Posts Tagged ‘buzzard

10
Nov
18

Buzzard found in North Yorkshire with horrific injuries from shotgun

This buzzard was found today at Skipwith in North Yorkshire, with horrific injuries caused by a shotgun.

[UPDATE 11/11/18: This bird was picked up just of King Rudding Lane on Thursday 8 Nov 2018]

According to Jean Thorpe (raptor rehabilitator extraordinaire) the buzzard was found alive but with a broken shoulder and humerus. She thinks its injuries were so severe it would not have been able to fly from the location where it was shot.

If anyone has any information please contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer Jez Walmsley at Malton Police Station (Tel: 101) or the RSPB Raptor Crime Hotline (Tel: 0300-999-0101).

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25
Oct
18

Buzzard caught in illegally-set trap near Moy

Once again, we’re having to report on the deliberate persecution of a protected bird of prey in the Moy area of Highland Scotland, a well-known raptor persecution hotspot.

RPUK map showing location of Moy:

Police Scotland has issued the following appeal for information this morning:

Appeal after buzzard reported trapped south of Inverness

Police Scotland can confirm that an investigation is ongoing following a report of a trapped buzzard near Moy south of Inverness.

The buzzard was discovered by a member of the public earlier in October. However, following a subsequent search of the area by police the bird has not been located.

The trap was close to a fence near to a rough, marshy grazing area close to the B9174 and the national cycle path between Moy and Craggie.

Inspector Mike Middlehurst said: “This unfortunately appears to be an example of deliberate unlawful use of a legal trap to cause suffering to a bird of prey.

A lot of good work has been done in the Highlands and this has been a good season for raptors locally, so any evidence of continued persecution is disappointing.

The location next to the national cycle network path will hopefully help us identify anyone seen acting in a suspicious manner in the area.

Anyone seen near the fence lines, walking up the fence lines, placing articles on the fence posts would be of great interest to us.

We are appealing for anybody who has information about this incident or any other wildlife persecution in the Highland area contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

ENDS

The road number cited in the police press release appears to be inaccurate. The police say it is the B9174 but it looks like this should read the B9154 as this is the road that runs between Moy and Craggie.

Interestingly, Police Scotland has not published the pictures of the trapped buzzard, photographed by the member of the public who found the bird in distress. However, from the police press release, especially the penultimate sentence, it seems reasonable to conclude that this buzzard was caught in a pole trap. A pole trap is a spring trap that has been fixed to the top of a post. When a bird lands on it, the jaws of the trap smash the birds legs, often breaking them. As the trap is fixed to the post, the bird cannot fly away and it is left to dangle upside down, held by its legs, until it dies or until the trap operator comes along and kills it.

Here’s a photo from our archives of another buzzard that had been caught in a illegal pole trap. It didn’t survive its horrific injuries.

These are barbaric devices that cause immeasurable suffering and as such have been banned from use since 1904. However, pole traps are still routinely used as a weapon of choice on game-shooting estates as we see all too often (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here). Anyone caught using these traps deserves a lengthy custodial sentence. There is simply no excuse for such savagery in 21st Century Scotland.

We’ve blogged about raptor persecution in the Moy area many many times, including the illegal use of traps and reports of armed masked gunmen visiting the nest sites of protected species. Here are a few examples: here, here, here, here, here and just last year there was a report of another buzzard that had been caught in an illegally-set trap in this area (here).

[RPUK map showing the B9154 road between Moy and Craggie. The red dots are confirmed raptor persecution incidents in this area]

And of course, this grouse moor dominated area has also been identified as one of the hotspot areas where satellite-tagged golden eagles ‘disappear’:

08
Oct
18

Buzzard found poisoned in North York Moors National Park

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (8 Oct 2018):

In January a dead buzzard was found in suspicious circumstances on top of a dry-stone wall, next to a layby on the Kildale to Commondale road near Percy Rigg in the North York Moors.

[Google map showing the road between Kildale and Commondale and surrounding grouse moors]

The find was made by a member of the public, who reported it to the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police.

The area is very public, and it is unlikely that the bird died where it was found, but appears to have been placed onto the wall deliberately.

The bird was collected and no obvious signs of trauma were found, and an x-ray revealed no signs of injury. The bird was sent for toxicology tests under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS).

The results show that chloralose poisoning was the likely cause of death.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:

North Yorkshire is known for its wonderful countryside, which is home to many species of birds, including protected birds of prey. Sadly, as a county, we have more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation North Yorkshire Police is absolutely determined to tackle.

It is saddening that this magnificent bird has been poisoned. I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to contact us on 101, or you can speak with someone in confidence by ringing the RPSB hotline number.”

