Archive for the '2019 persecution incidents' Category


Sparrowhawk shot on Isle of Man: Local bird charity & police appeal for info

Joint press release from Manx Wild Bird Aid, police & local Government (20 Aug 2019)

Manx Wild Bird Aid, Police Wildlife Crime Officers and the Isle of Man Government are seeking information in relation to a juvenile female sparrowhawk that was found injured at Ballure, Ramsey on the 13th August 2019.
The sparrowhawk was discovered with a single gunshot wound and was recovered alive by a member of the public who passed it over to the charity Manx Wild Bird Aid, who care for sick and injured wild birds.
Unfortunately the bird died of its injuries soon after.
Manx Wild Bird Aid informed the Police Wildlife Crime Officers and Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) Biodiversity Officers. Analysis of the bird’s injuries by a vet showed that the bird had an entry and exit wound consistent with being shot. The bird also sustained broken bones when it fell to the ground and would not have been able to move far from the location where it was found.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: “I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to get in touch with the Biodiversity Officers at DEFA. It is illegal to kill or injure sparrowhawks on the Isle of Man. Protecting our wildlife is immensely important and our department and local charities work hard to ensure these animals are protected“.
A spokesperson for Manx Wild Bird Aid, said: “Not only has this wild bird been shot illegally, it is particularly upsetting that it has been injured in such a way to cause a lengthy period of unnecessary suffering prior to dying“.
Wild birds are legally protected under the Wildlife Act 1990 and it is an offence to kill or injure wild birds with the exception of game species. Penalties of up to £10,000 can be imposed.
Anyone with information relating to this case is being asked to contact Louise Samson, Biodiversity Officer DEFA 685835 or Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.

Young golden eagle flying around Cairngorms National Park with an illegal trap clamped to its leg

This is beyond what is tolerable.

Police Scotland have issued the following statement this evening:

Appeal to trace golden eagle in Aberdeenshire

Officers are appealing for information to help locate a Golden eagle which was seen flying in the Crathie area of Deeside with what appears to be a trap attached to its leg.

Concerns were raised about the first-year eagle on Thursday August 8, 2019, by a tourist and there are serious concerns for the bird’s welfare.  Enquiries are ongoing in conjunction with our partner agencies including the RSPB.

Sergeant Kim Wood said: “We would encourage anyone who has information which could help to locate this eagle to contact the Police on 101 or another relevant authority as soon as possible.”


This is an area where illegally-set spring traps were found on a driven grouse moor in 2016 (here). There was no prosecution (see here).

The photograph of this eagle has re-ignited a fury that’s been gathering strength for several months.

It began with the suspicious disappearance of two of our satellite-tagged golden eagles, Adam and Charlie, who vanished on the same April morning, on the same grouse moor, within a few hours of one another.

A short time later we learned that an RSPB-satellite-tagged hen harrier had been found dead on a nearby grouse moor with its leg gripped by an illegal trap.

A few weeks later we learned of another hen harrier caught in an illegally-set spring trap. This time it was a breeding male and the trap had been set by his nest. He was still alive when raptor workers found him but in great distress. His trapped leg was almost severed. A specialist wildlife vet from the SSPCA did his very best to save this bird, but unfortunately the harrier’s injuries were just too severe and he didn’t make it. A second trap was found actually in the harrier’s nest, placed next to two eggs. There was no sign of the breeding female.

The Scottish Government’s response to these horrendous crimes? Absolute silence for weeks, and then acting under huge public pressure, a pathetic statement that said ‘We’ve got to wait for the Werritty Review‘ – that’s the report on grouse moor management that we’ve been waiting for since May 2017.

And now this. A young golden eagle flying around with an illegal trap clamped to its leg. It’s quite likely this eagle is already dead.

I’m sorry, Nicola Sturgeon, Roseanna Cunningham and Mairi Gougeon, as much as I admire you as strong, intelligent female politicians, I am no longer prepared to make excuses for you. It is your collective failure to act decisively that has led to these continuing atrocities.

If any blog readers share this sense of fury and exasperation, now is the time to act. Here are two things you can do:

  1. Send an email to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and let her know, clearly but politely, that as the leader of the Scottish Government she needs to step up, show some leadership and take immediate action. Please send your emails to:
  2. Sign this new petition (launched tonight by Wild Justice) calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting – see here.

Thank you


Two ravens shot – police issue CCTV image of man of interest

Statement from Staffordshire Police:


Staffordshire Police’s Rural and Wildlife Crime officers have released a CCTV image of a man they would like to talk to following the discovery of the bodies of two protected birds on Cannock Chase.

The two adult ravens were found at around 11.30am on Sunday 6 May by a passer by. The birds were still warm at the time they were discovered and further examination showed they had been shot.

Anyone who recognises the man in the images or who has any other information is asked to ring 101 quoting incident 298 of 6 May.

Alternatively, for guaranteed anonymity, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



First Minister finally writes to 9 year old boy about golden eagle persecution

At the beginning of July the news emerged that two satellite-tagged golden eagles, named Adam and Charlie, had vanished from the same grouse moor, on the same morning, in highly suspicious circumstances (see here).

