Posts Tagged ‘buzzard

14
Jun
19

Case against Scottish gamekeeper accused of 12 alleged wildlife crimes: trial adjourned

Two years on, and the trial against Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson, who is accused of committing 12 alleged wildlife crimes, has been adjourned before it even started.

Mr Wilson, 60, is accused of shooting two goshawks, four buzzards, a peregrine falcon, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus, between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also faces charges of using a snare likely to cause partial suspension of an animal or drowning, failing to produce snaring records within 21 days when requested to do so by police and no certificate for an air weapon.

We also believe he is accused of the alleged possession of the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Mr Wilson pleaded not guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing in May and his trial was due to begin yesterday (13th June 2019) at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

For reasons unknown to us, the trial has been adjourned. We don’t yet know if it will be rescheduled and if so, when that might be.

Previous blogs about this case: see herehere here  here herehere and here

Please note: we will not be accepting comments on this news item until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.

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13
Jun
19

Two red kites poisoned in south Scotland: tests awaited on third

From BBC Scotland today:

Kirkcudbright red kites were poisoned, tests reveal

Tests have confirmed that two out of three red kites found dead in southern Scotland last month were illegally poisoned. The birds were discovered near Kirkcudbright in early May. Post mortem examinations have shown illegal pesticides were used to kill two of the birds with results on the third still awaited.

[Red kite photo from Scottish Raptor Study Group]

Police said an investigation was ongoing and have asked for help from the public with information.

Det Con Gary Story said they were working closely with the Scottish SPCA and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture. “What we have established is that illegal pesticides have been used to kill two of the birds,” he said. The pesticides identified have been banned in the UK for many years but despite this there would still appear to be those who leave out poisoned bait, whether that is to target crows, foxes, raptors or other wildlife.

The use of such poisoned bait is illegal and totally unacceptable and those responsible should understand that their unlawful activities not only serve to have devastating consequences on their intended targets but also on various other forms of wildlife.”

He said they were “absolutely determined” to put a stop to the deaths and were working with landowners and farmers and RSPB Scotland as part of their investigation.

We have also carried out a number of land searches in the vicinity of where the birds have been located with a view to trying to locate poisoned bait at these locations,” he said. “It is anticipated that further land searches will take place in the near future.”

Scottish SPCA inspector Paul Tuchewicz said two dead red kites had been found within 50 yards of one another near Kirkcudbright on 10 May. “One of the birds had a tracker and we were able to check the last known location of the kite, which was a nest,” he said. “The nest was being used by ravens when we found it. After post mortem, the birds were found to have been poisoned with a banned substance.”

The third bird was found within 100 yards of the same location on 15 May.

A red kite trail in Dumfries and Galloway is reckoned to be worth millions of pounds to the local economy.

A study in 2017 said the Galloway Kite Trail had generated more than £8.2m since it was launched in 2003.

ENDS

These poor kites are the latest victims in a spate of illegal poisonings in south Scotland.

Between January and May 2018 four red kites and buzzards were illegally poisoned in Dumfries & Galloway (see here).

There was also the poisoned peregrine found in the Pentlands in May 2018 (here).

And then in December 2018 a buzzard was found poisoned near Mauchline (here).

Now we learn that at least two red kites have been found poisoned in May 2019 and potentially another one, test results pending.

So much for SNH’s claim in August 2018 that they were “reassured that raptor persecution is not an issue” in this region. Idiots.

It’s good to see strong statements of condemnation from Police Scotland and the SSPCA and confirmation that land searches have taken place and more are anticipated.

Let’s see how Scottish Ministers respond to this news. They said nothing about the recent illegal poisoning of birds in the Cairngorms National Park – are they also going to ignore more poisoning crimes in south Scotland?

12
Jun
19

Buzzard found shot dead in North York Moors National Park

Yet another buzzard has been found shot dead in the North York Moors National Park according to a tweet by the brilliant Jean Thorpe, wildlife rehabber extraordinaire, on 5 June 2019:

“Shotgun shot buzzard Bransdale Moor, North Yorkshire. National Trust land. Any info please to PC Jez Walmsley, Wildlife crime officer Malton. Yet ANOTHER”.

