Archive for the 'News' Category


Yet more dead pheasants dumped in North and West Yorkshire

Quelle surprise! It’s another year and another opportunity for a load of dead pheasants to be dumped.

Here are two more cases reported on social media in recent days, one load dumped in North Yorkshire and another in West Yorkshire, to add to previous reports of shot dumped birds in Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here) and Lincolnshire (here).

The latest gruesome discovery in North Yorkshire included a potato sack full of dead pheasants dumped by the side of the road in York:

The pheasant dumping incident in West Yorkshire was reported on twitter by West Yorkshire Police but no photos available:

Gamebird dumping continues to be a widespread problem. That’s hardly a surprise when the game shooting industry is permitted to release as many non-native pheasants and red-legged partidge as it likes (conservatively estimated to be almost 60 million EVERY YEAR), with minimal regulation, and no requirement to report on what happens to those birds once they’ve been shot for a bit of a laugh.

And let’s not forget this is the same game shooting industry that is responsible for the vast majority of illegal raptor persecution, done, it says, to protect gamebirds. That’ll be the gamebirds that are shot and then dumped, with no respect for the quarry and no respect for the local residents who’ll have to foot the bill to have the carcasses removed.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph in November 2005 headed ‘Game birds for eating not dumping’, Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance said this:

Every bird shot in Britain goes into the food chain, whether into participants’ freezers, or through game dealers into an increasing number of supermarkets, butchers, pubs and restaurants“.

That statement wasn’t true in 2005 and nor is it true 15 years later in 2020, despite the game shooting industry’s extensive (but flawed, e.g. see here) PR efforts to persuade the public that everything that’s killed is done ethically and sustainably.

Last year DEFRA admitted, after a legal challenge by Wild Justice, that gamebird releases need to be assessed properly for their potential ecological damage to protected nature conservation sites. As the clock counts down to more gamebird releases this year and with no indication that DEFRA will sort itself out in time, Wild Justice is preparing to re-visit the legal challenge.


JOB VACANCY: Sea Eagle Project Officer, Scotland

A rare and exciting opportunity to work with white-tailed eagles in Scotland on a six month full time contract as the RSPB’s Sea Eagle Project Officer in East Scotland.

[Photo by SakerTours]

The salary’s rubbish but nobody works in conservation to make a mint: £19,602-£21,236 pro rata.

Closing date for applications: 16 February 2020

Interview date: 27 February 2020

Job runs April – September 2020

For more details and application forms please click here



Buzzard found shot in Northumberland

An injured buzzard was found by a member of the public near Acklington, Northumberland on 4 January 2020. It was grounded by the entrance to the Rigg & Furrow Brewery at Acklington Park Farm.

It was transferred to Blyth Wildlife Rescue where x-rays revealed shotgun pellets in both wings. The location of the shooting is unknown.

[Photos via Jane Hardy]

The buzzard is still undergoing treatment and assessment at the rescue centre.



Kestrel found shot in Huddersfield

A kestrel was found shot in the Hade Edge area of Huddersfield, Yorkshire on Saturday 18th January 2020. It has been rescued and is currently undergoing treatment at Meltham Wildlife Rescue.

[Photos from West Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer PC Newsome, on Twitter as @WYP_CNewsome]

Well done to this police wildlife crime officer for getting the news out so quickly. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police on Tel 101 and quote reference #13200032608.

You have to wonder what sort of moron takes a shot at a kestrel. Sadly it’s not the first – see here, here, here, here and here and it most definitely won’t be the last.


Countryside Alliance in vindictive attack on police chief’s integrity

If you want an example of desperate, nasty vindictiveness, then look no further than this piece from the Countryside Alliance and Daily Mail, who have gone after Chief Inspector Lou Hubble (Head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit) for participating in the spoof rap video we posted here on Xmas Eve (see here).

The headline itself provides a wonderful insight in to the mind of a Daily Mail ‘journalist’ –

EXCLUSIVE – that’s because no other self-respecting newspaper would touch this ridiculous story

TOP FEMALE POLICE CHIEF – what’s her gender got to do with anything?

SPARKS FURY FROM COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE – an organisation that gets off on killing wildlife is ‘furious’ about a spoof rap video?

BY PERFORMING X-RATED RAP SONG – x-rated? Good grief

DRESSED AS TINIE TEMPAH – er, no, she was dressed as Police Supt Nick Lyall in an exaggerated spoof of his infamous red rapper coat

WITH AN ANTI-HUNT EXTREMIST – er, any evidence of this so called ‘anti hunt extremism’? Of course not.

BY HOUSE OF COMMONS – watch out, terror alert, there’s an ‘extremist’ dancing (badly) across the river from the Parliament building.

And if the headline hasn’t got you guffawing then the main article will….

