Archive for the 'News' Category



19
May
18

Police appeal after red kite found shot on Harewood Estate, Yorkshire

WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION, 18th May 2018

POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION AFTER YORKSHIRE RED KITE SHOT IN LEEDS

Police are appealing for information after a Yorkshire Red Kite was shot in Leeds.

The incident happened on Thursday 10 May when an injured Red Kite was found by two walkers on a footpath just inside the northern boundary of the Harewood Estate.

They took the bird to the estate office, who arranged for it to be cared for by staff at the Harewood Bird Garden. It had suffered serious injuries and was taken by staff to a nearby veterinary practice for treatment.

X-rays revealed that the bird had been shot and a pellet was lodged in its right wing. The bird was put down by staff at the practice, as its injuries were too severe for it to survive and wouldn’t have been able to fly any distance.

It is believed the shooting occurred close to the entry point of the public footpath into the Harewood Estate from the A659, near to the junction with the A61 at the bottom of Harewood Bank.

West Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses who were in the area and may have seen anything suspicious; to come forward and contact the police to assist with their investigation.

[Red kite, photographer unknown]

In 2016, at around the same time of the year, six Red Kites were known to have been shot in Yorkshire – two in West Yorkshire and four in North Yorkshire.

In all but one of these cases, the injuries proved fatal. Other instances of kites being targeted by firearms, include one fatally shot at Pateley Bridge in 2017 and several which had been victims of illegal poisoning but which had been found to be carrying lead shot from non-fatal shooting incidents.

Ben Lascelles, Development Manager at Harewood Estate, said: “The Harewood Estate works hard to champion conservation of Red Kites and other native wildlife, and many thousands of people visit us each year to enjoy them. To discover one of these majestic birds has been shot is particularly disappointing and upsetting.”

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “Illegal persecution is a real and persistent threat to birds of prey like red kites. They’re a wonderful sight, and the conservation effort to return these birds to our skies has been huge – it is disgraceful that some are spoiling this through their thoughtless and criminal actions.

The RSPB’s new raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101 allows whistle-blowers to come forward confidentially in relation to this type of crime and, given the number of illegally kites in Yorkshire, we hope someone will speak up and reveal who is responsible.”

Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Co-ordinator, said: “This latest attack on the reintroduced Red Kite population is particularly sickening. A lot of hard work has gone into this programme and for someone to strike right at the heart of it, at the actual release site, is both unbelievable and devastating. It once again raises the question of the suitability of some people to own guns.

No fewer than 43 Red Kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution since releases began in Yorkshire in 1999. That 23 of them have been found by people out in the countryside shows the importance of everyone keeping their eyes open for anything untoward and reporting it.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 13180232956. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

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17
May
18

Police appeal after buzzard found shot in North York Moors National Park

APPEAL FOR INFORMATION FROM CLEVELAND POLICE, 17th May 2018:

SHOT RAPTOR APPEAL

At some point on Friday 4th May between 1pm – 6pm a buzzard was shot near to Lockwood Beck Reservoir in East Cleveland.

The buzzard had received serious wounds to its legs and unfortunately had to be put to sleep by a local vet.

We are appealing for anyone who may have been in the area at the time and seen person / persons / vehicles acting suspiciously.

Please contact Police on 101 quoting event no: SE18078559 and for the attention of PC Ward 542

ENDS

Lockwood Beck Reservoir is in the North York Moors National Park:

17
May
18

New podcast: the illegal persecution of satellite-tagged eagles in Scotland

An excellent new podcast is now available on the illegal persecution of satellite-tagged eagles in Scotland.

Charlie Moores (a producer at LUSH) interviews Ian Thomson (RSPB Scotland Head of Investigations) about the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged golden eagles and white-tailed eagles in areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting, and how the raptor killers’ tactics have changed since satellite tags became more commonly used.

Well worth 25 minutes of your time.

