Posts Tagged ‘Cawdor Estate

28
Aug
15

Two Red kites poisoned & shot in Highlands: get your act together, Police Scotland

RK Cawdor poisoned 2014RSPB Scotland has issued a press release about the discovery of two illegally killed red kites in the Highlands. One was found shot on a railway line and the other one was found poisoned on Cawdor Estate (see photo).

The press release is interesting (read it here) but what’s more interesting is what is revealed by reading in between the lines.

Both birds were discovered in 2014. The shot red kite was found near Beauly in June 2014 (probably this one we blogged about in October 2014) and the poisoned red kite was found in September 2014.

The RSPB statement says, “Both of these incidents took place in 2014 and are now being made public as the Police have concluded their enquiries”.

So it takes Police Scotland over a year to disclose an illegally shot red kite and almost a year to disclose an illegally poisoned red kite. They’ve now ‘concluded their enquiries’ without appealing for information from the public and without executing a search under warrant on Cawdor Estate. What exactly did their ‘enquiries’ entail? Sitting around a table, scratching their heads, before deciding to keep both crimes under wraps?

Of course, an investigation in to the circumstances of the shot red kite would be a hide in to nothing – the bird was most probably shot elsewhere and dumped on the railway line to make it look like it had collided with a train. That’s a very difficult crime to detect, although had the Police made an appeal for information at the time the bird was found, there was always a slim chance that someone might have seen something. But no, far easier just to keep quiet and not attract any more embarrassing media coverage so soon after the mass poisoning of 22 kites and buzzards at nearby Conon Bridge (which is still undetected….more on that soon).

However, the ‘investigation’ in to the circumstances of the poisoned red kite that was found on Cawdor Estate just beggars belief. Cawdor Estate is well known as it has been at the centre of alleged wildlife crimes for over two decades. Here are just some of the incidents recorded either on the estate or close to the estate (for which nobody has ever been prosecuted) –

1992: Dead buzzard, magpie and sheep (laced with Strychnine)

1993:  Dead buzzard (poisoned with Alphachloralose) found on Forestry Commission land 100 metres from the boundary of Cawdor Estate.

1994: Three dead buzzards (poisoned with Alphachloralose) and a poisoned rabbit bait

1996: Three poisoned baits found: a hare laced with Alphachloralose, a goat laced with Aldicarb and a widgeon laced with Strychnine.

1996: A hidden pit containing a suspected bird of prey poisoning kit uncovered by investigators three miles from the estate.

1999: A report sent to the Procurator Fiscal alleging that mountain hares were illegally persecuted in snares on the estate.

2000: A second report submitted to the Fiscal claiming mistreatment of hares on the estate.

2001: A dead golden eagle (poisoned with Carbofuran)

2004: A number of illegal gin traps found set around rabbit baits

2004: A dead buzzard (poisoned with Carbofuran)

2005: A dead red kite (poisoned with Carbofuran)

2007: A dead red kite (poisoned with Carbofuran)

2010: Two red kites found poisoned on neighbouring ground close to estate boundary

With a record like this, wouldn’t you expect Police Scotland, on discovery of the latest poisoned red kite, to request a search warrant and head straight for the estate? Wouldn’t that be a logical first step? Why didn’t that happen?

Did the Police actually talk to anybody on Cawdor Estate about this poisoned kite? If you read a quote attributed to Alex Hogg of the SGA (on the BBC news website here), you’d think not. Hogg says:

“This is the first we have heard of any such incidents….”.

Really? Cawdor Estate has very close links to the SGA. Cawdor’s former Head Gamekeeper and later Sporting Manager Roddy Forbes was the inaugural Chairman of the SGA. And further, the SGA’s 2010 Young Gamekeeper of the Year was an employee on Cawdor Estate. That’s indicative of pretty close ties between the estate and the SGA, and yet the SGA claim not to have heard about this crime?

As an aside, Hogg is further quoted: “….We do not know the possible causes [of the birds’ deaths] which makes it difficult to comment further”.

Eh? The causes of death have been established. One kite was shot, the other was poisoned. Why is it ‘difficult to comment further’? A little bit too embarrassing, Alex?

A Police Scotland spokesperson is also quoted in the BBC article:

“Investigating wildlife crime is challenging because of its nature, and the vast areas covered. Police Scotland works closely with partners including the RSPB to tackle wildlife crime, and brings to bear the full range of investigative techniques at its disposal. Our detection rate is increasing. Our aim is to reduce wildlife crime and earlier this year we launched a campaign raising awareness”.

Yes, of course investigating wildlife crime is challenging, nobody disputes that. But sitting on enquiries, hiding them from the public, and not undertaking searches on estates where poisoned birds are discovered is not ‘bringing to bear the full range of investigative techniques’ at their disposal. It’s anything but that.

And what’s this about ‘our detection rate is increasing’? Are there any data to support this claim or are we supposed to just accept the word of a police force under increasing pressure to get its act together?

So what now for Cawdor Estate, almost one year on from the discovery of this poisoned kite? Might it be too much to hope that SNH will issue a General Licence restriction order? Guess we’ll have to wait and see, although that might be a bit embarrassing for SNH given that they have chucked thousands of pounds (of our money!) at Cawdor Estate to help fund their ranger service.

