Archive for the 'Persecution Incidents in England' Category

16
Jul
20

Police appeal after goshawk killed on grouse-shooting estate in North York Moors National Park

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (15 July 2020)

Police appeal for information after goshawk killed near Goathland

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information about an incident in which a goshawk appeared to be killed after becoming caught in a cage trap.

Video footage, which was passed on to North Yorkshire Police, shows the bird becoming caught in the trap in the early hours of 2 May 2020. Shortly afterwards, an individual with their face obscured is seen entering the trap and appears to deliberately kill the bird before removing the body in a bag.

The trap was located on Howl Dale Moor near Goathland in the North York Moors National Park.

[The goshawk trapped inside the cage trap prior to being killed, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Jeremy Walmsley, is urging anyone with information to come forward:

The goshawk is one of the most protected species of bird in the UK and it is extremely distressing that an individual would choose to kill any bird of prey. I appeal to anyone with information about this horrific crime to get in touch with the police and help us to find the person responsible for the death of this magnificent bird.

We see far too many incidents of birds of prey killed or injured in North Yorkshire and as a police force we are doing all we can to put a stop to this inhumane and callous crime.”

Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority said:

We are deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century and, despite an improvement in numbers, persecution and habitat loss remain a constant threat to their survival.

Killing or injuring a bird of prey is illegal, cruel and must be prosecuted wherever possible. We are working alongside the police to support them in their investigations and we would strongly urge any witnesses or anyone who has any information to come forward. With your help the offender(s) can be brought to justice.”

A cage trap can be used to catch certain species of birds and is designed to trap birds alive and unharmed, in case of any non-target species becoming caught. Any non-target birds, such as birds of prey, should be released as soon as possible after being caught. Killing a bird of prey is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you have any information which could help this investigation, please call 101 quoting reference: 12200073462 or if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

15
Jul
20

Conservationists fear for safety of Bearded Vulture on notorious Peak District grouse moors

The young Bearded Vulture that has been roosting in the Peak District National Park is causing concern for conservationists who fear for its safety on the notorious grouse moors.

[The young Bearded Vulture, photo by William Bowell]

It just happens to have chosen to hang out in ‘one of the worst 10km squares for raptor persecution in the UK’ according to Mark Thomas of RSPB Investigations (e.g. see here) and there are fears that it could be targeted by ruthless gamekeepers in the run up to the start of the grouse shooting season on 12 August.

Only last month police appealed for information after the discovery of a dying buzzard found inside the National Park (see here). It had suffered horrific gunshot injuries and a post-mortem revealed it had previously been shot but had survived those earlier injuries.

[The vulture has been roosting at an old raven nest site, photo by Tim Birch]

Tim Birch from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been quoted in a number of media articles (e.g. here and here):

It “couldn’t have come to a worse spot in terms of bird of prey persecution” amid fears the vulture could be poisoned or shot. “I don’t think people realise it’s happening in the national park. The bearded vulture is of international importance, so if anything happened to that bird it would bring into sharp focus what is happening here.”

It’s a pretty shocking indictment when a rare bird of prey shows up inside one the country’s most famous national parks and the big story is whether it’ll be left alone or killed.

Fortunately, so far it’s been left alone, presumably because so many birdwatchers have been flocking to see it.

[Birdwatchers viewing the Bearded Vulture, photo by Indy Kiemel Greene]

07
Jul
20

40 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 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).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It was then further updated when we learned that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned that satellite-tagged hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances over a grouse moor in Nairnshire on 26 April 2019 (see here). (Thanks to blog reader Alex Milne for pointing us to this info).

That brings the gruesome tally to 40 hen harriers.

Four Zero.

Forty.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 40:

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants us to stop fitting satellite tags?

26
Jun
20

39 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 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).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers two weeks ago when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). Having just learned yesterday that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here), it’s time to update the death list, which now stands at 39. Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 39:

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants us to stop fitting satellite tags?

25
Jun
20

Natural England silent on suspicious failures of hen harrier breeding attempts

Guy Shorrock from the RSPB Investigations Team published a fascinating blog last week about what he describes as the ‘suspicious failure of two hen harrier nesting attempts near the 2019 brood management site’ (see here).