Listen to the podcast on the LUSH player HERE

[Ian with Chris Packham holding a picture of satellite-tagged golden eagle Fred who ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances earlier this year, photo by Ruth Tingay]

16
May
18

Good grief, Cairngorms National Park!

For those of us hoping to see a progressive move away from intensive grouse moor management inside the Cairngorms National Park, we may have a long wait.

We’ve just found the following written on the VisitCairngorms website (‘the official website for the Cairngorms National Park’). It’s so bad it could have been written by one of the large grouse-shooting estates……..oh, it was.

Good grief! How the hell did that get approved for publication?

A couple of years ago, Will Boyd Wallis, Head of Land Management & Conservation for the Cairngorms National Park Authority wrote an excellent and encouraging blog about how the Park needed to ‘move with the times’, referring specifically to issues associated with intensive grouse moor management within the Park (well worth a read, see here).

He said, “We need to see practical action and clear demonstration that moorland managers are universally responding to modern needs and demands“.

There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of that response in the VisitCairngorms article with talk of Highland retreats for wealthy owners, killing ‘vermin’ (whatever that is), controlling predators by shooting and trapping, protecting game from poachers, and breeding gamebirds for release in to the wild.

A National Park, long considered a jewel in Scotland’s environmental crown? Or just a private playground for shooting parties, where killing wildlife for fun (‘sport’) is celebrated, even by the Park Authority?

Come on Cairngorms National Park, get a grip on this. There are some fantastic, forward-thinking estates within the Park and there are also many conservation-oriented staff at the CNPA. Remove the website guff about how Victorian-styled gamekeepers are the ‘life blood’ of the Park’s estates and let’s hear more about some of the conservation initiatives that some estates, and CNPA staff, are pushing forward.

UPDATE 17 May 2018: We’ve been asked to clarify that the VisitCairngorms website is not run by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the CNPA has no editorial control. The VisitCairngorms website is run by the Cairngorms Business Partnership (the Chamber of Commerce) on behalf of their business members, and even though the website is adorned with the CNP logo and claims to be the Cairngorms National Park’s ‘official website’, it has its own Board and staff and its views are not neccesarily those of the CNPA. Clear? As mud.

Interestingly, the current Chair of the Cairngorms Business Partnership is Angus McNicol. By coincidence, the Factor of Invercauld Estate is also called Angus McNicol.

15
May
18

Missing sea eagle Blue T: statement from Cairngorms National Park Authority

Following last week’s news that a young satellite-tagged sea eagle (Blue T) had ‘disappeared’ on Invercauld Estate, the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s CEO, Grant Moir, has published a statement:

The frustration is evident and it’s clear that a great deal of thought has gone in to this statement, which is a huge improvement on previous CNPA statements about ‘disappearing’ satellite-tagged raptors in the National Park (e.g. see here), but we wanted to pick up on a few things.

The news that SNH will shortly be launching the next phase of its raptor tracker project is great – any technological developments that might provide more detail about the fate of ‘missing’ satellite-tagged raptors will be warmly welcomed by most (but probably not by the criminals within the grouse-shooting industry).

However, Grant seems to think that knowing exactly where and when a tagged bird was killed will “take the ambiguity away from the situation“. It won’t.

As we’ve blogged before, if the tag/raptor is destroyed on an estate that employs multiple gamekeepers, the issue of identifying the individual culprit(s) will remain, especially if all the staff give the standard ‘no comment’ police interview. There will also be the sometimes plausible argument that the raptor had been shot/poisoned on a neighbouring estate and died just over the boundary of the estate under scrutiny. And as we’ve seen in recent years, even with clear video evidence of an individually identifiable gamekeeper killing a raptor, a successful prosecution is highly unlikely because the Crown Office will declare the evidence inadmissible or will claim it’s not in the public interest to proceed.

Sorry, Grant, but the so-called ‘ambiguity’ will remain – although there’s nothing ambiguous about the robust & statistically significant findings of the golden eagle satellite tag review, which demonstrated a clear relationship between suspicious raptor disappearances and land managed for intensive driven grouse shooting in and around the Cairngorms National Park:

One other thing in Grant’s statement that we wanted to pick up on –

Invercauld Estate is part of the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership and I genuinely do believe that progress has started to be made across a wide range of subjects with the Estates involved……”

Really? What progress is that, then? Any progress on stopping the illegal persecution of raptors?

The East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership was established in December 2015 and comprises six estates working in ‘partnership’ with the CNPA.

The Partnership’s statement of purpose can be read here.

Here are the estates (boundaries sourced from Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website):

  1. Glenlivet Estate. 2. Glenavon Estate. 3. Mar Lodge Estate (National Trust for Scotland). 4. Invercauld Estate. 5. Mar Estate. 6. Balmoral & Birkhall Estate.

Last October, almost two years after this Partnership was established, we wanted to find out what progress had been achieved. We submitted an FoI to the CNPA asking for copies of all correspondence relating to the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership since 1 January 2016.

Here’s the reply we received in November 2017:

We have searched our Corporate Drives for the period as above and we hold no information‘.

Impressive amount of progress, eh?

We do know that in February this year the CNPA was advertising for a part-time East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership Officer, on a decent salary of £28,770 – £34,633 pro rata.

Assuming someone has now been employed in this new position, they’ve certainly got their work cut out in delivering the objectives set out in the Cairngorms National Park Management Plan 2017-2022, which includes improving raptor populations in the National Park. Recent peer-reviewed science has revealed that the local hen harrier population has crashed (here) as has the local peregrine population (here).

Oh, and satellite-tagged hen harriers keep going ‘missing’ in highly suspicious circumstances inside the National Park, just like hen harrier Calluna, as do satellite-tagged eagles such as sea eagle Blue T and golden eagle #338.

National Park or National Disgrace?

15
May
18

Stink pits – the disgusting reality of 21st century grouse moor management

Over the weekend, charities OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland released the following video footage, filmed on a Scottish grouse moor earlier this year.

It shows a ‘stink pit’ (also known as a ‘midden’) which is a pile of rotting animal carcasses (including the corpses of native wildlife and sometimes domestic pets) that are dumped in a heap and surrounded by snares. The putrefying stench from the corpses attracts predators to the pit who are then caught in the snares, killed and thrown on to the pile of death.

WARNING – GRAPHIC FOOTAGE:

This is the grisly reality of how the so-called ‘Custodians of the Countryside’ deal with native wildlife, including inside the boundaries of our National Parks. Snared, trapped, shot, killed and then dumped, like a pile of rubbish.

You have to wonder how this is still legal in the 21st Century, especially given the strict regulations imposed on farmers who generally cannot bury dead livestock unless at certain remote, designated locations. Gamekeepers? They can do what they like, even hanging the corpses of dead foxes over tree branches so their stench can be carried further afield.

We’ve blogged about stink pits before, as have others, e.g. see this blog written last year by OneKind and this article published by The Ferret (but beware, both contain more disturbing photographs).

In May 2017, Christine Grahame MSP (SNP) lodged a Parliamentary motion on the continued use of stink pits on game-shooting estates (see here). Her motion received cross-party support and resulted in a Parliamentary debate, in which Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the use of stink pits would be reviewed as part of the grouse moor management review, which is currently underway.

14
May
18

Case against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin: part 3

Criminal proceedings continued on Friday (11 May 2018) against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin, who is accused of a series of alleged wildlife crimes, including the shooting of two short-eared owls in April 2017 at Whernside, Cumbria in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is further alleged he was in possession of items (a shotgun and an electronic calling device) capable of being used to kill wild birds.

Following a farcical hearing at Preston Magistrates Court in March 2018 (see here), the case was due to be heard last Friday but it was adjourned, again, at the request of the defence.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 2018.

For legal reasons, we won’t be accepting any comments on this post.

 




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