Posts Tagged ‘buzzard


Buzzard with shotgun injuries found in localised persecution hotspot, East Yorkshire

In early December an injured buzzard was found struggling by a member of the public in Sproatley, East Yorkshire.

[All photos from Jean Thorpe]

An RSPCA tweet on 4th December said the buzzard had injuries ‘consistent with trapping’ and the bird was transferred to the expert care of Jean Thorpe at Ryedale for rehabilitation.

However, Jean examined the bird and didn’t believe its injuries were consistent with trapping, mainly because the scabbed injuries were restricted to the front of the bird’s shins and not the back of the legs. She also noticed a gangrenous talon and the rest of the foot was also badly infected.

Jean took the buzzard to a specialist avian vet and a decision was taken to euthanise the bird due to the extent of its injuries.

An x-ray revealed the bird had been shot with a shotgun but it’s not clear how old that injury was and whether it was connected to the foot injury.

The buzzard is being sent for a full post mortem and Humberside Police have been advised of the incident. If you have any information that could assist the investigation please contact the police on Tel 101 and ask for Police Wildlife Crime Officer Richard Fussey. It’s not known whether a crime reference number has been issued.

Interestingly, back in 2013 two buzzards were found shot and dumped in a ditch in Sproatley (see here). The RSPB offered a reward for information leading to a conviction but like most of these crimes, the perpetrator was never identified/prosecuted.


Buzzard shot & injured in County Kildare

Hot on the heels of a recent buzzard shooting reported in the Irish Republic just a couple of weeks ago (here), here’s another one.

The details are sketchy at the moment but this buzzard was found yesterday and is currently being cared for at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit.

It’s clear from the x-ray that someone shot this bird with a shotgun. The crime has been reported to the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

County Kildare sits in the middle of the league table for raptor persecution crimes recorded in the Irish Republic (see here).


Third buzzard found shot in Essex this year

Essex Police are investigating yet another shooting of a buzzard.

Details are sketchy at the moment but the buzzard is believed to have been shot overnight between 1st and 2nd December with ‘what is believed to be a shotgun’. There isn’t any information about whether the buzzard is alive or dead.

[Common buzzard, photographer unknown]

The offence is believed to have taken place on farmland near Blind Lane, Billericay, Essex CM12 9SN.

The police crime reference number is 42/1995748/20. Please contact the police on Tel 101 if you have information that can assist this criminal investigation. Thanks to Police Wildlife Crime Officer Jed Raven for the details.

This is the third buzzard to be reported shot in Essex this year – one was found in June (see here) and another in September (see here and here). A hobby was also shot in Essex in August this year (see here).


Buzzard shooting – police appeal for information on drive-by suspects

Press release from National Parks & Wildlife Service, Ireland (9th December 2020)

NPWS appeals for information after buzzard shooting

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is appealing for information relating to a buzzard found dead on the R422, just south of Emo, Co Laois.

The bird was perched on a tree on the roadside when it was shot with a shotgun at around 7.50am on 5 December.

The firearm was discharged from the road on the south side of the village.

The investigating Wildlife Ranger said a shot was heard and the dead buzzard was found by a member of the public.

A spent shotgun cartridge was also found.

The NPWS is interested in information about a vehicle that was recorded on CCTV in the area – it’s believed that individuals may be driving around looking for buzzards and then shooting them from a vehicle.

Anyone with information – particularly about vehicles or persons acting suspiciously in Emo on the morning of 5 December – is asked to contact the NPWS regional office at (0761) 002667, or to contact gardaí.

Buzzards are a protected species. They became extinct in Ireland in the late 19th century but were re-established in Northern Ireland in the 1930s.



Shot buzzard found dead in Peak District National Park

Press release from RSPB (19 Nov 2020)

Young buzzard found dead had been illegally shot

The RSPB is appealing for information regarding the death of a protected buzzard in Little Hayfield, within the Peak District National Park between Manchester and Sheffield.

A local resident found the buzzard, a juvenile which had hatched this summer, freshly dead on 5 September 2020, in a paddock adjacent to woodland and a driven grouse moor. They contacted Derbyshire Police on 101 and reported it to the RSPB. The body was x-rayed by a local vet who identified a broken leg and a piece of lead shot lodged within the bird’s chest. It is possible that the injuries were sustained at different times during the bird’s short life.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “This was a tragic end to the life of a young bird which had barely begun to spread its wings. The sight of a buzzard soaring overhead is part of the pleasure of being out in the Peak District. This is one of our most visited National Parks and should be a place people can go to enjoy nature, and a place in which nature is protected.