The x-ray is a bit hard to comprehend, although the spine is clear as is at least one shotgun pellet.

We haven’t been able to find out any further information about this crime.

It’s not the first time raptors have been found illegally killed here. In 2010 a shot goshawk was found at Bransdale (see here) and a post mortem reportedly revealed it had also been poisoned (see here).

In 2012 a walker crossing the moorland in Bransdale found a dead sparrowhawk, also reported to have been shot (see here).

The National Trust owns the land in the valley in Bransdale, ‘surrounded by dramatic open moorland’ which has been described elsewhere as ‘the premier grouse shooting estate in the North York Moors area‘ and ‘one of the country’s most prolific grouse moors‘. Obviously it’s not known whether the buzzard was shot on National Trust property, or on the surrounding grouse moors, or even further further afield and then collapsed at Bransdale.

What is known is that this is yet another raptor persecution crime in North Yorkshire, inside the North York Moors National Park.

Why hasn’t this crime been publicised?

29
May
19

Case against Scottish gamekeeper accused of 12 wildlife crimes proceeds to trial

The case against a south Scotland gamekeeper has continued this week with an intermediate diet (a type of court hearing) and he has pleaded not guilty to a number of alleged offences.

Alan Wilson, 60, is accused of shooting two goshawks, four buzzards, a peregrine falcon, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus, between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also faces charges of using a snare likely to cause partial suspension of an animal or drowning, failing to produce snaring records within 21 days when requested to do so by police and no certificate for an air weapon.

We also believe he is accused of the alleged possession of the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Due to Mr Wilson’s not guilty plea, this case will now proceed to trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 13 June 2019.

Previous blogs about this case: see herehere here  here here and here.

Please note: we will not be accepting comments on this news item until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.

25
May
19

Gamekeepers ready to support reintroduction of buzzards to Salisbury Plain

Thanks to the blog reader who sent us this screen grab of a tweet doing the rounds recently (it now appears to have been deleted).

Oh dear. Perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider publishing a link to the RSPB’s very helpful online article ‘How to ID a Hen Harrier’, which includes these useful guides:

And perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider revising its article about hen harrier conservation by publishing the facts about why hen harriers are in a spiral of decline across the UK? (BIG CLUE: GAMEKEEPERS ARE INVOLVED).

Perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the findings of the recent scientific paper which showed that hen harriers are ten times more likely to be killed on grouse moors than any other habitat. Yes, TEN TIMES more likely!

Or perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the recent news that one of the many tagged hen harriers to vanish in suspicious circumstances just happened to vanish less than 20 miles from the proposed ‘reintroduction’ site in Wiltshire, in an area heavily managed by gamekeepers for pheasant and partridge shooting?

Incidentally, on the subject of DEFRA’s outrageous proposal to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England this year, we’ve heard recently that some of our colleagues in Spain have been approached again by Natural England, seeking donor birds, with an apparent assurance that these donor birds won’t go any where near the UK’s upland grouse moors! If this is an accurate report (and we have no reason not to believe it, given the source), it fits in with Natural England’s previous distortions of the truth about hen harrier persecution (we blogged about that here).

The Spanish are not stupid. We’re aware that at least some of those who’ve been approached recognise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support such an ‘assurance’, and besides, Spanish raptor conservationists are well aware of the ongoing killing of hen harriers on UK grouse moors and they consider this southern England reintroduction proposal to be a sham – just a distraction from where the conservation agencies should be focusing their efforts. By all accounts, at least some of them have told Natural England to get lost.

Bravo, Spain!

25
May
19

Brilliant response from North Pennines AONB to illegal buzzard shootings

On Thursday we blogged about two separate wildlife crimes that had occurred recently in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) where two buzzards had been shot – one near Steel and one near Blanchland (see here), an area with a growing reputation for raptor persecution.

