Archive for the '2017 persecution incidents' Category


Dead peregrine in Cumbria: x-ray reveals historical lead shot fragments

Cumbria Constabulary have launched an investigation after the discovery of a dead peregrine, according to the Westmorland Gazette.

The bird was found by walkers on a public footpath in Bove Wood, Newbiggin but the article doesn’t say when the corpse was found.

The peregrine was submitted for a post mortem and although the cause of death couldn’t be established, an x-ray revealed the bird was carrying three fragments of lead shot, thought to be historical.

PC Sarah Rolland said: “It is quite apparent that the peregrine recovered from Newbiggin had been shot at some stage in its life. However, the post mortem indicates the fragments of shot may be historic and were not the direct cause of its death. It is therefore difficult to establish when or where the bird was shot“.

As an aside, it’s interesting that Cumbria police accept that the x-ray clearly shows the peregrine had been shot, and yet an equally clear x-ray of hen harrier Rowan’s leg, containing metal shot fragments, wasn’t deemed to be clear and only resulted in the Cumbria police statement, ‘Rowan was likely to have been shot‘. Fascinating.


Another red kite shot dead in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a yet another shot red kite.

The latest victim was found near Greenhow, in Nidderdale, on the afternoon of Saturday 11 March 2017.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer David MacKay: and quote reference number 12170047155.

Last year North Yorkshire Police investigated the deaths of 10 red kites that had been shot or poisoned in the county. The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park are notorious black spots for raptor persecution, particularly for red kites and hen harriers. This region is dominated by land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Photo of red kite by Claire Marshall


RSPB offers £1,000 reward for info on two shot buzzards in North Yorkshire

A week ago we blogged about the discovery of two dead buzzards found in North Yorkshire (see here).

One had been found shot near East Lutton and the other one had been found shot near Helmsley in the North York Moors National Park.

The Northern Echo has now run with an article about these shootings (here) and the RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for any information which leads to a successful conviction.

Conversely, the Yorkshire Post has published an article about the ‘value’ of gamekeepers in North Yorkshire (see here). One of the gamekeepers, Michael Wearmouth from the Rosedale and Westerdale Estate, is quoted: “Mr Packham and others who don’t understand shooting at all are trying to make everybody hate us“.

Nope, sorry Michael, it’s not Chris Packham et al at whom who you need to be pointing the finger, it’s the criminals from within your own industry who are causing public outrage by continuing to kill birds of prey, over 60 years since it became an offence. Just last year an horrifically injured buzzard was discovered on a Westerdale grouse moor and it wasn’t an isolated crime. North Yorkshire continues to hold the record for the highest number of reported raptor crimes in the UK.


Update on illegally-set traps on Glendye grouse moor

Two months ago we blogged about a series of illegally-set traps that had been photographed on the grouse moor of Glendye Estate in Aberdeenshire (see here).

We, and many of you (thank you) passed on the information to the local Police Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer, PC Doug Darling in the hope that an investigation might take place. We contacted him again a few days ago and asked if he was able to provide an update on this case.

He told us that an enquiry had been carried out in the area the day after the incident had been reported to the police, but no illegally-set traps had been found.

The person who had taken the photographs and published them on a blog was then contacted by the police, to learn as much as possible about the incident (how the traps were set, whether any baits had been seen etc).

The police then visited the Estate Factor and the gamekeeper, who were in possession of the traps as they had been informed of the incident by the original witness. PC Darling told us: “They took it upon themselves to remove the traps in case something were to become caught and denied knowing whose traps they were and how they came to be found on the estate set in an illegal manor [sic]”.

That’s interesting. What would you do if you were working in the land management sector and a member of the public told you they’d found illegally-set traps on your land? Wouldn’t you leave the evidence in place and immediately notify the police?

Anyway, PC Darling went on: “Given we have no physical evidence it would not be possible to report the incident to the Procurator Fiscal however Scottish Natural Heritage are aware of the incident and we will be discussing any other measures we could pursue given the circumstances“.

Presumably ‘any other measures’ would include SNH putting a General Licence restriction order on this Estate, because according to SNH guidelines, evidence which may be considered by SNH in any decision to impose a General Licence restriction includes:

Illegal placement, design or use of traps or methods that are not in compliance with the requirements of the General Licence‘.

We’ll see if that happens because of course much still depends on the findings of the judicial review, which examined the process SNH used to impose a General Licence restriction on Raeshaw Estate back in 2015. The court’s decision has not yet been announced, at least not in public.

