Archive for the '2018 persecution incidents' Category

07
Dec
18

Two owls shot in Peak District National Park

Police are appealing for information after the discovery of two shot owls in the Peak District National Park.

On the evening of 11 September 2018 a local runner witnessed a short-eared owl flying overhead, followed by what sounded like gunshots. The following morning she returned to the moorland near Wessenden Head in the northern Peak District. She found the bird on the ground, still alive. It was taken to a vet but had to be euthanized due to its injuries, which included a shattered wing.

[Photo of the shot short-eared owl, via RSPB]

The runner who saw the short-eared owl said: “I had just got back to my car when I suddenly saw a short-eared owl fly over my head – it’s always fantastic to see one of these gorgeous birds. This however was followed by the sound of a gunshots, coming from the direction of a dark-coloured pickup. I really hoped this wasn’t aimed at the owl I’d just seen.

The next morning I returned to the same spot and, there on the ground, was a short-eared owl, still alive but clearly wounded. I was so upset but also furious to think that someone had done this on purpose.”

The police are wanting to speak to the driver of the dark-coloured pick up truck, described as having two dog cages on the back with a thick wooden cover over the cages.

This land (Marsden Moor Estate) is owned by the National Trust and is a designated Special Protection Area (SPA) for short-eared owls.

[RPUK map showing the location of the Marsden Moor Estate (orange) in the Peak District National Park]

On 1 October the dead body of a tawny owl was discovered close to where the short-eared owl was found. It had been shot and stuffed inside a dry stone wall on the Kirklees Way footpath near Greenfield Road (not on National Trust property).

[RPUK map showing proximity of Wessenden Head and Kirklees Way footpath to areas managed for driven grouse shooting in the Peak District National Park]

If you have any information relating to these crimes, call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting police log number 174211/09/2018.

To share information about raptor persecution in your community in confidence, please call the Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101.

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04
Dec
18

Buzzard found poisoned near Mauchline, south Scotland

From Cumnock Chronicle (29 Nov 2018)

POISONED BIRD OF PREY SPARKS POLICE WARNING

Residents in Mauchline are being warned to be on the look out after a bird of prey was found poisoned.

A member of the public discovered the buzzard, still alive but in a distressed state on land on the outskirts of the town on November 2.

Fortunately, the bird was found quickly and survived. A toxicology report has now confirmed the buzzard ingested poison.

[Buzzard, photographer unknown]

Police Scotland are concerned that this illegal activity is happening in the area and are appealing for any information that may lead to detecting the person responsible for this deliberate act.

PC Sam Briggs, Wildlife Crime Officer, said, “It is a serious concern that someone has targeted wildlife in this illegal and indiscriminate manner. If anything unusual is discovered I would advise not to touch it, but instead cover it if you can and contact the police, giving them the exact location.”

Police are working alongside partner agencies Scottish SPCA, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture and Agricultural Officers to fully investigate the matter. Anyone with information on the illegal use of pesticides or who may has seen something suspicious, particularly in the last month or so, can call 101 and quote No: SP-20181120-2194 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

This is the sixth raptor poisoning in south Scotland this year (that we’re aware of) including four red kites and buzzards that were poisoned in Dumfries & Galloway between Jan-May this year (see here) and a poisoned peregrine found in the Pentland Hills in May this year (see here).

But there’s no need to worry. SNH is “reassured that raptor persecution is not an issue” in this region.

04
Dec
18

Buzzard & hobby found with horrific spring trap injuries on Isle of Wight

Police press release (4 Dec 2018):

POLICE INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED AFTER BIRDS OF PREY KILLED BY ILLEGAL TRAPS ON ISLE OF WIGHT

Two protected birds of prey, likely to have been caught in illegal spring traps, suffered ‘horrific and traumatic’ injuries.

A joint investigation has been launched by Isle of Wight Police and the RSPB after the birds, a buzzard and a hobby, were found with severed legs in woodland at Littletown, near Briddlesford.

The buzzard was found dead, with a missing foot, on March 14. The hobby — a small falcon similar to a kestrel – was found alive, also with its foot missing, on September 23. It was taken to the RSPCA and put down.

[The buzzard with a severed foot]

[The hobby with a severed foot, photo by RSPCA]

The RSPB said today (Tuesday) the birds were likely to have been illegally trapped.

The birds, a hobby and a buzzard, were found with horrific injuries. Both had lost a foot as a result of becoming caught in a spring trap,” said a spokesperson.

Police were alerted and the birds were sent for post-mortem examinations. The report concluded: ‘Both birds suffered traumatic amputations of one lower limb consistent with the affected leg being caught and held in a spring trap.’

All wild birds are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine with up to six months in jail.

Jenny Shelton, from the RSPB’s investigations unit, said: “Spring traps are sometimes used to catch and kill vermin, and are legal if placed in a tunnel, with a restricted entrance, for this purpose. However spring traps set out in the open are illegal, and pose a huge danger to wildlife. 

