Posts Tagged ‘gamekeeper


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!


Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson accused of 12 wildlife crimes

Further to previous blogs on the prosecution of Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson for alleged wildlife crimes in the Scottish Borders (see here, here here and here) further details have emerged about the charges he faces.

From the Peebleshire News (12/4/19) (and with thanks to the blog reader who sent us a copy):


A gamekeeper has been accused of 12 wildlife offences at Jedburgh Sheriff Court. Alan Wilson, 60, is charged with 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 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.

Wilson, of xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx pleaded not guilty to all 12 charges and a trial date was set for June 13 with an intermediate hearing on May 27.


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


Prosecution continues against Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson for alleged wildlife crimes

The case against Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson continued with a procedural hearing at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on Monday 1st April.

Mr Wilson faces multiple charges of alleged wildlife crimes following a police raid on a shooting estate at Longformacus in the Scottish Borders in June 2017 (see here here and here).

Mr Wilson has not yet entered a plea but will have a chance to do so at another intermediate hearing, and depending on his plea, a potential trial date has been set to begin on 13 June 2019.

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


Former Edradynate Estate head gamekeeper cleared of crop poisoning charges

David Campbell, the former head gamekeeper of Edradynate Estate in Perthshire, has been cleared of all charges relating to the poisoning of game crops on the estate in April 2017.

It had been alleged that David Campbell had maliciously damaged game crops by spraying them with an unknown substance which caused them to rot and perish. At the time of the alleged offences, Campbell was no longer an employee of the estate, having worked there since 1983 but after falling out with the landowner, millionaire city financier Michael Campbell (no relation), his employment was terminated in February 2017.

[Edradynate Estate, photo by Ruth Tingay]

Michael Campbell had told the court that he believed his former employee had caused the damage ‘in revenge’ and said he could identify David Campbell on CCTV by his distinctive “mutton chop” facial hair. Various witnesses had told the court that David Campbell had been “upset” at having to leave his long-term employment at Edradynate Estate.

Last week, David Campbell’s defence solicitor had argued that the case against his client should be dropped because there was a lack of evidence to show his client was the person caught on the covertly-filmed CCTV. Sheriff Gillian Wade had rejected the argument and said the court had been presented with sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

However, at Tuesday’s court hearing Sheriff Wade cleared David Campbell after ruling the case against him had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

This latest failed prosecution is one of several linked to the Edradynate Estate, although the majority of the previous allegations have related to the alleged illegal poisoning of birds of prey, rather than alleged crop poisoning. Despite at least 22 police investigations over several decades (according to former Tayside wildlife crime officer Alan Stewart), nobody from Edradynate Estate has ever been successfully prosecuted for any of these alleged wildlife crimes.

[A poisoned buzzard at Edradynate in 2015, photo RPUK]

We’ve blogged about this estate a lot over the years (see links here), and most recently in relation to the alleged poisoning of two buzzards in 2015 and the Crown Office’s decision in 2017 not to prosecute one of the Edradynate gamekeepers (un-named), despite Police Scotland urging otherwise (see here).

Edradynate Estate is currently serving a three year General Licence restriction, imposed in Sept 2017 and which we believe relates to the alleged buzzard poisonings in March 2015.

Last year three dogs and two more buzzards were reported to have been “deliberately poisoned” in the area but nobody has been charged (see here) and we are not aware of any suggested link between these poisonings and any current employee of Edradynate Estate.


Don’t laugh, but gamekeepers claim to “care deeply” about protecting hen harriers!

It’s not quite April Fools’ Day but the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation thought it’d get in there early this year.

Just a week on from the publication of a scientific paper that demonstrated the catastrophic loss of satellite-tagged hen harriers was undeniably linked to land managed by gamekeepers for grouse shooting (see here), the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) published this on its website:

Amazing, eh?

Remind us again, NGO – where was the last known location of the latest hen harrier to ‘disappear’ in suspicious circumstances? Ah yes, in Wiltshire, close to the proposed hen harrier reintroduction site and in an area heavily managed for pheasant and partridge shooting. And what did the NGO say about this bird’s disappearance? Ah yes, that it was “a set up” by the RSPB.

And remind us again, NGO – what examples do you have of the NGO “living in harmony with buzzards“? Ah yes, you supported a gamekeeper (who had a prior poison-related conviction) to get licences to kill buzzards to ‘protect’ his pheasants.

