Posts Tagged ‘barn owl


Buzzard shot dead in Dorset

RSPB press release (23 July 2018):


A shot buzzard and dead barn owl spark concerns of a local persecution problem

Dorset Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a dead buzzard and a dead barn owl were found near Melplash, Dorset in May 2018.

[Photo of the shot buzzard via RSPB]

The buzzard was taken to a nearby vets, where an X-ray revealed the presence of a piece of shot in the bird’s skull, which is believed to be the cause of death. A barn owl was also found dead in suspicious circumstances under its nest box, though the body was too decomposed to determine cause of death. Sadly there are also previous reports of another dead barn owl and a number of dead buzzards in this area, though the bodies were not recovered for testing.

Local enquiries by Dorset Police have not uncovered any leads so far, and they are appealing to the public for information.

Birds of prey and owls are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them. Anyone found to have shot or killed these birds faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Tony Whitehead from RSPB South West Regional Office said: “The deliberate persecution of birds of prey is not only brutal but illegal. Raptors are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, not to mention a glorious sight to see. We are grateful to the member of the public who took the trouble to report these incidents and we urge anyone with information to come forward.”

The illegal persecution of birds of prey is a widespread and unrelenting problem which continues to affect the conservation status of some raptor species in the UK. As a result, the RSPB has set up a confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ to give whistleblowers a chance to speak out in confidence and help end this culture of criminality.

Claire Dinsdale of Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team said: “Raptor persecution is one of the UK Wildlife Crime Priorities which includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance. There is a clear responsibility with legitimate firearm users to accurately identify the species before any shot is taken. It is totally unacceptable to act outside the law and shoot these protected birds. I would urge anyone with any information to speak to us or the RSPB in confidence.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, please call Dorset Police online in confidence at and quote reference 55180073229. Or contact the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

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



Barn owl with horrific injuries found in North Yorkshire

A barn owl with horrific injuries has been found near Marishes in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.

According to expert raptor rehabilitator Jean Thorpe, the barn owl was found close to death. It had suffered two broken legs and its injuries were consistent with having been caught in a spring trap. Jean believes the owl had been released from the trap and then left to die a lingering death, unable to hunt with badly infected wounds.

The owl was taken to Jean’s wildlife centre but died shortly after arrival.

This area is a notorious raptor persecution blackspot. Spring traps are only legal if they are set within either a natural or artifical tunnel to prevent non-target species getting caught in the trap’s jaws.

Anybody with any information about this horrific case please contact Wildlife Police Officer Jez Walmsley at Malton Police Station (Tel: 101).

Photos by Jean Thorpe. Map by RPUK.


Barn owl shot dead

shot barn owl leicester paul riddleA barn owl has been shot dead in Leicester over the Xmas period.

It was found in an out building with bloodied chest feathers. A veterinary x-ray revealed three shot gun pellets embedded in its torso.

Full details on Paul Riddle’s blog here.

Thanks to @emilyjoachim for the info.


Barn owl shot, red kite poisoned

Cheshire Consabulary logoCheshire Constabulary are appealing for information after a series of wildlife crimes, including the shooting of a barn owl, swan and heron, and the suspected poisoning of a red kite.

The crimes took place at Risley Moss Nature Reserve in Warrington, Cheshire, “in recent weeks”.

No further details available.

Article in the Warrington Guardian here.


North Yorks still worst place for raptor persecution in 2012

Bowland Betty2The RSPB has published its 2012 Birdcrime report documenting bird persecution throughout the UK.

North Yorkshire has once again come top of the league for the number of reported crimes against birds of prey (34), with Aberdeenshire a close second with 31 reported incidents. Both counties, of course, include large areas of land used for driven grouse shooting.

