Archive for the '2018 persecution incidents' Category

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?

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?

26
Jun
20

Cairngorms National Park Authority statement on hen harrier persecution

Hen harrier persecution is a National Wildlife Crime Priority and the population in Scotland has suffered a 27% decline in the last 12 years. Losing over a quarter of the population in such a short period is a significant conservation concern and as such, we expect a strong response from the authorities whenever these crimes are exposed.

Earlier this month we learned that two satellite-tagged hen harriers (Wildland hen harrier 1 and Wildland hen harrier 2) had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on two grouse moors in September 2019, one within the Cairngorms National Park and one right on the Park boundary (see here). We don’t recall seeing any statement from the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Yesterday we learned that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers, Hoolie and Marlin, had both ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances from grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park in April 2020 (see here). We also learned that they both vanished on exactly the same grouse moors from where two other satellite-tagged hen harriers had also disappeared without trace (Hen harrier ‘Lad‘ in 2015 and Hen harrier Marci in 2019).

It’s bad enough that these birds continue to be persecuted even though they’ve had legal protection in the UK for 76 years, but when this keeps happening inside a so-called National Park and nobody is ever held to account, you have to wonder, in terms of species conservation, what’s the point of National Park status?

We asked Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, for a statement about these latest two suspicious disappearances and this is what he provided this afternoon:

It’s a strong statement in as much as the CNPA CEO recognises and fully accepts that these wildlife crimes continue in some areas of the National Park, which is in stark contrast to statements made by the grouse shooting industry reps today (more on this later) but it doesn’t offer a solution. It’s more of an exasperated shrug of the shoulders and a heavy reliance on the Scottish Government to respond well to the Werritty Review.

Is that it, then? Is the CNPA so impotent it can do nothing more than bemoan the persistent criminality within its boundary? This has been going on since 2002 (the Park wasn’t formally established until 2003 but we’ve included 2002 data as the area had been mapped by then). This list includes just the crimes we know about. How many more went unreported/undiscovered? How many more will we have to read about before the criminals are held to account?

ILLEGAL RAPTOR PERSECUTION INCIDENTS CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK

2002

Feb: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Mar: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 rabbit baits. Cromdale (No prosecution)

2003

Apr: 3 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 grey partridge baits. Kingussie (No prosecution)

Jun: Attempted shooting of a hen harrier. Crannoch (Successful prosecution)

2004

May: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cuaich (No prosecution)

Nov: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

2005

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Mar: 3 x poisoned buzzards, 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Crathie (No prosecution)

2006

Jan: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Dulnain Bridge (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven (Mevinphos). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Morven [corbett] (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven + 1 x poisoned common gull (Aldicarb) + egg bait. Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

May: egg bait (Aldicarb). Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenfeshie (No prosecution)

2007

Jan: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Glenshee (No prosecution)

Apr: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: Pole trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Tomintoul (No prosecution)

May: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit & hare baits. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jul: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Ballater (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Newtonmore (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

2008

Jan: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

2009

May: 2 x poisoned ravens (Mevinphos). Delnabo (No prosecution)

Jun: rabbit bait (Mevinphos). nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x illegal crow trap. Nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)

2010

Apr: Pole trap. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x pole-trapped goshawk. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring trap on tree stump. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Sep: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Oct: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Nr Boat of Garten (No prosecution)

2011

Jan: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

Apr: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran & Aldicarb). Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

May:  1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot short-eared owl, found stuffed under rock. Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot peregrine. Pass of Ballater (No prosecution)

Aug: grouse bait (Aldicarb). Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Sep: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Nov: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

2012

Apr: 1 x shot short-eared owl. Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Apr: Peregrine nest site burnt out. Glenshee (No prosecution)

May: Buzzard nest shot out. Nr Ballater (No prosecution)

2013

Jan: White-tailed eagle nest tree felled. Invermark (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot hen harrier. Glen Gairn (No prosecution)

May: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat

2014

Apr: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat

May: Armed masked men shoot out a goshawk nest. Glen Nochty (No prosecution)

2015

Sep: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Lad’ found dead, suspected shot. Newtonmore (No prosecution)

2016

May: 1 x shot goshawk. Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring traps. Invercauld (No prosecution)

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Brian’ ‘disappears’. Kingussie

2017

Mar: Satellite-tagged golden eagle #338 ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Calluna’ ‘disappears’. Ballater

2018

May: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle Blue T ‘disappears’. Ballater

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Athena’ ‘disappears’. Nr Grantown on Spey

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Margot’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Sept: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Stelmaria’ ‘disappears’. Ballater

2019

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Marci’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

April: Four geese poisoned and Carbofuran bait found on an estate nr Kingussie (no prosecution)

August: Golden eagle photographed with a spring trap dangling from its foot, nr Crathie, Deeside

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 1 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 2 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld

2020

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Newtonmore

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Marlin ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Strathdon

In addition to the above list, two recent scientific publications have documented the long-term decline of breeding peregrines on grouse moors in the eastern side of the National Park (see here) and the catastrophic decline of breeding hen harriers, also on grouse moors in the eastern side of the Park (see here).

