Posts Tagged ‘hen harrier

15
Sep
18

Grouse shooting industry’s reaction to news of 3 x missing hen harriers

Following the RSPB’s announcement on Thursday that three of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers have already ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on three grouse moors (here), we predicted that the grouse shooting industry’s ‘leaders’ would respond with a wall of silence, just as they have previously (e.g. see here).

We weren’t wrong.

[One of the missing three: ‘Hilma’, photo by Steve Downing]

Two days on, after searching websites and twitter feeds, here’s how the ‘partners’ of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG, also known as the PAW Raptor Group) have responded:

Countryside Alliance – no public statement

BASC – no public statement

National Gamekeepers Organisation – no public statement

Moorland Association – no public statement

Country Land & Business Association – no public statement

Natural England – no public statement

DEFRA – no public statement

Northern England Raptor Forum – full public statement here

NERF’s statement is excellent, and as usual, it doesn’t pull any punches. It talks about the never-ending cycle of persecution on driven grouse moors and how the grouse shooting ‘partners’ of the RPPDG are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.

Why is this charade of ‘partnership-working’ still allowed to continue? It’s been running for seven years and absolutely nothing has changed. Nothing. Not one thing.

And nor will it, when the grouse shooting industry’s so-called leaders refuse to even publicise the raptor persecution hotline to encourage their members to report suspected raptor crime!

The RPPDG has a new Chair – Police Supt. Nick Lyall of Bedfordshire Police. We’ve been impressed with his willingness to listen – he contacted us directly and asked to talk – that’s never happened before. It’s clear that he wants to make a difference and understands that the status quo is unacceptable, but we don’t yet know what changes he intends to bring.

Although, he tweeted this afternoon that he intends to bring more conservation groups to the RPPDG and cited the Hawk & Owl Trust as one of them!

That’ll be the Hawk & Owl Trust that’s in bed with the grouse shooting industry in pursuit of the ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling scheme (here) and which is now facing two legal challenges from conservationists in the High Court in December (here); that lost its former President, Chris Packham, over the decision to partner with the grouse shooting industry on brood meddling (here); is prepared to turn a blind eye to the criminal activities of the driven grouse shooting industry when it suits (see here); is unwilling to be transparent about the illegal shooting of one of its own satellite-tagged hen harrriers (see here); and has been accused by its own members of being apologists for raptor persecution on driven grouse moors (here).

We look forward to a lively discussion with Nick later in the week!

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13
Sep
18

3 more satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ – all on grouse moors

You could set your clock by the regularity of these reports. In news that will shock absolutely no-one, the RSPB has announced the sudden and inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of three young satellite-tagged hen harriers.

All three had hatched this year, all three had vanished before the end of August, and in all three cases the tag’s last known fix came from a driven grouse moor.

Photo of Hen Harrier Octavia, by Steve Downing:

Read the RSPB blog here

The three ‘missing’ harriers are Hilma (1), Octavia (2) and Heulwen (3).

[RPUK map]

According to the RSPB blog, Hilma’s last known tag fix was on 8 August 2018 ‘near Wooler, Northumberland over land managed for driven grouse shooting’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be on the Lilburn Estate. We’ve blogged about the Lilburn Estate recently (see here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Hilma’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?

According to the RSPB blog, Octavia’s last known tag fix was on 26 August 2018 on ‘privately owned grouse moors near Sheffield’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be the Broomhead Estate in the Peak District National Park. We’ve blogged about the Broomhead Estate quite recently (here, here and here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Octavia’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?

According to the RSPB blog, Heulwen’s last known tag fix was on 29 August 2018 ‘in the vicinity of Ruabon Mountain’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be the Ruabon grouse moor. We’ve blogged about this grouse moor recently (see here, here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Heulwen’s last known location:

And cue obfuscation, denial and deflections from the grouse shooting industry’s social media trolls, deathly silence from the grouse shooting industry’s representative bodies, and wilful blindness (and continued silence) from DEFRA, Michael Gove MP, Therese Coffey MP, Natural England and anyone else who thinks we’re stupid enough to believe that the HH Action Plan is helping hen harrier population recovery.

Cartoon by Gerard Hobley

 

07
Sep
18

North Wales Police investigating “possible disappearance” of another satellite-tagged hen harrier

The North Wales Police Rural Crime Team has posted the following statement on Twitter this morning:

There isn’t much detail to go on but presumably this harrier’s tag has suddenly and inexplicably stopped in highly suspicious circumstances, just like the 79% of other tags fitted to hen harriers between 2007-2017 (and remember this is 79% of tags fitted by Natural England – it does not include any tags fitted by the RSPB – we’re expecting that analysis sometime next year).

What’s interesting though, is the location from where this hen harrier’s satellite tag last tranmsitted: the “Llandegla area”. This is very close to the location where another satellite-tagged hen harrier (Aalin) ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in February this year near the Ruabon grouse moor (see earlier blog on Aalin’s disappearance here).

Hopefully more details about this latest hen harrier’s “possible disappearance” will be published soon.

UPDATE 13 September 2018: 3 more satellite-tagged hen harriers disappear – all on grouse moors (here)

26
Aug
18

New satellite tag data reveal suspicious clustering of ‘missing’ hen harriers on English grouse moors

[UPDATE 27th August 2018: The three maps below have now been updated to account for the inaccurate grid reference of one ‘missing, fate unknown’ hen harrier – now accurately shown to have ‘disappeared’ in North York Moors National Park, and not in Bowland AONB]

Well, well, well.

The Westminster Government’s statutory nature conservation agency, Natural England (NE), has chosen to publish its long-awaited hen harrier satellite tag data late on a Saturday evening of a Bank Holiday weekend. No announcement, no fanfare, just quietly uploaded to the DEFRA website, probably hoping that nobody would notice.

After having a preliminary look at these data, it’s no wonder NE doesn’t want to shout about them because they validate our long-held view that NE has been shielding the hen harrier-killing criminals within the driven grouse shooting industry for years, instead of dragging them before the courts and closing down their filthy ‘sport’.

Photo of a satellite-tagged hen harrier. A post-mortem revealed it had been shot.

NE has been satellite-tagging hen harriers since 2007 and a lot of them have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances (e.g. here). As many regular blog readers will know, we, and others (notably Mark Avery) have been asking NE to publish these hen harrier satellite tag data for a long time. We came quite close to getting the information from this publicly-funded research about a year ago, when NE published part of its ten-year data set but crucially, it excluded all meaningful grid references and any information about the land use in the areas where these hen harriers had ‘disappeared’.

We accused NE of a cover up (see here and here) and pursued the data via many FoI requests but all to no avail. NE told us that as the 11-year NE-funded PhD study had finally been ditched (here), external experts would instead be analysing the data and we could expect the results to be submitted for peer-review publication in 2018.

The findings of that study by external experts were presented at an international ornithological conference in Vancouver yesterday morning, and NE, realising it could no longer justify withholding the data without facing another legal challenge, published the updated satellite tag data late last night.

The new hen harrier satellite tag data have been published on the DEFRA website here

The update is the same spreadsheet that NE published last September but now, importantly, also includes six figure grid references for the ‘last known fix’ from the satellite tags of most of the 59 hen harriers tagged by NE between 2007-2017.

We haven’t had time to look at these data very closely but for now we’ve produced some quick and dirty maps to show the distribution of ‘missing’ hen harriers and those that have been found dead, confirmed to have been killed illegally. Remember, these are the hen harriers that have been satellite-tagged by NE – the map does not include the data from RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project, so these maps will show an even bleaker picture once the RSPB has analysed the data from its tagged birds.

Here’s the overview map:

[Red star: HH found dead & confirmed illegally killed; Orange star: HH missing, fate unknown; Yellow star: Hen Harrier ‘John’, missing, fate unknown; Black star: hen harrier missing fate unknown but grid reference withheld]

The reason hen harrier John (yellow star) has been highlighted separately is because on NE’s updated spreadsheet, the data are only presented up to September 2017, and so John is shown as still being alive. However, we know that John ‘disappeared’ on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in early October 2017 and so now joins the many others classified as ‘missing, fate unknown’.

The three black stars represent hen harriers that are listed in NE’s data set as ‘missing fate unknown’ but the grid references for these three harriers have been withheld, and the birds’ last known fix locations are given as ‘Bowland’, ‘Bowland’, and ‘Sheffield’. Presumably there is good reason to withhold these grid refs (perhaps they identify commonly-used roost sites?) so we’re not going to quibble about that. Consequently, the black stars are not placed accurately, just in the general area of ‘Bowland’ and ‘Sheffield’ (and presumably ‘Sheffield’ refers to a location close by, perhaps in the Peak District National Park).

You can see from this first overview map that there appears to be quite a bit of ‘clustering’ of last known fix locations in Yorkshire and Bowland, so let’s have a closer look at a regional scale:

Gosh, there does seem to be a lot of ‘missing’ hen harriers clusted in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – all highly designated protected landscapes.

Shall we look a bit closer?

And there you have it. A suspicious spatial clustering of ‘missing’ or confirmed persecuted hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB and Bowland AONB – all areas where the landscape is dominated by intensively managed driven grouse moors.

Haven’t we seen this suspicious spatial clustering somewhere else? Ah yes, the map that shows the ‘missing’ satellite-tagged golden eagles in Scotland, where the spatial clustering appears in some areas that are intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.

Imagine that.

What’s that quote? “You can hide the bodies, you can hide the tags, but you can’t hide the pattern” (Dr Hugh Webster).

Looking at NE’s data spreadsheet, 47 of the 59 hen harriers satellite-tagged by NE between 2007-2017 are ‘missing, fate unknown’. That’s a whopping 79.6%!

Now obviously, these last known fix location data are of great interest to us and we await the publication of the full scientific analyses of all the tag data with great interest. But perhaps what is more interesting is what these data reveal about NE’s complicity in shielding the criminals within the grouse shooting industry.

Knowing full well what its own satellite tag research was showing, why has NE suppressed these results for so many years whilst working in so-called ‘partnership’ with the grouse shooting industry and sat back in silence whilst those same grouse shooting industry representatives have consistently denied, even in Parliament, the extent of their industry’s role in the systematic killing of hen harriers?

More blogs on this to come.

23
Aug
18

Heads up for Hen Harriers Project: is this the info they’ve been trying to hide?

The Heads up for Hen Harriers Project is a Scottish Government-funded initiative, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in partnership with the landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), RSPB Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Here is a photo of a hen harrier nest, captured by one of the project’s nest cameras:

The idea behind this project, which began in 2015, is that sporting estates agree to have cameras installed at hen harrier nests to identify the causes of nest failure. This is a flawed idea right from the off. We all know the main reason behind the declining hen harrier population – illegal persecution on intensively managed driven grouse moors – it has been documented time and time and time again, in scientific papers and government-funded reports. So, if you put an ‘official Project camera’ on a hen harrier nest situated on a driven grouse moor, the gamekeepers will know about it and won’t touch that nest (although they’re quite likely to try and bump off the young once they’ve left the nest but are hanging around the grouse drives, away from the nest camera). So if the nest then fails for natural reasons (e.g. poor weather, predation), the Project will only identify those issues as the cause of failure, and not the illegal persecution issue. The grouse-shooting industry will then use those (biased) results to shout about illegal persecution not being an issue. We’ve seen this many times already.

We’ve blogged about this project many times over the last few years and have been highly critical of its claims (e.g. see hereherehereherehere, here, here, here, here). Andy Wightman MSP also condemned the project in a Parliamentary debate last year as “a greenwashing exercise“. You can read the transcript here and watch the video here (and note the stony silence after Andy’s speech!).

One of the controversial claims made by this project emerged in the run up to that Parliamentary debate. Scottish Land & Estates issued a Parliamentary briefing note about the Heads Up for Harriers Project which was sent to MSPs.

You can read that briefing note here.

In this briefing note, SLE claimed:

Up to two thirds of the estates where cameras have been installed [seven of 11 nests over 3 yr period] have been driven grouse moors, indicating a strong take-up where the issue of hen harrier decline is most relevant“.

We wanted to scrutinise this claim and submitted several FoIs to SNH asking for the names of the estates to be released (for some reason, estates names had been kept top secret even though this is a publicly-funded project). Here’s SNH’s response:

FoI request to SNH: In each year, how many estates had successful nests and of those, how many estates were managed for driven grouse shooting?

SNH response: 2015 – 2 estates with successful nests, 2 of which were driven grouse moor. 1 additional successful nest 100m off the estate boundary of a driven grouse moor.

2016 – 3 estates with successful nests, 2 of which were driven grouse moor.

2017 – 6 estates with successful nests, 3 of which were driven grouse moor.

FoI request to SNH: Please provide the name of each estate, in each year, that signed up to participate.

SNH response: We have considered this part of your request very carefully, and we are unable to provide the estate names. Estates enter into the Heads Up For Harriers project voluntarily. The estate name information in this case was provided voluntarily, there are no other circumstances that entitle SNH to disclose it, and the estates have not consented to disclosure. Making the information publicly available would be likely to prejudice the interests of the estates, for example via negative publicity in the event of harriers not nesting on the estate or in the event of nest/s failing on the estate. We are therefore withholding the estate name details under EIRs Regulation 10(5)(f) (Interests of the individual providing the information).

The Heads Up for Harriers project members’ position is that estate wishes must be respected. Further, members agree the most important aspect of the project is to encourage cooperation and a positive working relationship ‘on the ground’ between estates, Project Officers and other project members to promote survival of hen harriers and enable monitoring if and when hen harriers return to breed. We have therefore concluded that, in this case, the public interest is best served by not releasing the estate names.

So SNH was also claiming that seven of the successful nests were located on driven grouse moors. Without being told the names of these grouse moor estates, it was impossible for this claim to be properly scrutinised, but we were suspicious enough to try anyway. We also considered carefully SNH’s explanation for not releasing the names (that it would ‘prejudice’ the interests of the estates involved via negative publicity) but we dismissed this as nonsense. The hen harrier-loving general public isn’t going to be upset at an estate that has made genuine efforts to host breeding hen harriers. Why would it?

It has taken us many months of painstaking research but we now think we know the names of those estates. To be absolutely clear, we aren’t 100% certain that our information is accurate and without being told ‘officially’ by the project partners, we won’t know, but we’re as sure as we can be given the thick veil of secrecy that surrounds this project.

In 2015 three estates had nest cameras placed at hen harrier nests. We believe these were on Ballandalloch Estate, Muckrach Estate, and Novar Estate:

Not one of these estates is on our radar as being involved with illegal raptor persecution and we applaud them for hosting breeding hen harriers. How many were driven grouse moors? Well according to SNH, two of them were. Which of these three estates was being run as a driven grouse moor in 2015? None of them, as far as we’ve been able to find out. There may have been some low-ground shooting (pheasants/partridge) and perhaps some walked-up grouse shooting, and Ballindalloch does have driven grouse shooting on one of its three landholdings but apparently not on the moor where the Heads up for Hen Harrier nest was located.

In 2016, three estates had nest cameras placed at hen harrier nests. We believe these were on Langholm Moor, Muckrach Estate and Novar Estate:

Again, not one of these estates is on our radar as being involved with illegal raptor persecution and we applaud them for hosting breeding hen harriers. How many were driven grouse moors? Well according to SNH, two of them were. Which of these three estates was being run as a driven grouse moor in 2016? None of them, as far as we’ve been able to find out. Muckrach and Novar were being run as they were in 2015, which leaves Langholm Moor, which was being run as a Demonstration Project so definitely not your average driven grouse moor (and they weren’t shooting grouse there either).

In 2017, six estates had nest cameras placed at hen harrier nests. We believe these were Langholm, Wildlands Ltd (1); Wildlands Ltd (2), Airlie Estate, Midfearn Estate and Balnagown Estate:

Again, not one of these estates is on our radar as being involved with illegal raptor persecution and we applaud them for hosting breeding hen harriers. How many were driven grouse moors? Well according to SNH, three of them were. Which of these six estates was being run as a driven grouse moor in 2017? The only one we have a question mark over is Airlie Estate (in the Angus Glens), which may or may not have been managed for driven grouse shooting in 2017. Our local informants suggest it wasn’t, but the nest (which failed – but not under suspicious circumstances) was close to the boundary of another estate that is managed for driven grouse shooting. The other estates are either rewilding projects, low ground, or have no gamebird shooting whatsoever.

So, if our analysis is correct (and it might not be – again, it’s important to reiterate that we’re not able to verify our findings because the estate names are being kept secret by SNH), only one of these eleven estates might have been managed for driven grouse shooting at the time the nest cameras were placed. Not seven, as SNH claims, and not two-thirds, as SLE claims, but one, possibly, maybe.

We are able to have some confidence in our findings after listening to a Hen Harrier Day presentation given by Brian Etheridge a couple of weeks ago in the Highlands. Brian, an acknowledged expert on hen harriers having studied them for well over 40 years, works as a Heads up for Hen Harriers Project Officer. He told the audience that in 2018, of seven successful nests, two were on driven grouse moors. He said of these hen harriers successfully fledging on the two driven grouse moors, “It’s the first time I’ve recorded that since way back in the 1990s“.

It sounds like there’s a bit of good news from this year’s project then, although we’re awaiting the results to be announced formally, not that we’ll believe them if they’re announced by either SLE or SNH.

However, this apparent good news this year does not, and should not, detract from the apparently misleading statements made by both SLE and SNH about the project’s previous so-called success on driven grouse moors. We’d expect nothing else from SLE but for SNH, a statutory Government agency, to be making what appear to be inaccurate statements, well that’s a very serious matter.

We’ll be writing to SNH to invite a response to our findings and to tell us we’ve got this completely wrong and to provide evidence to demonstrate why we’ve got it wrong.

Or is it the case, as Andy Wightman MSP put to the Scottish Parliament last December, that the project is being used as a greenwashing exercise to hide the criminal activities that are undertaken by some in the driven grouse shooting industry and to promote the misleading impression that it is voluntarily cooperating to clean up its act?

We’ll keep you posted.

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.

13
Aug
18

More shameless Hen Harrier propaganda from Scottish Land & Estates

It’s no coincidence that on the opening day of the grouse shooting season, and the day after Hen Harrier Day, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE, the landowners’ lobby group) has come out with more fake news about how shooting estates are “committed” to hen harrier conservation.

You might have seen a couple of articles about this in the press today, including in The Times (here, but behind a paywall) and in The Express (here, not behind a paywall and virtually identical to the article in The Times so you might as well read this one).

Fortunately, the journalists writing these articles didn’t rely solely on the press release from SLE (see below) but instead did their own research and included information about the illegal persecution of hen harriers on grouse moors, the long-term population decline in hen harriers, and also added a bit about the Scottish Government’s commissioned review on grouse moor management following the damning findings of the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, which demonstrated 31 of 141 sat-tagged golden eagles had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on driven grouse moors.

It is indeed fortunate that the journalists did their own homework instead of simply cutting & pasting SLE’s press release, because if they hadn’t, this tosh is what would have appeared in today’s papers. Thanks to the journalist who sent us a copy:

Either SLE hasn’t read/understood the scientific papers and reports on this issue, or it has read/understood them but has chosen to ignore the findings and instead publish a load of made-up nonsense in a desperate attempt to mislead the public about how great grouse moors are for raptor conservation. Actually, we know that SLE has read/understood the papers because Tim (Kim) Baynes of SLE is quoted in this BBC article last year as saying the most recent population decline in hen harriers was ‘disappointing’.

Hen harrier numbers in Scotland HAVE NOTremained static“, as SLE claims. The last national survey (2016) revealed the Scottish hen harrier population has suffered a decline of 27% since the 2004 national survey. That’s over a quarter of the population gone in twelve years. In what way can that possibly be described as “remaining static“?

There is also no evidence whatsoever that “raptor crime of all types has been dropping steadily” and that “real progress has been made“, as SLE claims. What we do have is evidence of the continued suppression of various raptor species on land managed for driven grouse shooting as revealed by national and regional surveys (e.g. red kitehen harrier, golden eagle, peregrine), and evidence that the raptor killers have changed their tactics, no longer relying so much on the use of illegal poisoned baits (which are easy to detect) but instead preferring to shoot these raptors and then quickly remove the evidence, although if the shot raptor is carrying a satellite tag, the associated data evidence is impossible for the criminals to hide. Does this recent tally of ‘missing’ sat tagged raptors, just in the space of the last year, look like “real progress has been made“?

And as for SLE’s claim that golden eagles “thrive” on grouse moors – it’s a well-rehearsed claim that was rightly condemned by the RSPB as “risible, make-believe tosh” the last time it was made in 2016 (see here). And of course since then the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review has shown that golden eagles are 25 times more likely to suddenly and inexplicably ‘disappear’ in highly suspicious circumstances on some driven grouse moors than anywhere else in the world.

How on earth does SLE (and it’s associated bodies such as the Scottish Moorland Group and the Gift of Grouse) keep getting away with publishing such drivel?

The Heads up for Hen Harriers project is supposedly a partnership – do the rest of the partners (PAW Scotland Raptor Group and all its members, and SNH) support these false claims? If not, why aren’t those partner organisations saying something about this? Why hasn’t SLE been booted off this ‘partnership’?

And speaking of the Heads up for Hen Harriers project, you may remember we’ve blogged extensively about this partnership sham, and it was slammed in Parliament by Andy Wightman MSP as “a greenwashing exercise” (see here).

We blogged last December about some of our concerns about the claims being made about this project (see here) but we needed to do a bit more research to confirm our suspicions. We haven’t forgotten about this; we’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to get some information out of SNH via a series of FoIs but SNH has consistently refused to provide the requested information. So we’ve had to do some fact checking via various different routes, which has been time-consuming, but we’re just about there. We intend to blog about our findings shortly, and it doesn’t look good for either SLE or SNH.




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