The 2012 report includes statistics that are all too familiar: confirmed shootings of short-eared owls, sparrowhawks, buzzards, barn owls, tawny owls, hen harriers, golden eagles, marsh harriers, and peregrines; confirmed nest destruction of peregrines, goshawks and barn owls; confirmed illegal spring-trapping of buzzards, golden eagle and peregrine; other types of illegal trapping (including crow cage traps) of sparrowhawks, tawny owls, buzzards and goshawks; and the confirmed illegal poisoning of ravens, red kites, buzzards, golden eagles, marsh harriers, peregrines, cats and dogs.

Remember, these are just the confirmed incidents. Plenty more ‘probable’ and ‘unconfirmed’ cases, and of course there are all the incidents that went undiscovered/unreported.

Does that sound to you like the game-shooting industry is cleaning up its act?

Well done to the RSPB for their meticulous work and especially for their willingness to share these data with the general public.

RSPB press release here

Download the RSPB’s 2012 Birdcrime report here

The photograph shows the shot hen harrier Bowland Betty, found on a North Yorkshire grouse moor in 2012. Nobody has been brought to justice for her death.


Persecution case dropped as alleged raptor killer dies

Barn Owl Miles HerbertLast month we blogged about Robert Simpson, a 66-year-old from Cleghorn in South Lanarkshire who was facing three charges of alleged wildlife crime, including the illegal trapping and killing of a barn owl. His case was continued without plea for four weeks as he was considered too unwell to attend court (see here).

His case was due to re-start at Lanark Sheriff Court yesterday (31st Oct). However, a local reporter has informed us the Fiscal did not call the case yesterday as Mr Simpson has died.

Barn owl photo by Miles Herbert.


Alleged raptor killer too ill for court

Thanks to the reader who sent us a copy of this article from the Lanark Gazette.

Barn Owl press cutting


Peregrine shot, barn owl chick stolen, hen harriers remembered

It’s been quite a day. The so-called ‘Glorious 12th’ has been taken back by the conservationists and re-named Hen Harrier Day, in an inspired move by Alan Tilmouth (read his blog entry here).

Although he only came up with the idea yesterday, Twitter has been alive today with hundreds of people using the #henharrier tag to celebrate these spectacular birds and to express their anger at the virtual extermination of the species on grouse moors across England. Unsurprisingly, the game-shooting organisations were conspicuously absent.

Mark Avery also came up with a plan to help hen harriers. He’s called it BanGS – see here.

Meanwhile, news came through that police in Bolton are appealing for information after an injured and distressed peregrine was found by the side of a road. It had been shot. Full details here.

Elsewhere, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust is appealing for information after a barn owl chick was stolen from the Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve last night. Information here.

In other news, we’ve been having a look at some VERY interesting literature – a copy of the Leadhills Estate gamebook (don’t ask how we got hold of it!!) – which very helpfully documents annual counts of killed ‘vermin’ over a considerable number of decades. ‘Vermin’ in Leadhills-speak includes hawks, badgers, otters, cats and ravens amongst others. It’s fascinating. We’ll be writing more on this in due course…

Leadhills game book vermin lists


news round-up: burned barn owls, shot buzzards & illegal trapping

Police in Merseyside are appealing for information after the charred bodies of six barn owls were discovered in a barn in Moss Lane, Formby. Police believe the owls had been deliberately set on fire. It is not known when they were burned, or whether these were wild or captive owls. Less than half a mile away, the body of a shot buzzard was found. News article in the Liverpool Echo here.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country a joint police/RSPB investigation has started in North Lincolnshire after the discovery of three dead buzzards in the area since October 2011. At least two of them are believed to have been shot. News article in the Grimsby Telegraph here.

In Leicestershire, a previously convicted farmer/part-time gamekeeper, Ivan Peter Crane, has been fined £2,500 (+ costs) after being convicted of using a Larsen trap without an appropriate licence. Crane already had wildlife crime convictions from April 2011, for trying to kill raptors with an illegal pole-trap and also for the illegal and unsafe storage of pesticides (see here). It was because of these earlier convictions that Crane could no longer trap birds on the farm without applying for an individual licence, which he failed to do. Press release from Natural England here.

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