[Photo of one of the shot buzzards and an x-ray by Hadrian Vets]

This is an area where the landscape is dominated by grouse moors and we commented on the number of ‘official’ signs in the region offering public information on access rules and warning of ‘dangerous mine or quarry excavations’. We suggested that in addition to these signs, the North Pennines AONB Partnership team might consider putting up other signs, warning the public that they were entering a known raptor persecution hotspot, offering tips on what to look out and providing information about how to report any suspicious activity.

This led to a short discussion on Twitter with the Director of the AONB Partnership, Chris Woodley-Stewart , who told us there weren’t any plans to put up new signs because he “doubted we’d get permission“. Presumably that means permission from the land owners.

It’s difficult to understand why grouse moor owners in a raptor persecution hotspot might not want to encourage members of the public to keep an extra eye out for raptor killers, isn’t it? Aren’t they all supposed to find raptor persecution abhorrent? Aren’t they all supposed to be doing their utmost to fight it? Aren’t they represented by the Moorland Association on the police-led Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)? Isn’t their Moorland Association rep, Amanda Anderson, chomping at the bit looking for ways her members can contribute to the objectives of the RPPDG (e.g. raising awareness about raptor persecution)? Isn’t one of the conditions of being an RPPDG member the need to provide evidence of either proactive or reactive responses to raptor crime? The Moorland Association hasn’t even published a statement on its own website to raise awareness about these latest crimes against two birds of prey. We fully expect RPPDG Chair Nick Lyall to hold the Moorland Association to account at the next RPPDG meeting.

In complete contrast to the Moorland Association’s apparent silence, the North Pennines AONB Partnership (also a member of the RPPDG) has responded brilliantly, and, refusing to be deterred by the constraints of potentially unhelpful private landowners, the Partnership has instead taken the initiative to distribute posters on public land, and deliver leaflets to shops and pubs, alerting the public to the buzzard shootings, appealing for information, and informing people what to do if they suspect raptor crime in their area.

[Photo of a North Pennines AONB Partnership team member posting an appeal for information on a public notice board. Image from @NorthPennAONB]

Not only that, but Chris Woodley-Stewart has written an angry statement that’s been posted on the front page of the North Pennines AONB website, as follows:

BUZZARDS SHOT IN THE NORTH PENNINES AONB

Comment from Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director, North Pennines AONB Partnership

Two buzzards – a protected species – have been shot in the north eastern part of the North Pennines (24th April at Steel, Hexhamshire and 13th May near Blanchland). One bird survived the shooting but its injuries meant it had to be euthanised. But that’s a euphemism – it had to be killed, which was the vile intention of the person who shot it.

We hear a lot (though actually not enough) about the potentially catastrophic long-term declines in our wildlife populations, but buzzards have bucked the trend. There’s been a tremendous eastward recolonisation by buzzards over the past 20 or so years and they are now a daily sight here in the North Pennines, when once they were very scarce. There are around 65,000 pairs of buzzard in the UK now and it’s our most common raptor; I find that a cause for great joy – these are magical birds, for me symbols of freedom and wild places.

We have no idea who killed these birds, though logically it is someone with access to a shotgun. Regardless of who is responsible, or why they did it, this is not merely objectionable, it is a crime and whoever did this is a criminal.

This corner of the North Pennines is gaining a reputation as a raptor crime hotspot, these two buzzard deaths adding to the eight red kites that have been illegally killed in the Muggleswick area (5 miles from Blanchland) since 2010. The killers are breaking the law, tarnishing the reputation of the place they live in and, most importantly, needlessly killing our precious native wildlife.

AONB Partnership staff have been out leafleting the area this morning, putting up posters and giving flyers to shops and pubs, calling for information on the recent crimes. We have written to the relevant Parish Councils today to draw their attention to these incidents. If you have relevant information, you can come forward confidentially and use the RSPB’s Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101 or contact the police on 101, quoting log 722 14/05/19. You can also provide information through www.northumbria.police.uk

Whoever is doing this, for whatever reason, it simply has to stop.

