Posts Tagged ‘Marsh harrier

14
Aug
17

Grouse shooting industry silent on marsh harrier persecution

Last Thursday (10th August 2017) North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, who had been filmed trying to shoot a nesting Marsh harrier on a Yorkshire grouse moor in May. Some more armed men, still dressed as gamekeepers, were also filmed removing eggs from the Marsh harrier’s nest.

The Police appeal for information about the crimes, and an RSPB blog about the crimes, can be found here. The RSPB’s video footage of the crimes can be viewed here:

Four days on, we were interested to find out what the leading representatives of the grouse shooting industry have had to say about these crimes so we checked the following website news sections:

Moorland Association – nothing

National Gamekeepers Organisation – nothing

Countryside Alliance – nothing

British Association for Shooting & Conservation – nothing

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – nothing

No condemnation of these crimes. No appeals for information about these crimes from within their industry. Just a complete wall of silence. We even asked the Moorland Association whether this grouse moor was a member, and we asked the National Gamekeepers Organisation whether they had any members employed on this grouse moor. The responses? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It’s the same deafening silence that followed the discovery of a poisons cache buried on another North Yorkshire grouse moor (see here).

Isn’t it great to see these ‘partners’ in the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) speaking out and doing their utmost to fight against illegal raptor persecution? It’s yet more evidence that the whole ethos of ‘partnership working’ against raptor persecution is nothing more than a sham.

Actually, how does this collective silence meet with the requirements of being a PAW member?

Let’s look at the PAW mission statement first:

Working in partnership to reduce wildlife crime through prevention and awareness-raising, better regulation, and effective and targeted enforcement‘.

Now let’s look at the PAW objectives:

  • PAW will raise awareness of wildlife legislation and the impacts of wildlife crime
  • PAW will help and advise on wildlife crime and regulatory issues
  • PAW will ensure all wildlife crime is tackled effectively.
  • All PAW members of PAW UK should take action in support of these overarching objectives

How does refusing to comment about raptor persecution crimes meet with any of the PAW objectives?

Some of these PAW members (all of them except the GWCT) are also members of the England & Wales PAW subgroup, the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG). This is the group that DEFRA has identified as being integral to their highly controversial Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. Part of the RPPDG’s role is to provide publicity about raptor persecution, in order ‘to build trust and transparency’. Strange then, that we haven’t found any statement from the RPPDG about the persecution of Marsh harriers on this North Yorkshire grouse moor.

We were interested to read about a few hundred Hunt Saboteurs ‘sabbing’ (disrupting) a couple of grouse shoots this last weekend. As the shooting industry members of the PAW Partnership continue to deliver nothing at all, don’t be surprised to see more of this direct action approach in the months and years ahead.

10
Aug
17

Video of marsh harrier persecution on North Yorkshire grouse moor

If anybody has been foolish enough to believe any of the grouse shooting industry’s recent propaganda onslaught in the run up to the Inglorious 12th, here’s a shocking reminder of what really goes on.

Press release published today by North Yorkshire Police:

POLICE INVESTIGATE PERSECUTION OF BREEDING MARSH HARRIERS

North Yorkshire Police are investigating an incident in which men disturbed a pair of marsh harriers nesting on moorland north of Denton, near Ilkley, in Wharfedale.

In May 2017 a pair of marsh harriers was discovered nesting on moorland forming part of Middleton and Denton moors near the village of Denton in North Yorkshire.

The site was monitored by RSPB investigators who photographed the nest containing five eggs. The adult birds were observed at the nest.

A camera was set up to record activity at the nest site. Video images recorded by the camera show that on 17 May at least two individuals, who appeared to be men, wearing dull, brownish green coloured jackets, traditional country caps, and carrying what looked like shotguns and a brown game bag approached the nest site on six occasions between 12.40pm and 9.30pm. The sound of several shots fired in the vicinity of the nest  were recorded, as was the noise of an engine, believed to be a quad bike. One of the men stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to pick up something from the nest before walking away.

The following day, 18 May, a further visit by a man, similarly attired, along with a green rucksack, was recorded at around 9.40am. This individual stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to remove something from the nest.