And remind us again, NGO – what was your most recent action on the RPPDG, the group that’s supposed to tackle illegal raptor persecution? Ah yes, it was to resign.

And please could you tell us, NGO, what is “Circus cyaneusto“?! Is this an imaginary harrier species, to match the gamekeepers’ imaginary devotion to hen harriers that we’re supposed to believe?

Not so much April Fools, more like deluded fools.


National Gamekeepers’ rep still in denial about extent of illegal raptor persecution

A couple of weeks ago we blogged about how Tim Weston, a Development Officer for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) had suggested that the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Vulcan’ had been a “set-up” by the RSPB (see here).

At the same time, he argued that there was “zero wildlife crime” in the area where Vulcan vanished, even though the RSPB had already recorded 27 confirmed raptor persecution incidents since 2000, including 10 shot, 9 poisoned, 7 trapped and one nest destruction.

Tim’s not great with figures. Nor logic. In a letter he wrote for last week’s Countryman’s Weekly rag he suggests that as there are now fewer convictions for raptor persecution, it follows that there are fewer crimes. Good grief. Perhaps he missed the latest edition (2017) of the RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report, which says:

In 2017, there were 68 confirmed incidents of raptor persecution, but only four prosecutions relating to raptor crime. Of those, only one resulted in a conviction‘.

The main focus of Tim’s letter was on the NGO’s recent resignation (here, here and here) from the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), a group established to tackle illegal raptor persecution:

Check out that last paragraph:

Although the NGO has left the [RPPDG] group it is still doing the very best of educating and encouraging peer pressure to halt any any raptor persecution and the results speak for themselves”.

Indeed, Tim, “the results do speak for themselves” because two days after your letter was published we were able to read those results in a top quality scientific paper that revealed that 72% of satellite tagged hen harriers were either confirmed as illegally killed or disappeared in circumstances in which illegal killing was the only plausible explanation, most of them on or close to grouse moors. The research results also revealed that the likelihood of an individual hen harrier dying, or disappearing, was ten times higher within areas predominantly covered by grouse moor, compared to areas with no grouse moors.

Sorry Tim, no cigar for you, although you do appear to have won a knife, what with your letter being deemed the ‘star letter’ of last week’s rag (which gives everyone a pretty good idea about the quality of the other letters published in Countryman’s Weekly).

And what of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s formal response to the hen harrier satellite tag paper? Was it any more convincing than Tim’s grasp of the extent of raptor persecution?

Not really. This is from the NGO’s website:

Who ever wrote this response for the National Gamekeepers’ Org didn’t quite manage to include the information that was central to the research findings: that, er, the illegal killing of hen harriers is intrinsically linked to the distribution of grouse moors across northern England, which is, er, where gamekeepers work.


Former Edradynate Estate Head Gamekeeper fails to persuade court to abandon his trial

The trial of Edradynate Estate’s former head gamekeeper continued at Perth Sheriff Court last week.

David Campbell, 69, denies that between 14 and 16 April 2017 at Edradynate Estate he maliciously damaged game crops by spraying them with an unknown substance which caused them to rot and perish.

[Edradynate Estate driveway, photo by Ruth Tingay]

At the time of the alleged offences, Campbell was no longer an employee of the estate, having worked there since 1983 but after falling out with the landowner, millionaire city financier Michael Campbell (no relation), his employment was terminated in February 2017. Michael Campbell told the court in November 2018 that he believed his former employee had caused the damage ‘in revenge’ (see here).

During a hearing in late January, the court heard from various witnesses who claimed David Campbell was ‘upset’ about having to leave his long-term position at Edradynate (see here).

At day three of the trial last week David Campbell’s solicitor, David Holmes, failed to have the case thrown out of court. Mr Holmes argued that there was a lack of evidence to show that his client was the person seen on the covert CCTV images. However, Sheriff Gillian Wade rejected this argument and said the court had been presented with sufficient evidence to let the Crown continue with its prosecution.

The case continues.

It might seem odd that we’re reporting on this case, and although we can’t explain that decision while this trial is on-going, all will become clear in due course.

PLEASE NOTE: We’re not accepting comments on this case until the trial concludes. Thanks.

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