Posts Tagged ‘Marsh harrier

09
Oct
19

North Yorkshire Police appeal for info after Marsh Harrier found shot nr Scarborough

North Yorkshire Police have issued the following appeal for information:

Police appeal after an injured marsh harrier was found near Scarborough

8 October 2019

Police are appealing for information after an injured marsh harrier was found near Scarborough.

The bird was found at 4pm on Sunday 18 August 2019 by a member of the public in a stubble field close to the village of Hutton Buscel near Scarborough.

It was taken to local wildlife rehabilitator Jean Thorpe for care, and was subsequently taken to a veterinary practice for examination. The marsh harrier was found to have a broken left wing with a shotgun pellet lodged next to the fracture, which shows the bird had been subjected to persecution.

[Photo from Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve, where it was subsequently released after being helped by Jean Thorpe and veterinary specialists at Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic]

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “Sadly, North Yorkshire is the UK’s worst hotspot for confirmed cases of bird of prey persecution. This magnificent bird has been very fortunate to survive, largely thanks to the dedication and care given by Jean Thorpe, but is yet another example of a wildlife crime having taken place against our birds of prey.”

North Yorkshire Police have carried out extensive enquiries in the Hutton Buscel area. Officers are appealing for anyone with any information, or who may have witnessed anything taking place in relation to this bird, to contact PC Mark Atkinson at Malton Police Station by dialling 101, quoting reference number 12190155625.

ENDS

We believe this Marsh harrier is the one we blogged about on 18 September 2019 (here), having been found injured on a game-shooting estate near Scarborough in August, rescued, rehabbed and then released.

It’s not the first time a Marsh harrier has been found targeted on a game-shooting estate in Yorkshire. This one was found with shotgun injuries next to a partridge release pen on an East Yorkshire sporting estate in 2016 and this breeding pair was shot at and had their eggs removed by men dressed as gamekeepers on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire in 2017.

In 2017/2018 Amanda Anderson (Moorland Association) denied that her members were interested in obtaining licences permitting them to kill Marsh harriers but several witnesses said otherwise.

18
Sep
19

Marsh harrier shot, rescued, rehabbed & released in Yorkshire

There was some brilliant video footage posted on Twitter yesterday showing a rehabilitated Marsh harrier being released back in to the wild by the indefatigable Jean Thorpe (@jeanthorpeRR).

[Photo by Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve]

From the information provided, it was reported that the Marsh harrier had suffered a broken wing caused by a shotgun pellet and was found injured next to a game-shooting estate near Scarborough.

The x-ray details suggest this was on 18th August 2019.

Expert veterinary care and rehabilitation by Mark Naguib of Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic and Jean and this harrier was able to be released.

We haven’t seen any previous reports about the illegal shooting of this Marsh harrier, nor any police appeals for information.

[Jean releasing the harrier, photos by Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve]

UPDATE 9 October 2019: North Yorkshire Police appeal for info after Marsh Harrier found shot near Scarborough (here)

05
Jul
19

No strong evidence to support claim Norfolk Marsh harrier was ‘shot’

Two days ago the Hawk and Owl Trust announced the discovery of what was claimed to be a “shot” Marsh harrier close to the boundary of the Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve near Fakenham, Norfolk.

This story has since been reported in the local press and national media including the BBC website.

However, to be completely honest, the evidence to support this claim is not strong.

The bird was seen and photographed by a member of the public, but they were unable to reach the bird to rescue it. The photograph shows a clear injury to the harrier’s wing.

[Photo of the injured Marsh harrier, from Hawk and Owl Trust]

The member of the public then reported the discovery to reserve staff who went to try and locate the bird but it had gone. The report on the Hawk & Owl Trust website says ‘the vegetation was all broken down with only a few feathers left’.

The incident was then reported to the police.

Sorry, but unless there’s part of this story that is being kept under wraps for investigative purposes, it’s not possible to tell from the photograph whether this Marsh harrier had been shot or whether it was injured from, say, a collision with a fence. An x-ray would have confirmed it, of course, but under the circumstances an x-ray wasn’t an option.

Of course, it’s perfectly feasible that this Marsh harrier had been shot – we know this species is routinely targeted whether it be in the lowlands (e.g. see here and here) or on upland grouse moors (e.g. here), hated so much that the Moorland Association has been asking questions about whether licences to kill Marsh harriers might be available (see here). But on this particular occasion, with this particular harrier, more evidence would be required before this should be recorded as a confirmed shooting.

It’s ironic really. Remember, this is the same Hawk & Owl Trust that refused to acknowledge that its satellite-tagged hen harrier Rowan had been shot, despite a conclusive x-ray showing the bird’s shattered leg and, er, fragments of shot:

09
Jun
19

Police appeal for info after suspected theft of Marsh harrier eggs in Norfolk

Norfolk Constabulary has issued an appeal for information following the suspected theft of two Marsh harrier eggs in Norfolk:

WILDLIFE APPEAL WALSINGHAM

Police are appealing for information following the theft of bird eggs from a nest near Wells-next-the-Sea.

It is believed that two Marsh Harrier eggs were removed from a nest on farm land in the Walsingham area last Saturday (1 June).

Anyone who may have been in the area at the time and seen anything suspicious should contact PC Jason Pegden at Wells police station on 101, or alternatively, contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

[Marsh harrier by David Tipling]

 

22
Mar
19

Grouse shooting lease on wildlife crime grouse moor will not be renewed

The owner of Denton Moor, a company called NG Bailey, has announced it will not renew the grouse shooting lease to its current tenant following a spate of wildlife crime.

