Archive Page 2


Supt Nick Lyall’s plans to tackle raptor crime unaffected by disruptive ploy

Last month we blogged about how several organisations from the game shooting lobby had ‘boycotted’ a meeting of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) in what looked like an attempt to disrupt the plans of the new Chair, Police Supt Nick Lyall (see here, here, here, here).

For the benefit of those not on social media and who may have missed it, Nick Lyall, keeping to his word about being transparent, has now written a blog about that meeting – you can read it here.

We learned a lot from his blog.

We’d always thought the RPPDG was formed in 2011, but it turns out it was actually established in 2009. So that’s ten years, not eight, of doing absolutely nothing effective to help tackle illegal raptor persecution. Marvellous.

We also learned that that the RPPDG is not the English/Welsh equivalent of the PAW Scotland Raptor Group, as we’ve often described it. The RPPDG is much more formal, and importantly, is accountable. That accountability trail is a bit difficult to follow, mainly because of the convoluted hierarchy of the police force and a bewildering number of acronyms to decipher, but the important bit is that the accountability is there.

Coincidentally, we had an enlightening conversation last week with Chief Inspector Lou Hubble of the National Willdife Crime Unit (NWCU) who also did her best to explain the accountability hierarchy – something to do with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which replaced the Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO) and operates through the recently published NPCC Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy with a Tasking & Coordinating Group (TCG) and Priority Delivery Groups (PDG), hence Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG). If that’s inaccurate, blame us, not CI Hubble.

Still following? It’s all a bit dry, and perhaps we’ll invite Lou to write a guest blog to explain it, but she did emphasise that after all these years, this is the first time that the RPPDG can be held to account ‘officially’ and that’s what interests us most.

What else did we learn from Nick’s blog? We noticed the emphasis he’d placed on the word ‘guests‘ when referring to the ‘new’ organisations (Wildlife Trusts, Birders Against Wildlife Crime, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) whose attendance at the meeting had triggered the orchestrated tantrum from the game shooting lobby. We also noticed that the game shooting lobby’s clear attempt at disruption had no such effect, as Nick chaired his way through an agenda that was full of progressive proposals that look like they’ll happen with or without the feet-stamping representatives of the owl-stamping criminals.

If that wasn’t a clear enough message, his penultimate comment definitely was:

Let me close by saying this, the prevention of the ongoing and relentless persecution of OUR birds of prey has swiftly become a matter of real passion for me. Those that attempt to get in our way will just strengthen my resolve to see it end“.

Excellent stuff. Well done, Nick, you have a lot of people supporting and appreciating your efforts.


Dead pheasants dumped in Cheshire

No surprise, another week and another report of dumped gamebirds.

It’s Cheshire this time, to add to the reports of shot birds dumped in the Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here) and Lincolnshire (here).

[Photo by Finn Wilde]

It seems to be a widespread problem, doesn’t it? That’s hardly a surprise when the game shooting industry is permitted to release as many non-native pheasants and red-legged partidge as it likes (estimated to be at least 50 million EVERY YEAR), with minimal regulation, and no requirement to report on what happens to those birds once they’ve been shot for a bit of a laugh.

And let’s not forget this is the same game shooting industry that is responsible for the vast majority of illegal raptor persecution, done, it says, to protect gamebirds. That’ll be the gamebirds that are shot and then dumped, with no respect for the quarry and no respect for the local residents who’ll have to foot the bill to have the caracasses removed.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph in November 2005 headed ‘Game birds for eating not dumping’, Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance said this:

Every bird shot in Britain goes into the food chain, whether into participants’ freezers, or through game dealers into an increasing number of supermarkets, butchers, pubs and restaurants“.


Here are some more photos showing the location of the dumped pheasants in Cheshire (photos by Findlay Wilde) and Finn has written a blog about the discovery of these sacks of dead birds on his patch, here. Well worth a read – he says the bags were originally wrapped in carpet, presumably to hide the bags’ contents.



Obituary: Professor Tom Cade

Tom was like no other. Quite simply, a legend.

