog readers (thank you) following the news (here) that yet another young eagle has been illegally killed, this time poisoned to death on a grouse moor in this so-called National Park.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of this image very shortly….watch this space.

Thank you to everyone who has written to the First Minister and Environment Cabinet Secretary expressing your disgust and urging immediate action following this latest poisoning incident. The public’s reaction has been phenomenal.

It’s not too late to add your voice. Here are the email addresses you’ll need:

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you.

30
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle: poor response from Cairngorms National Park Authority

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Board of one of the world’s most famous national parks would have quite a lot to say if the headlines were full of the news of an illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle that had been found within the park’s boundary.

But apparently not.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), managed to tweet this on the day the news broke:

It appears that the ‘statement’ to which Grant refers is nothing more than the one-liner that appears in his tweet:

The death of this young sea #eagle by poison is totally unacceptable. If you have any info please report to @policescotland“.

That’s it.

There’s nothing about this appalling crime on the CNPA’s news website:

Why the silence? The CNPA has published statements on previous raptor persecution incidents that have been uncovered in the National Park (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here) so why is this one any different? If anything, it’s even more high profile than the crimes that have gone before, which makes the CNPA’s reluctance to say anything all the more disappointing.

Perhaps it’s the influence of some of the current Board members? There are some very interesting individuals who undoubtedly would condemn this poisoning but whose strong links to the grouse-shooting industry might make them feel less inclined to want the CNPA to be shouting about it: Doug McAdam, previous CEO of Scottish Land & Estates and well known to us as what we’d describe as a raptor persecution denier (see here), Deirdre Falconer, who we’re told has a son who works as a gamekeeper on Invercauld Estate, and Geva Blackett, SNP councillor and previous Parliamentary Officer for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and wife of the now retired Factor of Invercauld Estate. Although Geva seems to have her own problems at the moment and has reportedly been suspended from her role as the Board’s Deputy Convenor. But there are plenty of other Board members – why haven’t they been as motivated as ordinary members of the public have been to condemn this ongoing depravity?

The current silence is even more bizarre when you consider that a previous CNPA Convenor publicly acknowledged that illegal raptor persecution in the National Park was “a PR disaster” and asked the Scottish Government for help (here). Not that the CNPA has been helping itself that much, with its constant rounds of softly-softly so-called ‘partnership-working’ (see here).

How’s that working out for you, CNPA?

Here’s how well it’s working out. This map shows a number of raptor persecution incidents in and around the National Park between 2005-2018, including those recorded by the RSPB, incidents featured in the golden eagle satellite tag review, and other data in the public domain. The area of Strathdon, where the poisoned white-tailed eagle was found, is circled:

ILLEGAL RAPTOR PERSECUTION INCIDENTS CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK

2002

Feb: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Mar: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 rabbit baits. Cromdale (No prosecution)

2003

Apr: 3 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 grey partridge baits. Kingussie (No prosecution)

Jun: Attempted shooting of a hen harrier. Crannoch (Successful prosecution)

2004

May: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cuaich (No prosecution)

Nov: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

2005

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Mar: 3 x poisoned buzzards, 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Crathie (No prosecution)

2006

Jan: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Dulnain Bridge (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven (Mevinphos). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Morven [corbett] (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven + 1 x poisoned common gull (Aldicarb) + egg bait. Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

May: egg bait (Aldicarb). Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenfeshie (No prosecution)

2007

Jan: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Glenshee (No prosecution)

Apr: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: Pole trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Tomintoul (No prosecution)

May: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit & hare baits. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jul: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Ballater (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Newtonmore (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

2008

Jan: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

2009

May: 2 x poisoned ravens (Mevinphos). Delnabo (No prosecution)

Jun: rabbit bait (Mevinphos). nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x illegal crow trap. Nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)

2010

Apr: Pole trap. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x pole-trapped goshawk. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring trap on tree stump. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Sep: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Oct: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Nr Boat of Garten (No prosecution)

2011

Jan: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

Apr: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran & Aldicarb). Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

May:  1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot short-eared owl, found stuffed under rock. Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot peregrine. Pass of Ballater (No prosecution)

Aug: grouse bait (Aldicarb). Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Sep: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Nov: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

2012

Apr: 1 x shot short-eared owl. Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Apr: Peregrine nest site burnt out. Glenshee (No prosecution)