Buzzards are sadly highly vulnerable to illegal killing, and RSPB data shows that more buzzards were the object of persecution in 2019 than any other raptor species. While it’s not clear whether shooting was the cause of death, it’s clear that this bird had been illegally shot at some point in its very short life. We are therefore appealing to the public for information.”

If you have any information relating to this or any other raptor persecution incident, call Derbyshire Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations at or fill in the online form:

Alternatively, if you have sensitive information about this or any other raptor crime which you wish to share anonymously, you can call the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101.



Buzzard-shooting caught on camera

Press release from RSPB (16 November 2020)

Horror as buzzard gunned down on nature reserve boundary

A member of the public witnessed and filmed the moment the bird of prey was shot out of the sky

The buzzard was found fatally injured over a week later

Due to its injuries the bird could not be saved and sadly had to be euthanised

The RSPB is appealing to the public for information regarding the illegal shooting of a protected bird of prey.

On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch a buzzard in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a mobile phone when they suddenly heard a loud shot, and the bird crumpled and fell from the sky before their eyes.

The witnesses called the police on 101. Kent Police and the RSPB conducted a search of the area, but the body could not be found. However, a few days later, on 19 October, a birdwatcher reported seeing a buzzard with a broken wing close to where the buzzard had fallen. RSPB reserve staff set out and discovered a badly injured buzzard on the ground. It was rushed to a local vet but the bird couldn’t be saved and had to be humanely euthanised.

An x-ray of the body revealed that the bird had four pieces of shot lodged in its wing, shoulder and leg. The injury to the wing, which had caused the break, was consistent with the timing of the recent witnessed shooting. However, three of the pellets were older, indicating that the bird had been shot before on an earlier occasion.

Police have spoken with a man in connection with the incident.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. Yet according to the RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report, there were 85 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK in 2019 – with many more likely to have gone undetected. More buzzards were the object of persecution in 2019 than any other raptor species. 

The witness, who does not wish to be named, said:

Northwood is a really special place for my family. We had just lost a loved one, so my dad suggested we take a walk to clear our heads. We were watching a buzzard flying together with another bird of prey, and I quickly got my phone out and started filming it. It was a beautiful sight. Then suddenly we heard a crack and the buzzard crumpled and fell to the ground. It was a feeling of utter shock; we couldn’t believe what we’d just seen. My sister was in floods of tears, we were just so shaken. It was not what we’d envisaged for our walk together. One moment we were watching something so alive, then the next a human had needlessly and senselessly taken it away – it felt like such a horrific waste.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations, said: “Nature has the power to lift our spirits, never more so than in these difficult times. No-one should have to witness wildlife being killed illegally before their eyes and our utmost sympathy goes out to the family.

We regularly gather evidence of raptor persecution, either finding bodies full of shot or illegal traps, but it’s rare that a bird is killed and filmed right in front of someone. This incident really brings home the horrible reality of what is happening to our birds of prey.

We are so grateful to them for picking up the phone and reporting this incident. We know that passing on information about any crime can be difficult, but if you do see anything, or have any information about this or any other crime involving birds of prey, please call our confidential hotline number (0300 999 0101). Your call could make all the difference and prevent more birds being killed.

We are in a climate and ecological emergency and losing our wildlife at a frightening rate. We all have a role to play, which is why we need an immediate halt to incidents such as this.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Kent on 101 and quote the crime reference: 11-0064. You can also call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.


There is a short clip of the buzzard-shooting on the RSPB blog here


SNH grants licence to Leadhills Estate for out-of-season muirburn

Leadhills Estate, which has been at the centre of over 50 police wildlife crime investigations in the last two decades, has had two gamekeepers convicted for committing wildlife crime offences during that time, and is currently the subject of a three-year General Licence restriction, imposed after Police Scotland found ‘clear evidence’ of wildlife crimes having being committed by persons unknown in recent years, and is under further police investigation since more allegations have been made this year, was granted a licence by SNH to undertake out-of-season muirburn on estate grouse moors in September.

There have been some jaw-dropping revelations on this blog over the years but this one is right up there.

[Muirburn on Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A quick recap of the situation (for those who want more detail please see the links to previous blog posts below).

In April 2020 the Scottish Government temporarily banned all muirburn in Scotland under emergency Coronavirus legislation (see here).

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, in July 2020 Mark Osborne, acting on behalf of Leadhills Estate, applied to Scottish Natural Heritage for an out-of-season licence to conduct muirburn on the estate in September after spraying some areas with glyphosate (see here).

Scottish Natural Heritage (now rebranded as NatureScot but that’s irrelevant) refused the licence application in August (here) and Osborne immediately appealed the decision (see here).

That’s where we left the saga last time. Here’s what happened next…..

SNH was obliged to consider Osborne’s appeal, although it wasn’t obliged to overturn it’s previous decision to refuse permission.