 

26
Jun
20

39 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 two weeks ago when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). Having just learned yesterday that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here), it’s time to update the death list, which now stands at 39. 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 39:

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)

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?

11
Jun
20

37 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 ‘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).

Having just learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks are now ‘missing’ and presumed dead (one, #55147, probably dead from natural causes during a sea crossing so is not classed as ‘suspicious’ but the other four ‘missing’ in highly suspicious circumstances in the UK’s uplands – see here), it’s time to update the death list, which currently stands at 37. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 37:

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)

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)

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……..

18
May
20

Don’t laugh, but here’s the new Moorland Association chairman, Lord Masham

The Moorland Association, a lobby group for England’s grouse moor owners, has elected a new Chairman and its choice speaks volumes.

Mark Cunliffe-Lister (Lord Masham in some circles) owns the Swinton Estate in Nidderdale. This estate may sound familiar to some readers, and that’s because we’ve had reason to blog about it several times over the years.

The grouse moor on Swinton Estate is where satellite-tagged hen harrier Bowland Betty’s shot corpse was found in 2012 (see here) although there was no evidence to suggest her killing had anything to do with anyone on the estate, it was just rotten luck that she died there. The grouse shooting industry then pretended that she hadn’t been shot at all, even after forensic evidence confirmed she had indeed, been shot (see here). It was just rotten luck that people preferred the opinion of expert forensic scientists from the University College London Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science instead of the non-expert opinion of some non-expert, non-scientists at the Countryside Alliance.

In another example of rotten luck another shot hen harrier’s corpse was found on a grouse moor at Swinton Estate in 2019 (see here); this time it was a satellite-tagged bird called River who had disappeared on the estate in November 2018. The day after she vanished, at dusk an unidentified gunman had been seen with two dogs walking through a known hen harrier roost site on the estate (see here). Again, there was no evidence to suggest River’s killing had anything to do with anyone on the estate, it was just rotten luck (again) that she died there.

[Hen harrier River’s corpse being retrieved from a grouse moor on Swinton Estate in April 2019. Photo by RSPB]

In another case of rotten luck (there’s a lot of it about in Nidderdale), a Swinton Estate gamekeeper was convicted in 2014 for setting an illegal pole trap on the estate (see here).

[Photo of the illegal pole trap set by a gamekeeper on Swinton Estate, photo by RSPB]

Now, some might argue that the Swinton Estate should have been expelled from the Moorland Association after this gamekeeper’s conviction. However, that would have been most unfair – pole traps had only been banned in the UK for 110 years at that point, it’s not as though the poor fellow had had sufficient time to adjust to the new rules. So what better way for the Moorland Association to show its support than to elect the estate owner to become Chair? Bravo!

Swinton Estate was back in the news last year as it hosted successfully breeding hen harriers for the first time in many, many years. Swinton was so enamoured with them that it donated the chicks to Natural England’s brood meddling scheme which, according to this article in last weekend’s Yorkshire Post Country Week (see pressing below), is a ‘hen harrier conservation’ project which ‘alleviates the overpopulation of hen harriers in one area by redistributing them into unpopulated areas‘!!!!!!!!! Wow! Let’s just take a moment to admire the breathtaking distortion on display there.

Meanwhile, according to Lord Masham, ‘the project was working well‘….er, really? What a forgetful silly billy Lord Masham is – he ‘forgot’ to mention the difficulty in finding another land owner willing to host the brood meddled hen harrier chicks on release (see here), he ‘forgot’ to mention the suspicious disappearance of several of those brood meddled chicks after release (see here), he ‘forgot’ to mention the decision to use a new type of untested satellite tag on some of those brood meddled chicks (see here), he ‘forgot’ to mention the 31 (at least) hen harriers believed to have been illegally killed since 2018, the year when grouse shooting industry reps would have us believe that hen harriers were welcomed back on the grouse moors, he ‘forgot’ to mention last year’s scientific paper that demonstrated 72% of satellite tagged hen harriers were believed to have been illegally killed on or near grouse moors (see here), he ‘forgot’ to mention that far from being ‘overpopulated’, thanks to illegal persecution on grouse moors England has single-figure hen harrier nests where there should be 330+ (see here), he ‘forgot’ to mention the ongoing police investigations in to the alleged witnessed shooting of two hen harriers on grouse moors this year (see here) and he ‘forgot’ to mention the ongoing legal challenge against brood meddling by actual conservationists (see here) who can see it for exactly what it is – a Government-sponsored sham (see here).