May: Buzzard nest shot out. Nr Ballater (No prosecution)

2013

Jan: White-tailed eagle nest tree felled. Invermark (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot hen harrier. Glen Gairn (No prosecution)

May: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon

2014

Apr: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon

May: Armed masked men shoot out a goshawk nest. Glen Nochty, Nr Strathdon (No prosecution)

2015

Sep: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Lad’ found dead, suspected shot. Newtonmore (No prosecution)

2016

May: 1 x shot goshawk. Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring traps. Invercauld (No prosecution)

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Brian’ ‘disappears’. Kingussie

2017

Mar: Satellite-tagged golden eagle #338 ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Calluna’ ‘disappears’. Ballater

2018

May: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle Blue T ‘disappears’. Ballater

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Athena’ ‘disappears’. Nr Grantown on Spey

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Margot’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Sept: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Stelmaria’ ‘disappears’. Ballater

2019

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Marci’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

April: Four geese poisoned and Carbofuran bait found on an estate nr Kingussie (no prosecution)

August: Golden eagle photographed with a spring trap dangling from its foot, nr Crathie, Deeside

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 1 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 2 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld

2020

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Newtonmore

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Marlin ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Strathdon

April: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle found illegally poisoned on grouse moor in Strathdon.

In addition to the above list, two recent scientific publications have documented the long-term decline of breeding peregrines on grouse moors in the eastern side of the National Park (see here) and the catastrophic decline of breeding hen harriers, also on grouse moors in the eastern side of the Park (see here).

29
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle: Chris Packham’s letter to Scottish Ministers

Public anger over the news that yet another bird of prey has been found illegally killed on a Scottish grouse moor – this time a white-tailed eagle found poisoned in the Cairngorms National Park – is showing no sign of subsiding (see here and click on the links to read some of the letters that have been sent to Scottish Ministers urging immediate action).

Chris Packham has now added his voice and has written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, as follows:

It’s not the first time Chris has spoken with Ministers about the ongoing persecution of eagles and other birds of prey on Scottish grouse moors.

In 2018 he had a long conversation with Roseanna Cunningham following the suspicious disappearance of one of our satellite-tagged golden eagles, ‘Fred’, who vanished just seven miles from the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. You can watch the extended version of that conversation here:

Here we are, two years later, and what’s changed?

Absolutely nothing.

Except public anger has surged.

Thank you to everyone who has written to the First Minister and Environment Cabinet Secretary expressing your disgust and urging immediate action following this latest poisoning incident. The public’s reaction has been phenomenal.

Here are their email addresses for those who would still like to comment:

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you.

29
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle: Scottish Ministers under increasing pressure to act

There has been an unprecedented response from the general public to the news that a young white-tailed eagle has been found illegally poisoned on a grouse moor in the world-famous Cairngorms National Park (see here and here).

The Scottish Government published a pathetically inadequate tweet yesterday (here) designed to fob everyone off but actually generating even more fury at its continued wilful blindness and refusal to tackle this head on.

Public anger is palpable. Social media is still FULL of the death of this eagle, 48hrs after the news first broke, and hundreds of ordinary members of the public have been so incensed they’ve taken to writing emails to the very top of the pile, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Here are some examples of those emails, here are some more, here are some more, here are some more, here are some more, and here and here are some more and another one here.

This one, from Iain Cameron (@theiaincameron) is a masterclass in reasoning:

But so far this one is my favourite (from anon):

Ladies, I know your inboxes are full and getting fuller so I will be brief;

Prompted by the recent poisoning of a white-tailed eagle in the Cairngorms National Park I note;

1) That none of the measures put in place to protect Scotland’s birds of prey seems to have any effect

2) No one has ever been convicted of killing an eagle in Scotland

3) Satellite-tagged eagles can be killed with impunity right up to the Edinburgh bypass

4) The Werritty Review’s outcome of a five year period of self-regulation is infuriating and futile

5) Your party appears not to have the stomach to take on serious, organised crime by landed interests in Scotland

6) Indeed your appointment of Richard Scott’s financial adviser Benny Higgins (a former colleague of mine) as an economic advisor suggests the opposite – that you regard these people as trustworthy or reputable in some way

7) Lots of people (including me) are extremely angry about your hand-wringing and inaction

8) I expect action from you. Driven grouse shooting is a moral disgrace, drives out productive land use, wrecks our uplands and depends on rampant criminality. It needs to be banned right now.