Here’s a photo of him addressing the crowd at his 90th birthday celebrations last year (photo by The Peregrine Fund)

Here’s a tribute from his colleagues at The Peregrine Fund in the USA:

In memoriam: Tom J Cade PhD


Founding Chairman

On a spring day in 1980, Dr. Tom Cade climbed into a Peregrine Falcon nest box on top of a release tower in Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. Just a couple of years earlier, Tom’s team of biologists and falconers had bred, raised, and released the falcon pair that now raised their own family on this tower. These two birds were part of a nationwide recovery program for the species.

Peregrine Falcon populations had declined drastically in the 1950s and ‘60s due to the widespread use of DDT – a pesticide that interfered with calcium metabolism and caused birds to lay very thin-shelled eggs that would crack during incubation. By 1970, Peregrine Falcons were extinct in the eastern United States and fewer than 40 pairs were estimated to remain in the west. Dr. Cade, an ornithologist and lifelong falconer, was acutely aware of this decline and worked with others across the nation to ban the use of DDT and develop a recovery plan for our nation’s fastest animal.

Tom marked one of the proudest moments of his career atop that tower in the spring of 1980. That’s when he discovered three young nestlings—some of the first Peregrine chicks produced in the wild in eastern North America since the 1950s. Looking back on the day, Tom recalled, “I then understood that recovery of the Peregrine would be an accomplished fact in a few more years.”

He was right. In August of 1999, Tom stood on stage with then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to officially declare that the Peregrine Falcon was recovered in North America and had been removed from the Endangered Species List. To this day, it’s considered among the greatest conservation success stories of all time – Tom would refer to it as an effort of “teamwork and tenacity.”

In saving the Peregrine, Tom co-founded a non-profit conservation organization to effectively manage the financial support being offered by the public. Called The Peregrine Fund, this organization grew to become much more than he originally envisioned, and over the past five decades has worked with more than 100 species in 65 countries worldwide. Many species such as the Mauritius Kestrel, Northern Aplomado Falcon, several species of Asian Vultures, California Condor, and more are thriving today because of work The Peregrine Fund and its many partners have undertaken.

Dr. Tom Cade passed away today at age 91 years.

The world of wildlife conservation has lost a pioneer and champion today,” said The Peregrine Fund’s President and CEO, Dr. Rick Watson. “Tom fought for Peregrines and practical conservation solutions, and mentored generations of passionate individuals. His reach extended around the globe to inspire raptor research and conservation on virtually every continent and on behalf of hundreds of species.”

While we are devastated by his passing, we are uplifted knowing his legacy lives on in this organization, and among his many students, friends, followers, and supporters. We’re grateful Tom continued to travel, write, practice falconry, and visit with the staff up until his last days. His advice, conviction, and gentle presence will be sorely missed.”

Our thoughts are with Tom’s wife and devoted partner, Renetta, and their children and grandchildren in this time of loss.”

Since his first ornithological survey of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea in 1950, Tom’s passion for natural history and his professional career spanned nearly seventy years. It involved teaching at Syracuse University and Cornell Lab of Ornithology in New York, post-doctoral research on desert birds and raptors in southern Africa, starting the Peregrine breeding program at Cornell University, co-founding and leading The Peregrine Fund, and researching the critically endangered Mauritius Kestrel.

The Board and staff of The Peregrine Fund mourn the loss of their co-founder and mentor, one of the world’s most visionary conservationists and widely respected scientists, Professor Tom Cade.



More half-baked half-truths from Shooting Times

Here’s the third distorted news item from the current edition of Shooting Times (we blogged about the first one here and the second one here).

This article is about the coordinated boycotting of last month’s Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) meeting by the Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, BASC and Countryside Alliance. Mark Avery blogged about it (here) and so did we (here, here, here and here) when the gamekeepers formally resigned from the group with the jaw-dropping suggestion that Supt Nick Lyall (the new RPPDG Chair) lacked integrity. The supreme irony of that claim kept us amused for days.

