Posts Tagged ‘Dinnet & Kinord Estate

17
Aug
16

Coordinated hunt & shooting of a hen harrier in 2013 – location revealed

A couple of years ago (20 June 2014) we blogged about the alleged coordinated hunt and shooting of a male hen harrier on a grouse moor in Scotland (see here).

hen-harrier-male-robin-newlin

This alleged crime had actually taken place in May 2013 – it was reported to Police Scotland by the two members of the public who had witnessed the event, Police Scotland investigated but no further evidence was available to take the case forward.

For some reason, Police Scotland failed to publicise this incident or appeal for information, despite hen harrier persecution being a UK National Wildlife Crime Priority. Instead, it was left to the RSPB to issue a press release over a year later (see here) as part of a wider call for more sporting estates to take action to protect hen harriers.

At the time, the location of this incident was pretty sketchy. The RSPB press release said it took place ‘on a moor in the eastern Cairngorms, within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park’.

But then roll on to late 2015 and the publication of RSPB Scotland’s 20-year review of raptor persecution crimes. If you have a look at Table 3 in this report, which details confirmed incidents of persecution or attempted persecution (excluding poisoning) of birds of prey in Scotland 2013, the following information appears:

HH shot Glen Gairn

According to this table, a hen harrier was shot at ‘Glen Gairn’ in Aberdeenshire in May 2013. We presume, given the date and location, this is the same incident as referred to in that 2014 RSPB press release.

So, Glen Gairn. Where’s that then?

Well, would you believe, part of Glen Gairn appears to lie at the eastern boundary of Invercauld Estate, not a million miles from where those illegally-set spring traps were recently discovered at Gellaig Hill. (Map detail created from information provided on Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website).

Glen Gairn final - Copy

Now, we should urge caution here before anyone jumps to conclusions. This map is slightly misleading because it suggests that Glen Gairn lies entirely within the boundary of Invercauld Estate. It doesn’t. Glen Gairn extends east across the river, beyond the Invercauld Estate boundary, and on to the grouse moors of neighbouring Dinnet Estate.

We don’t know exactly where in Glen Gairn those two members of the public watched the alleged coordinated hunt and then shooting of that male hen harrier in 2013. It could have been on the Dinnet side of the Glen, or it could have been on the Invercauld side of the Glen, or it could have extended across both sides of the Glen. We don’t know, but presumably Police Scotland will know if those two members of the public were able to give accurate grid references.

As so often happens, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution so we have no idea who was responsible. It must have been the handiwork of those pesky moorland fairies. They do seem to be quite active in this part of the Cairngorms National Park, don’t they?

Photo of a male hen harrier by Robin Newlin

16
Jun
15

Henry’s tour day 45: Dinnet

Tues 16 June  Copy

Henry called in at Dinnet (Deeside) but would only visit in daylight hours – here’s why.

It’s actually not all that safe in the daytime either – here’s why.

Welcome to the Cairngorms National Park.

20
Apr
12

21 eagles, 6 years, 0 prosecutions

Ever since that poisoned golden eagle was found in Glen Orchy in June 2009, we’ve been assured by the authorities (including in an email from a spokeswoman of the former Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham) that, despite our concerns to the contrary, the alleged wildlife crime uncovered that day was being ‘dealt with’.

We’ve had to wait for almost three years to find out that, according to a statement in The Herald attributed to RSPB investigator Ian Thomson, nobody has been charged with poisoning that golden eagle (see Herald article here).

It’s just the latest in a long line (21 eagles in six years!) of both confirmed and suspected eagle deaths for which nobody has ever been prosecuted.

In fairness, some of the 21 examples shown below may not be a result of criminal behaviour (i.e. the bodies of seven of the eagles listed have never been recovered so foul play, whilst suspected, cannot be verified, but neither can it be ruled out). However, there have been 14 confirmed eagle deaths (13 poisoned and one shot), that we know about, for which nobody has been charged. There are probably more confirmed deaths that we don’t know about because for some reason, some confirmed deaths are not being publicly reported. And without a shadow of a doubt, there are other deaths that are attributable to criminal behaviour that never see the light of day.

Here’s the list of the ones we do know about:

MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle was found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation. Five years and 11 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle was found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launched an investigation. Five years and ten months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

 

 

AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle was found on an estate near Peebles in the Borders. She was half of the last known breeding pair of golden eagles in the region. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Lothian & Borders Police launched an investigation. Four years and eight months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

 

 

AUTUMN 2007: Tayside Police received a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) had allegedly been shot on an estate in Angus. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. Four and a half years later, the bird has not been seen again. With no body, an investigation isn’t possible.

