Posts Tagged ‘Moy Estate

17
Dec
20

Poisoned red kite found dead on Scottish grouse moor – an interesting police investigation

Further to yesterday’s news from Police Scotland that a poisoned red kite had been found dead on a Scottish grouse moor at Moy (see here), news has emerged that this bird was also being satellite-tracked, which has implications for the police investigation and any potential sanction imposed on the estate as a result.

An article in today’s Strathspey and Badenoch Herald (here) published a photograph of the young kite with two of its siblings when they were fitted with satellite tags in 2019. The article also notes that this kite was from the first brood to fledge in the Cairngorms National Park, and the first successful brood in the Badenoch & Strathspey area since 1880 (thanks to blog reader Dave Pierce for posting this as a blog comment yesterday).

[The three red kite siblings, fitted with satellite tags, in the Cairngorms National Park. Photo Scottish Raptor Study Group]

It’s not often, these days, that a poisoned satellite-tagged raptor is found (although there are some notable exceptions, including this satellite-tagged white tailed eagle, found poisoned on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park earlier this year).

Since satellite-tagging became more routine, poisoning offences have dropped considerably, presumably because the presence of a satellite tag increases the probability of crime detection. Instead, the shooting and trapping of raptors have become much more prevalent killing methods because the perpetrator has more control over the crime scene (and can thus remove evidence quickly). What we usually get with satellite-tagged raptors these days is a sudden and inexplicable ‘stop’ in the tracking data, and both the tag and the bird ‘disappear’, never to be seen again (well, only if the criminal has hidden the evidence of the crime properly, unlike in this recent case where a golden eagle’s satellite tag was discovered cut off and wrapped in lead [to block the signal] and dumped in a river).

So the discovery of this poisoned satellite-tagged red kite at Moy is unusual, but also very helpful. Depending on the type of tag and it’s ‘duty cycle’ (i.e. the frequency with which the tag had been programmed to collect and transmit data), information should be available to Police Scotland to inform them of the kite’s recent movements. For example, had it been on this grouse moor for several days (in which case the likelihood of it being poisoned there would seem high) or had it travelled in from a distance elsewhere shortly before dying, which might indicate it was poisoned elsewhere?

Much will also depend on the type of poison used (which hasn’t been disclosed) and the dose and the toxicity. We know from the Police press release yesterday that it was a banned poison (one of eight listed on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005, which are Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide,  Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium cyanide and Strychnine) but some of these poisons are incredibly fast-acting and others are less so, which might also give clues to where the poison had been placed.

Information also hasn’t been released about whether a poisoned bait was found close to the poisoned red kite. Sometimes they are (especially if the poison used is fast-acting) but other times the bait is not present, which might suggest the bird was poisoned elsewhere and managed to fly some distance before succumbing to death.

In other cases bait has been found placed out on estate boundary fences – this has been a common ploy by some estates that aims to obfuscate a police investigation and point blame to an innocent, neighbouring estate where the poisoned bird may have been found dead.

For obvious reasons, the Police haven’t released much of the details because the criminal investigation is ongoing. However, it is these details that will inform the decision-making process at NatureScot (SNH rebranded) as to whether a General Licence restriction order should be imposed on Moy Estate after the discovery of this poisoned red kite.

As regular blog readers will know, General Licence restriction orders are pretty impotent because estates can simply circumnavigate them with applications for individual licences instead, but nevertheless, that’s not a reason for not imposing them where merited.

This’ll be an interesting case to follow.

16
Dec
20

Poisoned red kite found on Scottish grouse moor

Press release from Police Scotland (16th December 2020)

Appeal for information – poisoned bird of prey – Ruthven, Moy

Police Scotland has confirmed that a red kite found dead in the Ruthven area in October, had been poisoned with a banned pesticide.

[A poisoned red kite, photo by Marc Ruddock. NB: Not the poisoned red kite in this particular incident]

Further searches were carried out yesterday (15 December) with partner agency RSPB on hill ground near Meall a’ Bhreacraibh and Ruthven, Moy, in the northern Monadliath mountains.

No further poisoned raprtors or animals were identified.

Police Constable Daniel Sutherland, Highlands and Islands Wildlife crime Liaison officer, said:

Traces of a banned pesticide have been detected in a Red kite found in the area. This incident is sadly another example of where a bird of prey has been killed through ingestion of an illegally held poison.

I strongly urge anyone within the local and wider community to come forward with details on any information about this incident.”

Following consultation with the Scottish Government Rural Payments Directorate and the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), Police Scotland requests members of the public and any dog walkers to be cautious when walking in the surrounding area and the immediate vicinity. 

