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16
Jul
20

Police appeal after goshawk killed on grouse-shooting estate in North York Moors National Park

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (15 July 2020)

Police appeal for information after goshawk killed near Goathland

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information about an incident in which a goshawk appeared to be killed after becoming caught in a cage trap.

Video footage, which was passed on to North Yorkshire Police, shows the bird becoming caught in the trap in the early hours of 2 May 2020. Shortly afterwards, an individual with their face obscured is seen entering the trap and appears to deliberately kill the bird before removing the body in a bag.

The trap was located on Howl Dale Moor near Goathland in the North York Moors National Park.

[The goshawk trapped inside the cage trap prior to being killed, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Jeremy Walmsley, is urging anyone with information to come forward:

The goshawk is one of the most protected species of bird in the UK and it is extremely distressing that an individual would choose to kill any bird of prey. I appeal to anyone with information about this horrific crime to get in touch with the police and help us to find the person responsible for the death of this magnificent bird.

We see far too many incidents of birds of prey killed or injured in North Yorkshire and as a police force we are doing all we can to put a stop to this inhumane and callous crime.”

Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority said:

We are deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century and, despite an improvement in numbers, persecution and habitat loss remain a constant threat to their survival.

Killing or injuring a bird of prey is illegal, cruel and must be prosecuted wherever possible. We are working alongside the police to support them in their investigations and we would strongly urge any witnesses or anyone who has any information to come forward. With your help the offender(s) can be brought to justice.”

A cage trap can be used to catch certain species of birds and is designed to trap birds alive and unharmed, in case of any non-target species becoming caught. Any non-target birds, such as birds of prey, should be released as soon as possible after being caught. Killing a bird of prey is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you have any information which could help this investigation, please call 101 quoting reference: 12200073462 or if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

15
Jul
20

Conservationists fear for safety of Bearded Vulture on notorious Peak District grouse moors

The young Bearded Vulture that has been roosting in the Peak District National Park is causing concern for conservationists who fear for its safety on the notorious grouse moors.

[The young Bearded Vulture, photo by William Bowell]

It just happens to have chosen to hang out in ‘one of the worst 10km squares for raptor persecution in the UK’ according to Mark Thomas of RSPB Investigations (e.g. see here) and there are fears that it could be targeted by ruthless gamekeepers in the run up to the start of the grouse shooting season on 12 August.

Only last month police appealed for information after the discovery of a dying buzzard found inside the National Park (see here). It had suffered horrific gunshot injuries and a post-mortem revealed it had previously been shot but had survived those earlier injuries.

[The vulture has been roosting at an old raven nest site, photo by Tim Birch]

Tim Birch from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been quoted in a number of media articles (e.g. here and here):

It “couldn’t have come to a worse spot in terms of bird of prey persecution” amid fears the vulture could be poisoned or shot. “I don’t think people realise it’s happening in the national park. The bearded vulture is of international importance, so if anything happened to that bird it would bring into sharp focus what is happening here.”

It’s a pretty shocking indictment when a rare bird of prey shows up inside one the country’s most famous national parks and the big story is whether it’ll be left alone or killed.

Fortunately, so far it’s been left alone, presumably because so many birdwatchers have been flocking to see it.

[Birdwatchers viewing the Bearded Vulture, photo by Indy Kiemel Greene]

15
Jul
20

Peregrines illegally poisoned on Guernsey

Police on the island of Guernsey are appealing for information after at least three peregrines have been found poisoned with ‘an unusual cocktail of banned pesticides’ in the last 14 months. A fourth peregrine was found in June and toxicology results are pending.

This story featured on the BBC Channel Islands News last night and is available to watch on iPlayer until 18.55hrs today. Click here to watch (it’s the first item).

The short film includes interviews with Mark Thomas (RSPB Investigations) and David Chamberlain, Guernsey State Vet, who said he believed the pesticides had been imported from the UK rather than ‘hanging around for a long time on the island’ as a similar deadly cocktail had been used elsewhere in the UK for the same purpose of killing raptors.

The names of the pesticides were not revealed.

14
Jul
20

Yet another buzzard shot in North York Moors National Park

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (13 July 2020)

Appeal for information after buzzard found shot in Ryedale

Bird found seriously injured near Appleton-le-Moors

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information after a female buzzard was discovered shot near Appleton le Moors on Sunday 5 July. The bird was found suffering multiple injuries in woods just off Hamley Lane, Appleton le Moors by a member of the public.

