Archive for the 'Persecution Incidents in England' Category

28
Jul
21

Raptor persecution highlighted in Cumbria magazine

Raising public awareness of ongoing raptor persecution crimes is probably the single, most important thing that just about anybody can do.

You don’t need to be an expert on birds of prey, nor work in the conservation sector, nor to have a massive following on social media. All you need is an understanding that birds of prey are still systematically killed in the UK, almost 70 years after they became protected species, and that this killing most often takes place on land managed for gamebird shooting, where raptors are being poisoned, shot or trapped.

Nobody in their right mind is ever going to support this brutal slaughter, and yet many are still oblivious that it continues in 21st century Britain. Many assume it stopped back in the Victorian era. The more people that know that it still goes on today, the more pressure can be put on politicians to take meaningful action against it.

With this in mind, it’s great to see this opinion piece by Fiona Heslam, published in the August edition of the Cumbria magazine.

Thanks to Jamie Normington (@TLWforCumbria) for sharing it on social media.

09
Jul
21

Pathetic penalty for man who felled active goshawk nest on private estate

Gloucestershire Constabulary has issued a bizarre press release today about the felling of a tree that held an active goshawk nest and how the man who admitted to felling it with a chainsaw ‘had completed a successful restorative justice outcome’ by paying £100 to the RSPB.

Eh? Since when has ‘restorative justice’ been considered an appropriate sanction for felling an active raptor nest? This is supposed to be a national wildlife crime priority! Why wasn’t he charged? In my opinion restorative justice in this case is a massive let off for the offender and the estate – it’s informal, unenforceable and fails to recognise the seriousness of this offence.

[A young goshawk chick in the nest. Photo taken under licence by Ruth Tingay]

Here is the police press release – my commentary on it is below that:

Restorative justice used following tree felling incident which led to destruction of bird nest

A man who unknowingly destroyed a bird of prey nest after cutting down trees has completed a successful restorative justice outcome.

Officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team were called to an estate on the outskirts of Gloucester on Saturday 5 June where it was reported that a tree had been felled causing an active Goshawk Nest to be destroyed.

The man, who is an agricultural labourer, was identified after admitting that he had felled the tree without checking for any bird’s nests.

He attended for a voluntary interview and was ordered to pay a £100 donation to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

A condition was also put into place which allowed Glos Raptors Monitoring Group to access the site so that they can monitor the existing birds of prey, monitor active nests and put cameras up to protect bird of prey habitats.

PC Phil Mawdsley oversaw this saying: “Bird nesting season generally takes place from March to August, however can fall outside of this period and during this time you shouldn’t cut down trees or trim hedges without checking for the presence of birds and it is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to disturb birds or damage their nests and unfortunately this happened after an act of recklessness.

Advice around cutting hedges or trees at this time of year can be found here“.

A spokesperson for the RSPB said: “It appears that this was the only tree in the wood to be felled and then completely removed at a time when it contained an active goshawk nest. Goshawk nests are huge structures and the contents of the nest would be equally obvious.

Goshawks are rare breeding birds and have been subjected to regular persecution through the years, which sadly continues today. To intentionally damage or destroy the active nest of a goshawk, or any wild bird, is against the law. Raptor Persecution is a National Wildlife Crime priority, and the goshawk is a priority species.”

More information on restorative justice in the county can be found here.

ENDS

The press release states that the man claimed to be unaware that the tree held an active goshawk nest. I’m sorry but that is just not credible. This guy is a forester. Anyone who’s spent any time in a wood with an active goshawk nest in the breeding season cannot fail to notice it, and if you’re a forester that spends most days out amongst the trees, there should be absolutely no way you’d miss it. They are huge structures, the ground underneath is littered with white splash and prey remains, and the breeding adults are very, very, very vocal when they alarm call. This is not a cryptic species that cowers down and maintains silence by playing dead when under threat. I would argue that it would be virtually impossible to stand next to the nest tree, fell it with a chainsaw and remove the trunk and all the branches without noticing there was an active goshawk nest in it.