ENDS

The speed with which the AONB Partnership has reacted, and the unequivocal condemnation of these wildlife crimes, including a public acknowledgement of the area’s growing reputation as a raptor persecution hotspot, is to be applauded. This is a first class response, entirely what should be expected of a genuine RPPDG member, determined to play their part in the fight against raptor persecution. Well done to all at the North Pennines AONB.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen clear public condemnation of raptor crime by an AONB being despoiled by ongoing raptor persecution. In recent years we’ve also heard from the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB (here), the Chair of the Bowland AONB (here) as well as the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (here) and the Peak District National Park Authority (here).

Public awareness is growing, the pressure is mounting all the time.

UPDATE 25 May 2019: The second buzzard shooting incident was originally reported as being on 14 May 2019. We’ve now been advised (by North Pennines AONB Director Chris Woodley-Stewart), that the bird was found on 13 May 2019. Text now amended above.

23
May
19

Two buzzards found shot next to grouse moors in North Pennines AONB

Northumbria Police have launched an investigation following the discovery of shot buzzards, in two separate crimes, both close to grouse moors in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Northumbria Police press release (22/5/19):

POLICE INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED AFTER BIRDS OF PREY SHOT IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Officers are investigating after two separate reports of buzzards being shot and killed in the Hexham area.

One incident occurred on April 25, in Steel, Hexham where enquiries established the bird had been shot and injured. It was taken to a Wildlife Sanctuary and subsequently examined by a local vet where it had to be put to sleep.

The second occurred on May 13, in Blanchland, Hexham where the bird was found dead near the river Derwent.

[Photos and x-rays from Hadrian Vets]

[RPUK map showing the location of Steel and Blanchland in the North Pennines AONB]

PC Lee Davison, Northumbria Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer, said: “Northumberland is home to a variety of wildlife-including birds of prey. The persecution of birds of prey like buzzards is quite rightly an emotive issue and I want reassure the public that we take it very seriously. It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing and we are working with partners to identify suspects. I would ask anyone who has any information to get in touch with us.”

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations team said: “Buzzards are beautiful birds which bring pleasure to many and are a crucial part of our natural landscapes and ecosystems. All birds of prey are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Yet buzzards, peregrines, red kites and other birds of prey are being illegally killed in Northumberland, and other upland areas in the UK.”

Anyone who has information that may assist police should contact officers on 101 quoting log 722 14/05/19 or report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk

Anyone wishing to convey information in confidence can call the Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101, which has been set up for those within the shooting community who wish to speak out about raptor persecution.

ENDS

What the police statement doesn’t include is detail about the local land use and the history of illegal raptor persecution in the area (shootings, poisonings, pole traps). That information has been provided by the RSPB in their own blog here.

Some of us were in this part of the AONB just a few months ago having a look at this extensive area of grouse moors (although not believed to be the grouse moors mentioned in relation to these current cases), and we noticed a lot of signs like these:

[Photos by Ruth Tingay]

These public information/warning signs had been endorsed by various authorities such as Natural England and the North Pennines AONB (see logos) and undoubtedly provide a useful public service:

Isn’t it time we also saw other public signs, endorsed by the authorities, highlighting areas that have been identified as raptor persecution hotspots and warning people to be alert to the evidence of such crimes and what to do if they stumble across such suspected evidence, i.e. who to report it to?

Presumably the grouse shooting estates wouldn’t object to this sort of signage being attached to posts next to their land given that they all denounce illegal raptor persecution and claim to want it stamped out (the crimes, not the raptors).

Perhaps this could be a consideration for Supt Nick Lyall and his reinvigorated Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)? Given that the North Pennines AONB is in the process of joining the RPPDG, they could trail blaze this initiative as an indication of just how seriously they’re taking illegal raptor persecution on their patch.

Wouldn’t it be great to see other RPPDG ‘partners’ such as the Moorland Association, Countryside Alliance and BASC helping the North Pennines AONB to raise funds to support such a scheme and/or providing the labour to install the signs.

UPDATE 25 May 2019: Brilliant response from North Pennines AONB to illegal buzzard shootings (here)

UPDATE 25 May 2019: The second buzzard shooting incident was originally reported as being on 14 May 2019. We’ve now been advised (by North Pennines AONB Director Chris Woodley-Stewart), that the bird was found on 13 May 2019. Text now amended above.




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