Denton Moor in the Nidderdale AONB in Yorkshire was where the RSPB filmed footage of several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, shooting at a nesting Marsh harrier and removing eggs from the nest in May 2017 (see here). Despite good efforts from North Yorkshire Police, the armed men have not been identified.

[RPUK map showing the location of Denton Moor]

Last month gamekeeper Austin Hawke was convicted of wildlife crime on the same moor after a badger was found dead in a snare in May 2018 (see here).

Campaigners have been targeting NG Bailey for some time and the recent conviction of one of the shooting tenant’s gamekeepers seems to have been the last straw for the landowner.

David Hurcomb, Chief Exec said:

NG Bailey is aware of the prosecution of Austin Hawke, the gamekeeper who is employed by and works for the tenants. To clarify, Austin Hawke is not employed by Denton Park Estate. As a business, we find this behavior totally unacceptable and do not condone this type of conduct – it is not reflective of the company’s values or ethical practices. We have advised the tenants that under no circumstances will the lease be renewed when it expires”.

Excellent news. Although whether that means it’ll be leased to someone other than the current tenant remains to be seen. We’re not sure when the current lease expires.

The efforts of a wide range of people have led to this result, allowing campaigners to join up the dots and apply pressure. Well done to them all, including the RSPB Investigations team, North Yorkshire police, local raptor workers, the Crown Prosecution Service and local campaigners.

Well done also to David Hurcomb and his colleagues at NG Bailey – this is a very welcome decision.

26
Feb
19

Gamekeeper convicted of wildlife crime on Yorkshire grouse moor (where Marsh harrier nest attacked in 2017)

Today at Skipton Magistrates gamekeeper Austin Hawke was convicted of a wildlife crime that took place on a Yorkshire grouse moor in May 2018.

The offence related to a dead badger found caught in a snare close to a stink pit on Denton Moor on 28 May 2018. Hawke was found guilty of failing to check the snare contrary to section 11 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

[Photos of the dead snared badger and the stink pit, contributed by a blog reader who wishes to remain anonymous]

On conviction, Hawke was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £625 costs.

A pathetically feeble penalty, again, but well done to North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force for pursuing this case and to the Crown Prosecution Service for securing the conviction.

What’s particularly interesting about this case is the location. This offence took place on Denton Moor and within one mile of the location of a Marsh harrier nest that was illegally attacked on several occasions in May 2017. The Marsh harrier nest was under video surveillance by the RSPB and the camera captured a number of armed gunmen, dressed as gamekeepers, who appeared to be shooting at the adult harriers and removing the eggs from the nest.

Despite a thorough investigation by North Yorkshire Police, nobody was ever charged for these alleged offences. As we’ve come to expect, the police received little help from the grouse shooting community when trying to identify the armed suspects.

Here is the map we created at the time, and below that is the RSPB’s video footage of the repeated attacks on the nest.

UPDATE 27 Feb 2019

North Yorkshire Police have issued the following press statement today:

A gamekeeper found guilty of committing a wildlife crime received a conditional discharge at Skipton Magistrates Court.

Austin Hawke, 51, of Ilkley, failed to check a snare following an incident at Denton on 29 May 2018 where a badger was found dead.

The offence is listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Following a trial on Tuesday (26 February 2019), Hawke was found guilty and received the conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay £645 costs and surcharge.

Sergeant Kev Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: “This case was reported following a member of the public who was aware of our proactive work under Operation Owl.

From the evidence collected, it was apparent that the badger had suffered before it had eventually died after being caught in the snare. Therefore this case was fully investigated to ensure other animals didn’t undergo the same fate.

If the defendant had been using breakaway snares it is less likely that he would have killed the badger.

I am disappointed as we have been doing some really good partnership working with local Nidderdale keepers who want to show the public good practice and accountability.

Hawke’s conviction will no doubt have an impact on how his profession is viewed. I think he has done his wider colleagues a disservice.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator, said: “The RSPCA continues to work closely with the North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force and this result highlights the strength of partnership working under Operation Owl.

“This badger will have suffered a horrific and prolonged death having been snared in this way.

“The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they are indiscriminate in what they catch and they cause tremendous suffering. But while they remain legal we hope we can work together with the Police and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to raise awareness of the good practice guide so as to improve accountability.”

ENDS

08
Jan
19

Marsh harrier found illegally shot

The RSPB Investigations Team is reporting the discovery of a shot Marsh harrier.

This bird was discovered critically injured on the river bank near Barton-upon-Humber in North Lincolnshire on 9th  September 2018. A dog walker reported it to the RSPCA and it was also reported to the police. An RSPCA officer took the harrier to the East Winch Wildlife Centre near Boston where an x-ray revealed it had been shot. The bird later died from its injuries.

[Photo by RSPCA]

Humberside Police investigated but were unable to identify the criminal responsible.

If anyone has any information relating to this incident, call Humberside Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 16/115793/18.

Further details on the RSPB Investigations blog here

Marsh harriers are increasingly in the firing line, whether it’s on lowland game shooting estates (e.g. here), on land adjacent to an RSPB Reserve (e.g. here) or on upland grouse moors (e.g. here).

And let’s not forget (as several people did) the grouse shooting industry’s interest in obtaining licences to kill Marsh harriers to prevent the so-called ‘disruption’ of driven grouse shoots.




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