This case highlights something we discussed yesterday when blogging about the pine marten that had been caught in a spring trap on another grouse shooting estate in Scotland (see here). If every trap had to carry a unique police-issued number identifying the registered trap-user, then this investigation might have ended with a better result. As happens over and over again, whoever set these traps has escaped being held to account for their criminal activities.

PC Darling deserves full credit here. Not only did he launch an investigation the day after being alerted to these traps, he then followed up with the witness and paid a visit to those responsible for managing the land, and he was also very quick and willing to explain what had happened when asked about this case. What a breath of fresh air. His actions will inspire confidence for anyone else thinking about reporting a suspected wildlife crime in this region, rather than the brick wall we’ve become accustomed to expect from Police Scotland. Let’s hope his senior officers take note and applaud his efforts as much as we do.


Two more buzzards shot dead in North Yorkshire

Two buzzards have been found shot dead in separate incidents in North Yorkshire.

One was found with shot gun injuries near East Lutton and the other one was found with shot gun injuries at Sutton Bank top near Helmsley in the North York Moors National Park.

Information and photos from Jean Thorpe (Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre).

No further details available but hopefully North Yorkshire Police will issue a press release soon.

If you have any info please contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer Jez Walmsley: 


Convicted shooting agent no longer listed on tourism website

Some of you may remember back in December 2016 and January 2017 we were blogging about an organisation called the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG).

The SCSTG had been awarded funding from Scotland’s national tourism agency, VisitScotland, to help develop an initiative called ‘Game for Growth’, aimed at boosting the value of shooting, stalking and fishing to the Scottish rural economy.

This raised eyebrows, and even a parliamentary question, when we pointed out that a convicted wildlife criminal’s business (Dunmhor Sporting) was being promoted on the SCSTG website and yet this Game for Growth initiative had been launched at a parliamentary reception at Holyrood (see here, here, here).

Photo from parliamentary reception, December 2016. L-R: Tim (Kim) Baynes from the Gift of Grouse, Malcolm Roughead from VisitScotland, Edward Mountain MSP (host), and Sarah Troughton from the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group.

We also noted that two sporting estates (Invercauld Estate & Glendye grouse moor) were being promoted on this website (here), despite the recent discovery of illegally-set traps on both landholdings, although nobody has been charged in relation to the Invercauld incident (here) and we understand the Glen Dye incident is still under police investigation. (Well done to the local police wildlife crime officer, by the way, who reacted quickly when he was alerted to the traps at Glen Dye and has been fast to respond to subsequent correspondence on this matter).

Some of our readers, and us, contacted Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, and Malcolm Roughead, Chief Exec of VisitScotland, to ask whether they were aware that tax payers’ money (via VisitScotland) was being used to promote the business of a convicted wildlife criminal and whether they thought this was an appropriate use of public funds.

So far, the responses from both have been unsatisfactory (e.g. see here) and further correspondence via a number of local MSPs is currently being undertaken.

However, after a quick look at the SCSTG website this morning, it would appear that Dunmhor Sporting is no longer listed. Whether the Minister and/or VisitScotland has had this listing removed, or whether Dunmhor Sporting has removed itself, remains to be seen.

However, Invercauld Estate and Glen Dye are both still listed.

We’ll be returning to this when we find out whether SNH intends to invoke General Licence restrictions on either of these two estates, assuming GL restrictions are still possible after the findings of the recent judicial review are made public – any day now.


Buzzard shot dead in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

nyorks-policeNorth Yorkshire Police have issued the following press release:

Buzzard shot in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

North Yorkshire Police are investigating an incident in which a Buzzard was shot in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A dead buzzard was found on 1 February 2017 in an area called High Skelding, near the village of Grantley It was in a small coniferous plantation close to where the Ripon Rowel footpath crosses the upper River Skell.

The police arranged for an x-ray at a local vet and this shows that the bird had been shot. It is thought to have been shot between 31st January and 1st February.

Buzzards, along with all wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure any wild bird. The government has set persecution of birds of prey as one of their wildlife crime action priorities.

If you have any information about this crime please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. After being connected to North Yorkshire Police select option 1 and quote reference number 12170018791 when passing on information. Alternatively contact the investigating officer PC820 Hickson by email:


A good, detailed press release and appeal to the public that has only taken three weeks, not three years, to come out (take note Police Scotland).

North Yorkshire is consistently rated the worst county in the UK for the number of reported crimes against raptors, and a lot of it takes place in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park. We were only talking about this region two weeks ago in relation to the poisoning of red kites.

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