Most of the article’s content is a re-hash of the Moorland Association’s press statement on Lord Masham’s appointment (see here – well worth a read for a good laugh) but there’s one statement in particular that appears in the article but not in the MA’s press release:

According to the Yorkshire Post article, Lord Masham said ‘there was still the historical perception that raptors were persecuted by gamekeepers….’

And there it is. That one single sentence tells us everything we need to know. An ‘historical perception‘? Yep, it’s clear to see why Lord Masham was elected; he’s going to fit right in. Moorland Association Director Amanda Anderson may well have some competition for the title of Top Contortionist in the coming weeks as we await details of the recent police investigations of alleged raptor persecution on a number of grouse moors….

11
May
20

North Yorkshire police warn public of potential poisonous baits at Pateley Bridge

North Yorkshire Police are warning the public of potential poisonous baits at Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale following the suspected poisoning of two dogs in April.

The following message was emailed to members of the local community last week:

This suspected poisoning incident was referred to by the Police in a recent Yorkshire Post article about raptor persecution in the area:

Nidderdale residents will be used to receiving these warnings; there have been several in recent years (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here, here) as illegal poisonous baits have been used routinely to kill off red kites inside this AONB and the surrounding area (e.g. see here).

Dog walkers are urged to keep their pets under close control and report anything suspicious to the police. DO NOT HANDLE A SUSPECTED POISONOUS BAIT – some of the chemicals used as poison are so dangerously toxic they have been banned from use in the UK.

10
May
20

Local politician seeks ‘full investigation’ in to mass poisoning of buzzards

Further to yesterday’s blog about the reported illegal poisoning of 23 buzzards in County Cork and the apparent subsequent silence of the investigating authorities (see here), today there’s some encouraging news.

Local politician Christopher O’Sullivan TD (Teachta Dala, the equivalent of an MP) in whose constituency the poisoned buzzards were found, has just tweeted the following:

According to our sources, this is a very significant move. As discussed in yesterday’s blog, there have long been concerns about the lack of enforcement measures against raptor persecution in some parts of Ireland and particularly in the south where this latest crime was recorded.

Yesterday’s statement from BirdWatch Ireland highlighted these concerns and they’ve been re-emphasised in a statement from the Golden Eagle Trust (GET), the wildlife charity behind the reintroduction of golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and other important conservation projects across the Irish Republic. Here’s what GET had to say about this on Friday:

An attack on nature protection in Cork

Carbofuran is a banned root crop pesticide that continues to be used to deliberately kill birds of prey across Ireland. Some months ago, a landowner discovered dead Buzzards on his property, near Timoleague, County Cork and contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). 23 dead Common Buzzards were found during subsequent searches of the adjacent land. Toxicology tests, carried out by the State Laboratory, showed that the Buzzards had consumed Carbofuran, we believe. The landowner was completely unaware that a third party was leaving out poison nearby. This is the biggest illegal act against birds of prey in Ireland, over the last two decades.

The continued wilful persecution of birds of prey is decreasing the population of Peregrines, Hen Harriers, Buzzards and the reintroduced native populations of Eagles and Kites, in some parts of Ireland. It can be very difficult to find the evidence that could link an individual with an act of poisoning and thereby present sufficient evidence before a judge in order to secure a successful prosecution.

Therefore, the Golden Eagle Trust is calling on Government Departments to draft and enact a defined piece of legislation which makes it illegal for anybody to be in possession of Carbofuran and several other lethal substances, whose former agricultural uses have been banned and phased out. We are also calling on the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to revisit their discussion on whether it would be helpful to establish a small (one or two person) Wildlife Crime Unit within NPWS, in order to provide specialized advice and expertise in responding to reported wildlife crime incidents and presenting a strong legal case to the State Solicitors and to be put before the Courts; whenever the evidence allows a case to be initiated.

It is difficult to assess the effectiveness and enforcement of National and European wildlife legislation in Ireland and the degree of deterrent it might offer, arising from successful Irish wildlife court cases; as court cases or successful wildlife crime prosecution figures are not readily available. However, a crude review of available internet media sources, might suggest that there has not been any successful wildlife crime court case, over the last 4 or 5 years, in Counties Cork or Kerry, for example. The general public have a very important role in reporting dead birds of prey to NPWS and they in turn, need appropriate laws, staff resources and appropriate management facilitation in implementing the law, where the evidence allows it, in some of these ongoing poisoning incidents.

