Archive for the '2020 persecution incidents' Category

27
Oct
20

Peregrine fatally poisoned in Barnsley: South Yorkshire Police appeal for information

Press release from South Yorkshire Police (26 October 2020)

Information sought following the poisoning of a protected bird

Officers investigating reports of a bird of prey being deliberately poisoned are appealing for your help to find those responsible.

On Saturday 4 July officers found a juvenile peregrine falcon in ill health in the Fish Dam Lane area of Barnsley, the bird sadly died a short time later.

[The poisoned peregrine, photo via South Yorkshire Police]

Initial assessment of the bird indicated that it could have been poisoned. Following a forensic examination by the Wildlife Investigation Scheme it has now been confirmed that the bird had been poisoned with Bendiocarb, a highly toxic substance.

Peregrine falcons are protected under Sec1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Investigating Officer PC Fran Robbs De La Hoyde said: “It is believed the poisoned peregrine falcon ingested bait laced with the poison which was deliberately set out to target the bird.

There is nothing to suggest that this bait was laid in open land.

This was a deliberate act that caused the death of a beautiful and protected bird. I am saddened by this and I am asking for your help to bring those responsible to justice.”

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “It’s always a privilege to catch a glimpse of a peregrine. The fastest birds in the world, they are highly adaptable creatures and often make their homes in urban areas these days.

Bendiocarb is one of the most commonly-abused substances for killing birds of prey and we have sadly seen it used for this purpose on many occasions. It is illegal to kill these birds, and we urge anyone with information to come forward.”

Poisons commonly used to commit a crime like this are incredibly toxic to humans and pets. Should any person locate any dead or injured birds they are strongly advised not to touch them or let pets come into contact with them.

If you have any information that can help officers please call 101 and quote crime reference number 14/104692/20.

Alternatively, you can stay completely anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers via their website Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling their UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.

SYP are committed to the investigation of serious wildlife offences, including the poisoning of birds of prey.

ENDS

22
Oct
20

Two peregrines fatally poisoned in North Yorkshire: police appeal for information

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (21st October 2020)

Police appeal for information after peregrine falcons found dead near Tadcaster

Analysis finds carcasses containing pesticides

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following investigations into the death of two peregrine falcons found at a quarry near Stutton, Tadcaster.

[Photos by Guy Shorrock]

A member of the public who had been observing the mating pair of birds, found a male bird dead on a cliff ledge and following investigation by the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police to recover the carcass, a deceased female peregrine falcon was located in the bottom of the quarry.

Both birds were sent away for testing which confirmed high levels of Bendiocarb in their systems and this was found to be the cause of death. The male bird was found next to a pigeon carcass which it is believed may have been used as bait.

Bendiocarb is licensed for use as a pesticide in England but is highly toxic and should never be released into the environment where wildlife, such as birds of prey, could be exposed to it. The pesticide has been found used to kill birds of prey in North Yorkshire previously and as such, police believe this was a deliberate act of poisoning.

North Yorkshire Police Inspector Matt Hagen said:

Poisoning a bird of prey is a crime and it is saddening each time we have another incident reported to us. Every investigation is thoroughly carried out with all lines of enquiry followed to try and find those responsible, but we cannot do this without the public’s help, please be our eyes and ears and report this type of incident to the police.

I’m urging anyone who has any information about bird of prey persecution to get in touch with the police, someone out there knows who is committing these crimes and we need that information to ensure they are stopped.”

Despite extensive investigations, police have yet to identify those responsible for misusing this toxic substance. Anyone with information about this incident should contact North Yorkshire Police quoting reference 12200057190.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

These peregrines were found poisoned six months ago in April 2020. There is no explanation given for the delay in publicising this crime but it is likely to do with long delays at the toxicology lab caused by the Coronavirus lockdown. It’s understood there is still a backlog of samples waiting to be analysed.

06
Oct
20

Man charged for wildlife offences relating to illegal trapping of a bird of prey

A 38-year-old man has been ‘cautioned and charged’ for wildlife offences in relation to the illegal trapping of a bird of prey on 26th August 2020 in Aberdeenshire, according to Police Scotland.

PC Davis is quoted as saying:

Police responded to a report of a trapped bird of prey which was recovered safe and well and released unharmed.

Police Scotland take wildlife crime seriously and appreciate the assistance we get from our communities.

If you have information or concerns you can contact us on 101“.

The species ID of the trapped raptor has not been published, nor have any further details of the location, type of trap etc.