Here is a classic example of a goshawk nest [Photo taken under licence by Ruth Tingay]

I think it’s also interesting to compare Gloucestershire Constabulary’s approach to this crime with that of North Wales Police earlier this year when an active osprey nest was felled with a chainsaw on a nature reserve. The police in that case were, quite rightly, all over the press saying ‘Ospreys are a very rare, highly protected schedule 1 bird – the greatest protection in the UK. We’re pulling all the stops out to try and catch the person or persons responsible for this. Believe me they will receive the full force of the law if we do catch them‘ (see here).

Well, the goshawk is also a very rare, highly protected schedule 1 bird – the greatest protection in the UK. So why this inconsistent approach between police forces to dealing with an offender, especially when in the goshawk case the man who felled the tree has been identified? Is it because goshawks aren’t viewed as being as ‘popular’ as ospreys? Is it because the goshawk nest tree was felled on a private estate (I’m guessing an estate that shoots gamebirds and doesn’t want a pesky goshawk hanging out near the poult release pens)?

The RSPB’s quote in the police press release is quite damning. It is clear that the RSPB Investigations Team doesn’t accept the ridiculous explanation that the forester was ‘unaware’ of the goshawk nest in the tree and they also highlight that this tree was apparently the only one felled in the wood. It’s reminiscent of the felling of the white-tailed eagle nest on Invermark Estate in the Angus Glens a few years ago (here).

The only positive thing about this case is that Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group now have access to the estate to monitor any other raptors that may be present. From the wording of the police press release, this access seems to be ‘a condition’ of the restorative justice process, although whether that’s enforceable if the estate decides to be uncooperative, who knows.

29
Jun
21

Shot peregrine successfully rehabbed and released back to wild

In May this year an eight-year-old female peregrine was found injured in the grounds of Selby Abbey suffering from being shot with a shotgun (see here).

North Yorkshire Police appealed for information and the peregrine was treated by specialist vets at Battle Flatts before being taken in to the expert care of the remarkable Jean Thorpe at Ryedale Wildlife Rescue.

One month on, the peregrine has recovered and has been successfully released back in to the wild at the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve:

Massive kudos and thanks to Jean and to the vets at Battle Flatts who are dealing with these victims time and time again. Some of the birds’ injuries are too severe for any hope of recovery but every now and then this dedicated team gets a win, like this one. All credit to them.

North Yorkshire Police are still investigating the circumstances of this latest crime (injured peregrine found 7th May 2021). If you have any information about this incident please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting ref: 12210119786, or if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

11
Jun
21

Police investigating Swinton Estate for alleged hen harrier disturbance

The Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire is once again the focus of a police investigation in to alleged wildlife crime.

This time the investigation hasn’t been triggered by the discovery of a shot hen harrier corpse or two on the Swinton grouse moors (see here and here), nor on the use of illegally-set traps (see here) and nor by reports of an armed man walking through a known hen harrier roost at dusk (see here).

No, this time it’s been triggered after a recent Freedom of Information request revealed the estate did not have a licence when one of its employees was filmed allegedly disturbing an active hen harrier nest earlier this spring.

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

You might recall I first blogged about this incident in April 2021, after footage was sent to me of two individuals who had been observed visiting an active hen harrier nest on the estate, and just prior to that had been observed placing out food nearby for the breeding adults as part of a diversionary feeding scheme (see here). It was claimed that one individual was a Swinton Estate employee and the other one was a Natural England employee.

There were questions to be answered about why the estate was apparently providing diversionary food so early on in the breeding cycle (incubation stage) when the licence permitting diversionary feeding is very clear that this is only permissible once the chicks have hatched (see info here).

So I submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests to Natural England, which were met with NE’s standard unhelpfulness and obfuscation, e.g. telling me, after 20 working days had passed, that they needed an additional 20 working days to provide a copy of one licence return because apparently asking for this was unduly ‘complex’ (see here)!! I’ll come back to that particular aspect of this story in a separate blog because I now have a copy of the licence return and it’s quite interesting in itself.