 

MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle hatched on Mull in 2007 and known as ‘White G’ was found dead on the Glenquoich Estate, Angus. Tests revealed he had been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that included Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also revealed a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fenceposts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests revealed the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contained the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. Three years and 11 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle was found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll, close to the West Highland Way. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launched a multi-agency investigation. Two years and ten months later (April 2012), Tom McKellar pled guilty to possession of Carbofuran stored in premises at Auch Estate, Bridge of Orchy. Nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning the golden eagle.

 

JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle known as ‘Alma’ was found dead on the Millden Estate, Angus. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Alma was a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements followed by the general public on the internet. Tayside Police launched an investigation. Two years and nine months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

AUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle was found dead on Glenogil Estate, Angus. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Tayside Police were criticized in the national press for not releasing a press statement about this incident until January 2010. Two years and 8 months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

MAY 2010: Three dead golden eagles were found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. One year and 11 months later, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning the three golden eagles.

 

JUNE 2010: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

JUNE 2010: A golden eagle and a white-tailed eagle were found dead on an estate near Farr, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed they had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. One year and ten months later, nobody has been prosecuted.

 

DECEMBER 2010: A decomposing carcass of a white-tailed eagle was found and photographed on Logie (Lochindorb) Estate, Morayshire. It was reported to Northern Constabulary. By the time the police arrived to collect it, the carcass had disappeared. The police said they couldn’t investigate further without the body.

 

MARCH 2011: The body of a young golden eagle was discovered on North Glenbuchat Estate, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation and raided the property in May 2011. One year and one month later, we are not aware of any pending prosecutions.

 

APRIL 2011: The body of a white-tailed eagle was found at the base of cliffs on Skye. The person who discovered it (a professional medic) considered it to have been freshly shot with a rifle, decapitated with a sharp implement and thrown from the cliff top. He took photographs and alerted Northern Constabulary and RSPB. There was a delay of two weeks before the now probably decomposed carcass was collected. A post-mortem was inconclusive. This incident was not made public until one year later after a tip off to this blog. We are not aware of any pending prosecutions.

 

NOVEMBER 2011: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (hatched in 2010) stopped functioning when she was at a location in the Monadhliaths, a well-known raptor persecution black spot in the Highlands. Her last known location was checked by researchers but there was no sign of the bird. Another ‘disappearance’ in suspicious circumstances or a technical malfunction of the satellite transmitter?

04
Jul
11

More on the harriers of Glen Tanar Estate

Following yesterday’s story of the sad loss of the young hen harrier ‘Tanar’, satellite-tracked from her natal site on the Glen Tanar Estate last year, it looks like more young harrier chicks have been recently tagged from this progressive estate.

Wildlife photographer Mark Hamblin has written on his blog about his recent adventures photographing hen harriers at Glen Tanar. As well as taking some spectacular photographs, he also reports that Roy Dennis was back in June to tag some more chicks. Working under a special photography licence, Hamblin has been allowed access to this year’s hen harrier nest, thanks to Glen Tanar Estate owner Michael Bruce. Hamblin reports that this particular hen harrier pair is the only known breeding pair in north-east Scotland. That’s a pretty startling statement when you consider the amount of potentially suitable hen harrier habitat in this part of the world.  What about the land managed by Glen Tanar Estate’s near-neighbours on Deeside? Invercauld Estate, Balmoral Estate, Glenmuick Estate, Dinnet & Kinord Estate? All these estates operate high-profile grouse moors, providing excellent habitat for hen harriers and other upland raptors. Is Hamblin’s assessment correct, that there aren’t any known breeding hen harriers on this vast expanse of land? I guess we’ll find out when all the records have been submitted at the end of the year.

We have reported before about the laudable raptor conservation efforts of Michael Bruce and his staff at Glen Tanar Estate (see here). It is becoming apparent that he deserves even more credit, as he’s seemingly working in isolation in an area where raptors are rarely tolerated. Well done Sir, you are putting your peers to shame.

For more information about Glen Tanar Estate, visit their website here

20
Sep
10

eagle killers getting away with it

The aim of this blog is to monitor the occurrence of illegal raptor persecution incidents across Scotland, and to report on the outcome of each case. As you will already know from reading the blog entries, persecution incidents have been occurring for many years and involve most of our raptor species, including golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, red kites, hen harriers, buzzards, goshawks, sparrowhawks, ospreys, kestrels and owls. Let’s see what progress, if any, has been made by our law enforcement bodies,  starting with our most iconic species, the golden eagle and white-tailed eagle.

