Archive for the 'Persecution Incidents in England' Category



01
Oct
17

Buzzard shot in Hertfordshire

Press release from Hertfordshire Police, 26 September 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Buzzard photo by RPUK

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28
Sep
17

Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper denies killing two peregrines in Bowland

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

The charges read out in court were as follows:

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

Mr Hartley denied all charges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE 10 January 2018: Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 2 (here)

21
Sep
17

Raptor shot in North York Moors National Park

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

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

Hopefully the police will issue a detailed appeal for information.

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

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

06
Sep
17

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

This is hilarious.

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

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

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

What nonsense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hawk & Owl Trust did not respond.

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

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

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

21
Aug
17

Police appeal in suspected peregrine poisoning incident

Press release from Devon & Cornwall Police, 18 August 2017:

POISONED PEREGRINE FALCON: WITNESS APPEAL

Officers are investigating an incident after being contacted by staff at Glendinning Quarry in Ashburton, on Tuesday 15 August, following reports of an injured Peregrine falcon.

The falcon had been located on the floor of the quarry which is home to a breeding pair of Peregrine falcons.

Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crime Officer, PC Josh Marshall, sought that the juvenile Peregrine falcon was given the immediate care it required. However, the bird died the next day.

PC Marshall said: “The initial inspection and condition of the bird strongly suggests that this bird had been poisoned. The bird has now been placed into the Wildlife Investigation scheme administered by Natural England where it will be forensically examined to establish the cause of death and a police investigation has now begun into the incident.

Members of the public are warned that poisons commonly used to commit a crime like this are incredibly toxic to humans and pets. Should any person locate any dead or injured birds they are strongly advised not to touch them or let pets come into contact with them.

Ingestion of these poisons can lead to death. It is incredibly concerning that individuals are using these types of chemicals within public areas that not only kill our wildlife but could also place members of the public, children and their animals into harm’s way.

The area of Ashburton and neighbouring Buckfastleigh is unfortunately a hot spot for poisoning of these birds of prey. Previous incidents at the site are as follows:

2011 – 1 poisoned Peregrine falcon at White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh) Quarry – substance used – Aldicarb and Carbofuran.

2005 – Poisoned bait (racing pigeon) Glendinnings Quarry– substance used Aldicarb. A live bird with clipped wings. Adults missing presumed dead, chicks rescued. Police fitted telemetry device to see if pigeon would relocate but this failed. In Legal Eagle 47, page 5.

2005 – 1 poisoned peregrine and 1 poisoned bait (pigeon) – substance used – Aldicarb, peregrine found on dead pigeon which had wings clipped.

2003 – Two men with a pigeon on a length of string appearing to try and lure peregrines from the top of White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh) Quarry. Police visited site but men had gone.

2000 – 1 poisoned Peregrine, substance used Aldicarb at Glendinnings quarry

2000 – 1 shot Sparrowhawk near Buckfastleigh (it lived).

1992 – 2 dead peregrines at White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh), with pigeon flesh in crop – tested positive for Malathion.

As can been seen from this data, the use of illegal banned poisons are evident and put the public at significant risk. In the 2005 incident, a number of children could have been harmed or potentially worse when the poisoned bait (a racing pigeon) was located wondering around near to a childminders address.

Significantly racing pigeons have been used as the bait for a number incidents both here and nationally and the answer to solving and preventing these poisonings could lie somewhere within a rogue minority of the racing pigeon community.

Peregrine falcons do not differentiate between prey items such as wild pigeons and racing pigeons, this obviously causes conflict with some prize racing pigeons being taken by these birds of prey.

Generally the method used will be to smear the bait with a vasaline type substance containing the poison onto either a live or dead bird. When the Peregrine plucks and eats the bait item the poison is then ingested and kills the bird. The bird dies then endures an excruciating few hours whilst waiting to die.

South West Peregrines, a volunteer group who monitor these birds and others within the South West, have described the incident as ‘abhorrent’.

We are urging members of the local community to come forward with any information they may have that can assist in bringing these offenders to justice”.

Information is handled in the strictest of confidence and can be passed directly to PC Marshall at Joshua.marshall2@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk or by email 101@dc.police.uk or calling 101 quoting log number 0223 180817.

Information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555111 or the charity’s website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Tony Whitehead speaking for RSPB in the South West said: “Peregrines are magnificent and much-loved birds, whose comeback over the past twenty years is a conservation success. However, once again, it appears the peregrines at this site have been deliberately targeted and, it is suspected, poisoned.

Should this prove to be the case, this is outrageous and the criminals must be brought to justice. We are also concerned that, should this again prove to be a poisoning, someone is wantonly placing toxic chemicals in the countryside which can be a danger to both humans and pets.

Someone in the local community must have information about who’s doing this and we urge people to come forward and contact the police. A £1,000 reward has been offered by the RSPB for information that directly leads to the prosecution of the offender.

ENDS

17
Aug
17

Harry didn’t kill Sally

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

15
Aug
17

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




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