Archive for the '2019 persecution incidents' Category

13
Jun
19

Two red kites poisoned in south Scotland: tests awaited on third

From BBC Scotland today:

Kirkcudbright red kites were poisoned, tests reveal

Tests have confirmed that two out of three red kites found dead in southern Scotland last month were illegally poisoned. The birds were discovered near Kirkcudbright in early May. Post mortem examinations have shown illegal pesticides were used to kill two of the birds with results on the third still awaited.

[Red kite photo from Scottish Raptor Study Group]

Police said an investigation was ongoing and have asked for help from the public with information.

Det Con Gary Story said they were working closely with the Scottish SPCA and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture. “What we have established is that illegal pesticides have been used to kill two of the birds,” he said. The pesticides identified have been banned in the UK for many years but despite this there would still appear to be those who leave out poisoned bait, whether that is to target crows, foxes, raptors or other wildlife.

The use of such poisoned bait is illegal and totally unacceptable and those responsible should understand that their unlawful activities not only serve to have devastating consequences on their intended targets but also on various other forms of wildlife.”

He said they were “absolutely determined” to put a stop to the deaths and were working with landowners and farmers and RSPB Scotland as part of their investigation.

We have also carried out a number of land searches in the vicinity of where the birds have been located with a view to trying to locate poisoned bait at these locations,” he said. “It is anticipated that further land searches will take place in the near future.”

Scottish SPCA inspector Paul Tuchewicz said two dead red kites had been found within 50 yards of one another near Kirkcudbright on 10 May. “One of the birds had a tracker and we were able to check the last known location of the kite, which was a nest,” he said. “The nest was being used by ravens when we found it. After post mortem, the birds were found to have been poisoned with a banned substance.”

The third bird was found within 100 yards of the same location on 15 May.

A red kite trail in Dumfries and Galloway is reckoned to be worth millions of pounds to the local economy.

A study in 2017 said the Galloway Kite Trail had generated more than £8.2m since it was launched in 2003.

ENDS

These poor kites are the latest victims in a spate of illegal poisonings in south Scotland.

Between January and May 2018 four red kites and buzzards were illegally poisoned in Dumfries & Galloway (see here).

There was also the poisoned peregrine found in the Pentlands in May 2018 (here).

And then in December 2018 a buzzard was found poisoned near Mauchline (here).

Now we learn that at least two red kites have been found poisoned in May 2019 and potentially another one, test results pending.

So much for SNH’s claim in August 2018 that they were “reassured that raptor persecution is not an issue” in this region. Idiots.

It’s good to see strong statements of condemnation from Police Scotland and the SSPCA and confirmation that land searches have taken place and more are anticipated.

Let’s see how Scottish Ministers respond to this news. They said nothing about the recent illegal poisoning of birds in the Cairngorms National Park – are they also going to ignore more poisoning crimes in south Scotland?

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13
Jun
19

Cairngorms National Park Authority finally issues statement on illegally poisoned birds

At the end of May we learned, via a Police Scotland statement, that four dead geese had been discovered in April 2019 by estate workers on the Pitmain Estate, nr Kingussie, in the Cairngorms National Park.

Subsequent post-mortem examination of the birds found that they died as a result of ingesting a banned pesticide.

On 25 May 2019, a week after the news broke, we reported that the response to this latest wildlife crime and the use of a deadly poison that is so dangerous that it’s actually an offence to possess it, let alone use it, was as follows:

Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Grant Moir, Chief Executive Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment – silence

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment – silence

Kate Forbes MSP, in whose constituency the poisoned birds were found – silence

PAW Scotland – silence

Scot Gov Greener, ‘the official Twitter channel of the Scottish Government covering the environment and rural economy’ – silence

However, on Monday 10th June 2019 the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) finally released a joint statement with Police Scotland that was posted on the CNPA website and was also tweeted from the CNPA twitter account:

‘Illegally poisoned geese’ would have been a stronger headline than simply ‘dead geese’ but nevertheless, it’s good to see the CNPA finally alerting its website readers and social media followers to this crime.

It’s also interesting that a small container was found and that it had traces of the banned poison on it or in it. We await further updates.

In the meantime, has the CNPA decided to do anything else to warn the public about the immediate threat to life in this part of the National Park? Have they distributed posters and flyers in the local community in and around Kingussie? Put up warning signs in car parks and on paths near to where the poisoned birds were found? Put warning notices in places frequented by visiting tourists who may not be avid readers of the news section of the CNPA website?

If not, why not?

The North Pennines AONB recently did all of this and more in response to the discovery of two shot buzzards on their patch (see here) – it was a brilliant response and should be the blueprint for how all these so-called ‘Protected Area’ Boards and Partnerships need to respond to such criminality.

There can be no more excuses. Stop shielding the criminals.

12
Jun
19

Buzzard found shot dead in North York Moors National Park

Yet another buzzard has been found shot dead in the North York Moors National Park according to a tweet by the brilliant Jean Thorpe, wildlife rehabber extraordinaire, on 5 June 2019:

“Shotgun shot buzzard Bransdale Moor, North Yorkshire. National Trust land. Any info please to PC Jez Walmsley, Wildlife crime officer Malton. Yet ANOTHER”.