As this individual has been charged, comments on this case will not be published on this blog until criminal proceedings have finished. Thanks for your understanding.

[Tweet from Aberdeenshire North Police earlier this afternoon]

05
Oct
20

Kestrel shot and killed in West Yorkshire

Every report of a shot raptor is shameful, but there’s just something even more senseless about shooting a kestrel.

[Photo by Annette Cutts]

A kestrel has been shot and killed in the Pudsey area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, according to a tweet from West Yorkshire Police’s Leeds Wildlife and Rural Crime Team today.

No further details have been made available yet, i.e. date, specific location or type of weapon etc.

If anyone has any information please contact West Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote the crime reference number #13200496679.

02
Oct
20

Birds of prey illegally poisoned in Staffordshire/Peak District National Park

It just never bloody stops.

Do you remember way back in May, during lockdown, Staffordshire Police asked the public to be vigilant after the discovery of a dead buzzard and two dead peregrines in the Peak District National Park? Officers suspected those protected raptors had been illegally poisoned and the corpses were sent for toxicology (see here).

Then in early June another peregrine was found dead in suspicious circumstances and that, too, was sent for toxicology analyses (see here).

[One of the illegally poisoned peregrines. Photo by Staffordshire Police]

Well guess what? The toxicology results are in and all four raptors were illegally poisoned with the same (unnamed) pesticide, and at least two of the incidents involved a pigeon bait which had been laced with the pesticide.

These illegal raptor poisonings are in addition to the confirmed illegal poisoning of a buzzard and a kestrel in Derbyshire at the beginning of lockdown (see here) and a shot buzzard found with horrific injuries in the Peak District National Park during the middle of lockdown (see here).

Staffordshire Police has issued a press statement about the latest four killings, as follows:

£1,000 reward for information after birds of prey poisoned

Reward offered for information after bird of prey poisoning incidents in Staffordshire during Covid lockdown.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has offered a £1000 reward for information leading to a conviction after four birds of prey were found dead in Staffordshire.

The appeal follows three separate incidents over a three-week period during Covid lockdown. 

On Saturday 16 May, a common buzzard and peregrine falcon were sadly discovered dead in a wooded area of Longnor. On Tuesday 19 May a second peregrine falcon was found dead at Beeston Tor near Wetton. On Thursday 4 June, a third peregrine falcon was found dead in a quarry near Waterhouses. 

[The latest poisoning victims. Photos via Staffordshire Police]

Two of the incidents occurred in the Peak District National Park, and a few of the locations are believed to be near peregrine falcon breeding sites.

As there were no visible signs of injury, and following contact with Natural England the birds were submitted for post mortem examinations and toxicology tests to establish the cause of death as part of the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). The scheme investigates the death or injury of wildlife and companion animals that may have resulted from pesticide poisoning.

The results show that all four birds of prey were illegally poisoned by the same pesticide, and that at least two of the incidents involved a pigeon bait which had been laced with the pesticide. 

A police investigation into the circumstances is underway as all birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Officers are asking local residents and visitors to these areas to report any suspicious behaviour they may have witnessed in the days leading up to the discovery of the birds and to continue to be vigilant for the signs of criminal activity, including dead or injured birds, poisoned bait and traps.

Detective Inspector Tim Boulton, of the Staffordshire Police Rural and Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “To find out that these birds have been deliberately targeted and poisoned is truly dreadful. We are working to ensure those responsible are identified and brought to justice

It is extremely concerning that a harmful substance has been placed in the countryside putting not only wildlife, but also people and pets at risk too. 

If a member of the public comes across a dead bird or suspicious object, please do not touch or move anything. Please take photographs if you can and make a note of your surroundings and landmarks to help officers to locate it. Every piece of information may be crucial in prosecuting an offender.

We would like to thank Natural England and the Peak District Natural Park for their assistance so far and we are incredibly grateful for the reward offered by the RSPB

Any information, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, could help with our on-going investigation. Someone out there knows who poisoned these birds, so please do the right thing and get in touch with the police directly or any of our specialist partners.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations, commented “Peregrines are the fastest birds in the world, yet all too often the lives of these magnificent creatures are cut short by illegal persecution like poisoning.

For incidents like this to repeatedly happen in a National Park is all the more alarming. If you have any information about any of these cases, or if you come across what you believe may be a poisoned bird of prey, please call the police immediately. You are our eyes and ears.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, added: “I would to thank those individuals who have reported these incidents to the police, and it remains completely unacceptable that illegal activity against wildlife is taking place in and around the Peak District. The nature of poisoning witnessed in these cases is deeply worrying for species both within and outside our National Park boundary.  