Anyway, back to the Shooting Times and its selective portrayal of events:

Gosh, where to start.

It’s fair enough to include the quote from the Countryside Alliance, although the shooting lobby’s claims about the workings of the RPPDG have previously been found to be misleading, at best:

The RPPDG meetings are not confidential; meeting minutes are subject to disclosure via FoI requests (we have copies of every meeting report except one, so far) and those member organisations supposedly “condemning outcomes to which they agreed in meetings” presumably refers to comments made by RSPB and NERF about the discredited RPPDG raptor persecution maps that were published in 2017. However, NERF has argued that it consistently objected during meetings to how the map data were being presented but that those concerns were consistently ignored by other RPPDG ‘partners’ (e.g. see here) while the RSPB has stated that changes to the pre-agreed press releases were made without the RSPB’s knowledge or consent (see here).

The Shooting Times then goes on to discuss the ‘dispute’ about whether the Moorland Association asked, during an RPPDG meeting, about licenses to kill Marsh harriers (which, incidentally, wasn’t “leaked” at all but became known when RPPDG members were reporting to their members, quite legitimately, on the RPPDG meeting). The Shooting Times article includes Amanda Anderson’s (Moorland Assoc) response of “complete nonsense” but then completely fails to mention that further scrutiny of wider RPPDG correspondence, via a series of FoIs, has revealed that yes, this topic was indeed raised during that RPPDG meeting but every member except two (RSPB & NERF) had apparently ‘forgotten’ about it and subsequent meeting minutes, inaccurate and contested, were still approved by the RPPDG (see here)!!

Half-truths won’t do, Shooting Times, and they certainly don’t fit with the editor’s recent emphasis on “communicating the truth and demanding high standards”.

Still on the subject of alleged ‘leaks’, Shooting Times then suggests that news of the recent boycotted meeting had ‘appeared to have been leaked to a prominent anti-shooting blogger [that’ll be Mark Avery] before being picked up by The Times’. This allegation of leaking is again clearly aimed at the non-shooting RPPDG members, but had the Shooting Times done its homework it would have known that actually, a journalist from The Times knew about this boycott story and was on the phone to lots of people about it BEFORE Mark Avery blogged! Also, it’s worth noting that a copy of the National Gamekeepers Organisation’s formal resignation letter made its way in to the hands of The Times journalist. Now, who do you think sent (‘leaked’) that?!!

This Shooting Times article is looking more and more like an attempted hatchet job but the claims, when scrutinised, simply don’t stack up.

The final part of the Shooting Times article is perhaps the funniest, and is associated with the editor’s bizarre decision to use a photo of Charlie Moores to illustate this piece. Obviously being used as a poster child to represent ‘animal rights activists’ (and all the associated negative imagery of that terminology) and thus to somehow justify the game shooting lobby’s decision to boycott the meeting (or in the NGO’s case, resign), the Shooting Times couldn’t have picked a more inappropriate subject or photo.

Mild-mannered, softly-spoken, considerately thoughtful, naturally reserved and always a gentleman, Charlie Moores is about as far away as possible from being the stereotypical ‘animal rights activist’ many in the shooting lobby like to portray (i.e. ‘masked, violent thugs willing to break the law’)! NB, for the record, this isn’t our definition of an animal rights activist!

Not only that, but the photograph they’ve used was taken at BAWC’s Hen Harrier Day in 2015, shortly after Amanda Anderson (Moorland Assoc) and Andrew Gilruth (GWCT) were warmly welcomed to the event by Chris Packham who encouraged the audience to give them both a round of applause, which we did. Not quite the image of BAWC that would help justify the NGO’s decision to resign from the RPPDG, eh?!

But best and funniest of all, Charlie hasn’t been involved with BAWC since spring 2016 and so had absolutely nothing to do with the RPPDG meeting that was boycotted last month!

The Shooting Times was accurate to state that Charlie had helped set up BAWC way back in the day, but BAWC was NEVER an animal rights campaigning group – it’s mission was then, and still is now, to campaign against wildlife crime. The clue’s in the name, really.