An RSPB investigator checked the site on 19 May and discovered the nest had no eggs in it, with no sign of any debris from damaged eggs.

The people shown on the video at the nest site have not been identified. A number of men have been spoken to by police as part of the investigation.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) makes it an offence to take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird. Marsh harriers are a scarce species, listed on schedule 1 of the WCA, and have additional protection. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb birds listed on schedule 1 while they are at, or near, a nest with eggs or young. Marsh harriers are birds of prey and they normally breed in marshes and reed beds. It is unusual to find them breeding in heather on a moor.

PC Bill Hickson, who is investigating the incident, said: “The video evidence provided by the RSPB shows illegal activity around a marsh harrier nest, and the activity shown speaks for itself. The pictures on the video are, unfortunately, too small to produce an image from which any of the individuals shown could be identified.”

Anyone who has any information about the incident or can help identify who was responsible is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police. Telephone 101, choose option 2 and ask for PC 820 Bill Hickson or email bill.hickson@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

ENDS

The RSPB has released a copy of the video footage: (make sure the volume is turned up)

The RSPB’s investigations unit has also published a blog about this case, here.

Gosh, who do you think those armed gunmen were? It’s a tricky one.

Here’s a map we’ve created to show the approximate location in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (which also just happens to be a notorious raptor persecution hotspot):

Well done to the RSPB Investigations Team for securing this footage (note: NOT inadmissible evidence) and very well done to North Yorkshire Police for a timely public appeal for information.

If, like us, you’re sick to the back teeth of the illegal persecution of raptors on grouse moors, and you want 10 million people to hear about it, please consider using your social media accounts (twitter & facebook) to sign up to Findlay Wilde’s thunderclap, due to go out at 9.30am on the morning of the Inglorious 12th. At the moment, the social reach of this thunderclap is over 9.5 million people. Let’s get it to ten million. Please sign here.

03
Nov
16

Marsh harrier found shot on East Yorkshire sporting estate

On 7th September 2016 an adult female Marsh harrier was found with shotgun injuries next to a partridge release pen on an East Yorkshire sporting estate.

The bird was rescued and underwent surgery at Battle Flatts vets in North Yorkshire.

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mh-xray

After surgery the bird was sent to Jean Thorpe in Ryedale for a period of rehabilitation.

On 31 October 2016, Jean was able to release this bird back to the wild.

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mh-jean-1

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A couple of things to mention here. This wildlife crime was uncovered nearly two months ago. We don’t know the circumstances of the bird’s discovery (e.g. Who found it? Who reported it?). We don’t know where or when it was shot, although looking at that x-ray it would be fair to assume the bird wouldn’t have been able to fly far from the location it was shot. We haven’t seen a Police press statement about this crime. Have they charged a suspect? If not, where’s the Police appeal for information? Are they still investigating? Isn’t wildlife crime supposed to be a police national priority? Pathetic.

On a more positive note, the work of Jean Thorpe at Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation continues to amaze us (and not forgetting the skill of vet Mark Naguib at Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic). Jean’s efforts are the perfect antidote to watching those disgraceful braying Tory MPs on Monday evening. They’d do well to visit her for an hour and learn about decency and compassion. Of course, Jean is not the only raptor rehabber in the UK but, living in North Yorkshire, she sees more than her fair share of raptor persecution victims. We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again – Jean’s work is entirely voluntary. If you want to support her work, please consider making a donation here.

UPDATE 4 Nov 2016: North Yorkshire Police have finally issued an appeal for information here. They’ve carefully avoided naming the estate where this bird was found.

10
Jun
15

Norfolk businessman puts up £5K reward to catch raptor persecutors

Mervyn Lambert NorfolkLast month somebody stole a clutch of eggs from a Marsh harrier nest in Norfolk (see here). Around the same time, eggs were also stolen from a Kestrel’s nest and a wagtail’s nest. Norfolk Constabulary are linking the three thefts.

In response, local businessman Mervyn Lambert is offering a £5,000 reward for information, adding to the other £2,000 already available (£1K from the Eastern Daily Press and £1K from the Hawk & Owl Trust).

