Archive for the '2007 persecution incidents' Category

16
Mar
16

Crown Office drops prosecution against Glenogil Estate gamekeeper

Snared fox dead alt, Glenogil Estate, Credit OneKindRegular blog readers will know we’ve been following the case of Scottish gamekeeper William Curr, who had been charged last year with alleged snaring offences on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens, said to have occurred in September 2014 (see here, here, here and here).

The charges related to allegations that several snares had not been checked (as they are required to be) within a 24-hour period of being set, after a field officer from the charity OneKind had discovered a dead snared deer, a dead snared fox and another snared fox that was still alive but had to be euthanised at the scene due to the extent of its horrific injuries (see OneKind photo).

For a harrowing description of what was found on Glenogil Estate, including a confrontation with the Head Gamekeeper, read this blog on the OneKind website.

Curr’s trial was due to start on 9th May but last week (10 March) the Crown Office informed the court that it was not going to proceed. OneKind has not yet been able to ascertain the reason for this decision, and in fact may never find out because the Crown Office is under no obligation to explain.

Accountability and transparency, anybody?

To quote from the OneKind blog:

OneKind is mystified by the dropping of this case, given the eye witness evidence, the horrific video footage and the detailed follow-up investigation carried out by the Scottish SPCA. This was a shocking incident where at least six people, including gamekeepers, witnessed the terror and pain of a live fox as the wire noose of a snare sliced into its abdomen. Had our research officer not been on the estate on that particular day, who knows how much longer the fox would have continued to suffer?

To put this dreadful story in the wider context: snares are still legal in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It is simply intolerable that the suffering this fox endured should be considered legally acceptable. The video footage is utterly harrowing and illustrates an animal which is clearly distressed, both physically and mentally. OneKind has long called for an outright ban on all snares and sadly we feel these calls have been justified by this case.

OneKind will seek an explanation for the failure of the Scottish justice system to bring this animal welfare case to court“.

The reason we’ve been so interested in this case is because the alleged offences occurred on the Glenogil Estate, one of several grouse shooting estates in the Angus Glens where wildlife crime incidents keep cropping up but have never resulted in a successful prosecution. For example, here are some incidents reported from in and around Glenogil over the last ten years:

2006 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. Not listed in 2006 RSPB annual report but reported here. (Now former) estate owner John Dodd had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments as a result. This was being appealed but it is not known how this was resolved. Also a write up in RSPB 2007 annual report. No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird. Not listed in RSPB annual report but reported here. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 October: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 August: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 May: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 September: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2012 April: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2014 June: shot buzzard. Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

14
Aug
15

High risk plan to boost golden eagle population in southern Scotland

Peebles August 2007There’s an article on the BBC News website today about a proposal to take golden eagle chicks from the Highlands and release them in southern Scotland in an attempt to boost the tiny, depleted population currently clinging on by its talons (BBC report here).

The timing of this news is suspicious, especially when you learn that the project hasn’t yet been formally approved and thus may or may not happen. The cynical amongst us might view it as yet another piece of spin aimed at portraying the grouse-shooting industry in a favourable light so close to the start of the Inglorious 12th, especially when you see who is involved with the project – more on that later.

There’s no doubt that the southern Scotland golden eagle population is in serious trouble, and has been for many years. We’ve blogged about this previously (here, here). On the face of it then, any attempt to increase the population to its former status should be welcome news. But…..

A basic tenet of any restocking / translocation / restoration / reinforcement / reintroduction (whatever they choose to call this project) is that there should be strong evidence that the threat(s) that caused any previous decline has been identified and removed or sufficiently reduced. This is a standard guideline issued by the IUCN and is part of the criteria used to assess whether such projects can proceed.

One of the biggest constraints on golden eagle population recovery in southern Scotland is persecution. Raptor persecution in southern Scotland has definitely not been removed, nor sufficiently reduced. In the last ten years alone there have been more than 150 confirmed persecution incidents (that figure doesn’t include the ‘probable’ or ‘possible’ cases, nor those that went undiscovered). Just three days ago we were given a sharp reminder of just how current this problem still is when it was announced that a young hen harrier had been found shot dead on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (see here). The 2014 SNH-commissioned report on the status of golden eagles in southern Scotland also identified several areas where persecution is an ongoing concern, including the Lowther Hills, the Lammermuirs and the Moorfoots (all driven grouse moor areas – what a surprise), and stated that persecution needed to be brought under control in those regions if golden eagles were to thrive in southern Scotland once again (see SNH report here).

Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod acknowledges the persecution issue and in an earlier version of the BBC article this morning she said she will “work hard” to ensure the project is a success. In the latest version of the article, this has been updated with her saying that the persecution of raptors would “not be tolerated under any circumstances“. We’re sure she has good intentions but to be frank, this is just more rhetoric. She (and her predecessors) has been unable to bring persecution under control in other parts of the golden eagle’s range (notably the driven grouse moor regions of central and eastern Scotland – see report here from 2011 and report here from 2014) so why should we think she’ll be able to bring it under control in southern Scotland without bringing in new sanctions?

Having said all that, other high risk projects of a similar nature have been very successful on the whole (think reintroduction of red kites and white-tailed eagles). It’s also abundantly clear that if we wait for the southern Scotland golden eagle population to rebound of its own accord (by natural recruitment of individuals from the more northerly populations) then we’re likely to see the demise of the southern Scotland golden eagle population within a few years. It’s a definite trade off situation.

The one big thing in the project’s favour is that, if it does go ahead, it is likely to be a high profile project. There will be plenty of public interest and, assuming the released birds will be satellite-tracked (and their movements made publicly available and not kept secret), the unlawful killing or ‘mysterious disappearance’ of any of those birds will cause public uproar. This will put a lot of pressure on landowners and their gamekeepers to behave themselves and leave those eagles alone. If they don’t, it may well be the final nail in the coffin for their industry. There have been two very high profile killings of golden eagles in southern Scotland in recent years: an adult female was poisoned in 2007 (see here) and an adult male was shot in 2012 (see here). Ironically, that shot golden eagle was found on Buccleuch Estate, one of the listed project supporters. This is also where hen harrier Annie’s corpse was found.

As well as Buccleuch Estates, another project supporter is Scottish Land and Estates. Their CEO Doug McAdam is quoted as follows in the BBC article:

Landowners value golden eagles, they are one of our most iconic birds and I think people will work hard with us to make this project a success. Often landowners are portrayed as the villain here and against golden eagles and nothing could be further from the truth“.

It’s actually very close to the truth. Yes, there are a handful of landowners who cherish having breeding golden eagles on their land (not least the landowner who provides a home for the one remaining pair in the Borders) but that handful is greatly outnumbered by the vast majority of driven grouse moor owners who employ a zero tolerance policy for golden eagles (and many other raptor species) on their ground. Why else does McAdam think there is a need for conservation intervention to rescue the southern Scotland golden eagle population? How else does McAdam explain the large number of vacant golden eagle territories on grouse moors in central and eastern Scotland? How else can McAdam explain the disproportionate number of satellite-tagged eagles that ‘vanish’ on driven grouse moors? How else does McAdam explain the disproportionate number of poisoned, shot and trapped golden eagles that are found on driven grouse moors?

Let’s hope this restoration project does go ahead and we see an increasingly viable golden eagle population in southern Scotland. We’ll be watching with interest and McAdam and his industry mates can rest assured that if any of those young eagles are illegally killed, we and others will go to town on exposing it to the public.

The image above is of the poisoned golden eagle found underneath her nest tree in the Borders in 2007. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for this.

The image below is of the shot golden eagle found on Buccleuch Estate in 2012. He didn’t survive. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for this.

 Wanlock Head GE Oct 2012

16
Apr
15

Henry’s Tour: Day 16

Thurs 16 April Copy

Henry’s re-enacting a scene at Dersingham Bog, a National Nature Reserve situated on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

On the evening of 24 October 2007, two hen harriers were allegedly shot at this site, according to an eye-witness account. The police were informed and they visited the site the following morning, after seeking access permission from the estate(!). No bodies were found. The police interviewed Prince Harry, one of his mates, and a Sandringham gamekeeper, who were known to be shooting ducks on the estate that evening, but they said they knew nothing about the incident. The CPS couldn’t progress the case based on such limited evidence (see here).

Sandringham Estate was reported to have undertaken its own investigation and, according to the Telegraph, declared ‘that there was probably no such shooting and that the supposed eye witnesses were, at best, mistaken over their claims’. Friends of the royal prince also claimed that it had all been a set-up (see here).

It’s all very familiar, isn’t it?

Eight years on, things have not improved for hen harriers. There was an estimated 20 pairs of breeding hen harriers in England in 2007; last year there were just four, and all needed around-the-clock protection. Scientists have estimated that more than 300 pairs could breed in England if they weren’t being shot, trapped, stamped on or poisoned.

It’s often inaccurately reported that hen harriers are doing okay in Scotland. In relation to the dire situation in England, they are. However, the story in some areas of Scotland is identical to the story in England; hen harriers are being systematically killed on many moors that are managed for driven grouse shooting (see here).