In response to this news, and prompted by children’s author Gill Lewis, quite a number of people drew pictures of golden eagles and sent them to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to finally take action against the grouse shooting industry. One of those people was a nine-year-old boy called Freddie Blackman, who drew this fantastic picture:

After almost a month of silence from the First Minister, not just about these suspiciously ‘missing’ eagles but also about a ‘missing’ hen harrier and two other hen harriers (here & here) that were found on grouse moors with illegal spring traps gripping their legs, Nicola Sturgeon has now finally responded to Freddie with this letter:

Nine-year-old Freddie seems a pretty savvy young man and is unlikely to be impressed with The First Minister’s suggestion that she doesn’t yet know why golden eagles and other raptors are ‘going missing or being hurt’ but that she’s waiting for a report from a ‘special group of people’ (Prof Werritty et al) to find out!

He’ll also be pretty unimpressed if he checks out the SNH website, as Ms Sturgeon suggests, to find out ‘what we are doing to protect wildlife in Scotland’. Er, here’s what you’re doing, Nicola – thinking about putting ravens on the General Licence so that gamekeepers and farmers can slaughter as many as they like, when they like, without any level of accountability whatsoever.

Freddie wasn’t the only one who wrote to the First Minister urging action against the grouse shooting industry. Andy Wightman MSP, the Scottish Parliament’s Golden Eagle Species Champion also wrote to Ms Sturgeon following the disappearance of Adam & Charlie. He told her it was ‘long past time for reviews and inquiries’ and he asked for some very specific action:

  1. Provide clear leadership in condemning these organised crimes;
  2. Commit to legislate to ban or to regulate driven grouse-shooting;
  3. Meet with me and others concerned with raptor conservation to discuss how your Government can take further action to eradicate wildlife crimes;
  4. Invite the Justice Secretary to convene a high-level task force of law enforcement officials to step up prevention and detection of wildlife crime and improve the admissibility of evidence in court.

The First Minister’s response to Andy’s letter? To ignore his specific requests for action and to delegate back to Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham who simply regurgitated the standard response that’s been sent to all those who wrote to the Scottish Government about the ongoing persecution of raptors on Scottish grouse moors:

Without a shadow of doubt, the Scottish Government’s continued procrastination about dealing with the criminals within the grouse shooting industry will be high up on the agenda of many of us attending the Revive conference today.

Watch this space……


Scottish Government’s response to ongoing illegal raptor persecution

Thanks to everyone who emailed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon following the recent raptor persecution atrocities that have been reported from a number of Scottish grouse moors ( a dead spring-trapped hen harrier found on a grouse moor in Perthshire (here), the suspicious disappearance, within a few hours of each other, of two satellite tagged golden eagles on another grouse moor in Perthshire (here), and another spring-trapped hen harrier found critically injured and distressed on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)).

After weeks of complete silence from Scottish Ministers (here, here, here), which, to be frank, has been utterly staggering and certainly not indicative of a Government ready to act, an impersonal, automated response letter is now being sent out to those who appealed for the Government to finally do something meaningful.

Here it is:

It’s a pathetically tragic response. There’s nothing in here we haven’t heard before, and even though the letter emphasises the previous steps taken in tackling these crimes, presumably to demonstrate the Government’s ‘determination’ to act, what it actually does is just highlight the length of time the Government has been tip-toeing around (since 2007) without producing any significant results at all.

The letter also includes the tired old line that we have to wait for the Werritty Review. We’ve been waiting for over two years and for all that time the Government has used it as an excuse to do absolutely nothing in the face of ongoing criminal activity. The excuse is tired, we’re tired of hearing it, and we’re tired of the criminals being allowed to run amok and suffer zero consequences.

Interestingly, this most recent letter is very similar to another letter that was sent to one of our blog readers in early July in response to the news in May that satellite-tagged hen harrier Marci had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here) and that four geese had been found poisoned on another grouse-shooting estate in the Cairngorms National Park after someone had used the banned pesticide Carbofuan (here).

But there’s a significant difference between the two letters:

The evidence continues to point to the likelihood that these people are connected with grouse moor management“.

Gosh, who knew?

Both letters indicate that the Werritty Review is ‘due to report in the next few weeks’, even though both letters were written weeks apart.

According to Professor Werritty himself, the report will be submitted “during the summer“, which of course could mean anytime between now and when the clocks go back at the end of October.

How many more raptors do you think will have been illegally killed by the time the report is submitted? And how many more illegally killed even after the report has been submitted and the Government is ‘considering it carefully’?

Sorry if this blog sounds impatient. Actually, we’re not sorry at all. Our patience has been stretched to its limit and has now expired.

Why’s it so difficult to get the Government to act?


Scottish Government statement on recent raptor persecution crimes

The Scottish Government has finally made a statement about the recent raptor persecution crimes.

The statement is about as impressive as the one from Leadhills Estate, just shorter but no less pathetic.

It appears to be a forced statement, made after a direct request from a journalist (Sean Bell from CommonSpace) rather than a proactive statement posted on the Government’s website to clarify its position.