At the same time as lodging the FoI requests, I also asked Natural England whether they were taking any enforcement action against the estate for allegedly breaching the terms of the diversionary feeding licence (known as a CL25 licence) – see here and here for previous correspondence.

To be fair, the Enforcement section of Natural England has been much more helpful and open than the FoI department. It’s been quite refreshing. Anyway, to cut a long story short, after chasing them for a while I received an email from the Enforcement team the other evening and to my surprise, this is what it said:

So, to clarify, Swinton Estate did not have a diversionary feeding licence in 2021 when one of its employees was observed allegedly providing diversionary food for hen harriers on the estate.

This means that technically there has not been a breach of the CL25 licence, because a licence hadn’t been issued. Therefore, Natural England are not in a position to take enforcement action and the case has instead been passed to North Yorkshire Police for investigation in to alleged offences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

I have spoken briefly with a spokesperson at North Yorkshire Police who has confirmed an investigation has opened.

This is going to be really very interesting on all sorts of levels and for all sorts of reasons.

Not least because Swinton Estate is owned by Lord Masham, Mark Cunliffe Lister, who also happens to be the latest Chairman of the Moorland Association, the grouse moor owners’ lobby group in England.

But perhaps of most interest, I’m told that Natural England’s insane hen harrier brood meddling scheme has been undertaken on Swinton Estate in previous years and is apparently set/approved to have chicks removed again this year. How does that work, then, if the estate is under police investigation for alleged wildlife crime?

Ah, that’s right, it makes no difference whatsoever to Natural England’s sham conservation project – as we’ve seen previously on another estate, a police investigation in to alleged wildlife crime doesn’t stop NE from issuing a brood meddling licence and partnering with said estate (e.g. see here).

I’m pretty sure that Mark Avery, and perhaps even the RSPB, may have something to say about these latest revelations in relation to their respective legal challenges against hen harrier brood meddling. I’m pretty sure that the evidence uncovered so far suggests that NE’s so-called ‘rigorous scientific trial’ is not so rigorous after all – and that surely invalidates the so-called ‘research’? Let’s see.

More on this case, and on Swinton’s diversionary feeding licences from previous years, shortly….

UPDATE 14th June 2021: Natural England quietly alters terms of diversionary feeding licence (and hopes we won’t notice) (here)

20
May
21

Peregrine found critically injured with shotgun injuries in North Yorkshire

Press statement from North Yorkshire Police (20th May 2021)

Police appeal for information after peregrine falcon found shot near Selby Abbey

On 7 May 2021, an 8 year old female peregrine falcon was discovered in the grounds of Selby Abbey with injuries which meant she was unable to fly.

[Photograph from North Yorkshire Police]

The peregrine was rescued and x-rayed by a local falconry specialist vet, Mark Naguib, who found a number of shotgun pellets throughout the bird’s body. The peregrine is ringed by the British Ornithology Trust so was able to be traced back to being released as a chick near Newark eight years ago.

The peregrine falcon is now in the expert care of local wildlife rehabilitator, Jean Thorpe, who will give her the best possible chance of making a recovery.

[X-ray from North Yorkshire Police]

North Yorkshire Police Constable Sarah Ward said:

“Peregrine falcons are a protected schedule one species and it is shocking that anyone would target one in this cruel and callous way.

“Our county should be a haven for birds of prey and this type of cruelty will not be tolerated.

“If anyone has information about this worrying incident please get in touch and report to us. You can either call 101 or if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

RSPB Investigations Officer, Jack Ashton-Booth said:

“We are appalled at this deliberate and illegal attack on a protected peregrine falcon. The bird was riddled with shot, including one piece lodged in its head. Incredibly, it is still alive but it’s touch and go.

“We urge anyone with information to contact North Yorkshire Police immediately. Alternatively, if you wish to speak out in confidence, please don’t hesitate to call our Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

“Peregrines are incredibly good at adapting and are increasingly living alongside us in our towns and cities, and are a joy to see nesting on tall buildings like cathedrals. Nature is in trouble, and we must embrace it or risk losing it.”

If you have any information about this incident please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting ref: 12210119786.

