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Shot buzzard found injured near Shipton, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information following the discovery of a shot buzzard found injured on 29 March 2020.

North Yorkshire Police press release (8 April 2020):

Appeal for information after buzzard found shot near Shipton, York.

Injured buzzard x-rayed and found to contain pieces of shot

[Photos via North Yorkshire Police]

North Yorkshire Police and the RSPCA are appealing for information after a buzzard was found injured near Shipton Grange close to Shipton-by-Beningbrough, York on 29 March 2020.

The buzzard, a male, was found by a local farmer who called the RSPCA and the charity’s Inspector Claire Mitchell collected the bird.

Claire said: “The farmer didn’t know the bird had been shot, but he wasn’t flying so the farmer knew there was something seriously wrong with him.

He was a big healthy bird otherwise, and still quite feisty.

I took him to a local vet for treatment and x-rays, and that’s when they discovered the shot.”

X-rays showed the bird contained five pieces of shot, two in a foot, one in a leg and two in a wing. The bird is now recovering well in the care of a local wildlife rehabilitator and will be released into the wild once ready.

North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force Inspector, Matt Hagen, said:

This is yet another despicable act of someone deliberately injuring a bird of prey in our county. I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident or might have seen anything which could help our investigation to please get in touch with us on 101.

North Yorkshire should be a haven for wildlife and we will do everything in our power to ensure we deal with the individuals who target our birds of prey in this way.”

Anyone with information should call 101 quoting reference number: 12200052238 or the RSPCA appeal line 0300 1238018 and ask to leave a message for Claire.


Well done, North Yorkshire Police. This is a fast and detailed response with good illustrative photographs, and it needs to be. The illegal persecution of birds of prey in North Yorkshire is relentless.

Since 2019 North Yorkshire Police have recorded reports of a shot kestrel (here), a shot buzzard (here), another shot buzzard (here), a shot hen harrier (here), another shot kestrel (here), a poisoned red kite (here), a shot marsh harrier (here), another shot hen harrier (here), another shot buzzard (here), another shot hen harrier (here), another shot hen harrier (here). This list isn’t exhaustive, it’s just the ones remembered off the top of the head and of course there are records of similar crimes in this country going back years and years.

Meanwhile, the game-shooting industry feigns ‘zero tolerance’ for crimes against birds of prey and the Westminster Government, with all its vested interests, refuses to acknowledge there’s even a problem, let alone a systemic culture of wildlife crime.


SLE’s formal complaint to Roseanna Cunningham re: muirburn ban (artist’s impression)

Yesterday we blogged about how the landowners’ lobby group, Scottish Land & Estates, had told its members it intended to write a letter of complaint to Environment Cab Sec Roseanna Cunningham about the “disproportionate and unnecessary” temporary ban on setting grouse moors alight during a time of national crisis (see here).

Mr Carbo has provided us with an artist’s impression of what that formal complaint might look like:


Landowners’ lobby group who called for muirburn moratorium now complains about the ban!

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

On 25th March 2020, the landowners’ lobby group, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) urged its members to use voluntary restraint and stop setting fire to grouse moors, to ensure ‘there was no chance for additional strain on public services’ (i.e. the fire and rescue service, if a so-called ‘controlled’ burn became, er, uncontrolled) (see here).

This call to halt muirburning was welcomed by many, not just with respect for the emergency services during a national crisis but for many, many environmental and conservation reasons too, not least the climate emergency. And whoever thinks that it’s a sensible idea, under the guise of so-called ‘conservation’, to set the moors alight at the onset of the bird breeding season (i.e. throughout April), even though the Muirburn Code permits it, is frankly deranged.

[Burning up a grouse moor, photo by Ruth Tingay]

However, the grouse shooting industry isn’t celebrated for its sensible ideas nor its willingness to self-regulate nor its participation in voluntary restraint, so it came as no surprise to see, five days later, evidence of selfish defiance of SLE’s call for restraint as smoke rose from grouse moors from the Borders to Morayshire (see here).

This led to Andy Wightman MSP proposing an amendment to The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (Emergency Bill) calling for an immediate (but temporary) ban on all muirburn across Scotland (see here).

On 1st April Andy’s amendment received widespread cross-party support (apart from the Conservatives) and was passed (see here and here).

As of today (7 April), the emergency legislation is enacted and all muirburn is now illegal in Scotland (see here).

So how has Scottish Land & Estates reacted to the news that its call for a voluntary, temporary halt was ignored but has now been shored up by being written in to statute, thanks to Andy Wightman’s quick thinking? If you look at the SLE website you’ll not find any comment or statement about it, just silence. SLE probably took one look at BASC’s embarrassing public reaction (here) and thought better of exposing itself as being equally absurd.

But equally as absurd is exactly what SLE is. The day after Andy’s amendment was approved by the Scottish Parliament, but away from the public eye, SLE’s Chief Executive Sarah-Jane Laing sent a briefing email to SLE members to provide an ‘urgent update on emergency legislation’.

Here’s what she told members about the new muirburn ban:

So despite SLE calling for a halt to muirburn, and despite clear evidence that this call was being ignored by some grouse moor owners, SLE is now howling that the resulting enforced temporary ban, which in effect lasts for just four weeks and is what SLE wanted anyway, is ‘disproportionate and unnecessary’!

Does anyone still think the grouse shooting industry has the public interest at its core?


Muirburn banned in Scotland from tomorrow as emergency legislation receives royal assent

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, agreed by the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday, has today received royal assent and thus as of tomorrow (Tuesday 7th April 2020) becomes enacted.

This emergency legislation (Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020) incorporated an amendment from Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman leading to an immediate halt to all muirburn across Scotland, including on grouse moors, for the remainder of the muirburn season (up to and including 30 April 2020).

If you see any evidence of muirburn please report it to Police Scotland.

[Muirburn, photo via Scottish Natural Heritage]


More burning restrictions on some grouse moors in northern England

The Guardian has published an Observer article (see here) claiming that ‘grouse shoots scrapped as heather burning is banned on moors’.

Unfortunately the headline is quite misleading. The article relates to some land in the north of England owned by three landowners (Yorkshire Water, United Utilities and National Trust) but there’s no evidence that grouse shooting has been ‘scrapped’ there.

It’s also a bit confusing, throwing around terms such as ‘banned’ and ‘outlawed’, possibly in relation to what is referred to as ‘routine burning’ but then says that written consent is available to some tenants (for routine burning or occasional burning? And how is this defined?), although perhaps this is in relation to historical leases still in play.

The article also says that, in relation to the coronavirus outbreak, the water companies have said that ‘all burning must now cease until further notice’, which we already knew (see here) but ‘until further notice’ suggests that they may permit burning again in the future, right? Or is this simply referring to occasional burning as opposed to the ‘routine burning’ mentioned above?

Whatever, despite the embellished headline and blurry story line, the fact that three major landowners are imposing some sort of restriction on grouse moor burning across the English uplands is really very good news. As Mark Avery has written (here), it is another step in the right direction of travel towards an end to driven grouse shooting and for that reason is warmly welcomed.

Well done Yorkshire Water, United Utilities and National Trust.


BASC’s integrity goes up in smoke

The grouse-shooting industry continues to stamp its feet and wail about Andy Wightman’s success at persuading the majority of legislators to introduce an immediate (but temporary) ban on muirburn across Scotland last night (see here).

[Muirburn on a Highland grouse moor in April 2017, photo by one of our blog readers]

Today the British Association for Shooting & apparently Conservation (BASC) issued a press release claiming that the Scottish Greens had launched an “unnecessary attack on shooting” and how it was “an exceedingly poor use of parliamentary time“.

Even funnier, BASC argued that Andy Wightman’s amendment was lodged “despite the shooting community instigating a voluntary cessation of burning last week“.

Er, BASC appear to have ‘forgotten’ to mention the widespread evidence that not all landowners were adhering to the call for a voluntary cessation, as published here and here, which is precisely why Andy lodged his amendment and presumably why it gained so much cross-party support (except from the Tories).

Have you ever seen anything so absurd? BASC, who openly admit to endorsing last week’s call for voluntary restraint, objecting to the very legislation that will now force the gamekeepers to stop lighting fires!

It’s even funnier to see BASC trot out its latest soundbite of choice: ‘[The Greens] have proved they are out of touch with the national mood……‘ Yeah, BASC said this about Wild Justice recently, too. Funny, BASC seems to have erased from memory its recent u-turn on using lead ammunition, leading to a meltdown amongst its members (and a reported loss of many many subscriptions), all caused by BASC’s inability to ‘judge the mood’.

What we appear to be seeing now is BASC desperately playing to the gallery to try and make itself look relevant in an attempt to claw back some of those deserters.

Fortunately, the majority of the politicians in the Chamber last night had a far better grasp of the nation’s mood (and its safety) than does BASC.



Who voted for & against a temporary ban on muirburn?

Andy Wightman’s success at getting ‘Amendment 53’ approved in the Scottish Parliament last night, leading to the immediate (but temporary) ban on muirburn across Scotland (see here), has caused some within the grouse shooting world to, how shall we call it, lose their shit.

The vitriol and personal abuse being aimed at Andy on social media is really quite telling and if ever you wanted to see examples of how the mask can slip on people who have previously purported to be ‘voices of reason’ then you need look no further. Then there are the ones who are so out of control they’ve never even tried to appear reasonable and whose tirades of hatred continue without pause for rational thought (or to consider the potential for having their firearms and shotgun certificates removed).

[Muriburn, photo by Ruth Tingay]

For the more sensible, here is a copy of the transcript relating to Andy’s proposed amendment, the ‘debate’ it generated (a bit of ignorance and abuse from Murdo Fraser MSP & a bit of informed support from Michael Russell MSP) and the subsequent vote: amendment 53_debate and vote

Amendment 53 was passed 59 votes to 17.

It’s interesting and almost entirely predictable (with one small surprise – [Ed: please now see update at foot of blog]) to see who voted for and against:

UPDATE 3rd April 2020: Please read the comments section on this blog. A blog reader contacted Shirley-Anne Somerville’s office about this vote and received the following in return:

Response from Shirley-Anne Somerville’s Office Manager:
Hi Greg

Thank you getting in touch with Shirley-Anne, she has asked me to reply on her behalf.

Shirley-Anne fully supports Amendment 53, in line with the rest of her Scottish Government and SNP colleagues. There appears to be some confusion about the voting, the official record on the Scottish Parliament website indicated to me that Shirley-Anne did in fact vote for the amendment. I have attached a screenshot of the voting record search I performed a short time ago.

Should, when the official reports be published and there has been any kind of error of sorts, Shirley-Anne would only have voted against this amendment purely by mistake and accidentally pushed the wrong voting button.

I hope this helps to clarify things, should you have any other matter you wish to raise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards


Cameron Crawford

Office Manager

Shirley-Anne Somerville

MSP for Dunfermline



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