[RSPB Raptor Crime Hotline Number: 0300-999-0101]

Jenny Shelton, RSPB Investigations Liaison Officer, said:

Raptor persecution is a serious, ongoing issue which is affecting some of our most incredible birds of prey. Our UK population of buzzards dropped during the 20th century largely due to illegal killing, and it’s alarming that these practices are continuing even today. This was a despicable and deliberate act. If you have any information, please speak out.

If you have any information about the circumstances of the buzzard’s death, or why it was placed on the wall, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12180127114.

ENDS

It’s not clear why this appeal for information has only just been published when the buzzard was found poisoned in the National Park in January, although we understand the toxicology results weren’t provided by the lab until July.

It’s no surprise to learn that yet another raptor persecution crime has been detected in North Yorkshire, inside a National Park that is dominated by driven grouse moors.

[RPUK map]

02
Oct
18

Yorkshire police investigate suspicious death of buzzard found with head injuries

Press release from Humberside Police (2 Oct 2018):

BUZZARD FOUND DEAD WITH TRAP WOUNDS TO HEAD

We are investigating the suspicious death of a common buzzard found at the end of August in the western area of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

X-rays of the bird show that it has previously suffered shotgun injuries as three shotgun pellets were found embedded in the bird.  The shotgun pellets are not thought to have caused its death and when the bird was found it had recent injuries to its head consistent with being confined in a cage trap.

[Photos by Humberside Police]

Wildlife Crime Officer PC 1708 Ward said,

However this bird met its end it has previously been shot. Raptor persecution is a National Wildlife Crime priority which we take very seriously. Whatever anyone’s feelings are towards birds of prey there is no excuse for this type of criminality.

It’s sad that such practices are still common place. Due to the nature of these crimes they are difficult to detect. If you have information about anyone persecuting birds of prey we want to know.

I can be contacted in confidence via 101 and your information will be treated with the utmost confidentiality“.

Anyone with information regarding the above incident should call us on the non-emergency number 101 quoting investigation number 16/99978/18 which is being dealt with by WCO PC 1529 Day.

The attached images may cause distress and are property of Humberside Police

Note to press: No one is available for interview regarding this news story.

END

There’s no detail about the location other than “the western area of the East Riding of Yorkshire“. Here’s a Google map showing East Riding:

26
Sep
18

RSPB’s 2017 Birdcrime report documents ongoing illegal raptor persecution

The RSPB published its 2017 Birdcrime Report yesterday. It didn’t contain any surprises – we all know that crimes against birds of prey continued in 2017, and that these were largely associated with game-shooting estates.

The online report can be read here

The very useful appendices (actual data) can be accessed here

The RSPB’s interactive map hub (showing the spatial pattern of raptor crime) can be accessed here

We were particularly interested in the Scotland data, which amounted to just five confirmed, detected raptor persecution crimes. Quite obviously, this is just the tip of a large iceberg and is an indication of just how good the raptor killers have become at hiding the evidence of their crimes rather than an accurate reflection of the extent of ongoing raptor persecution – a fact recently acknowledged by Police Scotland (see here).

We know from the recent national survey results for three iconic species (golden eagle, hen harrier, peregrine) that illegal persecution continues to suppress the populations of all three species in areas where the land is dominated for driven grouse shooting. We also know from the ongoing studies of satellite-tagged golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and hen harriers that these birds continue to ‘vanish’ in the same grouse moor areas. Unfortunately these cases don’t make it in to the official wildlife crime stats although both the police and the Scottish Government have acknowledged that they are indicative of criminality, hence the current Government-commissioned Werritty review in to grouse moor management.

Of the five confirmed cases of illegal raptor persecution in Scotland last year, two were linked to the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire – the witnessed shooting of a hen harrier in May 2017 (here) and then a few weeks later the witnessed shooting of a short-eared owl (here). The crumpled body of the shot short-eared owl was retrieved from a ditch the following day and the RSPB sent it off for post mortem, which confirmed it had been shot, causing multiple fractures to its wing, leg, foot, ribs and skull.

[The short-eared owl shot on Leadhills Estate, photo by RSPB]

The police investigated both cases but no prosecutions followed. Earlier this year, a dead buzzard was found at Leadhills and it too had been shot but yet again, nobody was prosecuted (here).

For those familiar with the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate this will come as no surprise – there have been over 50 reported cases of raptor persecution crimes on or close to this estate since 2003 and of those, only two have resulted in a conviction (gamekeeper convicted in 2004 for shooting a short-eared owl; gamekeeper convicted in 2009 for laying out a poisoned bait).