However, Mr Lambert isn’t limiting his offer to these three crimes. “I’ll give £5,000 for any information, not only about stealing birds’ eggs but poisoning, trapping and shooting protected birds“.

Good stuff.

Further details in the Eastern Daily Press here.

14
May
15

Eggs stolen from Marsh Harrier nest in Norfolk

Marsh-harrier-on-nest Robert PickettNorfolk Constabulary is appealing for information following the theft of eggs from a Marsh Harrier nest in Guist, near Fakenham, Norfolk.

The theft is believed to have taken place on Sunday 10th May.

Norfolk Constabulary press release here

Nigel Pickover, editor of the Eastern Daily Press, says the newspaper is offering a £1K reward for information leading to a conviction (see here).

Marsh Harrier photo by Robert Pickett

13
Dec
13

North Yorks still worst place for raptor persecution in 2012

Bowland Betty2The RSPB has published its 2012 Birdcrime report documenting bird persecution throughout the UK.

North Yorkshire has once again come top of the league for the number of reported crimes against birds of prey (34), with Aberdeenshire a close second with 31 reported incidents. Both counties, of course, include large areas of land used for driven grouse shooting.

The 2012 report includes statistics that are all too familiar: confirmed shootings of short-eared owls, sparrowhawks, buzzards, barn owls, tawny owls, hen harriers, golden eagles, marsh harriers, and peregrines; confirmed nest destruction of peregrines, goshawks and barn owls; confirmed illegal spring-trapping of buzzards, golden eagle and peregrine; other types of illegal trapping (including crow cage traps) of sparrowhawks, tawny owls, buzzards and goshawks; and the confirmed illegal poisoning of ravens, red kites, buzzards, golden eagles, marsh harriers, peregrines, cats and dogs.

Remember, these are just the confirmed incidents. Plenty more ‘probable’ and ‘unconfirmed’ cases, and of course there are all the incidents that went undiscovered/unreported.

Does that sound to you like the game-shooting industry is cleaning up its act?

Well done to the RSPB for their meticulous work and especially for their willingness to share these data with the general public.

RSPB press release here

Download the RSPB’s 2012 Birdcrime report here

The photograph shows the shot hen harrier Bowland Betty, found on a North Yorkshire grouse moor in 2012. Nobody has been brought to justice for her death.

12
Nov
13

Two marsh harriers and a red kite poisoned: late appeal for info

The RSPB and two county police forces have put out an appeal for information following the discovery of a poisoned pair of Marsh Harriers and a Red Kite.

According to the press release (see here), the two breeding Marsh Harriers were discovered in April on land adjacent to the RSPB’s Nene Washes Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. The Red Kite was discovered in Old Leake, Boston, Lincolnshire in May. Toxicology analyses showed that all three birds had been poisoned with the banned pesticide Aldicarb.

So here we are again, a ridiculously late appeal for information, seven and six months respectively after the birds had been found. Further more, according to the press release, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) who funds the toxicology testing programme has already declared the two cases closed!

It seems there is more to these cases than meets the eye. Rumour has it that these cases have not been thoroughly investigated due to a lack of police resources. If that’s true, then why weren’t other agencies drafted in to help? Where’s all the much-heralded ‘partnership working’?

And why the bloody hell are appeals for information still coming so late? Every single bloody time it’s the same old story. What’s the point? Why is it so difficult to get these investigations right? That will be a question we’ll be posing in due course (and you can, too) to the newly-appointed ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) lead on Wildlife and Rural Crime, Chief Constable Simon Prince (from Wales). Watch this space.

In the meantime, we had a look at the quarterly poisoning results published by the CRD’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (see here). Have a look and see how many confirmed poisoning cases you can spot in England and Wales between Jan – June 2013 that have not been publicised in the media.

It seems the influence of The Untouchables spreads far and wide throughout these isles.

Here are the two poisoned Marsh Harriers

Marsh Harriers poisoned Nene 2013

And here is the poisoned Red Kite

RK poisoned Lincoln 2013




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