When the news hits that another eagle has been illegally poisoned or shot, there is, quite rightly, public outrage. Each event is usually followed by a statement from those responsible for upholding the law that they are determined to stamp out these crimes and bring the guilty party to justice. Let’s see how well they’ve been doing. The following is a review of cases involving 13 dead eagles since 2006:

MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle is found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Grampian Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, nearly 4.5 years later, no arrests have been made.

 

 JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle is found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launch an investigation. As of September 2010, nearly 4.5 years later, no arrests have been made.

 

 

 

AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle is found on a Peebleshire estate. A post-mortem reveals she has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. This female was part of the only breeding pair of golden eagles remaining in the Scottish Borders. She had a young dependent chick still in the nest. Lothian & Borders Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, over 3 years later, no arrests have been made. 

 

 

AUTUMN 2007: Tayside Police receive a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) has allegedly been shot on an estate in Angus. The tip-off included the name of the alleged shooter and that the body had been burned to hide the evidence. ‘Bird N’ was part of the cohort of reintroduced sea eagles that were donated by Norway and released in Scotland in August 2007. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. As of September 2010, 3 years later, no arrests have been made.

MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle who hatched on Mull in 2007 and was known as ‘White G’ is found dead on the Glenquoich Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals he has been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that includes Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also reveals a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fenceposts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests reveal the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contain the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. As of September 2010, nearly 2.5 years later, no arrests have been made.

JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle is found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launch an investigation and state they are “following a positive line of inquiry“. As of September 2010, 15 months later, the outcome of this “positive line of inquiry” has not been made public.

 

JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle, known as ‘Alma’, is found dead on the Millden Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals she has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Alma is a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements were followed by thousands on the internet. Tayside Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, over a year later, no arrests have been made.

AUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle is found dead on Glenogil Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Reports circulate that this bird actually died in March 2009, but RSPB fieldworkers could not locate the transmitter signal. The decomposed body was eventually found in August 2009, after an expert fieldworker was brought in. Tayside Police did not release a press statement about this alleged persecution incident until January 2010, 6 months after the dead body was discovered, and probably 9 months after it was killed. As of September 2010, over a year later, no arrests have been made.

MAY 2010: Three dead golden eagles are found on Skibo Estate, Sutherland. They are found with a dead buzzard and a dead sparrowhawk. All are suspected victims of illegal poisoning and the bodies are sent for forensic post-mortem in Edinburgh. Northern Constabulary launch an investigation. As of September 2010, 4 months later, the post-mortem results have not been made publicly available. The result of the police investigation has also not been made publicly available. UPDATE Nov 2010: SASA report indicates the golden eagles were poisoned.

JUNE 2010: Two dead eagles are discovered on a grouse moor nr Inverness. The golden eagle and the white-tailed eagle were collected by the RSPB and sent to the SASA lab for inspection. They are later confirmed to have been poisoned by Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary does not make any public appeal for information – nor does the RSPB. You have to ask why not?

03
Jun
10

landowners’ condemnation of raptor persecution revisited

Last week, I reported that 23 of the shooting estates that had signed the letter to condemn raptor poisoning had had wildlife crime incidents recorded on their properties, and in some cases, employees had criminal convictions associated with wildlife crime. I decided to give them all the benefit of the doubt, as they may all have since changed ownership and/or staff since those incidents and subsequently changed their attitude towards raptor killing.  After some heavy duty googling, it appears that 6 of the 22 have changed ownership, 11 have not, and inconclusive material was found for 6.

Estates that do not appear to have changed ownership and/or staff since incidents of wildlife crime have been recorded on their land, yet are asking us to believe they now ‘condemn’ raptor poisoning are as follows:

Careston Castle, Dochfour Estate, Invercauld Estate, Haystoun Estate, Dougarie Estate, Haddo Estate, Dunecht Estate, Roxburghe Estate, Seafield & Strathsprey Estates, Innes Estate.

Estates that do appear to have changed ownership and/or staff since incidents of wildlife crime were recorded on their land are as follows:

Coignafearn Estate, Dunachton Estate, Glenfeshie Estate, Lothian Estate, Islay Estate, Wemyss & March Estates.

Inconclusive evidence of a change of ownership and/or staff since incidents of wildlife crime were recorded on their land include the following:

Rosehaugh Estate, Dinnet & Kinord Estate, Balmanno Estate, Straloch Farm, Aberarder Estate.

Dr Sigrid Rausing

One estate that deserves special mention is Coignafearn Estate in the Monadhliaths. Previously known by raptor workers as a notorious eagle black-spot in the 1980s when it was owned by an age-ing Belgian, Baron Douharty, Coignafearn was bought by Dr Sigrid Rausing in 1998. The daughter of Tetra Pak billionaire Hans Rausing, she has since made tremendous efforts to run this estate positively for raptors, including building artifical nest sites to try and encourage breeding golden eagles back to her land.

If only all landowners were as enlightened as Dr Rausing.

27
May
10

landowners’ condemnation of raptor persecution exposed as a sham?

On 21 May 2010, this blog reported on the news that over 200 landowners (members of the Scottish Rural Property & Business Association – SRPBA)  had written a letter to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP, condemning the continued practice of illegal raptor persecution on Scottish sporting estates.

This letter has now become available for public viewing: SRPBA LETTER MAY 2010

On close scrutiny of the signatories to this letter, it is now apparent that on 23 of the estates listed, wildlife crime incidents have been recorded, and on seven of them, estate employees have criminal convictions. Here they all are in their full glory:

Careston Estate, Brechin: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Dochfour Estate, Inverness: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Invercauld Estates, Braemar: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992; Three Buzzards and a raven found poisoned by Carbofuran 2005; Gamekeeper convicted for illegal use of spring trap 1997.

Balmanno Estate, Bridge of Earn: Buzzard found poisoned by Carbofuran, illegal gin traps and egg collection – Gamekeeper convicted 2003.

Haystoun Estate, Peebles: Gamekeeper filmed allegedly removing Peregrine chick from nest – evidence ruled inadmissable in court (a legal technicality) – but keeper convicted of firearms offences 2003.

Haddo Estate, Aberdeenshire: Gamekeeper convicted for  laying poisoned baits and illegal traps and fined £2,600 in 1989.

Dunachton Estate, Kincraig: Buzzard found shot 1990; Buzzard found shot 1992.

Dougarie Estate, Isle of Arran: Eagle found poisoned by Chloralose 1991.

Rosehaugh Estate, Black Isle: Buzzards found poisoned by Mevinphos 1991.

Dinnet & Kinord Estates, Aboyne: Gamekeeper convicted for firearms offences and trespassing on neighbouring estate while carrying a firearm 2006; Golden eagle found poisoned 2006.

Straloch Farm, Blairgowrie: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Lothian Estates, Jedburgh: Osprey found shot 1993.

Glenfeshie Estate, Kincraig: Golden eagle found poisoned by Carbofuran 2006.

Islay Estates, Islay: Raven found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989; Buzzard found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989.

Dunecht Estates, Aberdeenshire: Buzzard found shot 2007.

Coignafearn Estate, Tomatin: Poisoned bait found 1983; Golden eagle found poisoned 1988.

Roxburghe Estate, Kelso: Buzzard found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989.

Seafield Estate, Strathsprey: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1991.

Innes Estate, Elgin: Dead Buzzards and crows found dying after poisoned by Carbofuran – Michael Royan (head gamekeeper) convicted of firearms offences and possession of illegal poisons 2007.

Carbeth Estate, Stirlingshire: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1989.

Wemyss & March Estates, Longniddry: Managers of the Barns Estate in Peebleshire, where gamekeeper was convicted of poisoning 20 raptors, described at the time as “Britain’s worst wildlife crime” 2004.

Alvie Estate, Kincraig: Golden eagle found poisoned 1980.

Aberarder Estate, Strathnairn: Eagle found poisoned 1993.

One has to ask, why are these estates still allowed a membership of SRPBA? Doesn’t their continued membership ruin any credibility of the SRPBA’s public pronouncements against illegal raptor persecution? Indeed, it seems to go against the SRPBA’s very own Code of Practice: http://srpba.com/view_item.aspx?item_id=136&open2=false 

Although of course, we should point out that some of these Estates may have changed ownership/staff since some of these incidents occured – we should probably give them all the benefit of the doubt because after all, the SRPBA has ‘repeatedly condemned the illegal poisoning of wildlife’ and of course we should all accept that their members are all above board and not engaged in criminal activities.

The SRPBA is also a fully-fledged partner in the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) – as a commited partner, I’m sure that the SRPBA has expelled any members that are associated with wildlife crime. Otherwise, what is the point of SRPBA being a partner in PAW Scotland? No point, other than paying lip-service to raptor conservation in a feeble attempt to protect their public image. But we are giving them the benefit of the doubt, aren’t we.

At the latest PAW Scotland meeting  that was held on 25 May 2010, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP apparently congratulated the SRPBA on their letter. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt too and assume she hadn’t read it yet.




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