13
Aug
10

Young Gamekeeper of the Year winner is employed on estate with history of alleged criminal activities

The winner of this year’s Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award, as selected by the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association, is 20-year old Graeme Dunlop, whose beat is the 14,000-acre North Drynachan Moor on Cawdor Estate near Nairn. Graeme stated in a post-award interview that he was, “Worried that the occasional discovery of poisoned birds is undermining all the political work being done by the SGA. We all know there’s no need for it in this day and age because there’s a place for everything. Nature will sort itself out.” If Graeme is serious in his condemnation of raptor persecution he is certainly in the right place to make a difference.

Cawdor Estate has been plagued with accusations about the persecution of birds of prey and cruelty to animals (none of which have been proven), and has been labeled as “an ecological desert”.

Cawdor Castle

1992: A buzzard, magpie and sheep all laced with Strychnine are discovered on the Estate. 1993: A buzzard poisoned by the toxin Alphachloralose, found on Forestry Commission land 100 metres from the boundary of Cawdor Estate. 1994: Three buzzards and rabbit bait found poisoned by Alphachloralose on Cawdor. 1996: Three baits discovered containing poisons found on Cawdor: a hare laced with Alphachloralose, a goat with Aldicarb and a widgeon with Strychnine. 1996: A hidden pit containing suspected birds of prey poisoning kit uncovered by investigators three miles from Cawdor Castle. 1999: A report sent to the procurator fiscal alleging that mountain hares were illegally persecuted in snares on Cawdor Estate. 2000: A second report submitted to the fiscal claiming mistreatment of hares on Cawdor Estate. 2001: A dead golden eagle found on Cawdor Estate confirmed to contain the lethal poison Carbofuran. Naturally, no prosecutions ever resulted for any of these alleged offences.

In 1992, Cawdor Estate’s Sporting Manager was charged with wildlife offences. These related to the improper use of snares and allegations of cruelty involving hares. Charges were later dropped by the procurator fiscal due to “evidential difficulties”.

The award is presented by the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association whose chairman, Alex Hogg, is no stranger to readers of this blog. On one hand Alex is a proud member of PAW (Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime) and publicly states that he and the SGA abhor the illegal persecution of raptors. On the other hand Alex has been making applications for licences to kill raptors to the Scottish Government for years now, all of which have been rejected. Alex’s simplistic view is, Scotland has a problem with illegal raptor persecution so legalise it and the problem disappears. Genius!

The award was presented at the Highland Field Sports Fair held at Moy Estate last weekend. Moy Estate is where two men have recently been charged with wildlife and firearms offences following the discovery of several dead raptors in suspicious circumstances.

Also attending the fair at Moy last weekend was The Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA). This is the group that organised the letter signed by numerous Scottish estates to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, condemning the illegal poisoning of wildlife in Scotland. This letter turned out to be rather embarrassing when we revealed that several of the estates had past convictions for wildlife crimes, or indeed were being currently investigated for them –  Moy Estate falling into the latter category.

Yet still we hear the repeated claims from SGA and SRPBA that they are doing all they can to stop raptor persecution by eliminating the ‘rogue’ members who continue this disgusting tradition. How does attending this fair on Moy Estate translate as ‘doing all they can’?  I trust their bed-fellows involved with the PAW Scotland group will be asking the very same question.

We wish Graeme the very best of luck and hope that he can use his award to influence and educate others in the industry about the illegality of raptor persecution.

For the SGA press release about the award: http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/content/young-gamekeeper-year-announced

05
Mar
10

Golden eagle found poisoned on Cawdor Estate, Invernesshire

Golden eagles run the gauntlet of poisoning throughout Scotland.

A golden eagle found dead on Cawdor Estate, Invernesshire, on 6 August 2001 had been poisoned by Carbofuran. The dead eagle’s decomposed remains were found by a hillwalker.

Cawdor Estate Factor John Higson and Head Gamekeeper Roddy Forbes denied any wrong-doing and suggested that the dead eagle could have been brought in by someone in their rucksack and planted on the estate to cause trouble. This explanation is commonly used by Alex Hogg, Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, to account for the numbers of dead raptors that turn up on shooting estates. Our sources suggest that recent DNA evidence has proven these claims unfounded.

Since 1988, there have been six other incidents involving the illegal use of poisons connected to the Cawdor Estate. These include:

1988: A pet labrador dies after consuming the deadly poison, strychnine, while walking on Cawdor estate.

1992: A buzzard, magpie and sheep all laced with strychnine are discovered on the estate.

1993: A buzzard found poisoned by the toxin, alphachloralose, on Forestry Commission land 100 metres from the boundary of Cawdor estate.

1994: Three buzzards and rabbit bait found poisoned by alphachloralose on Cawdor.

1996: Three baits discovered containing poisons: a hare laced with alphachloralose, a goat with aldicarb and a wigeon with strychnine.

1996: A hidden pit containing a suspected birds of prey poisoning kit uncovered by investigators three miles from Cawdor Castle.

1999: A report sent to the procurator fiscal alleging that mountain hares were illegally persecuted in snares.

2000: A second report submitted to the fiscal claiming mistreatment of hares.

2001: A dead eagle found on Cawdor estate confirmed to contain the lethal poison, carbofuran.

No convictions have been made as it has not been possible to identify the individual who laid the bait.

For further information: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20010826/ai_n13961693/?tag=content;col1




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