9) The Cairngorms National Park should either become an actual nation park with no sport shooting or it should come to an end. If it has no power to tackle this carnage there’s little point in it existing.

Thanks for reading.

ENDS

Thank you to all of you who have written to the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham) expressing your disgust and urging immediate action. It is clear that their inboxes have been deluged. Good, they need to be.

Here are their email addresses for those who would still like to comment:

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you.

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: Chris Packham’s letter to Scottish Ministers (here)

29
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle: strong response from Scottish Greens

In sharp contrast to the pathetically inadequate Scottish Government’s response (see here) to the news that a poisoned sea eagle has been found on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park, the Scottish Greens’ response is spot on:

POISONING OF WHITE-TAILED EAGLE REVEALS NEED FOR REFORM

The revelation that a White-Tailed eagle found dead in the Cairngorms is found to have been poisoned shows the Scottish Government must go further to tackle wildlife crime around grouse moors, Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell has said.

Police Scotland have confirmed the satellite tracked bird had been poisoned with pesticide as they investigate the crime.

[A police officer retrieving the poisoned corpse from a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park. Photo by Police Scotland]

Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell is the species champion for the White-Tailed eagle, also known as the sea eagle, of which there are only around 150 breeding pairs in Scotland.

This is a very serious crime against a species reintroduced into Scotland 40 years ago after it became extinct. Sadly, this is only the latest in a long list of raptors found near Scotland’s grouse moors and I’m afraid recent tweaks to wildlife crime maximum sentences fail to address the central problem around detection and prosecution of these crimes.

There needs to be real action to address this war against wildlife. Land managers need to get a grip of this, but we’ve seen from the reaction to the Scottish Greens win on protection for mountain hares that the driven grouse shooting industry is resistant to even the mildest of reforms.

It’s time for the Scottish Government to ignore vested interests and respond to the Werrity review with a commitment to shut grouse moors down. The stark reality is Scotland is monumentally failing to meet its obligations in the middle of a global nature emergency.

ENDS

Thank you to all of you who have written to the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham) expressing your disgust and urging immediate action. It is clear that their inboxes have been deluged. Good, they need to be.

Here are their email addresses for those who would still like to comment:

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you.

29
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle: inadequate response from Scottish Government

Further to Monday’s appalling news that a young white-tailed eagle has been found illegally poisoned on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (see here and here), the Scottish Government has responded.

Of sorts.

The official twitter channel of the Scottish Government, covering the environment and rural economy (@GreenerScotland) posted this at four minutes to five yesterday afternoon:

If the Scottish Government thinks that is an adequate response it’d better think again.

Superficially, it looks good, as is undoubtedly intended. A photo of a serious-looking Environment Minister and a statement expressing disgust and anger, ending with what looks to be a zero-tolerance policy for those who commit these atrocious crimes.

Job done. That’ll calm the baying public and stem the tsunami of angry emails heading for the First Minister’s inbox, right?

Sorry, but no, it won’t. Whichever civil servant put this together has not only seriously misjudged the mood but has also underestimated the public’s depth of anger about the illegal poisoning of this young eagle. Fobbing us off with a trite statement about custodial sentences for the guilty just isn’t going to cut it.

Why not? Well because we all know, that even though an increase in custodial sentences for wildlife crime is widely welcomed and long overdue, that no matter what the sentence, the chances of the culprit actually being caught is still disproportionately minuscule in comparison to the weight of the sentence.

In fact, there has never been a successful prosecution for the illegal killing of an eagle in Scotland. Ever. Even though scores of them have been found illegally shot, poisoned or trapped over the years, and scores more have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances (confirmed by a Government-commissioned report), not one single eagle-killer has ever been held to account.

Not one.

Why not? Because the evidence required to convict is almost impossible to attain. For example, ten years ago three golden eagles were found dead on a prestigious grouse-shooting estate in Sutherland. They were found within days of each other and all three had been poisoned with banned chemicals. The police raided the estate and found a stash of 10kg of Carbofuran (a banned pesticide) inside a locked shed. This was the biggest cache of carbofuran ever found in the UK and was described as being ‘enough to wipe out the entire Scottish golden eagle and red kite populations several times over’. They also found poisoned baits laid out on the hill. At least one of those eagles died with the poisoned bait still in its beak – that’s how potent and fast-acting some of these poisons can be.