The x-ray is a bit hard to comprehend, although the spine is clear as is at least one shotgun pellet.

We haven’t been able to find out any further information about this crime.

It’s not the first time raptors have been found illegally killed here. In 2010 a shot goshawk was found at Bransdale (see here) and a post mortem reportedly revealed it had also been poisoned (see here).

In 2012 a walker crossing the moorland in Bransdale found a dead sparrowhawk, also reported to have been shot (see here).

The National Trust owns the land in the valley in Bransdale, ‘surrounded by dramatic open moorland’ which has been described elsewhere as ‘the premier grouse shooting estate in the North York Moors area‘ and ‘one of the country’s most prolific grouse moors‘. Obviously it’s not known whether the buzzard was shot on National Trust property, or on the surrounding grouse moors, or even further further afield and then collapsed at Bransdale.

What is known is that this is yet another raptor persecution crime in North Yorkshire, inside the North York Moors National Park.

Why hasn’t this crime been publicised?

09
Jun
19

Police appeal for info after suspected theft of Marsh harrier eggs in Norfolk

Norfolk Constabulary has issued an appeal for information following the suspected theft of two Marsh harrier eggs in Norfolk:

WILDLIFE APPEAL WALSINGHAM

Police are appealing for information following the theft of bird eggs from a nest near Wells-next-the-Sea.

It is believed that two Marsh Harrier eggs were removed from a nest on farm land in the Walsingham area last Saturday (1 June).

Anyone who may have been in the area at the time and seen anything suspicious should contact PC Jason Pegden at Wells police station on 101, or alternatively, contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

[Marsh harrier by David Tipling]

 

31
May
19

Political silence in response to wildlife crime in Cairngorms National Park

Nine days ago we learned that yet another satellite tagged hen harrier (‘Marci’) had vanished in suspicious circumstances on an unnamed grouse moor near Strathdon, an area of the Cairngorms National Park previously identified as a raptor persecution hotspot.

[Hen harrier Marci, photo by Shaila Rao]

Hen harrier persecution is a National Wildlife Crime Priority and the population in Scotland has suffered a 27% decline in the last 12 years. As such, we expected a strong response from the authorities.

We’ve trawled websites and Twitter feeds and this is what we’ve found:

Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Grant Moir, Chief Executive Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment – silence

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment and Hen Harrier Species Champion – silence

Alexander Burnett MSP, in whose constituency Marci ‘disappeared’ – silence

PAW Scotland – silence

Scot Gov Greener, ‘the official Twitter channel of the Scottish Government covering the environment and rural economy’ – silence

And then seven days ago we learned that four geese had been found poisoned by a highly toxic banned pesticide on the western side of the Cairngorms National Park. Police have been searching an area on the Pitmain Estate near Kingussie after estate workers reportedly alerted them to the corpses.

Given the seriously high risk to humans, wildlife, domestic stock and pets, and the Scottish Government’s previous comments about having a zero tolerance policy for illegal poisoning, we expected a strong response from the authorities.

We’ve trawled websites and Twitter feeds and this is what we’ve found:

Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Grant Moir, Chief Executive Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment – silence

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment – silence

Kate Forbes MSP, in whose constituency the poisoned birds were found – silence

PAW Scotland – silence

Scot Gov Greener, ‘the official Twitter channel of the Scottish Government covering the environment and rural economy’ – silence

So what’s the deal, here?

Don’t they care?

They do care but they’re too embarrassed to comment?

They’ve commented on so many other similar incidents that there’s nothing new to be said?

They know they’re impotent to stop it happening again and again and again?

Keep quiet and hope it all goes away?

Compare and contrast this silence with the recent response of the North Pennines AONB Partnership to the illegal shooting of two buzzards within the protected area – Strong public statement, posters put up on public noticeboards, fliers distributed to shops and pubs in the area and lots of coverage on social media.

The Scottish authorities couldn’t even manage a tweet between them!

And then compare and contrast this silence with the recent sentencing of wildlife poisoners in Spain – Two years and eight months in prison AND a five year & four month disqualification from the management of hunting reserves and the right to hunt AND a fine of 67,538.65 Euros AND to been told to ‘take measures to recover the damage caused’.

The last prosecution for an alleged wildlife poisoning case in Scotland (that we’re aware of) involved the poisoning of three buzzards on a game shooting estate in Perthshire. Despite pleas from Police Scotland, the Crown Office decided to drop the prosecution and didn’t provide an explanation for this decision.

Is anybody still wondering why wildlife crime is still so prevalent in Scotland?

26
May
19

Birds killed after ingesting banned poison nr Kingussie in Cairngorms National Park

Police Scotland has issued the following statement (dated 24 May 2019):

We can confirm that enquiries are ongoing following the deaths of four geese, which were reported to the Police by concerned estate workers who had found the birds on their land near Kingussie in late April 2019.

Subsequent post-mortem examination of the birds found that they died as a result of ingesting a banned pesticide.

Searches by Police Scotland officers have been carried out in the area around Loch Gynack near Kingussie.