Whilst there may be several legitimate administrative reasons for the lack of clarity surrounding Ireland’s biggest raptor persecution case, arising from the current Coronavirus crisis; there is also a competing responsibility to keep communities informed of nearby risks related to illegal poisoning activity. The wider context reveals an unfortunate pattern of Peregrines being killed at the same nests annually and Common Buzzards and Red Kites being poisoned, in localized areas, on a regular basis. It can be extremely difficult to identify the perpetrators of these crimes against nature and therefore the legislation needs to keep abreast of the collated RAPTOR Protocol dataset and counter, the primary threats that the accruing results suggest.

[The corpses of several buzzards found poisoned by Carbofuran in Co Cork in 2018. See here for details. Photo by NPWS]

In July 2010, the Grant Thornton, ‘Organisational Review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), suggested in Section 4.5.1 (Page 55) that:

Enforcement and prosecution activity is represented as being low with only some 30 cases per annum being prosecuted. Progress in this area seems to vary depending on Division.”

The Golden Eagle Trust wonder if the level of nature protection enforcement activity might have fallen even further since 2010? We are concerned that a lack of Ministerial, Departmental or Party-Political support, for some aspects of the Law, may have weakened NPWS managerial resolve, in some areas, over the last decade. In a small number of places, recreational family groups, dog walkers and landowners may need to be especially vigilant as regards the possibility that poisoned meat baits have been left out in the open. This incident revives the independent expert opinion and concern (as set out in the Grant Thornton Organisational Review) whether some NPWS managers need more support and resources in progressing illegal wildlife activity cases? The unpalatable alternative, is that the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht transparently seek to repeal defined aspects of Irish or European Wildlife Legislation, which they may no longer endorse.

Regardless of the context; we are shocked by the number of dead Buzzards found in Cork and the 23 associated positive toxicology results – it is a wake-up call to us all.

ENDS

Full credit to Christopher O’Sullivan TD – let’s hope his calls for an investigation lead to significant change, with improvements in investigation and enforcement responses. Judging by the reaction to the news that 23 buzzards were poisoned, he’ll have a great deal of public support.

08
May
20

North Yorkshire Police frustrated at ongoing raptor persecution

Following on from the news that yet another shot raptor has been found in Nidderdale AONB (see here), there’s a topical news feature in today’s Yorkshire Post about the ongoing illegal persecution of birds of prey in North Yorkshire.

The article starts off well and focuses on quotes from Inspector Matt Hagen, who leads the North Yorks Police Rural Task Force and also from Supt Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG – the so-called partnership approach to tackling raptor persecution).

Here’s an extract:

The shooting, poisoning and trapping of birds such as red kites and buzzards is a crime previously described by the RSPB as “a stain on our countryside” and has risen in recent years after they were introduced to Yorkshire in the late nineties.

It is thought the offences have been happening for a long time, although increased awareness from the national police campaign Operation Owl has led to a rise in reports from the public.

Nidderdale in particular has been highlighted as a hotspot for the crime, while shootings of birds of prey have also been reported around West Yorkshire.

Disturbingly, there have also been reports of pets being killed after eating poisoned meat left out in suspected attempts at targeting scavenging birds of prey.

Between November 2018 and March of this year, there were 15 crimes recorded in North Yorkshire alone of birds being shot, poisoned or trapped, or tagged birds reported missing. Of these, nine had been shot, including a barn owl found shot in Ryedale in December 2019.

[A shot buzzard found in North Yorkshire in 2018, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

Inspector Matt Hagen, who is Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “These crimes are very difficult to investigate because they happen in isolated places and there is often no one around to witness them.

“From what I have seen, some of the people that persecute birds of prey are of the opinion that they diminish the numbers of pheasants, grouse or partridges.

“Many gamekeepers are very pro-conservation, but it just takes one or two individuals in that industry to make a real impact. This is especially the case with hen harriers because they are so endangered. Many birds of prey that are persecuted we find that they were on a grouse moor, or at least near to one of those areas.

“I do know that with the hen harriers, there are not many left in this country, and if this carries on it may well be that they disappear.”

Poisoning is also an issue, where perpetrators leave out poisoned rabbit carcasses for carrion-eating birds such as red kites to find. This poses a risk to local wildlife, pets and even children, police have said.

Insp Hagen added: “We recently had two dogs poisoned in Pateley Bridge, one of whom sadly died. This is still being investigated, but it happened in an area known as a hotspot for these crimes.”