Here’s how SNH’s reconsideration went:

According to the Freedom of Information documents that have been released, that’s it. That’s the extent of the discussion at SNH about whether Leadhills Estate should be given permission to set fire to its grouse moors out of season and in the middle of a global pandemic.

A couple of days later SNH wrote to advise Osborne of its U-turn decision and sent him the licence, as follows:

There has been some discussion amongst RPUK colleagues and associates about whether SNH’s decision to issue this licence was a breach of the Government’s emergency Coronavirus legislation which had temporarily banned muirburn until the official season opened on 1 October 2020. I might return to that topic.

However, of greater interest, to me, is how SNH’s decision-making on whether to issue an out-of-season muirburn licence apparently failed to consider the wider picture of what’s been going on at Leadhills, and especially the current three-year General Licence restriction placed on the estate, by, er, SNH. Didn’t anybody think about that?

Ah, well somebody did, but unfortunately it seems this person’s expert input wasn’t invited as part of the decision-making process:

There’s quite a lot to take in about this case, and the details and circumstances of this particular licence. An FoI has been submitted to SNH to see the licence return which, as detailed in condition #9, should have now been submitted to SNH by Osborne.

And it turns out that this isn’t the first year that SNH has granted an out-of-season muirburn licence to Leadhills Estate. More on that shortly.

For some reason, the phrases ‘taking the piss’ and ‘impotent licensing authority’ are uppermost in my mind.


Birds of prey illegally poisoned in Staffordshire/Peak District National Park

It just never bloody stops.

Do you remember way back in May, during lockdown, Staffordshire Police asked the public to be vigilant after the discovery of a dead buzzard and two dead peregrines in the Peak District National Park? Officers suspected those protected raptors had been illegally poisoned and the corpses were sent for toxicology (see here).

Then in early June another peregrine was found dead in suspicious circumstances and that, too, was sent for toxicology analyses (see here).

[One of the illegally poisoned peregrines. Photo by Staffordshire Police]

Well guess what? The toxicology results are in and all four raptors were illegally poisoned with the same (unnamed) pesticide, and at least two of the incidents involved a pigeon bait which had been laced with the pesticide.

These illegal raptor poisonings are in addition to the confirmed illegal poisoning of a buzzard and a kestrel in Derbyshire at the beginning of lockdown (see here) and a shot buzzard found with horrific injuries in the Peak District National Park during the middle of lockdown (see here).

Staffordshire Police has issued a press statement about the latest four killings, as follows:

£1,000 reward for information after birds of prey poisoned

Reward offered for information after bird of prey poisoning incidents in Staffordshire during Covid lockdown.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has offered a £1000 reward for information leading to a conviction after four birds of prey were found dead in Staffordshire.

The appeal follows three separate incidents over a three-week period during Covid lockdown. 

On Saturday 16 May, a common buzzard and peregrine falcon were sadly discovered dead in a wooded area of Longnor. On Tuesday 19 May a second peregrine falcon was found dead at Beeston Tor near Wetton. On Thursday 4 June, a third peregrine falcon was found dead in a quarry near Waterhouses. 

[The latest poisoning victims. Photos via Staffordshire Police]

Two of the incidents occurred in the Peak District National Park, and a few of the locations are believed to be near peregrine falcon breeding sites.

As there were no visible signs of injury, and following contact with Natural England the birds were submitted for post mortem examinations and toxicology tests to establish the cause of death as part of the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). The scheme investigates the death or injury of wildlife and companion animals that may have resulted from pesticide poisoning.

The results show that all four birds of prey were illegally poisoned by the same pesticide, and that at least two of the incidents involved a pigeon bait which had been laced with the pesticide. 

A police investigation into the circumstances is underway as all birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Officers are asking local residents and visitors to these areas to report any suspicious behaviour they may have witnessed in the days leading up to the discovery of the birds and to continue to be vigilant for the signs of criminal activity, including dead or injured birds, poisoned bait and traps.

Detective Inspector Tim Boulton, of the Staffordshire Police Rural and Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “To find out that these birds have been deliberately targeted and poisoned is truly dreadful. We are working to ensure those responsible are identified and brought to justice

It is extremely concerning that a harmful substance has been placed in the countryside putting not only wildlife, but also people and pets at risk too. 

If a member of the public comes across a dead bird or suspicious object, please do not touch or move anything. Please take photographs if you can and make a note of your surroundings and landmarks to help officers to locate it. Every piece of information may be crucial in prosecuting an offender.

We would like to thank Natural England and the Peak District Natural Park for their assistance so far and we are incredibly grateful for the reward offered by the RSPB

Any information, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, could help with our on-going investigation. Someone out there knows who poisoned these birds, so please do the right thing and get in touch with the police directly or any of our specialist partners.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations, commented “Peregrines are the fastest birds in the world, yet all too often the lives of these magnificent creatures are cut short by illegal persecution like poisoning.

