Archive for the 'Persecution Incidents in England' Category


Harry didn’t kill Sally

The Sun’s take on the news that satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier, Sally, has ‘disappeared’ in Norfolk:


Satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier Sally ‘disappears’ in Norfolk

If it’s not news of a hen harrier being persecuted, or a marsh harrier being persecuted, then it’ll be a Montagu’s harrier.

The RSPB has just published a blog detailing the ‘disappearance’ in Norfolk of satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier ‘Sally’ on 6th August 2017.

Sally was an adult female who had featured on the BBC’s Autumnwatch programme when presenter Martin Hughes-Games was given the privilege of releasing her post tag-fitting in July 2016.

Photos from RSPB

Sally had bred successfully in Norfolk for two years, including raising a brood of three this year. She (along with partner Roger) was one of only four breeding pairs in the UK and the only breeding pair in eastern England.

Her last tag signal came from near Bircham Tofts in Norfolk on the evening of Saturday 5th August 2017. She was reliably seen near her nest site at midday on Sunday 6th August 2017 but the scheduled tag signals from Sunday evening onwards never materialised. Since then, silence.

Sally’s ‘disappearance’ comes almost 3 years to the day when another tagged Montagu’s harrier (called Mo) ‘disappeared‘ in the same area, reported at the time to be on land bordering the Sandringham Estate.

If anyone has any information, please contact Norfolk Police (Tel: 101) and quote ref #12815082017.

UPDATE 17th August 2017: Good coverage in The Sun newspaper here


Grouse shooting industry silent on marsh harrier persecution

Last Thursday (10th August 2017) North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, who had been filmed trying to shoot a nesting Marsh harrier on a Yorkshire grouse moor in May. Some more armed men, still dressed as gamekeepers, were also filmed removing eggs from the Marsh harrier’s nest.

The Police appeal for information about the crimes, and an RSPB blog about the crimes, can be found here. The RSPB’s video footage of the crimes can be viewed here:

Four days on, we were interested to find out what the leading representatives of the grouse shooting industry have had to say about these crimes so we checked the following website news sections:

Moorland Association – nothing

National Gamekeepers Organisation – nothing

Countryside Alliance – nothing

British Association for Shooting & Conservation – nothing

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – nothing

No condemnation of these crimes. No appeals for information about these crimes from within their industry. Just a complete wall of silence. We even asked the Moorland Association whether this grouse moor was a member, and we asked the National Gamekeepers Organisation whether they had any members employed on this grouse moor. The responses? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It’s the same deafening silence that followed the discovery of a poisons cache buried on another North Yorkshire grouse moor (see here).

Isn’t it great to see these ‘partners’ in the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) speaking out and doing their utmost to fight against illegal raptor persecution? It’s yet more evidence that the whole ethos of ‘partnership working’ against raptor persecution is nothing more than a sham.

Actually, how does this collective silence meet with the requirements of being a PAW member?

Let’s look at the PAW mission statement first:

Working in partnership to reduce wildlife crime through prevention and awareness-raising, better regulation, and effective and targeted enforcement‘.

Now let’s look at the PAW objectives:

  • PAW will raise awareness of wildlife legislation and the impacts of wildlife crime
  • PAW will help and advise on wildlife crime and regulatory issues
  • PAW will ensure all wildlife crime is tackled effectively.
  • All PAW members of PAW UK should take action in support of these overarching objectives

How does refusing to comment about raptor persecution crimes meet with any of the PAW objectives?

Some of these PAW members (all of them except the GWCT) are also members of the England & Wales PAW subgroup, the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG). This is the group that DEFRA has identified as being integral to their highly controversial Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. Part of the RPPDG’s role is to provide publicity about raptor persecution, in order ‘to build trust and transparency’. Strange then, that we haven’t found any statement from the RPPDG about the persecution of Marsh harriers on this North Yorkshire grouse moor.

We were interested to read about a few hundred Hunt Saboteurs ‘sabbing’ (disrupting) a couple of grouse shoots this last weekend. As the shooting industry members of the PAW Partnership continue to deliver nothing at all, don’t be surprised to see more of this direct action approach in the months and years ahead.


Video of marsh harrier persecution on North Yorkshire grouse moor

If anybody has been foolish enough to believe any of the grouse shooting industry’s recent propaganda onslaught in the run up to the Inglorious 12th, here’s a shocking reminder of what really goes on.