We have had numerous reports over the years of birds of prey being deliberately caught in these brutal devices. Birds of prey are incredible creatures and it’s devastating that the lives of these two birds have ended in this way. We are grateful to the people who reported these birds. If you find an injured bird of prey, or come across a metal trap set out in the open or on a pole, call the police on 101 immediately.”

PC Tim Campany, from the Country Watch team, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues from the RSPB to establish what happened. One line of enquiry is that the birds may have been caught and held in a spring-type trap.

This is illegal and is a barbaric method of trapping. It leaves the bird, once freed from the trap, unable to land and feed and it will eventually die of starvation.

Raptor persecution is a priority of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and will not be tolerated.

I would urge anyone with information on suspicious vehicles, persons, or traps located in the Bridlesford area to call us now.”

Anyone with information should call Isle of Wight Police on 101, quoting the reference 44180374840.

ENDS

Illegal raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority, so why the hell has it taken nine months for the news of this buzzard to emerge, and two and a half months for the hobby? What’s the point of appealing for information so long after the events?

It’s just not good enough.

These incidents will also cast a shadow on the proposed reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to the Isle of Wight.

30
Nov
18

Illegal gin trap found set near Nairn, Highlands

Police Scotland has issued a statement about the discovery of an illegal gin trap found set near Nairn in the Highlands:

ILLEGAL GIN TRAP FOUND NEAR NAIRN (30 Nov 2018)

Police in Nairn have issued a warning about the use of illegal traps following the discovery of one set near the town.

The illegal gin trap, although rusty, was fully functioning and was discovered by a member of the public on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28 near Howford Bridge a few miles south of the town.

Nothing had been caught in the trap and the device has since been recovered by officers.

[Photo of the gin trap from Police Scotland]

[RPUK maps showing location of Howford Bridge, south of Nairn]

Wildlife liaison officer Constable Jonathan Clarke said: “Gin traps have been illegal for many years and are entirely indiscriminate. This device could have caused serious injury to a wild animal, a pet or even a person if they been caught in it.

Setting a trap such as this is a criminal act, as is possessing something like with the intention of using it.

Setting one in an area close to the river which is popular with dog walkers is extremely reckless and it is fortunate that this was discovered before anything or anyone was injured.

No further traps have been found but I would urge the public to be vigilant when walking in the area.

If anyone does find a trap then please do not try to deal with it on your own but carefully note the location and report it to police immediately.

Enquiries into this trap are ongoing and I would urge anyone with information to contact police on 101, using reference NM3269/18, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

ENDS

Well done Police Scotland for a very fast response to remove the trap and for an equally speedy public alert.

It’s shocking to see these traps still in use. Gin traps have been banned in England since 1958 and banned in Scotland since 1971, and yet still they’re being used to target wildlife.

It’s not clear which species was being targeted in this latest case but previously we’ve seen gamekeepers using them to trap buzzards (gamekeeper convicted in 2015 (here) and his boss convicted for vicarious liability (here) and earlier this year a red kite was trapped resulting in horrific injuries (here)).

30
Nov
18

Yet another red kite shot & killed in North Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of yet another shot & killed red kite in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The latest in a long line of victims, this red kite was found dead on 25th October 2018 near to Wath.

[X-ray of the shot red kite showing two shotgun pellets. Image from North Yorkshire Police]

[RPUK map showing location of Wath in the Nidderdale AONB]

[RPUK map showing Wath sandwiched between two areas of grouse moor]

Nidderdale AONB is a notorious red kite persecution hotspot with a long history of illegally shot and poisoned red kites (e.g. see here), so much so that last year the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB’s Joint Advisory Committee issued a public statement condemning these killings and warning that it was having a damaging effect on local tourism businesses (see here).

[RPUK map showing the locations of illegally shot or poisoned red kites in the Nidderdale AONB since 2007]

North Yorkshire Police have issued an appeal for information about the latest red kite shooting, and also an appeal for information about a shot buzzard that was found near Selby earlier this month (we blogged about this buzzard a couple of weeks ago, see here).

Appealing for information, Sergeant Kevin Kelly from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce said “It’s with much frustration, that I again make another witness appeal regarding two rare birds of prey, that we are privileged to have in our skies, being mindlessly and illegally shot.

If you have any information that will assist the investigation, please come forward and contact police via 101 and pass the information to the Force Control Room. Please quote reference 12180210290 for the buzzard investigation and 12180199938 for the red kite investigation.

We have two extremely experienced wildlife crime officers leading these investigations and they will follow up on any tangible enquiries.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of public for taking the responsibility to report these matters.

The police press statement includes a quote from the Nidderdale Moorland Group: “We have been made aware of this incident and we are fully supporting the Police investigation. An estate owner and moorland group member found the bird and handed it into the police. The Nidderdale Moorland Group is dismayed by this incident and is committed to helping eradicate wildlife crime. We would ask anyone with information to contact the police“.