Unfortunately the locations of these failed nesting attempts are not given, other than them being within 5km of the brood meddled hen harriers, which we believe were on the Swinton Estate in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.

[An un-meddled hen harrier nest, photo by Mark Hamblin]

The circumstances of the two 2019 suspicious nesting failures are a mystery although Guy reports that the RSPB had been told that one of the breeding males had been shot by a gamekeeper from a neighbouring estate, but without evidence this alleged victim can’t be added to the list of 37 other hen harriers that have either been found illegally killed or have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances since 2018 (see here).

What’s interesting about Guy’s blog is that the news of these two nesting attempts which failed in suspicious circumstances wasn’t publicised by Natural England or DEFRA or any of the other supporters of the ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling scheme. Instead we got a public statement from DEFRA and Natural England (here) pretending that the grouse shooting industry had had an epiphany and was now championing the return of the species it had previously attacked to the verge of extinction as a breeding species in England.

Needless to say, several months later we learned that all five of the 2019 brood meddled hen harriers were ‘missing’ presumed dead, and only one of those was considered to have died of natural causes (see here). And we only found out about their fates because we’d chased Natural England for the info.

There’s more to come on what else Natural England has been hiding….

11
Jun
20

37 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 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).

Having just learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks are now ‘missing’ and presumed dead (one, #55147, probably dead from natural causes during a sea crossing so is not classed as ‘suspicious’ but the other four ‘missing’ in highly suspicious circumstances in the UK’s uplands – see here), it’s time to update the death list, which currently stands at 37. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 37:

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)

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

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)

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)

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

To be continued……..

10
Jun
20

No prosecution for shooting of a hen harrier in Bowland

On 18 October 2019 a member of the public witnessed what he believed to be the shooting of an adult male hen harrier near White Syke Hill in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

North Yorkshire Police (whose force area covers that tiny part of Bowland) put out an appeal for information five months later (see here).

A few days later, North Yorkshire Police announced that an arrest had been made in this investigation and the suspect had been released pending the results of a forensic analysis (see here).

[A male hen harrier, photo by Eddie Maguire]

Unfortunately the police have now concluded there is insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.

Inspector Matt Hagen of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force said: “This case is an all too familiar scenario where we have information from a credible source, but unfortunately the evidence is not strong enough to meet the threshold where we would ask the Crown Prosecution Service to make a charging decision, even after the arrest and interview of a suspect.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone with any information regarding any individuals who are involved in raptor persecution to come forward and report it to the police and assure them they will be taken seriously and the matter will be investigated.”

This is a disappointing result, of course, but as many blog readers will know, securing sufficient evidence in these cases is notoriously difficult. Full credit to North Yorkshire Police for giving it a go. This case didn’t fail for lack of effort and at least that suspect will now be on their radar.

As far as we’re aware, North Yorkshire Police are still investigating the alleged shooting of another hen harrier on another Yorkshire grouse moor (see earlier blog here) so fingers crossed for a prosecution on that one.

Now that the Bowland investigation has ended, part of the eyewitness report of the hen harrier being shot and removed from the moor has been published by the RSPB (see here) and it makes for a disturbing read.

09
Jun
20

Essex Police investigate shooting of buzzard last week

A buzzard was shot and killed last week near Weeley, in Essex, according to PC Andy Long on twitter.

We’ve been unable to find any further details about this incident.

We’ve asked PC Long if he can provide more information on date, location, type of gunshot, crime reference etc. Will publish here is any more info emerges.

UPDATE 10 JUNE 2020: PC Andy Long has been in touch this morning (thanks!) and provided the following information:

Crime Ref number: 42/82646/20

Buzzard found 2 June 2020 at Weeley Hall Wood, Clacton Road, Weeley, Essex.

Awaiting x-ray to determine ammunition used.

08
Jun
20

The five brood meddled hen harriers from 2019 are all ‘missing’

At the end of May we blogged about how Natural England had just issued another licence to permit hen harrier brood meddling on grouse moors again this year (see here).

For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA and carried out by Natural England, in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.