An estate employee was charged and the case went to court. However, he was only convicted for having possession of the banned poison. He wasn’t even charged with poisoning those eagles simply because there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that he had laid the bait that killed those eagles.

So when the Scottish Government tells us that the maximum sentence for poisoning an eagle has been increased to a five-year custodial sentence, in this context it’s totally meaningless because the poisoner will evade ever being brought to justice.

Now that’s not to say the increased penalties for wildlife crime are a waste of time – they most definitely are not and are a very welcome addition, but increased penalties alone just aren’t going to save the day here. The Scottish Government cannot continue to ignore the massive elephant in the room. That is, that the majority of these crimes against birds of prey are linked to the ‘sport’ of driven grouse shooting.

We know it, and the Scottish Government knows it.

This latest response from the Scottish Government bares strong similarities to a statement made last month about its intention to establish a ‘wildlife crime task force’ to assess whether increased powers for the SSPCA would be worthwhile (see here). What was (deliberately) missed out was the fact that the government had already spent the previous nine years cogitating this very issue! The announcement was even accompanied by the very same photograph of Minister Gougeon as used in yesterday’s announcement. The civil servants must think it adds gravitas.

Well, it doesn’t. And as we said last month, this is no reflection on the integrity and sincerity of Mairi Gougeon. Having met her several times and listened to her talk, there is absolutely no doubt that she finds these crimes as abhorrent as we all do. But she, and her fellow Cabinet Ministers and Secretaries, need to step up to the plate.

We don’t want banal memes or meaningless platitudes or pretence that this is all in hand. It isn’t and the image of that dead sea eagle should haunt every single member of the Scottish Government – they are allowing this depravity to continue.

Thank you to all of you who have written to the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham). It is clear that their inboxes have been deluged. Good, they need to be.

If you haven’t written yet, please consider doing so. Mark Avery has published his excellent letter (see here) for those wondering what to say.

Here are the email addresses of the relevant ministers:

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you.

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: strong response from Scottish Greens (here)

28
Jul
20

More on the poisoned sea eagle found dead on a grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park

It’s fair to say that there has been public uproar at the news that yet another eagle has been found illegally killed in Scotland, this time a young sea eagle, found poisoned on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park (see here). The police have not named the estate on which the poisoned corpse was found, nor the name of the banned pesticide used to kill this eagle.

Some of that public outrage has been from people who previously had no idea that such filthy, barbaric crimes are still taking place in the 21st Century, whilst others are infuriated that this keeps happening and yet time and time and time again the Scottish Government keeps dodging the opportunity to act.

To many of us, it’s no longer a shock to learn that an eagle has been found illegally killed on a grouse moor. And in this particular case, it’s certainly no surprise to learn of the location.

The Strathdon area of the Cairngorms National Park has long been recognised as a raptor persecution hotspot, as this map demonstrates. These are raptor persecution incidents, 2005-2018, including cases recorded by the RSPB, incidents featured in the golden eagle satellite tag review, and other data in the public domain. Geographic clusters are clear to see – in the Angus Glens to the SE of the National Park, in the Strathdon area in the NE (circled), and in the Monadhliaths to the NW of the National Park:

Those incidents in Strathdon include a poisoned raven (2006), a poisoned common gull (2006), multiple poisoned baits (2006), a shot buzzard (2009), a poisoned golden eagle (2011), a poisoned buzzard (2011), poisoned bait (2011), a shot short-eared owl (2011), two satellite-tagged golden eagles ‘disappearing’ (2011), another satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappearing’ (2013), a satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappearing’ (2014), a goshawk nest shot out by masked men (2014), a shot goshawk (2016), another satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappearing’ (2017), a satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappearing’ (2018), another satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappearing’ (2019), and another satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappearing’ (2020).

It’s quite the persecution hotspot, isn’t it?

Nobody has been prosecuted in any of these cases.

If you want to see the full shocking list of reported raptor persecution incidents inside the Cairngorms National Park, the supposed ‘jewel in the crown’ of Scotland’s wildlife areas, see here. Take note again of the lack of prosecutions.

Strathdon was also identified as a golden eagle persecution hotspot in the 2017 Government-commissioned report on the fates of satellite-tracked golden eagles in Scotland. You can read that report here.