And just as in England, prosecutions for killing hen harriers in Scotland are virtually unheard of.

Whatever happened to the case we blogged about 15 months ago (see here)? It related to the illegal killing of a hen harrier in Aberdeenshire in June 2013 (almost two years ago now!) – a 58-year-old man had been reported by Police Scotland to the Procurator Fiscal in January 2014. It’s all been strangely (or perhaps un-strangely) quiet since then….

30
Dec
13

31 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions

In April 2012, we wrote an article called ’21 eagles, 6 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

In September 2012, we updated it and called it ’26 eagles, 6 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

In July 2013 we updated it again. This time, ’27 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions’ (see here).

Here’s the latest version: 31 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions.

This article should provide some context the next time you hear someone (usually from the game-shooting industry or from the government) say that “we’re making real progress in the fight against raptor persecution”. So much ‘progress’ in fact that 13 of these eagles have been lost in the last 3 years; 4 of them this year, the so-called Year of Natural Scotland.

As before, a number of eagles included in this list (7 of them, to be precise) may not be dead. However, they are included here because their satellite tags unexpectedly stopped functioning (i.e. they’d been transmitting perfectly well up until the eagles’ last known location, often a known persecution hotspot). Two further satellite-tagged eagles (‘Angus’ and ‘Tom’) are not included in this list as although their transmitters stopped functioning, there had been recognisable problems with their tags prior to the final transmissions and so the benefit of the doubt has been applied.

A couple of eagles have been added that should have featured in the previous version but we’ve only just received details about them.

Many of these listed eagles from recent years have only been discovered because the eagles were being satellite-tracked. Much kudos to the dedicated teams of fieldworkers who have put in hours and hours of skilled hard work to allow this to happen. Obviously there are many other eagles out there that have not been sat-tagged and on the balance of probability will have been killed at the hands of the game-shooting industry. 31 eagles in the last 7 years is the bare minimum. The number of prosecutions (zero) is undeniable.

Dinnet & Kinord May 2006MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle was found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation. Seven years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Glen Feshie June 2006JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle was found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launched an investigation. Seven years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Peebles August 2007AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle was found on an estate near Peebles in the Borders. She was half of the last known breeding pair of golden eagles in the region. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Lothian & Borders Police launched an investigation. Six years and 4 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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bird-nNOVEMBER 2007: Tayside Police received a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) had allegedly been shot on a grouse moor estate in the Angus Glens. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. Six years and 1 month later, the bird has not been seen again. With no body, an investigation isn’t possible.

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White G Glenquioch May 2008MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle hatched on Mull in 2007 and known as ‘White G’ was found dead on the Glenquoich Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that included Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also revealed a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fenceposts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests revealed the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contained the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. Five years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Glen Orchy 2009JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle was found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll, close to the West Highland Way. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launched a multi-agency investigation. Three years and 3 months later, estate employee Tom McKellar pled guilty to possession of Carbofuran stored in premises at Auch Estate, Bridge of Orchy and he was fined £1,200. Four years and 6 months on, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning the golden eagle.

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Alma Millden 2009JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle known as ‘Alma’ was found dead on the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Alma was a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements followed by the general public on the internet. Tayside Police launched an investigation. Four years and 5 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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August 2009 Glenogil WTEAUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle was found dead on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Tayside Police was criticized in the national press for not releasing a press statement about this incident until January 2010. Four years and 4 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Skibo GE May 2010MAY 2010: #1 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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Skibo GE2 May 2010MAY 2010: #2 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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ge headMAY 2010: #3 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. Three years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning this eagle.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #1: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #2: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #3: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: #4: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

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ge headJUNE 2010: A golden eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. Three years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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WTE Farr & Kyllachy June 2010JUNE 2010: A white-tailed eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. Three years and 6 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Lochindorb WTE Dec 2010DECEMBER 2010: A decomposing carcass of a white-tailed eagle was found and photographed on Logie (Lochindorb) Estate, Morayshire. It was reported to Northern Constabulary. By the time the police arrived to collect it, the carcass had disappeared. The police said they couldn’t investigate further without the body.