These incidents are particularly concerning in a year where many birds of prey – including the peregrine falcon – have successfully bred in other areas. We will continue to support the police in their investigations, and welcome any information from the public that may help capture those involved and bring them to justice.”

Dave Slater, Natural England’s Director for Wildlife Licensing and enforcement cases, said: “Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority and a priority for Natural England. We are a committed partner with the Police and NGOs in tackling these despicable crimes. We would urge anyone witnessing or suspecting persecution to contact the police.

Anyone with any information is asked to call one of the services listed below:

Staffordshire Police: 101 quoting incident number 232 of 16 May. You can also report online at http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/report or by sending a private message to Staffordshire Police on Facebook and Twitter.

Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111

RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime hotline: 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

24
Sep
20

Channel 4 bats away shooting industry hysteria

On Monday evening Channel 4 News included an explosive piece about grouse shooting in the North York Moors National Park and its association with the illegal killing of birds of prey.

Fronted by veteran war correspondent Alex Thomson, it was a follow-up to an item that was broadcast back in May where Alex had again focused on the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors in the North York Moors National Park as well as in the Nidderdale AONB (see here).

Monday’s piece was car-crash viewing if you were a member or supporter of the grouse shooting industry, in what was an extraordinary display of arrogance, denial and entitlement from a number of individuals involved with a grouse shoot. All those previous media campaigns, carefully-crafted to showcase this industry to the general public in the best possible light, shot down in tatters during a prime time viewing slot before our very eyes. If you missed it, this six minute film is well worth your time.

Predictably, since the programme aired some members of the shooting industry (which, remember, professes a ‘zero tolerance‘ for raptor persecution) have been in an absolute rage on social media, angrily shouting about how unfair it all was, how dare a high profile journalist question anybody involved in this noble ‘sport’ for their views on illegal raptor persecution, spitting blood that there wasn’t an alternative opinion given (conveniently forgetting that the Moorland Association was given the opportunity to comment, but didn’t).

They were also probably furious that several members of the local community were filmed, dispelling quite a few myths and debunking the propaganda often painted of a moorland community in harmony – a rural idyll where local residents are deliriously enthralled by the activities of the local grouse moor managers and thankful for the boost that grouse shooting brings to the local economy, without which the local community would apparently collapse. Nah, these Goathland residents weren’t having any of it. Kudos to them for standing their ground.

Don’t be surprised to see the launch of a campaign /petition calling for Alex Thomson’s dismissal from Channel 4  –  this thuggish industry has a well-deserved reputation for trying to shoot the messenger, usually by generating a nasty little smear campaign to undermine the integrity of those who dare to speak out against the industry’s criminality and environmental destruction.

Meanwhile, several individuals have already been making complaints about the programme directly to Channel 4. Channel 4 is having none of it. Here’s the standard response that has been sent back:

Brilliant! If you’d like to send Channel 4 a message of support for (a) broadcasting the footage during its main evening news schedule and (b) having the balls to stand up to the resulting howling hysteria of the grouse shooting industry, you can use this form (here) to show your support and appreciation.

23
Sep
20

Large police operation investigating raptor persecution near proposed release site for hen harriers

Press release from Wiltshire Police (23 September 2020)

One arrest made after operation into bird of prey persecution in Wiltshire

A teenager has been arrested today following two warrants executed in East Wiltshire.

Led by the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team but supported by local officers, officers from Hampshire Constabulary, South West Forensics, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, warrants were executed at locations in the Pewsey and Beckhampton areas.

A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of raptor persecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Firearms were seized as part of ongoing enquiries, and the carcasses of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards, were located at the location in Beckhampton.

PC Marc Jackson, Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said: “Following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards.

The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies.

Our enquiries continue into how these birds were killed and disposed of. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities.

“Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward.

“We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations“.

Wiltshire Police are part of the national initiative called Operation Owl. The initiative sets out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

ENDS

Well now this doesn’t look good for Natural England’s ridiculous project to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England, does it? And after all that work they’ve done trying to convince potential donor countries that raptor persecution is no longer an issue in southern England (e.g. see here and here).

[RPUK map showing proximity of Natural England’s ludicrous hen harrier reintroduction site to the area where a large police investigation in to raptor persecution is underway]

23
Sep
20

Raptor persecution highlighted in House of Lords

Natalie Bennett is a long-time supporter of the campaign for grouse moor reform and particularly against the illegal killing of birds of prey – she’s been a familiar spokesperson at many Hen Harrier Day events over the last few years.