ENDS

UPDATE 29th June 2021: Shot peregrine successfully rehabbed and released back to wild (here)

18
May
21

56 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018

For anyone who still wants to pretend that the grouse shooting industry isn’t responsible for the systematic extermination of hen harriers on grouse moors across the UK, here’s the latest catalogue of crime that suggests otherwise.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Just 19 days ago, this list totalled 53 hen harriers, all either confirmed to have been illegally killed or to have ‘disappeared’, most of them on or next to driven grouse moors.

They disappear in the same way political dissidents in authoritarian dictatorships have disappeared” (Stephen Barlow, 22 January 2021).

Today the list has been updated to include the most recently reported three victims: one male hen harrier that vanished from its breeding attempt on the RSPB’s Geltsdale Reserve in 2020 and two more from the same site that yesterday the police reported as ‘missing in suspicious circumstances’ (see here).

The RSPB’s Geltsdale Reserve is located in close proximity to a large area managed for driven grouse shooting and breeding males have disappeared from here prior to 2020 and 2021. In fact, raptor persecution incidents in this area, both on and off the reserve, have been reported by the RSPB since at least the mid 1990s and have included the confirmed shooting of a number of hen harriers (i.e. their corpses were found), witnessed reports of attempted hen harrier shootings, including a gamekeeper from a neighbouring estate filmed with a gun stalking a hen harrier on the reserve, at least one confirmed poisoning of a hen harrier and a wide array of other victims including buzzards, peregrines and ravens either shot or poisoned.

The disgraceful national catalogue of illegally killed and ‘missing’ hen harriers will continue to grow – I know of at least one more on-going police investigation which has yet to be publicised.

I’ve been compiling this list only since 2018 because that is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

2018 was also the year that Natural England issued itself with a licence to begin a hen harrier brood meddling trial on grouse moors in northern England. For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA as part of its ludicrous ‘Hen Harrier Action Plan‘ and carried out by Natural England (NE), in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.

Brood meddling has been described as a sort of ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by commentator Stephen Welch:

I don’t get it, I thought the idea of that scheme was some kind of trade off – a gentleman’s agreement that the birds would be left in peace if they were moved from grouse moors at a certain density. It seems that one party is not keeping their side of the bargain“.

With at least 56 hen harriers gone since 2018, I think it’s fair to say that the grouse shooting industry is simply taking the piss. Meanwhile, Natural England pretends that ‘partnership working’ is the way to go.

‘Partnership working’ appears to include authorising the removal of hen harrier chicks from a grouse moor already under investigation by the police for suspected raptor persecution (here) and accepting a £10K bung from representatives of the grouse shooting industry that prevents Natural England from criticising them (see here).

[Cartoon by Gill Lewis]

So here’s the latest gruesome list:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

24 September 2019: Hen harrier Bronwyn ‘disappeared’ near a grouse moor in North Wales (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

23 March 2020: Hen harrier Rosie ‘disappeared’ at an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

day/month unknown: Unnamed male hen harrier breeding on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria ‘disappears’ while away hunting (here)

9 July 2020: Unnamed female hen harrier (#201118) ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed site in Northumberland (here).

25 July 2020: Hen harrier Harriet ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

14 August 2020: Hen harrier Solo ‘disappeared’ in confidential nest area in Lancashire (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

19 September 2020: Hen harrier Harold ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

24 February 2021: Hen harrier Tarras ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Northumberland (here)

12th April 2021: Hen harrier Yarrow ‘disappeared’ near Stockton, County Durham (here)

18 May 2021: Adult male hen harrier ‘disappears’ from its breeding attempt on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria whilst away hunting (here)

18 May 2021: Another adult male hen harrier ‘disappears’ from its breeding attempt on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria whilst away hunting (here)

To be continued……..

18
May
21

Police appeal for information following disappearance of two male hen harriers

Press statement from Cumbria Police (18 May 2021)

Police appeal for information following disappearance of two male hen harriers

Cumbria Police are appealing for information following the disappearance of two male Hen Harriers, in suspicious circumstances from the RSPB reserve at Geltsdale. 