Piss-taking of the Shooting Times’ crap journalism aside, you do have to wonder then, why the game shooting lobby really objects so strongly to BAWC’s involvement with the RPPDG (whose objective is also to, er, tackle illegal raptor persecution) as well as the other newly-added RPPDG members (Wildlife Trusts and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).


Trial continues for (now ex) head gamekeeper of Edradynate Estate

The trial of Edradynate Estate’s former head gamekeeper, David Campbell, continued at Perth Sheriff Court in late January.

David Campbell, 69, denies that between 14 and 16 April 2017 at Edradynate Estate he maliciously damaged game crops by spraying them with an unknown substance which caused them to rot and perish.

At the time of the alleged offences, Campbell was no longer an employee of the estate, having worked there since 1983 but after falling out with the landowner, millionaire city financier Michael Campbell (no relation), his employment was terminated in February 2017. Michael Campbell told the court in November 2018 that he believed his former employee had caused the damage ‘in revenge’ (see here).

[Photo by RPUK]

A write-up of the latest court hearing appeared in the Courier & Advertiser as follows:

A disgruntled gamekeeper made sinister threats about what would happen on a millionaire’s shooting estate after he was replaced, a court has been told.

A witness described how David Campbell made the remarks to him at a drinks party some time before game crops were sabotaged on the estate.

Donnie Calder, 44, said: “The new gamekeeper had been appointed. He had stated that he was going to be putting in a lot of new game crops in various places. To the best I can remember, David said ‘as long as he had breath in his body, game crops would not be grown at Edradynaye Estate’. I didn’t really think much of it. David was bitter. He didn’t want to leave his employment as he enjoyed his job. I just assumed he decided there wasn’t going to be game crops. I don’t know why. He was quite calm. It was a matter of fact thing“.

Mr Calder told the trial at Perth Sheriff Court that he was called to the estate some time later to look at damage which had been done to a section of game crop. He said: “The game crops looked like they had been sprayed with a weed killer of some description. I was asked to look at them with the new keeper. The crops were dead. They didn’t die of natural causes – something had been used to kill them“.

Covert CCTV footage taken at the scene of the damaged crops showed a mystery person making a series of 2am raids to spray them. Estate owner Michael Campbell, 76, said he was sure the man in the video was David Campbell, owing to his “mutton chop” sideburns.

Farmer Andrew Kennedy, 62, said he was aware that the accused was “upset” about having to leave his job. “He had worked there for a long, long time and he was aware it was coming to an end, probably a career end“, he said.

The estate’s new head gamekeeper, Ian Smith, told the trial that the area was one of the best on the estate. He said that the damage would have cost “thousands”.

He told the court that the covert CCTV footage showed a “small” person in a white boiler suit spraying the crops with a backpack sprayer. He said the person, who was filmed during the early hours on two days, appeared to be wearing a head torch and a hood or mask.


The trial will continue in March.

It might seem odd that we’re reporting on this case, and although we can’t explain that decision while this trial is on-going, all will become clear in due course.

PLEASE NOTE: We’re not accepting comments on this case until the trial concludes. Thanks.


Job vacancies x2: Osprey Project Assistant, Birds of Poole Harbour

The charity Birds of Poole Harbour is recruiting for two (paid!) Osprey Project Assistants.


An exceptional opportunity for a keen conservationist to get experience on a landmark Osprey translocation project in Poole Harbour. The role will include husbandry and monitoring of translocated chicks pre and post release.


Birds of Poole Harbour was founded in 2013 with three key objectives in place; to educate and promote bird conservation, preservation and observation in and around the Poole Harbour area.