For incidents like this to repeatedly happen in a National Park is all the more alarming. If you have any information about any of these cases, or if you come across what you believe may be a poisoned bird of prey, please call the police immediately. You are our eyes and ears.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, added: “I would to thank those individuals who have reported these incidents to the police, and it remains completely unacceptable that illegal activity against wildlife is taking place in and around the Peak District. The nature of poisoning witnessed in these cases is deeply worrying for species both within and outside our National Park boundary.  

These incidents are particularly concerning in a year where many birds of prey – including the peregrine falcon – have successfully bred in other areas. We will continue to support the police in their investigations, and welcome any information from the public that may help capture those involved and bring them to justice.”

Dave Slater, Natural England’s Director for Wildlife Licensing and enforcement cases, said: “Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority and a priority for Natural England. We are a committed partner with the Police and NGOs in tackling these despicable crimes. We would urge anyone witnessing or suspecting persecution to contact the police.

Anyone with any information is asked to call one of the services listed below:

Staffordshire Police: 101 quoting incident number 232 of 16 May. You can also report online at or by sending a private message to Staffordshire Police on Facebook and Twitter.

Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111

RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime hotline: 0300 999 0101.



Large police operation investigating raptor persecution near proposed release site for hen harriers

Press release from Wiltshire Police (23 September 2020)

One arrest made after operation into bird of prey persecution in Wiltshire

A teenager has been arrested today following two warrants executed in East Wiltshire.

Led by the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team but supported by local officers, officers from Hampshire Constabulary, South West Forensics, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, warrants were executed at locations in the Pewsey and Beckhampton areas.

A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of raptor persecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Firearms were seized as part of ongoing enquiries, and the carcasses of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards, were located at the location in Beckhampton.

PC Marc Jackson, Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said: “Following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards.

The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies.

Our enquiries continue into how these birds were killed and disposed of. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities.

“Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward.

“We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations“.

Wiltshire Police are part of the national initiative called Operation Owl. The initiative sets out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.


Well now this doesn’t look good for Natural England’s ridiculous project to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England, does it? And after all that work they’ve done trying to convince potential donor countries that raptor persecution is no longer an issue in southern England (e.g. see here and here).

[RPUK map showing proximity of Natural England’s ludicrous hen harrier reintroduction site to the area where a large police investigation in to raptor persecution is underway]


Police appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in Dorset

Press release from Dorset Police (21 September 2020)

Appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in North and East Dorset

Dorset Police has been working alongside Natural England and the RSPB following two raptor persecution incidents in North and East Dorset.

Raptor persecution – which is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities and involves birds of prey – includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance.

The laying of poisoned bait is illegal. All birds are protected by law in the UK, with the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 being the primary legislation protecting the wildlife and their environment.

In April 2020 it was reported that several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmore Wood area near Blandford. These birds were sent for testing and enquiries remain ongoing.

The birds were found near to public access routes on land owned by more than one landowner.

In August 2020 officers received a report from an animal rescue centre that a number of dead and sick animals from the Verwood area were bought in to them. The animals included buzzards, an owl and a rabbit. These animals were all sent for testing.

Two of the buzzards involved in the Verwood incident survived and have been tended back to health by staff at the rescue centre.

[Photos via Dorset Police]

Police Constable Rob Hammond, of North Dorset police, said: “It is very concerning to see these harrowing incidents occurring in our area and an investigation is underway into each of the reports.

I would like to warn members of the public that this poison could be harmful to anything or anyone that comes into contact with it.

There is a real danger that persecution can affect any kind of bird. More common species such as kites, which have recently returned to our area and are making good progress, and buzzards can come to harm. Tragically it will also have an impact on rarer birds of prey such as ospreys, which have recently been reintroduced to the Poole harbour area and roam for miles, and hen harriers, which are almost extinct in this country.

Always be careful if you see a dead bird of prey or a group of them together – do not touch them, especially if it can be clearly seen that they have white or blue matter in any open wound.”

If you come across a dead raptor, or group of dead raptors, please report this to Dorset Police by taking a photograph and marking the location of the incident using a grid reference or an app, such as What3words. Please also report this to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline on 0800 321600.

The RSPB can be contacted for advice or information, but the matter must be reported to Dorset Police and the WIIS for an investigation to be carried out.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at, via email or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200052754 for the Ashmore Wood incident and 55200131382 for the Verwood incident. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at or call Freephone 0800 555 111.


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

Blog Stats

  • 6,973,427 hits


Our recent blog visitors