Operation Owl is a campaign originally spearheaded by North Yorkshire Police which has since been made into a national campaign urging the public to be eyes and ears for crimes committed against birds of prey, as most occur in remote areas.

Superintendent Nick Lyall of Bedfordshire Police currently leads the campaign, and has been meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service and senior Government ministers to urge for the crimes to be upgraded from summary-only offences – which can only be dealt with by magistrates and have more lenient sentences – to either-way offences, meaning they can be tried in a crown court.

Supt Lyall said: “We can do search warrants linked to wildlife crimes, but we can’t use our serious crime tactics of covert policing, such as surveillance, to catch these offenders. So for example, if we knew of a nest that was being targeted, we currently can’t put cameras in to see who was disturbing that nest.”

Supt Lyall added that only one or two people are convicted each year for crimes against these birds, with police relying mainly on witnesses as evidence.

“With the remote places these crimes are happening in, that makes it very difficult to prosecute,” he added.

The impact of these crimes is not just felt by the community, but on the environment as well.

A report published by the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in September revealed that red kites were failing to expand breeding territory from Wharfedale into neighbouring Nidderdale.

– END OF EXTRACT –

It was pretty accurate reporting up to this point but then it descended in to farce, first with this statement from the journalist:

‘Despite this there is hope, and most gamekeepers and landowners are now strongly committed to conserving all species, with 2019 being a record year for endangered hen harriers breeding’.

There’s a short, but crucially important, word missing from this statement, and that word is ‘say’. As in, ‘…..most gamekeepers and landowners say they’re now strongly committed to conserving all species……’

Of course they’re going to say they’re against raptor persecution – they’ve been saying that for 66 years, ever since the Protection of Birds Act 1954 was enacted. However, all the evidence, of humongous proportions, suggests otherwise!

The article then continues with contributions from Amanda Anderson (Moorland Association) and John Clarke (National Gamekeepers Organisation) both churning out the familiar patter about supposed ‘zero tolerance‘ of raptor persecution and Amanda particularly focusing on the so-called ‘enthusiastic’ support of moorland estates for hen harriers!

She ‘forgot’ to mention the two current police investigations in to the alleged witnessed shooting of hen harriers on two grouse moors and the game shooting industry’s subsequent silence (see here). She also ‘forgot’ to mention the 31 (at least) hen harriers believed to have been illegally killed since 2018, the year when grouse shooting industry reps would have us believe that hen harriers were welcomed back on the grouse moors. She also ‘forgot’ to mention the 2019 research paper that demonstrated that at least 72% of satellite-tracked hen harriers tagged by Natural England were believed to have been illegally killed on British grouse moors.

[This hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set spring trap (which almost severed his leg) on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate last year. He didn’t survive. Read his grim story here. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Meanwhile, back in the real world unofficial reports from around the UK but particularly from areas managed for driven grouse shooting in the north of England indicate that raptor persecution crimes are still being committed, and that includes hen harriers being targeted yet again.

There’s a famous quote that springs to mind that some journalists would do well to consider:

If someone says it’s raining, and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the f***ing window and find out which is true“.

10
Apr
20

Mass poisoning of birds of prey in south Scotland: man charged

Police Scotland press release:

Man charged with wildlife crimes in Stewartry

Police Scotland can confirm that a 64-year-old man has been charged with a number of wildlife crime offences in the Stewartry area of Dumfries and Galloway.

Extensive investigations have been ongoing into the deaths of upwards of 20 birds of prey and other wild birds in the Springholm area near Castle Douglas between 2018 and 2020. Enquiries subsequently established the birds had been poisoned by banned pesticides.

A report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Wildlife Crime Officer Constable John Cowan said: “Residents in Springholm and the surrounding area as well as wildlife enthusiasts further afield will be only too well aware of a worrying rise in poisonings in and around the Springholm area over the last few years following on from previous appeals for information.

Working alongside partners such as the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), SSPCA (Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture), SAC (Scottish Agricultural College), SGRPID (Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division), Scottish National Heritage and Scottish Land and Estates, there has been an overwhelming collective determination to halt these incidents.

I would like to thank members of the public for the information they have provided throughout the investigation. This sends out a strong message that Police Scotland and partners treat wildlife crime very seriously and should act as a strong deterrent to anyone engaging in such activities, irrespective of the underhand tactics that may be used.”

ENDS

We believe this case relates to the illegal poisoning of multiple red kites and buzzards, some of which have been reported here and here.

PLEASE NOTE: As usual, we will not be accepting comments on this case until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.




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