[A male hen harrier. Photo by Graham Catley]

PC Samantha O’Key the forces Wildlife, Rural and Environmental Crime Co-ordinator said,

The two male birds were servicing nests, and as a result both nests have now failed

In 2020 another male bird went missing in suspicious circumstances. The male was servicing two nests and as a result both nests failed. These birds were in good health, in a perfect environment for them to thrive, with plenty of food.  It is highly unlikely that the Harriers have died of natural causes.

Hen Harriers are a Schedule 1 protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and are one of the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey. Cumbria Police will continue to work in partnership with the RSPB and other agencies to protect our wild birds.

We would ask that anyone with any information contact Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.” 

Warden at RSPB Geltsdale, Steve Garnett:

This is devastating news, for hen harriers, for our hard-working team here at RSPB Geltsdale and for everyone who is rooting for a better outcome for these birds.

Each season, the joy of seeing these birds return to breed is always tinged with worry over what might happen to them while they’re hunting beyond the safety of our reserve.  

We can make sure they are safe when they are on our land, but of course, they are free to range more widely and we know that not everyone has the best interests of these birds in mind.  Hen harriers are illegally killed every year, so we are bound to view these disappearances as suspicious.  

Anyone with information can contact the RSPB in confidence on our raptor persecution hotline (0300 999 0101) and we will support the police in any way we can.”

ENDS

UPDATE 19th May 2021: 56 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018 (here)

12
May
21

Warwickshire Police investigate death of red kite

Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team published the following statement on Facebook on 7th May 2021:

Wildlife Crime Officers from the Rural Crime Team are investigating the death of a Red Kite discovered in a field near to Caldecote Lane, Nuneaton on Wednesday 28th April. Raptor Persecution is one of the National Wildlife Crime Units priorities in the UK. Red Kites were on the verge of extinction following decades of persecution in this country. The last few decades have seen their numbers grow and re establish themselves. They are protected under the Countryside and Wildlife act and it is an offence to intentionly [sic] kill or injure them. If you have any information surrounding the incident please contact Warwickshire Police quoting incident number 0140 of 28th April 2021.

It’s a pretty vague statement. The only part that relates to this particular incident, if there even is an incident, is: ‘…..death of a Red Kite discovered in a field near to Caledcote Lane…’.

There’s no indication from this statement that its death was at all suspicious, but presumably there was some indication at the scene that this wasn’t a natural death.

The story has been picked up by a few local newspapers but I haven’t been able to find out any more detail and couldn’t see any statement or appeal for information on the Warwickshire Police website.

UPDATE: There are rumours on social media that the kite had suffered shotgun injuries but this detail has not yet been confirmed by the police.

07
May
21

Police appeal as peregrines believed to have been poisoned again at notorious Shropshire blackspot

Press release from West Mercia Police (6th May 2021)

Appeal following protected bird deaths

On the morning of Saturday 1 May, officers received information that a female peregrine had been found dead on the hillside below the nest near to Clee Hill Quarry.

PC Grant said: “The body was recovered together with a pigeon that had been used as bait. The male bird has not been found, but is also believed to have been killed. The baited pigeon at the scene indicates that poison was used to kill both birds. The incident is currently under investigation by both West Mercia Police and RSPB Investigations.

[This is a photograph of another peregrine found poisoned at this site in 2017 (see here). Photo by RSPB]

Peregrine Falcons are specifically protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, and the maximum penalty for killing or deliberately injuring a protected species is a fine of £5,000 and six months imprisonment.

We are asking members of the public walking on Clee Hill common with children and pets to be aware and to take care that poison bait may still be around and not to touch any dead animals that they may come across if they do see any such animals or anything suspicious, to please call police.  

If anyone has any information regarding this incident please contact the police on 101 and quote incident number 258i of 1 May 2021 or contact us via our ‘Tell us about’ section on our website.”

If you do have information but don’t feel comfortable speaking to police, you can speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers. It is 100% anonymous, they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call or I.P address. You can contact them online or by calling 0800 555 111.