Ospreys, which feed exclusively on fish, historically bred across the whole of Britain and NW Europe; but populations drastically declined in the Middle Ages and became extinct in England by the mid 1800’s. The five-year project looks to restore Ospreys to their former breeding grounds in the south of England where they used to have the local nickname “Mullet Hawk”. At the same time the project will provide an important stepping stone between breeding populations in Britain and northern France, with the aim of enhancing the long-term survival of the Western European population as a whole. The project is part of a wider conservation recovery plan of Osprey in Western Europe and the Mediterranean region and is being led by Birds of Poole Harbour, Scottish charity ‘The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation’ and local Poole based-business ‘Wildlife Windows’.

Translocation has proved a highly successful means by which to restore ospreys to areas from which they have been lost. The much-admired population at Rutland Water in the East Midlands was established by a pioneering translocation project in the late 1990s and similar work has since taken place in two regions of Spain as well as in Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

This pan-European experience means that the Poole Harbour project, which will involve licensed collection of five/six-week old chicks from healthy, sustainable populations in Scotland, has the best-possible chance of success. Once collected the chicks will be safely brought down to Poole Harbour and held in large holding pens at a confidential site for just two – three weeks to acclimatize to their new home and prepare for their first flights. Once released they will continue to be provided with fresh fish on artificial nests, to replicate normal osprey behaviour, and so are likely to remain around Poole Harbour for a further five-six weeks (the normal post-fledging period) before beginning their long migration to West Africa. During this period the birds will imprint on the area and adopt Poole as their new home.

We are now in the third year of the project and seeking to recruit committed, responsible and diligent individuals to assist in the husbandry and monitoring of the birds during their time here in Poole Harbour.

Duration: 3 months, 1st July –30th Sept 2019

Working Hours: Full-time (40 hours per week) including weekend, early morning and evening hours.

Pay: Pro-rata £17, 000

Reports to: Osprey Project Officer and Head of Science and Operations.

Closing Date: 28th February

Interviews are expected to be held the week beginning 11th March.


The Osprey Project Assistants are expected to assist with:

  • Preparation of Osprey food – cutting fish
  • Feeding of Osprey chicks
  • Monitoring chicks via CCTV
  • Monitoring of fledged chicks using detection of radio transmitter signals and optical equipment
  • Collection of data on food consumption, chick development, behaviour and location
  • Data entry as per data collected above
  • Equipment, site and resources maintenance – cleaning food preparation area, re-stocking supplies
  • Supervision of volunteers

Person Specification

Full training will be provided for this role including food preparation, feeding, behavioural monitoring via CCTV and telemetry (yagi) and data recording.

Attribute Importance
Friendly and outgoing personality Essential
Attention to detail Essential
Dedicated and proactive attitude Essential
Ability to work as a team Essential
Physically fit Essential
Accurate data entry Essential
Volunteer management Desirable
Full clean driving licence and access to own vehicle Essential
Knowledge of animal husbandry or ecology, especially avian Desirable








If you think you could excel in this role, then please email with a CV and cover letter explaining why you think you’re suitable.


Shooting Times fakes conflict between Chris Packham & Royal family

Here’s the second distorted news item from this week’s Shooting Times (we blogged about the first one here and we’ll be blogging about the third, and most perhaps most disingenuous one next).

The editor’s stated emphasis on “communicating the truth and demanding high standards” seems to have fallen upon deaf ears again.

Here’s the article:

This time the unidentified author has come late to the party on Chris Packham’s CBE and his impending visit to the Palace but has regurgitated the crap published by The Telegraph on 22 January where it was suggested that Chris was going to “interrogate” the royals about grouse shooting. We debunked the Telegraph’s fake news at the time (here) but Shooting Times has published a similarly contorted piece, not quite as contrived as the Telegraph’s article but still with an inappropriately distorted headline.

Chris has not ‘taken aim’ at the royals – on the contrary, if you read his interview with the Radio Times he praises the bravery of the two princes for speaking out about mental health and says he intends to use his CBE “to open more doors and have more conversations“, emulating their courage by speaking out about issues that are important to him.

How’s that ‘taking aim’ at the royals?

Shoddy, Shooting Times, very shoddy. And not dissimilar to the alleged ‘dirty tricks’ and smear campaigns levelled against Chris by others from within the game shooting sector.

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