This appalling failure to enforce the law was addressed by the then Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP, who instructed SNH to withdraw the use of the General Licence on estates where there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate raptor persecution crimes had occurred but insufficient evidence to progress a prosecution against a named individual. We’ve waited and waited and waited for SNH to impose a General Licence restriction on the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate for these recent shootings but so far, nothing. When we’ve asked SNH for an explanation, it has refused to comment, saying it’s not in the public interest for SNH to explain its decisions.

Meanwhile, Lord Hopetoun continues to serve as the Chair of the Scottish Moorland Group (a sub-group of Scottish Land & Estates) and whose Director, Tim (Kim) Baynes continues to serve on the PAW Scotland Raptor Group – you know the one – the pretend ‘partnership’, chaired by the Scottish Government, set up to tackle the illegal persecution of raptors on driven grouse moors.

21
Aug
18

SNH wilfully blind to threat of persecution of golden eagles in south Scotland

The project to translocate golden eagles from the Scottish Highlands to south Scotland has finally got underway this year, with news out today that three eagles have been successfully released this year.

There’s an article about it on BBC Scotland (here) including some video footage.

Unbelievably, Professor Des Thompson, Principal Advisor for Biodiversity and Science at SNH, is quoted in both in the video and in the article as follows:

This is the icon of wild Scotland. We are on the threshold of giving something very exciting back to the south of Scotland. Scotland has just over 500 pairs, just two to four breeding pairs in the south of Scotland where they are really struggling.

Young golden eagles are heavily persecuted. A third of them have been killed either through shooting or poisoning.

Down here in the south of Scotland we’ve been able to reassure ourselves persecution is not an issue. It’s just a small fragmented population that needs this helping hand from us. We have been overwhelmed by the support we are getting from landowners and we are reassured these birds are going to be welcome“.

Did he actually just say that? “We’ve been able to reassure ourselves persecution is not an issue“. What, you mean in the same way that SNH reassured itself that the scientific justification for the Strahbraan raven cull was sound?

You couldn’t make this up. Has he switched jobs and is now representing Scottish Land & Estates? He might as well be as this is exactly the line they were trying to spin several years ago (see here).

The south of Scotland is well known for the illegal persecution of raptors, including golden eagles. Only this year a young satellite-tagged golden eagle (Fred) ‘disappeared’ in the Pentland Hills in highly suspicious circumstances (here) in an area where previously a merlin nest had been shot out and breeding ravens had also ‘disappeared’.

[Golden eagle Fred, by Ruth Tingay]

Then there’s Raeshaw Estate, currently operating under a General Licence restriction and an Individual Licence restriction, due to evidence of alleged ongoing raptor persecution (here); there’s a forthcoming prosecution of a gamekeeper in the Borders for a long list of alleged wildlife crime (here); there’s the land managed for driven grouse shooting in South Lanarkshire (close to the golden eagle translocation area) where over 50 confirmed reported incidents of dead raptors and poisoned baits have been recorded since 2003, including a shot golden eagle in 2012 (it didn’t survive, here), the reported shooting of a short-eared owl in 2017 (here), the reported shooting of a hen harrier in 2017 (here), and the reported shooting of a buzzard in 2018 (here); and then there’s been at least four raptor poisonings in south Scotland this year alone (here).

But don’t worry, folks, despite all evidence to the contrary, Professor Thompson is “reassured” that raptor persecution won’t be an issue for these young golden eagles.

Here’s a map from the 2008 Golden Eagle Conservation Framework showing the conservation status of golden eagles in Scotland (red = unfavourable conservation status), overlaid with ten years of raptor persecution data (all species, 2005-2015) gleaned from ‘official’ persecution maps. It doesn’t include data from the last three years. Does it look to you like raptor persecution isn’t an issue in southern Scotland?

We’ve blogged about the South Scotland Golden Eagle Project several times over the years (e.g. here, here, here) and we still have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand the south Scotland golden eagle population is in dire straits, and has been for some time, and urgently needs a boost. Translocating eagles from other parts of the Scottish range seems a decent strategy.

However, fundamental to translocation and reintroduction projects is the need to identify and resolve the underlying cause(s) of the species’ decline in that area. The authorities have not come anywhere near to resolving this issue, either in south Scotland or beyond. The chances remain high that these young eagles will be killed. Having said that, they’re just as likely to be illegally killed further north in Scotland so in that sense, moving them a few hundred km south probably won’t make much difference to their chance of being illegally killed.

At least these three young eagles have been satellite-tagged so their movements can be followed. The question is, if/when each eagle goes off the radar in suspicious circumstances, who will decide whether this news is suppressed or publicised?

We’ll be taking a close interest.

23
Jul
18

Buzzard shot dead in Dorset

RSPB press release (23 July 2018):

DEAD BIRDS OF PREY FOUND IN DORSET

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 www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online 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.

ENDS




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