[Photo of an UNMEDDLED hen harrier, by Laurie Campbell]

We had a number of concerns about this second licence being issued on 20 May 2020, not least the complete lack of transparency about the fate of the five hen harrier chicks that had been brood meddled in 2019. The last we’d heard three of the five had ‘disappeared’ on grouse moors in northern England in autumn 2019 (here) although then one came back online (here) and it then became apparent that some of the satellite tags used last year were different to the tags used previously and were not as reliable (see here).

On 28 May we asked Natural England for information about the status of these five birds (amongst other things). Natural England Director Rob Cooke has provided the following information to us this afternoon:

So there we have it. All five birds considered to be ‘missing’. One of the disappearances could be attributed to natural causes (#55147, assumed dead during a sea crossing from France to the UK) but the other four all look highly suspicious.

We do know that the GPS Lotek tags have proven to be unreliable on this species (see here) but the longer the tag silence continues, the worse it looks. (We’ve got more info on these tags and will blog separately about the decision to use this particular tag type for this ‘trial’).

[The five brood meddled hen harrier chicks in 2019, now all ‘missing’]

And questions on tag unreliability aside, the ‘missing’ status of these five is hardly a surprise – it’s a pattern that we’ve seen for years, that’s been confirmed by rigorous scientific analysis (of Natural England’s own bloody data, see here) and a pattern that continues even after the grouse shooting industry has the brass neck to pretend that it’s cleaned up its act – 33 ‘missing’ or confirmed killed HH in last two years alone, and that total does not include the brood meddled hen harriers – see here.

What’s more astonishing than anything is the fact that Natural England has issued another brood meddling licence this year, knowing full well the status of last year’s brood meddled birds, and wrote a blog celebrating the so-called ‘success’ of last year’s trial (see here)!

It simply beggars belief.

Last autumn when two of the brood meddled hen harriers were reported as ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances, we asked Natural England what was its exit strategy and when would it pull the plug on this ludicrous five-year ‘trial’ (see here)?

Natural England said it would ‘take in to account the results to date’ when considering whether to issue another licence for this year (see here).

It looks like the results have been taken in to account and summarily dismissed.

Today Mark Avery wrote that he is still waiting to hear about another court date to have his appeal against brood meddling heard (along with the RSPB’s legal challenge). He provides a useful time line of what’s happened to date (see here).

Meanwhile, somewhere on a grouse moor in northern England, a brood of hen harriers will be being targeted (if they haven’t already been taken)……

[Illustration by Gerard Hobley]

 

05
Jun
20

Police appeal for information after buzzard found shot in Peak District National Park

Press release from Greater Manchester Police and RSPB (4 June 2020)

Buzzard found shot twice in Peak District National Park

Greater Manchester Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot near Diggle, in the Peak District National Park, on 11 May 2020.

[The shot buzzard had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

A member of the public found the bird dying on the ground and contacted the RSPB. However it had to be euthanized at a vets the next morning due to the extent of its injuries.

The body of the bird was x-rayed, and found to contain six pieces of lead shot. Further post-mortem analysis revealed that the bird had also been shot at an earlier occasion, but survived.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

However the northern Peak District is a known hotspot for the shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. Nearby In 2018, a climber witnessed a red kite being shot out of the sky near Saddleworth, the same year that a tawny owl and a short-eared owl were found shot near Wessenden Head.

The RSPB’s Investigations Team recently reported a surge of potential and confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution since lockdown. It is believed that the absence of visitors and raptor workers from key parts of the countryside may have served as an invitation to some to increase their efforts to kill birds of prey.

Jack Ashton-Booth, RSPB Investigations Officer, drove the dying bird to the vets. He said:

To hold the body of a bird in your hands that’s been riddled with lead shot, knowing that you probably can’t do anything to save it, is devastating. That is the reality of raptor persecution.

We are grateful to the member of the public who reported this incident. If you find a bird of prey dead or injured in suspicious circumstances, please report it to the police. We’re certain that more birds will be killed than we ever find or hear about.”

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police, said: “Shooting a bird of prey is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and I would appeal to hear from anyone with information.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Greater Manchester Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form here

ENDS

This is the buzzard that was featured in the BBC Look Northwest programme on Weds night (see here)




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