With the illegal poisoning of this latest white-tailed eagle we now know that seven eagles have either been illegally killed or have vanished in suspicious circumstances in this area (4 x ‘missing’ golden eagles, 1 x ‘missing white-tailed eagle, 1 x poisoned golden eagle, 1 x poisoned white-tailed eagle), as well as three satellite-tagged hen harriers that have vanished in suspicious circumstances since the golden eagle report was published.

Many new blog readers have been surprised to learn that not only have there been zero prosecutions for raptor crime dating back for years in this part of the National Park, but that managing grouse moors for shooting is not a licensed activity. Comments from newcomers on social media immediately call for ‘licences to be revoked’ because they assume that a relatively progressive country like Scotland will have all this stuff regulated and under control. It’s been a shock for them to find out that in parts of Scotland it’s the armed criminals in control, brazenly and repeatedly sticking up two fingers to the law-makers and the rest of society.

Newcomers also ask why there hasn’t been any targeted action in these known persecution hotspots? It’s not like nobody knows what’s been going on there! It’s a good question – what is the point of all this mapping and recording and reporting if the bleedin’ obvious is still allowed to continue, uninhibited, unrestricted and unpunished?

The Scottish Government did implement a farcical trial scheme of having a bunch of part-time volunteer special constables deployed in the National Park in 2018, to focus on tackling wildlife crime. Despite the undoubted good intentions of those volunteers, the scheme was a predictable waste of time and money (see here) and simply a can-kicking exercise so the Government could pretend it was doing something tangible to tackle these crimes.

And so here we are again. Yet another victim, on yet another grouse moor, in yet another National Park.

And yet again, the Scottish Government has remained silent.

It’s important that we don’t.

If you haven’t already done so, please consider sending an email to the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and her Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham) to express your strength of feeling that this disgraceful criminality has been allowed to continue for far too long. The Government must be held to account for its inaction.

You don’t need to be resident in Scotland to email these politicians. In fact, the more correspondence from outside of Scotland, all the better to demonstrate the extent of the country’s embarrassing reputation. Please be polite.

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

It’s clear that many of you have already written to them. Thank you.

UPDATE 29 July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: inadequate response from Scottish Government (here)

27
Jul
20

Poisoned sea eagle found on grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park: RSPB response

Further to today’s news that a young white-tailed eagle has been found illegally poisoned on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (see here), the RSPB has responded.

Head of Investigations Ian Thomson has written a blog – see here – where he talks about the long history of raptor persecution on grouse moors in this part of the National Park as well as providing a few more details of this young eagle’s life before he was killed.

The RSPB has also published a video:

There’s still much more to say about this latest crime….more soon.

In the meantime, if you’re as infuriated as we are, please consider emailing the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and her Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham) to express your strength of feeling that this filthy criminality has been allowed to continue for far too long. The Scottish Government has known about it for years, they know where it goes on and know why it goes on, and yet still, here we are again.

You don’t need to be resident in Scotland to email these politicians. In fact, the more correspondence from outside of Scotland, all the better to demonstrate the extent of the country’s embarrassing reputation. Please be polite.

To email Nicola Sturgeon, please use this address: firstminister@gov.scot

To email Roseanna Cunningham, please use this address: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

Thank you

27
Jul
20

Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle found poisoned on grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park

A satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle has been found poisoned on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park.

This should be the tipping point. The Scottish Government simply cannot ignore this blatant criminality any longer. There are contact details at the foot of this blog if you want to write to the First Minister and her Environment Cabinet Secretary.

We’ll have much, much more to say about this latest crime but for now, here’s the press release just issued by Police Scotland:

RARE WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE POISONED

Police Scotland has today confirmed that a rare white-tailed sea eagle found dead earlier this year was poisoned.

The bird of prey was recovered from Donside, Aberdeenshire, in April. A post mortem has now established it died as a result of pesticide poisoning. It had been satellite tagged.

The death is being treated as suspicious. An investigation is ongoing and Police Scotland is appealing for information to help identify those responsible.