Officers are advising any members of the public or dog walkers who use the area recreationally to be aware and to consider their safety – or that of their pet – if walking in the area.

Inspector Vince Tough, Highlands and Islands Wildlife Crime Coordinator, said:

We do not wish a member of the public, a dog or any other animal to become unwell where it can be avoided’. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of this incident. In the meantime I would urge anyone who walks their dogs in the area to be aware as a precaution.

Anybody who has information is asked to contact Police Scotland immediately on 101, using reference NM1041/19, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

ENDS

According to Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website, which provides details of estate boundaries, Loch Gynack, the location of the police search area, is on the Pitmain Estate close to Kingussie, although that does not mean that’s where the geese ingested the banned poison. Depending on which poison was used and how much was ingested, the geese may have died within minutes of ingestion or may have been able to fly a short distance. There are a number of sporting and non-sporting estates whose boundaries converge around Kingussie, some with dodgy reputations, some with impeccable credentials, so it would be unwise to assume anything without further information from the police, although we do know that of 219 poisoning offences recorded in Scotland between 2005-2014, a staggering 81% were on land used for game-shooting (57% on grouse moors, 24% on lowland pheasant shoots).

The police have not named the banned poison but it will be one of the eight listed on The Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005. These eight substances are considered to be so lethally toxic it’s an offence just to be in possession of any of them, let alone use any of them to bait and kill wildlife:

Aldicarb
Alphachloralose
Aluminium phosphide
Bendiocarb
Carbofuran
Mevinphos
Sodium cyanide
Strychnine

So once again we have a wildlife crime reported inside the Cairngorms National Park.

It was only three days ago that we were blogging about this so-called “Jewel in the Scottish and UK landscape” (ahem) following the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged hen harrier Marci on a grouse moor in the raptor persecution hotspot that is the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park.

In that blog we’d included a long list of reported crimes against raptors since the Park’s inauguration in 2003. You can see that illegal poisoning was prevalent during the 2000s but then the criminals switched tactics and shooting and trapping became much more prominent. The last known use of illegal poison in the Park, at least that we’re aware of, was reported in 2011.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the Cairngorms National Park Authority bothers to issue a statement about this latest poisoning crime. As far as we can tell, they didn’t bother publishing anything on their website about missing hen harrier Marci.

They’d do well to take a leaf out of the North Pennines AONB’s book. Prepare some leaflets, stick them up on public noticeboards, deliver fliers to pubs and shops, write a damning statement of condemnation for the Park’s website, etc etc.

It’s 2019 for god’s sake. Why are we still seeing banned poisons used inside a National Park to kill wildlife, and potentially any resident or visitor or their pet unfortunate enough to stumble across it? And why is the Park Authority so impotent to act against it?

For that matter, why is the Scottish Government still so impotent to act against it?

This latest crime happened in the constituency of Kate Forbes MSP (SNP: Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch). If you’re one of Kate’s constituents, please contact her and ask her what she intends to do about it. (Remember, she probably didn’t lay the bait and this is probably the first she’ll have heard about the crime – please be polite but be clear that doing nothing is not an option).

If you’re not a constituent of Kate’s, you can contact her on Twitter (@KateForbesMSP) and ask the same question (again, politely, please).

UPDATE 31 May 2019: Political silence in response to wildlife crime in Cairngorms National Park (here)

25
May
19

Gamekeepers ready to support reintroduction of buzzards to Salisbury Plain

Thanks to the blog reader who sent us this screen grab of a tweet doing the rounds recently (it now appears to have been deleted).

Oh dear. Perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider publishing a link to the RSPB’s very helpful online article ‘How to ID a Hen Harrier’, which includes these useful guides:

And perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider revising its article about hen harrier conservation by publishing the facts about why hen harriers are in a spiral of decline across the UK? (BIG CLUE: GAMEKEEPERS ARE INVOLVED).

Perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the findings of the recent scientific paper which showed that hen harriers are ten times more likely to be killed on grouse moors than any other habitat. Yes, TEN TIMES more likely!

Or perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the recent news that one of the many tagged hen harriers to vanish in suspicious circumstances just happened to vanish less than 20 miles from the proposed ‘reintroduction’ site in Wiltshire, in an area heavily managed by gamekeepers for pheasant and partridge shooting?

Incidentally, on the subject of DEFRA’s outrageous proposal to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England this year, we’ve heard recently that some of our colleagues in Spain have been approached again by Natural England, seeking donor birds, with an apparent assurance that these donor birds won’t go any where near the UK’s upland grouse moors! If this is an accurate report (and we have no reason not to believe it, given the source), it fits in with Natural England’s previous distortions of the truth about hen harrier persecution (we blogged about that here).

The Spanish are not stupid. We’re aware that at least some of those who’ve been approached recognise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support such an ‘assurance’, and besides, Spanish raptor conservationists are well aware of the ongoing killing of hen harriers on UK grouse moors and they consider this southern England reintroduction proposal to be a sham – just a distraction from where the conservation agencies should be focusing their efforts. By all accounts, at least some of them have told Natural England to get lost.

Bravo, Spain!




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