Press release published today by North Yorkshire Police:


North Yorkshire Police are investigating an incident in which men disturbed a pair of marsh harriers nesting on moorland north of Denton, near Ilkley, in Wharfedale.

In May 2017 a pair of marsh harriers was discovered nesting on moorland forming part of Middleton and Denton moors near the village of Denton in North Yorkshire.

The site was monitored by RSPB investigators who photographed the nest containing five eggs. The adult birds were observed at the nest.

A camera was set up to record activity at the nest site. Video images recorded by the camera show that on 17 May at least two individuals, who appeared to be men, wearing dull, brownish green coloured jackets, traditional country caps, and carrying what looked like shotguns and a brown game bag approached the nest site on six occasions between 12.40pm and 9.30pm. The sound of several shots fired in the vicinity of the nest  were recorded, as was the noise of an engine, believed to be a quad bike. One of the men stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to pick up something from the nest before walking away.

The following day, 18 May, a further visit by a man, similarly attired, along with a green rucksack, was recorded at around 9.40am. This individual stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to remove something from the nest.

An RSPB investigator checked the site on 19 May and discovered the nest had no eggs in it, with no sign of any debris from damaged eggs.

The people shown on the video at the nest site have not been identified. A number of men have been spoken to by police as part of the investigation.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) makes it an offence to take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird. Marsh harriers are a scarce species, listed on schedule 1 of the WCA, and have additional protection. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb birds listed on schedule 1 while they are at, or near, a nest with eggs or young. Marsh harriers are birds of prey and they normally breed in marshes and reed beds. It is unusual to find them breeding in heather on a moor.

PC Bill Hickson, who is investigating the incident, said: “The video evidence provided by the RSPB shows illegal activity around a marsh harrier nest, and the activity shown speaks for itself. The pictures on the video are, unfortunately, too small to produce an image from which any of the individuals shown could be identified.”

Anyone who has any information about the incident or can help identify who was responsible is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police. Telephone 101, choose option 2 and ask for PC 820 Bill Hickson or email


The RSPB has released a copy of the video footage: (make sure the volume is turned up)

The RSPB’s investigations unit has also published a blog about this case, here.

Gosh, who do you think those armed gunmen were? It’s a tricky one.

Here’s a map we’ve created to show the approximate location in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (which also just happens to be a notorious raptor persecution hotspot):

Well done to the RSPB Investigations Team for securing this footage (note: NOT inadmissible evidence) and very well done to North Yorkshire Police for a timely public appeal for information.

If, like us, you’re sick to the back teeth of the illegal persecution of raptors on grouse moors, and you want 10 million people to hear about it, please consider using your social media accounts (twitter & facebook) to sign up to Findlay Wilde’s thunderclap, due to go out at 9.30am on the morning of the Inglorious 12th. At the moment, the social reach of this thunderclap is over 9.5 million people. Let’s get it to ten million. Please sign here.


Police interview man re: shot red kite in Nidderdale

North Yorkshire Police have issued a further appeal for information about the shooting of a red kite in Nidderdale.

The kite was found near Greenhow in Nidderdale on Saturday 11th March 2017 (see here). Since then, a number of rewards have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved. One of these rewards has been offered by local businesses in nearby Pateley Bridge (see here).

Last month North Yorkshire Police interviewed a local man in connection with the incident and now they are appealing again for more information.

PC David Mackay, a Wildlife Crime Officer from the North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force said: “We have had a good response so far from the public to our appeal for information, and I am urging anyone who has not yet come forward to do so now. This lengthy investigation shows that we take bird of prey persecution extremely seriously“.

North Yorkshire Police is being supported in the investigation by the Yorkshire Red Kites group. Doug Simpson, the Yorkshire Red Kite Co-ordinator, said: “I am pleased to hear of the progress made in this case. I would encourage anyone with any information not yet reported to contact the police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer David Mackay: and quote reference number 12170047155. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The grouse moor areas of Nidderdale and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park are well known raptor persecution hotspots. In the last ten years (2007-2017), twenty six red kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution in North Yorkshire (18 poisoned, 8 shot). Twenty two of those red kites were killed in Nidderdale or the National Park. Earlier this year the RSPB wrote a blog about red kite persecution in this region and produced this shocking map:

Well done North Yorkshire Police for persistence with this latest investigation (see press release here).