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ge headFEBRUARY 2011: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle ( ‘Lee’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from the North Angus Glens. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Glenbuchat GE March 2011MARCH 2011: The body of a young golden eagle was discovered on North Glenbuchat Estate, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation and raided the property in May 2011. Two years and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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wtseAPRIL 2011: The body of a white-tailed eagle was found at the base of cliffs on Skye. The person who discovered it (a professional medic) considered it to have been freshly shot with a rifle, decapitated with a sharp implement and thrown from the cliff top. He took photographs and alerted Northern Constabulary and RSPB. There was a delay of two weeks before the now probably decomposed carcass was collected. A post-mortem was inconclusive. This incident was not made public until one year later after a tip off to this blog. Two years and 8 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headSEPTEMBER 2011: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Strathy’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from an Aberdeenshire grouse moor. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Lochaber poisoned ge March 2012MARCH 2012: The body of a young golden eagle being tracked by satellite was discovered in Lochaber. Tests revealed it had been poisoned with the banned pesticides Aldicarb and Bendiocarb. Information about this incident was not made public until three months later. One year and 9 months later,  nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headMARCH 2012: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Angus 26’, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. This bird’s suspiciously damaged sat tag was found in the area.

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ge headMAY 2012: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (#32857) unexpectedly stopped transmitting when the bird was north-east of the Cairngorms National Park. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Deeside GE May 2012MAY 2012: The dead body of a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (hatched in 2011) was discovered near a lay-by in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. The data from its satellite tag & the injuries the bird had when found (2 broken legs) suggested it had been caught in an illegal trap on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens and then removed, under cover of darkness, to be dumped in another area where it was left to die, probably a slow and agonising death. Information on this incident was not released until almost five months later, by the RSPB. It appears the police failed to properly investigate this incident as we understand that no search warrants were issued and no vehicles were searched. One year and 7 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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Wanlock Head GE Oct 2012OCTOBER 2012: An adult golden eagle was found shot and critically injured on grouse moor at Buccleuch Estate, near Wanlockhead, South Lanarkshire. The bird was rescued by the SSPCA and underwent surgery but it eventually succumbed to its injuries in April 2013. One year and 2 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

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ge headMAY 2013: The signal from a two-year-old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Angus 33’, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after it’s last signal from North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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ge headJUNE 2013: A dead golden eagle was found on an RSPB reserve on Oronsay. This bird had been shot although it is not known whether this was the cause of death or an historical injury.

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ge headJULY 2013: The signal from a young satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Cullen’, hatched 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after its last signal in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

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Fearnan Angus Glens Dec 2013DECEMBER 2013: A two year old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Fearnan’) was found dead on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

07
Apr
13

Going to the Scottish Birdfair? Read this first

PrintThere’s an article today in the Sunday Herald about the RSPB’s controversial choice of venue for next month’s Scottish Birdfair. For the second year running, the RSPB has chosen to hold this event at Hopetoun House, the stately home of Lord Hopetoun whose family also owns the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire, a grouse moor that has been at the centre of raptor persecution allegations for years. Sunday Herald article here.

Regular blog readers will know we’ve commented on this issue at length: see here, here, here, here, here and especially here.

In today’s article, veteran Scottish Raptor Study Group member Ronnie Graham urges potential Birdfair attendees to “make an informed decision” about going.

The following information might help. This is a list of confirmed persecution incidents listed at Leadhills/Abington between 2003-2011. This information has been sourced from the RSPB’s own annual persecution reports, in addition to Scottish Government data. The list does not include other ‘unconfirmed’ or ‘probable’ incidents, such as the discovery of skeletal raptor bodies found buried in forestry or dead raptors found shoved inside rabbit holes. Data are only available up to 2011, so any incidents that might have occured in 2012 or the first quarter of 2013 are not included. There are 41 confirmed incidents on this list; of these, only a couple have been successfully prosecuted (see here for a good example of why prosecutions fail). The list is a good example of why conviction rates should not be used to indicate the extent of criminal activity.

2003 April: hen harrier shot

2003 April: hen harrier eggs destroyed

2004 May: buzzard shot

2004 May: short-eared owl shot

2004 June: buzzard poisoned (Carbofuran)

2004 June: 4 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran)

2004 June: crow poisoned (Carbofuran)

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2005 February: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2005 April: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2006 February: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2006 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2006 March: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran)

2006 April: dead buzzard (persecution method unknown)

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2006 May: poisoned egg baits (Carbofuran)

2006 June: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2006 June: poisoned raven (Carbofuran)

2006 June: 6 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran)

2006 June: poisoned egg bait (Carbofuran)

2006 September: 5 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran)

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2007 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2007 April: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran)

2007 May: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran)

2008 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’]

2008 October: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’]

2008 November: 3 x poisoned ravens (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’]

2009 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2009 March: poisoned raven (Carbofuran)

2009 April: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran)

2009 April: poisoned magpie (Carbofuran)

2009 April: poisoned raven (Carbofuran)

2010 October: short-eared owl shot

2011 March: illegally-set clam trap

2011 December: buzzard shot

24
Oct
12

New motion lodged in Scottish Parliament: “Death of golden eagle”

A new motion was lodged in the Scottish Parliament on Monday 22nd October 2012 concerning the death of the Glen Esk golden eagle:

Motion S4M-04516: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party.