[A police officer examines the corpse of this illegally-poisoned sea eagle, found on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park]

White-tailed sea eagles were re-introduced into Scotland in the 1970s after becoming extinct in the UK in the early 1900s. There are now over 150 breeding pairs in Scotland. Police Inspector Sheila McDerment, who chairs the North East Partnership Against Wildlife Crime, said:

As well as being illegal, poisoning is a cruel way to kill a bird. It also puts the lives of other creatures and plants at risk and impacts negatively on our environment.

This incident is particularly upsetting because these rare and beautiful birds had been re-introduced to Scotland after being extinct throughout the UK.

Raptor persecution is one of six priorities set by the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. In the North East we work closely with a number of partners to tackle wildlife crime. Members of the public are our eyes and ears. I appeal to anyone out there who may hold any information about this incident to help us bring the offender to justice by coming forward and telling us what they know.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said: “The news that this bird has been illegally poisoned is appalling. This crime would never have come to light had the bird not been fitted with a satellite tag, and the killing of this young eagle can be added to a litany of raptor persecution incidents in recent years, including previous poisonings and multiple disappearances of similarly-tagged birds of prey. Poisoning is vicious and indiscriminate and we join with Police Scotland in appealing for information.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, Wildlife Crime lead for Police Scotland, said: “Scotland’s rich, rare and diverse wildlife and landscapes are among its biggest attractions. We cannot allow the indiscriminate use of poisons and pesticides to threaten our natural heritage. Police Scotland, working with our key partners, is committed to protecting our wildlife habitats and to bringing those who seek to destroy or harm it, to justice.”

Please contact Police Scotland on 101 if you have information about this crime, quoting crime reference number CF0160960720. You can also report information anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

If you’d like the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) and her Environment Cabinet Secretary (Roseanna Cunningham) to know how angry this news makes you feel, please send POLITE but strongly-worded emails to:

firstminister@gov.scot

and

CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

UPDATE 27th July 2020: RSPB responds to news of poisoned eagle found on grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park (here)

UPDATE 28th July 2020: More on the poisoned sea eagle found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: inadequate response from Scottish Government (here)

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: strong response from Scottish Greens (here)

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: Scottish Ministers under increasing pressure to act (here)

UPDATE 29th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: Chris Packham’s letter to Scottish Ministers (here)

UPDATE 30th July 2020: Poisoned sea eagle: poor response from Cairngorms National Park Authority (here)

UPDATE 31st July 2020: Cairngorms National Park, Scotland: where eagles are poisoned, trapped & shot (here)

27
Jul
20

Scottish Raptor Study Group responds to hysteria over proposed grouse moor licensing

At the weekend The Scotsman published a letter from Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of Scottish Land & Estates’ Moorland Group, which was basically an hysterical scaremongering piece about how grouse moor licensing would signal rural Armageddon (see here).

Today The Scotsman has published a letter of response from Logan Steele, Communications Secretary of the Scottish Raptor Study Group.

[Logan Steele from the Scottish Raptor Study Group at a parliamentary reception with Andy Wightman MSP. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Logan’s letter is everything that Tim (Kim) Bayne’s letter is not (i.e. measured and factual):

Tim Bayne’s article, (25th July), contends that the licensing of grouse shooting is not justified and that ‘it would make it the most heavily regulated land use in the UK,’. This statement is laughable as it is in fact one of the least regulated and is why we are seeing issues such as the unregulated mass culling of mountain hares, the burning of heather over deep peat, the draining of moors and the widespread and systematic killing of birds of prey.

As justification he quoted Prof Werritty’s report when instead he should have quoted from the report’s preface, “When, as Chair, I sought to exercise a casting vote in favour of the immediate introduction of licensing, this was contested by two members of the Group.”  One can only speculate as to whose interests they might have been championing and whether the five-year moratorium was simply a sop to the grouse industry to achieve a unanimous report.

Tim Baynes also stated that recorded raptor persecution is at an all-time low, this is based on the number of incidents discovered by chance which by its very nature will fluctuate from year to year. A more accurate measure is the continued absence of birds of prey on land managed primarily for grouse shooting.

He talks of licensing undermining the progress made with SNH and conservation charities, a statement which we absolutely refute as we too have been party to these discussions. It is precisely because of this lack of progress and the inability to self-regulate that has brought about the public clamour for licensing. 

If evidence was ever required just look at the incidents of birds of prey trapped, shot, and poisoned, the species which figure most prominently are eagles and hen harriers.

Logan Steele, Communications Secretary, Scottish Raptor Study Group

 




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