Red kite photo by Richard Stonier


Peregrine shot in Ipswich – police investigation launched

Suffolk Police are investigating the shooting of a young male peregrine in Ipswich.

The bird, one of four to have fledged this year from the Mill Tower at Ipswich Waterfront, was found alive but in an emaciated condition at the weekend. He was taken to Riversbrook Veterinary Practice where an x-ray revealed he had been shot in the leg. Unfortunately he didn’t survive.

Further details in the Ipswich Star here

Photos by Riversbrook Veterinary Practice


National Trust to receive petition calling for cessation of grouse shooting

Today (Tuesday 25 July 2017) the National Trust will receive a petition calling for the cessation of grouse shooting on one of their moors in the Peak District National Park.

The petition was launched last year by a newly-formed group called Moorland Vision (see website here). It was triggered by a video we posted on this blog in April 2016 showing an armed man sitting close to a decoy hen harrier on a National Trust-owned moor within the National Park (see here). The National Trust had leased the moor to a tenant for grouse shooting and the moor was supposedly one of several within the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative – an ambitious partnership plan to restore raptor populations in the region, which unsurprisingly has so far failed to meet its targets.

That video, filmed by two birdwatchers who had the presence of mind to record their observations, led to a police investigation but unfortunately there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Many readers of this blog (and others) were infuriated by the content of that video and were frustrated by the lack of criminal proceedings. As a result, the National Trust was inundated with emails calling for the Trust to take action.

A few months later, in June 2016, the National Trust surprised us all by announcing it was to terminate the grouse shooting lease four years early (see here). The tenant was given 22 months notice and is due to leave in April 2018. We viewed this as a significant and welcome move by the National Trust, especially as the decision wasn’t based on the outcome of a criminal prosecution, but rather that the Trust had lost faith in the shooting tenant’s commitment to the National Trust’s upland vision, including the restoration of raptor populations. It was a fantastic example of how public opinion and pressure can effect change.

However, other campaigners didn’t think the National Trust had gone far enough. They wanted to see the removal of the shooting tenancy altogether, rather than the Trust’s idea that a new, more enlightened shooting tenant would be installed in 2018.  This is when the campaign group, Moorland Vision, was formed.

For the last year, members of Moorland Vision have run a local campaign to secure petition signatures calling on the National Trust to remove the grouse shooting tenancy from this moor. They’ve collected nearly 5,000 signatures and have the support of fifteen local organisations:

Derbyshire Ornithological Society, Dark Peak Fell Runners, Darley & Nutwood LNR Management Group, Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group, Sutton-in-Ashfield and District Rambling Club, Ogston Bird Club, Derbyshire Mammal Group, Carsington Bird Club, Wessington Green LNR Management Group, Bakewell Bird Study Group, Buxton Ramblers, Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group, Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group, Stanfree Valley Preservation Group, Derby Natural History Society.

Nick Moyes, the founder of Moorland Vision said: “The National Trust is a major conservation organisation and normally does brilliant work in protecting and enhancing our environment. But with clear evidence that moorland management for grouse shooting leads to the killing of birds of prey and almost every other predator – and especially here on its doorstep – you would think the National Trust would have decided immediately that enough is enough. The fact that it did not immediately recognise the opportunity this provides us with to re-wild and restore these moorlands without the well-documented problems associated with grouse moor management is really disappointing. Hence our petition“.

Bob Berzins from the Dark Peak Fell Runners said: “I and my club members see so much harm done by mis-management on the Peak District moorlands. The worst excesses are definitely on privately-owned shooting estates, where intensive burning, track building, predator snaring and shooting is particularly rife. But this is a one off opportunity for the National Trust to say ‘no more’ to management purely for one hobby and to show its true conservation credentials by establishing a proper rewilding project over 8,000 hectares of iconic moorland which would be far better for biodiversity and would create more natural landscapes – just as the Trust is helping to do on the Eastern Moors where the Peak Park banned shooting many decades ago“.

Congratulations to Moorland Vision for all their hard work over the last year. This is a fantastic grass-roots effort and has done much to increase awareness in the local community and beyond. It’ll be interesting to see how the National Trust responds.

Photo of some of the local campaigners (by Moorland Vision)

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 3,204,453 hits


Our recent blog visitors