Now Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, she is using her position in the House of Lords to keep up the pressure.

Here’s a question she posed to DEFRA Minister The Rt Honourable Lord Zac Goldsmith on 16th September 2020 (text from Hansard):

Here is Zac’s response:

Zac said, “I would welcome access to the report that the noble Baroness mentions“.

Here you go, Zac, the report, documenting the 44 hen harriers that have either vanished in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed illegally killed, most of them on or close to driven grouse moors, since 1 January 2018, can be read here

But that report is now out of date. The running total now stands at 45 hen harriers that have either vanished in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed illegally killed, most of them on or close to driven grouse moors, since 1 January 2018 (see here for details).

For completeness, although as a DEFRA Minister you must surely already be aware of this, the peer-reviewed science, based on Natural England’s own data, that demonstrates that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers in England were ten times more likely to ‘disappear’ or be illegally killed on or close to British grouse moors, can be read here.

The question now is, what do you intend to do about it?

[An illegally killed hen harrier. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

21
Sep
20

Channel 4 News re-visits the grouse moors of the North York Moors National Park

The illegal killing of birds of prey on the grouse moors of North Yorkshire was firmly back in the news headlines this evening with another excellent piece fronted by Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News.

You may remember an earlier piece from Alex back in May this year (here) which featured various police investigations in Nidderdale AONB and the discovery of five dead buzzards stuffed into a hole on a Bransdale grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park during lockdown – four were later confirmed to have been shot (here).

This time the TV crew filmed a grouse-shooting party near Goathland in the North York Moors, where earlier this year film footage emerged purporting to show an individual killing a trapped goshawk on the Queen’s grouse moor in May (see here and here).

In this latest film there’s some hilarious footage of various members of the shooting party denying all knowledge of the alleged goshawk incident and providing a display of arrogance that the general public doesn’t often get to see, usually hidden as it is behind carefully-worded propaganda pieces.

Speaking of the alleged goshawk incident, Alex said,

The police told us, a gamekeeper will soon be prosecuted for killing the goshawk“.

The Duchy of Lancaster says if there is a successful prosecution, the sporting tenant, BH Sporting, may lose its lease.

Interesting times.

Here’s the six minute video that appeared on Channel 4 News this evening:

UPDATE 24th September 2020: Channel 4 bats away shooting industry hysteria (here)

21
Sep
20

Police appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in Dorset

Press release from Dorset Police (21 September 2020)

Appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in North and East Dorset

Dorset Police has been working alongside Natural England and the RSPB following two raptor persecution incidents in North and East Dorset.

Raptor persecution – which is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities and involves birds of prey – includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance.

The laying of poisoned bait is illegal. All birds are protected by law in the UK, with the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 being the primary legislation protecting the wildlife and their environment.

In April 2020 it was reported that several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmore Wood area near Blandford. These birds were sent for testing and enquiries remain ongoing.

The birds were found near to public access routes on land owned by more than one landowner.

In August 2020 officers received a report from an animal rescue centre that a number of dead and sick animals from the Verwood area were bought in to them. The animals included buzzards, an owl and a rabbit. These animals were all sent for testing.

Two of the buzzards involved in the Verwood incident survived and have been tended back to health by staff at the rescue centre.

[Photos via Dorset Police]


Police Constable Rob Hammond, of North Dorset police, said: “It is very concerning to see these harrowing incidents occurring in our area and an investigation is underway into each of the reports.

I would like to warn members of the public that this poison could be harmful to anything or anyone that comes into contact with it.

There is a real danger that persecution can affect any kind of bird. More common species such as kites, which have recently returned to our area and are making good progress, and buzzards can come to harm. Tragically it will also have an impact on rarer birds of prey such as ospreys, which have recently been reintroduced to the Poole harbour area and roam for miles, and hen harriers, which are almost extinct in this country.

Always be careful if you see a dead bird of prey or a group of them together – do not touch them, especially if it can be clearly seen that they have white or blue matter in any open wound.”

If you come across a dead raptor, or group of dead raptors, please report this to Dorset Police by taking a photograph and marking the location of the incident using a grid reference or an app, such as What3words. Please also report this to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline on 0800 321600.

The RSPB can be contacted for advice or information, but the matter must be reported to Dorset Police and the WIIS for an investigation to be carried out.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at http://www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200052754 for the Ashmore Wood incident and 55200131382 for the Verwood incident. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.

ENDS




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 6,672,216 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors