Archive for the 'Persecution Incidents in England' Category

10
Oct
17

Yet another buzzard found shot in North Yorkshire

The reputation of North Yorkshire as a raptor persecution hotspot is well known. Here’s yet another victim to add to the long, long list….

This buzzard was found injured at Dunnington (a village to the east of York) on 29 September 2017. It was taken to the vets where an x-ray revealed shotgun pellets lodged in the bird’s head and wing. Based on the extent of its injuries, the bird was euthanised.

Anybody with information about this crime, please contact PC Jez Walmsley at Malton Police Station (Tel. 101).

Images courtesy of Jean Thorpe.

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08
Oct
17

Peregrine found shot in Cambridge

Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a shot peregrine on the outskirts of Cambridge.

The young bird was discovered injured on 18 September 2017 and was reported to the Raptor Foundation. A veterinary x-ray revealed a pellet from an air rifle lodged in its shoulder and a metal fragment also lodged in its wing, preventing the bird from flying. Vets believe the bird could have been shot up to 10-14 days earlier based on its low weight.

Information from the peregrine’s leg ring revealed this bird fledged from a nest on the outskirts of Cambridge earlier this year.

The peregrine is currently receiving expert care at the Raptor Foundation but it’s not yet known whether it will recover sufficiently to be released back to the wild.

PC Alun Bradshaw of Cambridgeshire Police is urging anyone with information to come forward. Tel 101 and use incident reference number CF0539270917.

Media coverage:

Cambridge Independent News here

BBC News here

RSPB Investigations blog here

ITV news here

02
Oct
17

Raptor persecution in Peak District National Park – BBC 1 this evening

Tonight’s BBC’s Inside Out programme will feature an investigation in to raptor persecution that’s taking place in the Peak District National Park.

This is a regional programme (BBC East Midlands) starting at 7.30pm but will be available on iPlayer shortly afterwards (see here).

To coincide with this programme, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has today called the low number of raptors in the National Park “a national disgrace” and blamed activities relating to the driven grouse shooting industry (see BBC news article here).

The article also mentions the footage that we published in April 2016 appearing to show an armed man sitting close to a hen harrier decoy on a National Trust-leased grouse moor within the National Park. This resulted in the National Trust terminating the grouse shooting lease four years early and searching for a new tenant. The National Trust has come under increasing public pressure not to lease the moor for grouse shooting and the campaigners are expected to be included in tonight’s Inside Out programme.

Part of the Peak District National Park (mostly the grouse moors of the Dark Peak area) has been recognised as a raptor persecution hotspot for many years (e.g. see RSPB ‘Peak Malpractice‘ reports here and here). As a result of the ongoing concerns, in 2011 the National Park began hosting a Bird of Prey Initiative where ‘partners’ are supposed to have been ‘collaborating’ to increase bird of prey populations. It has failed miserably. In 2015 it was announced that none of the project targets had been met (here) but that the Iniative was going to continue with “renewed commitment” and “new rigour and energy“. Strangely, we haven’t heard any more results from this so-called partnership initiative since then, although Rhodri Thomas, an ecologist with the Peak District National Park Authority gave a very honest presentation at the Sheffield raptor conference in September 2016. His opening words were:

Has the Initiative worked? Well, we’ve not met the targets that we’d set for 2015, we’ve not met them by a fairly substantial amount in some cases, so I think the answer from that point of view is a fairly clear no“.

Meanwhile, cases of confirmed illegal raptor persecution have continued to emerge (e.g. a shot peregrine that was found critically injured next to a Peak District grouse moor in September 2016. It didn’t survive its injuries).

Don’t forget – BBC 1 (East Midlands) Inside Out tonight at 7.30pm.

Sticking with the Peak District National Park and alleged wildlife crime, did anyone see yesterday’s news that the Crown Prosecution Service has decided there will no charges relating to the alleged snaring of badgers that was filmed by the Hunt Investigation Team on the Moscar Estate earlier this year? Interesting.

Also of interest, to us, was the name of the spokesman for Moscar Estate who was cited in the article: Ian Gregory. Surely not the same Ian Gregory of You Forgot the Birds notoriety?

01
Oct
17

Buzzard shot in Hertfordshire

Press release from Hertfordshire Police, 26 September 2017:

Officers from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Rural Operational Support Team (ROST) are appealing for witnesses and information after a buzzard was found seriously injured.

The bird was found by a member of the public on a track leading off Ledgemore Lane, Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hemstead on Wednesday September 6th 2017.

The bird was recovered and examined by a veterinaty surgeon. It was concluded that the bird had been shot and sadly, due to the severity of its injuries, the animal had to be put to sleep.

PC Simon Tibbett, from ROST, said: “All British wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Therefore it is an offence to shoot a buzzard or interfere with their nests in any way and punishable by a fine or up to six months in jail.

As a bird of prey, buzzard persecution is monitored by DEFRA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit as raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority.

We take wildlife crime very seriously in Hertfordshire and we are keen to trace those responsible for this offence. I would urge anyone with information to please get in touch“.

Jenny Shelton, Investigations Liaisons Officer at the RSPB said, “I think we speak for most people when we say we are angry and saddened to hear that someone has shot this bird. 

Our UK population of buzzards dropped during the 20th century due to unlawful killing, and sadly persecution is still a problem today. If you know anything about this incident, please contact police on 101 or the RSPB Investigations team on 01767-680551“.

Anyone who has witnessed people shooting or carrying hunting rifles in the area, or has any further information, should contact PC Simon Tibbett on Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non-emergency number 101, quoting reference D1/17/7143.

ENDS

Two more buzzard shootings were reported from nearby London Colney in April 2017, both believed to have been shot with an air rifle – see here.

Buzzard photo by RPUK

28
Sep
17

Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper denies killing two peregrines in Bowland

A 34-year old gamekeeper, James Hartley, appeared at Preston Magistrates Court today to face a series of charges relating to the alleged killing of two peregrines on the Bleasdale Estate, Bowland, in April 2016.

The charges read out in court were as follows:

  1. Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  2. Disturb the nesting site of a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally or recklessly disturbed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young, contrary to sections 1(5)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  3. Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  4. Set trap / gin / snare etc to cause injury to wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, set in position a trap which was of such a nature and so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming in to contact with it, contrary to sections 5(1)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act.
  5. Take a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally took a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  6. Possess live / dead Schedule 1 wild bird or its parts. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, had in your possession or control a dead wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(2)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act.
  7. Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a peregrine falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession a firearm which was capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  8. Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 12 April 2016 and 27 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a peregrine falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession hammer, trap and knife which were capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  9. Cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – Animal Welfare Act 2006. On 12 April 2016 and 15 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a peregrine falcon, by an act, namely trapping and leaving for a number of hours, and you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so.

Mr Hartley denied all charges.

The following commentary has been compiled from notes we took during the hearing:

The lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service then summarised the prosecution case. She said the Crown’s case is that the defendant is responsible for the destruction of two birds at their nest site. She said the matter came to light when the RSPB sited a camera within the boundary of Bleasdale Estate to monitor nesting peregrines. The Crown alleges that camera footage captures an individual in a camouflage suit attending the nest site. The individual remained there for a number of minutes setting what is believed to be a trap. The female peregrine is seen to leave the nest and four shotgun discharges are heard and the female does not return. The male peregrine remained at the site all day, believed to be trapped in the device set earlier. Later in the evening a person is seen to attend the nest site and remove something.

She went on to explain that the defendant is the gamekeeper for this particular ‘beat’ on the Bleasdale Estate and during a police search of his property a bag was seized containing a number of tools. A forensic analysis showed that a wooden-handled hammer and an orange-handled knife both contained peregrine DNA. The defendant gave a ‘no comment’ interview.

The defence lawyer, Tim Ryan, told the court that his client did not carry out the offences and is not the person shown in the video footage. He said part of his defence case would be to question the admissibility of video evidence under section 78 of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act.

The next hearing will take place on 11 January 2018 which is expected to deal with legal arguments about the admissibility of video evidence. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, a preliminary trial date was set to begin on 12 February 2018 and is expected to last for five days.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments are welcome but contributors are reminded that the offences are only alleged at this stage and it is up to the court to determine innocence or guilt. Please consider your words carefully as libellous commentary could interfere with the progression of this case! Thanks.

21
Sep
17

Raptor shot in North York Moors National Park

North Yorkshire Police have tweeted about the shooting of a raptor two days ago in the North York Moors National Park:

At the moment there is no further information about the circumstances of this reported incident, the species, the extent of its injuries, and whether it’s alive or dead.

Hopefully the police will issue a detailed appeal for information.

[UPDATE 18.20hrs: Further tweets from the police – the shooting was witnessed by a walker, the bird was thought to be a marsh harrier or a buzzard, the body was not found].

The North York Moors National Park is a well known raptor persecution hotspot, which is no surprise given the extent of driven grouse moors within the Park’s boundary. Earlier this year a buzzard was found in the Park with shotgun injuries (here) and last year another buzzard was found in the Park with horrific injuries caused from being shot and caught in a leg trap (see here).

06
Sep
17

Hawk & Owl Trust still refusing to admit Hen Harrier Rowan was shot

This is hilarious.

In the latest edition of the Hawk & Owl Trust’s members magazine (Peregrine, No 106, Spring/Summer 2017) there’s an article entitled ‘The Hen Harrier – A Controversial Bird‘.

There’s a bit about their 2016 satellite-tagged hen harrier, Rowan:

“Three months after being tagged, Rowan’s satellite data indicated that something was awry. Stephen Murphy, Natural England’s authorised investigator, headed out to ascertain what was wrong. Rowan was dead and in circumstances that justified an autopsy. The findings were passed on to the police. The Hawk & Owl Trust has refrained from any further comment for fear of prejudicing the ongoing investigation”.

What nonsense.

As you’ll recall, Rowan was satellite-tagged by the Hawk & Owl Trust / Natural England at Langholm in 2016. His corpse was discovered, in suspicious circumstances, in Cumbria /Yorkshire Dales National Park in October 2016, shortly before the Westminster debate on banning driven grouse shooting.

press release issued by Cumbria Police (after consultation with Natural England and possibly the Hawk & Owl Trust) stated he was ‘likely to have been shot‘. We questioned that phrasing and a series of FoIs revealed that Cumbria Police had changed their statement from ‘was shot‘ to ‘was likely to have been shot‘. Why did they introduce an element of doubt? Was this a political move?

We asked Cumbria Police and Natural England to publish the post mortem report and the x-ray of Rowan’s corpse – they refused, saying it ‘might affect the course of justice‘. This made us even more suspicious as police forces routinely publish x-rays of shot birds as part of their appeals for information. By not publishing Rowan’s x-ray, it was almost as though they had something to hide.

Then on 3 February 2017, the RSPB published an image of Rowan’s x-ray on their blog. The image was clear: Rowan had suffered gun shot injuries to the leg and metal shot fragments were visible at the fracture site.

Later that day, the Hawk & Owl Trust issued a statement saying ‘the initial post mortem results were not wholly conclusive and further metallurgical tests were required‘.

We asked the Hawk & Owl Trust, several times, who had decided the post mortem results were inconclusive, who had decided that further metallurgical tests were required, had those tests been done, and if so, what were the findings?

The Hawk & Owl Trust did not respond.

So we submitted an FoI to Natural England, who confirmed that further metallurgical tests were not being undertaken.

Meanwhile, in the March edition of the RSPB’s Legal Eagle newsletter, it was stated that ‘the Zoological Society of London post mortem examination, including a radiograph of its fractured left leg, showed the bird’s injuries were entirely consistent with it having been shot‘.

You got that, Hawk & Owl Trust? Rowan was shot and this has been well publicised. This information will in no way ‘prejudice the ongoing investigation‘ because the investigation into this shot raptor, just like pretty much every other investigation in to a shot raptor, is going nowhere, thanks to a wall of silence from the grouse-shooting industry and organisations like the Hawk & Owl Trust propping up that industry with unwarranted encouragement.




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