A thick fake gold chain hanging around her neck with a large dollar sign on it completes the high-ranking officer’s unusual edgy, urban look


At one stage, the Chief Inspector holds her fingers in the air and then runs them down her face as she menacingly stares into the camera


She is also seen rubbing her fingers as if she is counting money before going on to spread her arms wide’


In another part, the officer and Dr Tingay hold up £10 notes as the words to the song go: ‘Trying to change a tenner to a hundred grand.’ They are then filmed tossing the notes away‘.

Seriously, this would be laughable if there wasn’t a more sinister motive behind this attack, and yes, we agree with Mark Avery that this is very clearly an attack.

It’s not about Lou Hubble featuring in a light hearted spoof video, with a load of partner organisations (including BASC, one of whose staff members was quite happy to don the red coat and bust some rap moves as a friendly way of showing support for Supt Nick Lyall). No, in our view this is about the Countryside Alliance exploiting an opportunity to try and undermine Lou Hubble’s integrity simply because she’s been working hard, along with Nick Lyall, to try and tackle the illegal killing of raptors by the game shooting industry.

Remember the attack on Nick Lyall’s integrity last year (see here)? Well this is exactly the same, just executed with more force.

This time, a formal complaint has been lodged about Lou and as a result she is now under formal investigation.

What utter bastards.

Lou Hubble has more integrity in her little fingernail than the Countryside Alliance could ever hope to achieve. She’s dedicated her career to tackling wildlife crime and has worked exceptionally hard since taking on the role of Head of the NWCU. Part of her responsibility has been to develop effective partnership-working with a whole range of organisations, as is demonstrated by this video, ironically. Attending the Game Fair last year as an invited guest on the BASC stand doesn’t mean she favours that organisation, just as appearing in this tribute video doesn’t indicate that she favours raptor conservationists. It’s pathetic to suggest otherwise.

Lou has approached her role with skill and patience and enthusiasm. As a result we now have a strong working relationship, better than we’ve ever had with any of her predecessors and particularly on the subject of satellite tagged raptors. Lou has put in hours and hours of work, much of it in her own time, to understand satellite tag data, how to interpret the data and comprehend what the data can and can’t tell us, and she’s subsequently facilitated extensive training for other police officers. She’s also put in to place a highly efficient protocol for investigating the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged raptors.

If you’d like to thank Lou for her efforts or would just simply like to show your support in the face of this vicious attack, please consider adding a comment to this blog. Her senior officers will be reading it.


Wild Justice sends legal letter to DEFRA on gamebird releases

Wildlife campaign group Wild Justice has today sent a formal legal letter to the Secretary of State, asking about the apparent lack of action from DEFRA on the need to properly assess the annual release of millions of non-native gamebirds.

The letter is a pre-action protocol letter, which gives DEFRA notice of a proposed claim for judicial review if an adequate response isn’t received by 3rd February 2020.

For background detail and a copy of the letter see the Wild Justice blog here.


Spain continues to impose strong penalties for raptor poisoning

Once again the Spanish authorities are leading the way with their zero tolerance approach to illegal raptor persecution by imposing another meaningful penalty on an individual who was found guilty of poisoning four vultures (one Cinereous and three griffon) with a banned pesticide in 2012.

[A poisoned griffon vulture, photo by Hristo Peshev]

According to this article (roughly translated from Spanish via Google but clear enough to understand the main points), the unnamed criminal was given a six month custodial sentence AND a fine of 36,000 Euros AND was disqualified from hunting for a period of two years.

It’s not clear why it took so long for the case to come to court but previous cases have shown the Spanish authorities go to great lengths to find supportive evidence in these poisoning cases (e.g. seeking court warrants to collect blood samples from 150 sheep to link to a poisoned bait! – see here) and the routine use of sniffer dogs to detect traces of poisoned baits or poisoned victims. These extended investigations are not currently possible in the UK because there is a time bar on when proceedings must begin after a wildlife crime has been committed (three years in Scotland, two years in England & Wales).

This isn’t the first time that the Spanish authorities have come down hard on raptor poisoners. We’ve blogged about three previous cases (here here and here) where custodial sentences, massive fines and an extended disqualification from hunting have all been part of the sentencing package. Spain is putting the UK to shame.

However, things may soon be changing in Scotland. With the proposed new penalties for wildlife crime (including a substantial increase for many raptor persecution offences) currently going through the Parliamentary process it hopefully won’t be long before the Scottish courts will have the ability, and desire, to impose lengthy custodial sentences and massive fines on those found guilty of killing raptors.

It would be helpful if, like in Spain, there was also the option to disqualify the criminal (and his/her employing estate, if appropriate) from ‘hunting’ for a period of time commensurate with the offence(s). Of course, for this to happen we need to see the Scottish Government finally commit to introducing a licensing scheme for game bird shooting, starting with driven grouse shooting where much of the criminality is embedded.

We await the Government’s response to the Werritty Review with great interest.

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