Although the buzzard received immediate veterinary treatment, she sadly did not survive given the seriousness of her injuries. A post mortem examination revealed she had suffered shot damage to her tail and wing feathers but also had leg and head wounds which may have been caused by becoming stuck in a cage trap.

Prior to her death, the female buzzard had been seen feeding two juveniles in the area and it is believed she was shot at some point between 6 – 9pm on Saturday 4 July 2020.

If you have any information which may help with this investigation, please call 101 quoting reference: 12200115223 or if you wish to remain anonymous you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Jeremy Walmsley, said:

This is the latest in a very long line of raptor persecution incidents that have occurred in Ryedale over the last few months and it is completely unacceptable. Killing or injuring a bird of prey is not only illegal but cruel and callous.

We are doing everything we can to track down these offenders and I would urge anyone who can help with information about this incident or any other wildlife crime, to get in touch as soon as possible.”

Find out more about bird of prey persecution and how you can Recognise, Record and Report it.

ENDS

The lawless untouchables of North Yorkshire strike again. New blog readers may well wonder, with such a high incident rate, how this is allowed to continue. Everybody knows North Yorkshire is consistently rated as having the worst record for illegal raptor persecution in England, year after year after year and yet there are no consequences and no deterrents – the criminals are assured they won’t be caught and even if they are, their employer will likely stump up large sums of money to pay for the best legal representation available. Meanwhile, representative bodies all enjoy a seat at the table of the so-called ‘partnerships’ that are meant to be tackling these crimes. Nobody bats an eyelid when these crimes are reported – they happen with such frequency that we’re all accustomed to the headlines and numbed to the reality.

This latest victim comes soon after a Channel 4 News special report that highlighted the extent of raptor persecution in North Yorkshire, and particularly on grouse moors in the two national parks (Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors) as well as in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (see here) where a senior police officer (Insp Matt Hagen) told news reporter Alex Thomson:

All the shooting investigations that we’ve got going on at the moment are involving gamekeepers on grouse moors“.

Alex Thomson: All of them?

Matt Hagen: All of them.

Alex Thomson: Every single one?

Matt Hagen: That’s right.

One of those recently highlighted incidents involved the discovery of five dead buzzards that had been hidden under a rock on a Bransdale grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park – post mortems revealed that four had been shot (see here). North Yorkshire Police interviewed eight people (presumably gamekeepers) under caution and enquiries continue.

This latest victim wasn’t found on a grouse moor and although the nearest one isn’t a million miles away it’s not known where she was shot, although the head injury is consistent with what you’d expect to see of a buzzard trying to escape from a trap. This injury looks remarkably similar to that suffered by another buzzard not too far away in 2017 (see here).

If you have any information about any of these incidents that could help North Yorkshire Police bring the armed and out of control criminals to court, please call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

13
Jul
20

Disingenuous parliamentary answers from Scot Gov on toxic hazards of grouse moor management

Last month Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell lodged a series of Parliamentary questions about the toxic hazard of lead ammunition and the use of medicated grit on grouse moors (see here).

Those questions have now been answered by two SNP Ministers (Mairi Gougeon, Environment Minister and Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport & Well-being).

To the casual, uninformed reader these answers might seem reasonable, informed and adequate. To those of us who know a bit more about these issues, and importantly who bother to read the source documents, some of these answers could be described as disingenuous or just plain old taking the piss. Either that or there are some seriously badly-informed Ministers in the Scottish Government.

Let’s go through each answer and as we do, bear in mind that we’re talking about toxic hazards, one of which (lead ammunition) is already known to cause damage to the environment, to wildlife and to public health and the other (Flubendazole, the active ingredient in medicated grit) has been shown to be extremely toxic to aquatic organisms, and yet the use of both substances still remains virtually unregulated, despite the Scottish Government knowing full well what the toxic legacy could be.

This answer isn’t disingenuous, but it begs the question, if this level of excretion is known from other species, and it is also known that some grouse moors are using a super-strength dose of Flubendazole, up to twenty times the original dose (see here), then why hasn’t the use of medicated grit been under scrutiny before now, especially as Flubendazole has been identified as ‘an emerging environmental contaminant of acute and chronic toxicity’?

Good. This answer isn’t disingenuous either but see above for questions about why this review has taken so long to get started. Let’s hope this review also considers the issue of the disease Cryptosporidiosis, also known as Bulgy Eye, known to be spreading rapidly amongst grouse and other species via communally-used grit trays on grouse moors (see here), even though SNH has proven itself astonishingly indifferent to this threat despite knowing about it for at least three years (see here).

I consider this to be a disingenuous response, or evidence of a Minister who needs to employ more clued-up staff. Mr Fitzpatrick may argue that it’s not disingenuous because he’s unaware of the woefully inadequate level of background testing by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) but as he’s the Minister for Health I’d argue it’s his job to make sure he does know. If he doesn’t know then he’s very badly informed.

Mr Fitzpatrick claims that the VMD has been testing red grouse for the presence of anthelmintics such as Flubendazole since 2016 and that the VMD has claimed not to have tested any red grouse samples which exceed the Maximum Residue Levels (thus implying that drug residues are not a problem to be concerned about).

Rather than take the VMD’s word for it (because the VMD has previously proven itself to be undeniably crap at its job – see here), I thought I’d have a look at the number of red grouse that have actually been tested for anthelmintics since 2016 to see how representative the sampling effort has been. The VMD publishes annual databases on the number and type of sampling it has undertaken. Here’s what I found:

2016: 6 x red grouse tested

2017: 8 x red grouse tested

2018: 3 x red grouse tested

2019: 6 x red grouse tested

So in four years of testing, the VMD has managed to test a grand total of 23 red grouse for residues of the drug Flubendazole. When you consider that an estimated 750,000 red grouse are shot in the UK each year, it’s no wonder the VMD can say with confidence that it hasn’t detected any drug residues above the maximum permitted limit, because it’s hardly tested any samples at all! Joe Fitzpatrick should have checked these source data to put his answer into context because as it currently stands it looks like he’s professing there’s no issue with the drug reaching the human food chain, instead of admitting that there’s inadequate testing going on to reach any such conclusion.

I consider the last paragraph to be a disingenuous response, or evidence of a Minister who needs to employ more clued-up staff. As it reads, it looks as though the shooting industry is moving forward unanimously towards a ‘phasing out’ of lead shot.

However, what this paragraph doesn’t mention is (a) the long-term evidence that the game-shooting industry is incapable of voluntary restraint, particularly on the use of lead ammunition (e.g. see here) and (b) the position of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, which has quite clearly announced its rejection of the voluntary phasing out of toxic lead ammunition (see here). There’s a (c), too. And that’s the confusing position of another shooting organisation, BASC, who were one of the shooting orgs to promote the voluntary phasing out of lead ammunition as described above, but who then several weeks later decided to fight proposed EU restrictions on the use lead ammunition (see here). See, Mairi? You can’t take them at face value and trust what they tell you.

This is also a disingenuous response, in my opinion, or evidence of a Minister who needs to employ more clued-up staff.

Again, rather than trust what the VMD says, I wanted to look at the actual data myself. How many gamebirds have actually been tested for toxic lead contamination since 2015? Here’s what I found:

2015: 6 x partridge; 6 x pheasant; 0 x red grouse

2016: 7 x partridge; 7 x pheasant; 0 x red grouse

2017: 6 x partridge; 7 x pheasant; 0 x red grouse

2018: 5 x partridge; 5 x pheasant; 0 x red grouse

2019: 6 x partridge; 6 x pheasant; 0 x red grouse

So in five years of testing for toxic lead residues in gamebird meat, the VMD has examined 30 x partridge and 31 x pheasant and 0 x red grouse. That’s a total of 61 samples out of a possible 90 million shot partridge and pheasant (conservatively estimated 57 million released each year, multiply by five (years) and divide by 1/3 believed to be shot each year = 90 million shot of 285 million released).

Not very representative sampling, is it Mr Fitzpatrick? Don’t you think you should have put the results in to context so that instead of inferring that toxic lead poisoning isn’t an issue in gamebirds sold for human consumption, it would be clear that testing for toxic lead residues was totally and utterly inadequate given the massive number of gamebirds shot every year?

And actually isn’t it true that when some grouse, partridge and pheasant were tested by independent researchers for traces of toxic lead, many contained lead levels that were ten times the legal level in other meats and some contained lead levels that were one hundred times over the legal limit for other non-game meat (see here and here)?

Isn’t it about time the Scottish Government got its act together on these toxic hazards and on all the other grouse-shooting related issues that it’s been long-grassing since 1998?

 

13
Jul
20

RSPB update on its policy review of gamebird shooting

Last October the RSPB announced at its AGM that it was to undertake a policy review of gamebird shooting (see here).

It launched a consultation earlier this year, taking views from RSPB members, conservation partners and the shooting industry (e.g. see here, here and here).

[Dead pheasants, Getty photo]

This morning Martin Harper has published a blog providing an update on the consultation (read his blog here) and giving us some ‘headline findings’, as follows:

  • RSPB members, staff and volunteers are broadly aligned in their views, specifically: the majority are knowledgeable about the issues associated with intensive gamebird shooting, the majority support the conservation principles; any opposition to the approach proposed is more likely to come from the shooting (1%) or landowning (5%) part of the membership; a minimum of 14% support some sort of ban on shooting (intensive or otherwise).
  • Given the size of the samples, we have high confidence in concluding the views we received provide a good reflection of the whole membership, staff and volunteers
  • The views expressed by the other organisations (conservation, animal welfare and shooting groups) and individuals reflected different values, motivations and long held positions. At one end of the spectrum were respondents who valued shooting as an activity with social, environmental and economic benefits. Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum were responses with animal welfare interests who expressed little value of shooting, considering it unnecessary and harmful.  Other responses ranged in between, from seeking sustainable shooting and highlighting concerns over environmental impacts of current practices, to supporting a total or partial ban.
  • The confidential interviews provided a few additional insights, specifically: the pride in conservation associated with shooting; the observed increased interest in the environmental impacts of the industry, particularly more intensive forms; and dismay at the state of the relationship between the shooting community and the RSPB

Martin also published three documents summarising the main findings:

Gamebird shooting review_RSPB Members Infographic

Gamebird shooting review_ External Consultation – Exec summary

Gamebird shooting review_shooting community (confidential interviews) – Exec Summary

These are well worth a read. You’ll probably not learn anything new about the shooting industry’s views (‘it’s not as bad as you all make out, we’re great at self-regulation, don’t tell us what to do, we’ll do as we please, you risk damaging partnerships if you continue to challenge us, let’s all sit around a table together and sip coffee, eat soft biscuits and have a lovely chat’) but the views of the RSPB members were quite revealing, as demonstrated in these two infographics:

Clearly some messages are getting through but there needs to be a lot more work (by all of us) to improve the general understanding of what goes on and why these issues are of concern.

Martin’s blog closed by giving an explanation of what will happen next during the policy review and that the revised policy is expected to be announced at the AGM in October.

Here’s a link to Martin’s blog again (here).

10
Jul
20

Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: illegal persecution still ignored

Natural England has been planning a so-called ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England since 2016, as part of DEFRA’s ludicrous Hen Harrier Action Plan.

We’ve been blogging about this unhinged proposal for years. As regular blog readers will know, finding out information about this ‘Let’s divert attention from illegal persecution on driven grouse moors’ scheme has been as difficult as finding breeding hen harriers on driven grouse moors. Natural England has been reluctant to share its plans with the general public and all the information we’ve gleaned so far has come from years of submitting Freedom of Information requests.

For new blog readers, some of the key posts are linked at the foot of this blog for those who want to understand the background.

Meanwhile, a recent update on the project has come from the most unlikely of sources  – the newly published ‘official blog’ of the National Gamekeepers Organisation! That blog didn’t get off to a good start – one of its first posts on what it called the ‘wildlife licensing crisis’ was absolutely ripped to shreds by Mark Avery about a week ago (see here – it’s very funny).

The blog’s most recent post is an interview with Simon Lester (Natural England) on the proposed reintroduction of hen harriers to southern England. If alarm bells are ringing, yes, this is the same Simon Lester who was employed as the Head Gamekeeper at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project until his resignation in 2016 (here), and the same Simon Lester who has argued, without scientific evidence, for the need for legal raptor culling on driven grouse moors (here, here and here), now working for Natural England on a proposed reintroduction project for a species whose population has been decimated by illegal persecution on, er, driven grouse moors.

To read the blog please click here.

In summary, Simon claims the project has strong support from local gamekeepers (well they’re hardly going to admit otherwise, are they?!), doesn’t think that illegal persecution is an issue (although the RSPB begs to differ, here), hints ominously but not overtly about ‘mitigating future problems’ (cough, raptor control, cough), and says that had Covid19 not emerged then harriers could have been brought in from Spain and France this year.

The idea of getting donor hen harriers from Spain and France is interesting, as previously these countries had refused to cooperate given a number of concerns about the status of their own harrier populations but also concerns about the ongoing illegal persecution issue in the UK. How come they’ve had a change of mind?

Well, have a look at this document that we obtained via FoI from Natural England:

Brief Report on Study Visit to Spain and France_Redacted

It’s quite something. It describes how Natural England appears to be using UK tax-payers’ money to fund hen harrier satellite tagging in Spain, and to provide field assistance to a Spanish research team, apparently to appease the Spanish authorities and encourage them to hand over hen harriers for the southern England reintroduction project!

Isn’t this the same Natural England that complains that budget cuts and staff losses prevent it from carrying out its statutory nature conservation duties in England? How much money has it chucked at research in Spain, with what looks like an ulterior motive? This is all very interesting.

Back to Simon’s interview on the National Gamekeepers blog. He is quoted as saying:

The RSPB appear to think that all harriers released will be persecuted. It would be naive to think that something illegal could not happen to a [reintroduced] harrier at some time in the future, but that is no reason to dismiss the reintroduction out of hand. I am sure we and the shooting community will prove them wrong”.

Really? Given that at least 42 hen harriers have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or been confirmed illegally killed since 2018 (see here), it’s pretty clear that neither Simon, Natural England or the shooting community are in any position to state with confidence that reintroduced harriers wouldn’t be targeted.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are some key blogs about the proposed hen harrier reintroduction to southern England:

28 Nov 2016 – Hen Harrier reintroduction to southern England: an update (here)

3 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: the feasibility/scoping report (here)

8 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: the project group and their timeline (here)

9 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: who’s funding it? (here)

9 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: a bonkers proposal for Exmoor National Park (here)

12 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: Wiltshire (here)

14 Feb 2017: Leaked email reveals Natural England’s views on Hen Harrier Action Plan (here)

23 Feb 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: donor countries (here)

19 July 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: new project manager appointed (here)

20 July 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: Dartmoor as potential new release site (here)

20 July 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: revised costs (here)

21 July 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: project team vists France (here)

27 July 2017: RSPB statement on hen harrier reintroduction to southern England (here)

15 Aug 2017: Natural England Board making up justification for hen harrier southern reintroduction (here)

24 October 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: Natural England delays release of information (here)

11 December 2017: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: report of fieldtrip to France (potential donor country) (here)

12 December 2017: 2018 start date for reintroduction of hen harrier to southern England? (here)

14 January 2018: Stop illegal persecution then no need for reintroduction of hen harrier to southern England, says DEFRA Minister (here)

13 March 2018: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: has France said “Non”? (here)

28 February 2019: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Vulcan disappears near proposed reintroduction site in southern England (here)

10 March 2019: Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: Natural England suggests persecution not an issue (here)

10
Jul
20

42 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

Three days ago we blogged that at least 40 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 42 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018.

Here’s the blog we’ll publish every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It was then further updated when we learned that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned of two more satellite-tagged hen harriers that ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in 2018 and had been missed from our earlier list: Tom vanished in South Wales on 23 October 2018 (see here) and Barney vanished on Bodmin Moor on 1 November 2018 (see here). Both are also listed in Natural England’s hen harrier database, last updated Nov 2019 (here). (Thanks to blog reader Alex Milne and Kim for pointing us to these sources).

That brings the gruesome tally to 42 hen harriers.

Four Two.

Forty two.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 42:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants us to stop fitting satellite tags?

09
Jul
20

Wild Justice lodges court papers in badger cull legal challenge

Last week wildlife campaign group Wild Justice launched a crowdfunder to raise money to support a proposed legal challenge against the Government’s ongoing badger cull (see here).

A phenomenal public response resulted in £48,500 being raised in just three days (see here).

[Badger photo by Chris Packham]

Yesterday, Wild Justice lodged legal papers at the High Court seeking permission for a judicial review of Natural England’s decision to issue licences to ‘free shoot’ badgers, which Wild Justice argues is a failure to ensure the badger cull is humane.

This was the culmination of over ten months of consideration of this issue, which included research, discussion and debate, and was based not only on extensive legal advice but also on the specialist advice of a number of prominent scientists and vets whose immense expertise was invaluable in building the case. Wild Justice’s lawyers, Leigh Day, have issued a press release with further detail here.

One of the three Wild Justice Directors, Mark Avery, has also written a series of blogs clarifying his thoughts on the legal challenge (here, here and here).

A separate legal challenge against the badger cull is also on the cards, this one by long-term badger campaigner and ecologist Tom Langton and supported by the Badger Trust.

Details of Tom’s proposed challenge can be found in this press release (here) and a link to his crowdfunder site can be found here.

Wild Justice is now waiting to hear whether the court will grant permission for a judicial review to go ahead.

07
Jul
20

40 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It was then further updated when we learned that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned that satellite-tagged hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances over a grouse moor in Nairnshire on 26 April 2019 (see here). (Thanks to blog reader Alex Milne for pointing us to this info).

That brings the gruesome tally to 40 hen harriers.

Four Zero.

Forty.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 40:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants us to stop fitting satellite tags?




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