ENDS

There is also an article in the Shropshire Star (here) about this latest poisoning crime at Clee Hill. It’s well worth a read and includes commentary from John Turner, Chair of the Shropshire Peregrine Group, about the use of tethered pigeons smeared with poison to lure the peregrines and how this has happened over and over again at this site (2010, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2021)…

We are shocked that it’s happened again. The deadly poison being used is a danger to people walking their dogs and to animals in the area and somehow we are going to have to inform Defra to get the place decontaminated as it should not be scattered in the countryside like it has been and is contaminating the moorland where these pigeons were found.

On Wednesday evening another poisoned pigeon was found along with a dead fox which had eaten it.

We know who is responsible, and local people know who is responsible. I urge local residents of Clee Hill to call out the individuals responsible for these crimes, many of whom are well known in the area, and provide the police with information about their criminal activities which are bringing shame to the village.”

 “It [the female peregrine] was found by the site warden on Saturday morning. There was the body of a poisoned pigeon very near the dead female peregrine. The male will have been killed as well but we have not recovered the body yet.

We think this is a repeat of what happened four years ago in 2017. We thought we had put a stop to it. We have had at least a dozen peregrines poisoned since 2010 – we have lost about a quarter of the Shropshire population of about 40 peregrines.

ENDS

In previous poisoning offences at Clee Hill the toxin Diazinon has been used. Suspicion has been laid at the door of the local pigeon racing community but nobody has ever been prosecuted.

Previous blogs on these poisoning crimes here, here, here, here

30
Apr
21

53 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018

For anyone who still wants to pretend that the grouse shooting industry isn’t responsible for the systematic extermination of hen harriers on grouse moors across the UK, here’s the latest catalogue of crime that suggests otherwise.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Just last month, this list totalled 52 hen harriers, all either confirmed to have been illegally killed or to have ‘disappeared’, most of them on or next to driven grouse moors.

They disappear in the same way political dissidents in authoritarian dictatorships have disappeared” (Stephen Barlow, 22 January 2021).

Today the list has been updated to include the latest victim, Yarrow, hatched in 2020, gone by 12th April 2021 (see here).

This disgraceful catalogue will continue to grow – I know of at least one more on-going police investigation which has yet to be publicised.

I’ve been compiling this list only since 2018 because that is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

2018 was also the year that Natural England issued itself with a licence to begin a hen harrier brood meddling trial on grouse moors in northern England. For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA as part of its ludicrous ‘Hen Harrier Action Plan‘ and carried out by Natural England (NE), in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.

Brood meddling has been described as a sort of ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by commentator Stephen Welch:

I don’t get it, I thought the idea of that scheme was some kind of trade off – a gentleman’s agreement that the birds would be left in peace if they were moved from grouse moors at a certain density. It seems that one party is not keeping their side of the bargain“.

With 53 hen harriers gone since 2018, I think it’s fair to say that the grouse shooting industry is simply taking the piss. Meanwhile, Natural England pretends that ‘partnership working’ is the way to go.

‘Partnership working’ appears to include authorising the removal of hen harrier chicks from a grouse moor already under investigation by the police for suspected raptor persecution (here) and accepting a £10K bung from representatives of the grouse shooting industry that prevents Natural England from criticising them (see here).

[Cartoon by Gill Lewis]

So here’s the latest gruesome list:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

24 September 2019: Hen harrier Bronwyn ‘disappeared’ near a grouse moor in North Wales (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

23 March 2020: Hen harrier Rosie ‘disappeared’ at an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

9 July 2020: Unnamed female hen harrier (#201118) ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed site in Northumberland (here).

25 July 2020: Hen harrier Harriet ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

14 August 2020: Hen harrier Solo ‘disappeared’ in confidential nest area in Lancashire (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

19 September 2020: Hen harrier Harold ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

24 February 2021: Hen harrier Tarras ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Northumberland (here)

12th April 2021: Hen harrier Yarrow ‘disappeared’ near Stockton, County Durham (here)

To be continued……..




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