Of course, it’s not just red kites that are illegally killed in this grouse moor dominated area of North Yorkshire. Nidderdale AONB and the neighbouring eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales National Park also just happens to be an area where satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ without trace in highly suspicious circumstances.

[RPUK map showing Nidderdale AONB and the eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Red dot = Wath. Small red stars = locations of illegally shot or posioned red kites since 2007. Orange stars = satellite-tagged hen harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in recent years (data from Natural England). Large red star = hen harrier Bowland Betty who was found shot dead on a grouse moor in 2012]

There has never been a successful prosecution for any of these crimes.

For how much longer do you think DEFRA ministers Michael Gove MP and Dr Therese Coffey MP will continue to be wilfully blind to this so-bloody-obvious serious organised crime?

For how much longer do you think genuine conservation organisations will sit on ‘partnership’ groups with representatives of the grouse shooting industry and pretend that everyone’s working together to eradicate these crimes, when there are zero consequences for the criminals?

[A dead red kite, photo by Marc Ruddock]

27
Nov
18

Serial egg thief Daniel Lingham receives custodial sentence

Daniel Lingham, 65, was sentenced today at Norwich Magistrates Court after earlier pleading guilty to five charges relating to the unlawful possession of over 5,000 eggs including 75 listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act (species given the highest level of protection) including Marsh harrier.

[Daniel Lingham, photo by Norfolk Police]

Lingham was jailed for a total of 18 weeks, reduced from 26 weeks because of his guilty pleas, and had to fofeit all his equipment. He was also given a 10-year criminal behaviour order (which replace ASBOs) banning him from all Norfolk nature reserves for ten years. If he breaks this ban he could be jailed for five years.

Ah, if only he’d done his Marsh harrier egg-stealing on a grouse moor – he’d probably have been made very welcome and nobody would have reported him. But had one of those pesky RSPB Investigators caught him red-handed on one of their covert cameras, stealing the harrier eggs from the moorland nest, he could have relied upon the deafening silence of the grouse moor manager not to identify him.

This is the second time Lingham has been jailed for egg-collecting offences. In 2005 he was sentenced to ten weeks in custody following the discovery of 4,000 eggs at his home in Newton St Faith.

Well done to the RSPB Investigations Team, Norfolk Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for securing this latest conviction.

It remains to be seen whether this time Lingham’s sentence is serious enough to act as a deterrent.

Details of his guilty plea (here) and his sentence (here).

[RSPB Investigations Officer Mark Thomas with some of Lingham’s collection. Photo by RSPB]

26
Nov
18

Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on grouse moor in Strathbraan raven cull area

Earlier this month RSPB Scotland announced that four of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on Scottish grouse moors (see here).

We’ve blogged recently about the areas where hen harriers Margot and Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ in the Cairngorms National Park (see here and here).

Today we’re looking at the area where hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’.

[Photo of hen harrier Heather by Brian Etheridge]

According to the RSPB press release, hen harrier Heather, who had hatched from a Perthshire nest in 2017, was “last recorded on a grouse moor to the north of Glenalmond on 24 September 2018“.

It’s a bit of a vague description as Glenalmond is a glen which stretches for several miles to the west of the city of Perth:

And there’s a fair bit of grouse moor “to the north of Glenalmond” which, according to Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website, could be part of the Glenalmond Estate and/or the Scone Estate. It’s hard to say as we don’t know how far to the north of Glenalmond this hen harrier ‘disappeared’:

What we can say with certainty though, is that the grouse moor area to the north of Glenalmond just happens to be inside the Strathbraan raven cull area:

Imagine that! A satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappearing’ in suspicious circumstances in the very area where earlier this year SNH decided it was a great idea to licence a bunch of grouse moor managers to kill a load of ravens ‘just to see what happens’.

One of the many (many, many) reasons we objected to that raven cull was that the Strathbraan raven cull area is a well known wildlife crime hotspot, even identified as such on the official Scottish Government raptor persecution maps.

It was no surprise to us to learn that hen harrier Heather had ‘disappeared’ here. A further four satellite-tagged golden eagles have also vanished in suspicious circumstances here (five if you include another one just on the western boundary), a radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappeared’ here in 2012, an illegal clam trap was found here in 2012, a spring-trapped buzzard was found here in 2012, a poisoned red kite was found here in 2015, a poisoned raven was found here in 2017, and another satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappeared’ here in March this year.

Instead of issuing licences permitting the mass killing of protected ravens, SNH should be crawling all over this area, revoking permission to use the General Licences as a bare minimum. Six eagles, FFS! A poisoned red kite, FFS! A poisoned raven, FFS! Illegally-set traps, FFS! A hen harrier missing in suspicious circumstances, FFS!

What does it have to take to get some enforcement action???




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