Death of Golden Eagle

That the Parliament condemns what it sees as the recent brutal killing of a golden eagle in Glen Esk, Angus; considers that the golden eagle is one of Scotland’s most iconic species and understands that 11 golden eagles have been illegally killed since 2007; notes also that 2013 will be the Year of Natural Scotland; urges the Police Service of Scotland to ensure that police officers have the training and resources required to tackle wildlife crime effectively; considers that golden eagles more than earn their keep by attracting tourism to rural Scotland, and asks the Scottish Government to assess what further measures it might take to protect what are considered these magnificent birds.

Here is a desciption of what a Scottish parliamentary motion is.

Here is the full text of this particular motion.

While very welcome (and probably a direct result of all the letters of complaint and media coverage) this motion raises some interesting questions:

It was proposed by 1 MSP (whose constituency includes Brechin) and was supported by 26 others. There are 129 MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. Where’s the support of the other 122? Did your MSP support it? If not, why not?

Note the phrase, “….what it sees as the recent brutal killing of a golden eagle in Glen Esk, Angus” and then compare it with the official line given by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP:

The reports may suggest that the circumstances of this incident were suggestive of an offence however there is no hard evidence and it remains possible that there is an alternative explanation“.

It seems Nigel Don MSP and the 26 MSPs who supported his motion do not share the Environment Minister’s view on what happened to that eagle. Apparently nor do the police (see here). We would encourage you to write again to Mr Wheelhouse and ask him to provide the evidence that leads him to suggest that this eagle’s death was not the result of criminal activity. Email: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. It’s important that this issue is clarified; any doubt that this eagle did not die as a direct result of criminal activity will be used by the Dark Side to support their continual denial about the extent of illegal raptor persecution.

Another interesting question concerns the number of known illegal deaths of golden eagles. The motion says 11 golden eagles have been illegally killed since 2007. Our figures suggest that ten have been discovered (see here):

Peebles (2007); Glen Orchy (2009); Alma (2009); Skibo 1 (2010); Skibo 2 (2010); Skibo 3 (2010); Farr (2010); Glenbuchat (2011); Lochaber (2012); Glen Esk (2012).

 So where’s the information about the 11th one? And why limit the figure to golden eagles? What about white-tailed eagles? If they’re included during this time frame, then the number of eagles known to have been illegally killed is at least 14:

GlenQuoich (2007); Glenogil (2009); Farr (2010); Skye (2011).

If the time frame was increased one year further, to 2006, then at least 16 eagles are known to have been illegally killed:

Dinnet & Kinord (2006); Glen Feshie (2006).

And then there’s all the known ‘missing’  eagles, which brings the total to at least 25:

WTE radio-tagged Bird ‘N’ disappeared in Angus Glens (2007); WTE carcass removed in suspicious circumstances from Lochindorb (2010); 4 x golden eagle leg rings found in gamekeeper’s possession on Moy Estate (2010); sat-tagged golden eagle ‘disappeared’ in Monadhliaths (2011); sat-tagged golden eagle ‘disappeared’ in eastern glens (2012); sat-tagged golden eagle ‘disappeared’ NE of Cairngorms (2012).

And then the most recent one, the shot golden eagle found on the border of Buccleuch Estate (2012) – that brings the total to 26.

And we haven’t included any other of the known persecuted raptor species in this list!

So, well done Nigel Don MSP for highlighting a significant and on-going problem – we look forward to seeing a response from the Scottish Government.

10
Mar
10

Two Peregrine Chicks Poisoned in the Nest

 03 August 2007.  Grampian Police are appealing for information following the discovery of two poisoned four week old peregrine falcon chicks in their nest in the Inverurie area.

Peregrine chicks

The birds were discovered at the end of May when members of the North East Raptor Study Group visited the nest to ring and weigh the birds.

The two chicks had full crops and, following a post mortem examination and toxicology report, it was discovered that their food source was contaminated with an illegal pesticide, resulting in their death.

Peregrines are a “Schedule One” bird under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and are specially protected. New penalties for killing peregrines include up to a £10,000 fine or 12 months in prison.

Dave MacKinnon, Force Wildlife Crime Officer for Grampian Police said: “We are unable to give the exact location of the nest as these birds are specially protected. What I can say is that it appears the chicks had been fed poisoned bait by their parents, laced with a banned pesticide.




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