Ready for this?

From an unnamed Government spokesperson:

The continued targeting of birds of prey is an extremely serious issue and we strongly condemn all those involved in it. We would urge anyone with information to contact the police. 

We are determined to protect birds of prey and have established an independent group to look at how we can ensure grouse moor management is sustainable and complies with the law. 

The review is due to report later this summer and we will consider fully any recommendations or proposed actions put forward by the group“.

The full article at CommonSpace can be read here.

It’s no wonder it took so long for the Government to say anything. It’s pretty clear from this that it has nothing new to say at all – just the same old rhetoric and platitudes and vague statements that don’t actually amount to anything. At all.

Here’s a stark reminder of the effectiveness the Scottish Government’s so-called ‘determination to protect birds of prey’. The spring-trapped hen harrier. He didn’t make it, despite the very best efforts of specialist vet Romain Pizzi and his team at the Scottish SPCA. [Photo by Ruth Tingay]

How many more victims will there be while we wait for the Scottish Government to actually do something?

Emails (polite ones, please) to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon at: 


Statement from Leadhills Estate on illegally-trapped hen harrier

Here we go folks, it looks like the Leadhills Estate has possibly identified the person(s) responsible for illegally-setting two spring traps at a hen harrier nest and it’s quite possible it’s the same one(s) responsible for the other 50+ raptor persecution crimes recorded in the area since 2003, including the armed masked man on a quad bike who was seen shooting a hen harrier in 2017 and the armed man in a 4×4 who was seen shooting and killing a short-eared owl in 2017. Although obviously not including the two crimes where estate gamekeepers were convicted (one in 2004 and one in 2009).

Phew. Thank god that’s all sorted. There’s no need for grouse moor management to come under any more scrutiny – we just need more police to patrol the area on the look out for ‘bird of prey activists’. Obvs.

The estate where a hen harrier is believed to have been caught in an illegally set trap has said it is not responsible for the bird’s death.

Leadhills Estate said the event is the latest in a series of suspicious activities on its land, much of which has been reported by the estate to police.

A spokesman for the estate said: “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of persecution against birds of prey. The manner in which this hen harrier has died is sickening and we want the police to get to the truth of what has happened. We have provided the police with detailed evidence to support their inquiry including evidence of someone we consider to have acted suspiciously on the estate on the date in question.

“Our gamekeepers are trained to the highest level and know their responsibilities under the law and the standards we expect of them.

“The estate has conducted a full investigation into the circumstances of this incident and is satisfied that no one from the estate was involved in the illegal setting of these traps. Employees have been individually interviewed by lawyers. This comes in addition to the full cooperation the estate has offered in the police investigation.”

On the day the hen harrier was found, many estate traps, including fenn traps (the type of trap which the hen harrier was caught in) were removed, stolen or vandalised by an unknown third party or third parties. The damage was photographed and the incidents were reported to the police.

The spokesman continued: “Throughout April and May this year, we reported three separate incidents of theft, vandalism or interference to estate traps to police.

“On the day when the hen harrier was found, Saturday 11 May, legally set cages and traps were checked in the morning without incident. Some of the traps require to be checked on a 24 hour basis and when gamekeepers carried out further checks on Sunday 12 May, they discovered a number of Fenn traps vandalised, a number of traps had been stolen and two crow cages had been damaged with the decoy birds let out.

“This was reported to the police and photographic evidence and grid point references were recorded by the estate.”

Leadhills said it has experienced repeated cases of trap vandalism and other crimes carried out on the estate over many years which have been very difficult for estate staff to cope with.

The estate added that it was under intense scrutiny from third parties and recognised the ongoing controversy surrounding moorland management and bird of prey activists.

The spokesman added: “It is beyond belief that anyone associated with the estate would be both naïve and reckless enough to perpetrate a crime such as this.

“Over recent years, we have had at least three individuals working as raptor monitors on our land and our activity is
scrutinised to an acute level by those who are not sympathetic to grouse moor management. This is in addition to the examination we receive from independent assessors who advise our staff on best practice within the sector.

“There has been no commercial grouse shooting on our land over the past two years and the moors are not being managed to achieve high bags of grouse, as has been claimed.  There is no motive to act outside the law.

“We realise that there is a febrile atmosphere around moorland management, with campaigners in yesterday’s statement highlighting the forthcoming government’s grouse moor review led by Professor Werrity, but it is
important that we make our voice heard on this matter.  We believe that the film made by Chris Packham and others from the Revive coalition has been made with the primary aim of pressurising government to ban grouse shooting and this incident has been used to further that aim without it being subject to the due process of law or to independent scrutiny.  It is yet another case of trial by media.

“Someone killed the hen harrier and we deplore that act, but evidence as to who was responsible seems to have been removed immediately after the incident.  This leaves a very unsatisfactory situation for the estate, for the police, for the public and our politicians to deal with. Leadhills Estate, along with the rest of the grouse management
sector is looking to work constructively with all parties who want to see continuation of the important public benefits of sustainable moorland management.”


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