Anybody who has information about this incident, banned pesticide possession or misuse, or other information relating to raptor persecution please contact Police Scotland on 101 or pass on information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

This is a very good response from Police Scotland – a press release out the day after the police search and a clear warning to the public to be cautious in this area, especially if walking with dogs. The name of the banned poison isn’t given, probably for investigative purposes, but by telling the public it’s a banned poison we know it’s one of eight highly toxic pesticides (or perhaps a combination) listed on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005, which are Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide,  Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium cyanide and Strychnine.

Now, about the location. According to Andy Wightman’s excellent Who Owns Scotland website, the area of land mentioned in the police press release is part of the Moy Estate in the northern Monadhliaths. Or at least it was when Andy compiled his data – it’s possible, of course, that there have since been boundary changes.

Regular blog readers will be familiar with the Moy area. Moy Estate was raided by police ten years ago after the discovery of poisoned bait and dead raptors and illegally set traps. A gamekeeper was later convicted of possession of a red kite after its bloodied corpse was found in the back of his vehicle. It had two broken legs and a head injury. A bloodied shinty stick was also found in the back of the vehicle.

The remains of two further red kites were discovered on the moor, including a severed red kite leg and some wing tags that had previously been fitted to a kite, all found buried in holes under some moss. A jar in one of the gamekeeper’s houses contained the leg rings of four young golden eagles – nobody could account for how they had ended up inside that jar. A live hen harrier was found caught by its leg in an illegally-set spring trap. It survived after being rescued by raptor workers.

No further charges were brought against anyone for any of the offences uncovered at Moy.

In 2016 Police Scotland issued an appeal for information following the discovery of disturbed and abandoned buzzard and goshawk nests in the Moy Forest. One goshawk and four buzzard nests were abandoned in suspicious circumstances, with some evidence of illegal disturbance. These nests were being monitored by staff from Forestry Enterprise Scotland. No charges were brought.

For previous blogs on Moy see here.

I would imagine, after this latest discovery, that Ministers in the Scottish Government who recently decided to press on with the introduction of a licensing scheme for grouse shooting estates, despite cries of ‘It’s unnecessary regulation!‘ and ‘It’s all so unfair!‘ from the shooting industry, can today feel vindicated that their decision was the right one.

They now need to get on with it and get it implemented ASAP, because this latest victim is evidence that raptor persecution continues, despite all the denials routinely chuntered out by the so-called leaders in the game shooting industry.

UPDATE 17 December 2020: Poisoned red kite found dead on Scottish grouse moor – an interesting police investigation (here)

04
Aug
17

Cabinet Secretary at Moy Game Fair: what message for the raptor killers?

The Moy (Highland) Game Fair kicks off today, where the great & good of the game shooting world gather to celebrate their activities.

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, will be there again this year, especially as this is bang slap in the middle of his constituency and he’s a big supporter of the game shooting industry.

We’ve often puzzled over the choice of venue for this event. The area has quite a history. In fact this region of the Monadhliaths, to the north west of the Cairngorms National Park, is one of the well known raptor persecution hotspots in Scotland.

Last year, Fergus Ewing rocked up to the Fair as usual, but his first time as a Cabinet Secretary. Have a watch of this video and listen to the strong message he gave to any raptor killing criminals that might have been listening. Not quite the message we might have hoped for from a senior representative of a Government that’s supposed to be big on stamping out raptor persecution, and in sharp contrast to the message given by another Cabinet Secretary earlier this year:

12
Oct
16

More moor burning at Moy – it’s simply perverse

The gamekeepers at Moy Estate are continuing to set the moor alight as part of their grouse moor management strategy. Here’s a photo taken from a train yesterday showing a fire on the Moy grouse moors.

moy-burning2-copy

This fire isn’t as extensive as the one at Moy we blogged about last week but it’s just as interesting.

Take a look at the right hand side of the photo and you’ll see some wind turbines. These are part of the 20-turbine Moy wind farm, built on the moors of Moy Estate, that became operational earlier this year.

The whole purpose of installing (publicly-subsidised) wind turbines is to create renewable energy and thus reduce the carbon emissions that would otherwise be created from burning fossil fuels.

Isn’t it a bit perverse, then, that the estate has also leased the moors to a shooting tenant whose (probably publicly subsidised) management techniques include the regular burning of heather? By burning the heather, the carbon-rich peaty soil is disturbed and exposed. As the soil dries out, the stored carbon decomposes and releases carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

Oh the irony.

07
Oct
16

Extensive fire damage from Moy grouse moor ‘hair cut’

The muirburn season has re-opened (1 Oct – 15 Apr) and it hasn’t taken long for the grouse moor hairdressers to splash around the fire accelerant and bring out the blow torches.

This is a photo of a fire on the Moy Estate grouse moor at 21.43hr on Wednesday night (5th October 2016). For perspective, the photo was taken from 5km away in Daviot. A pretty big fire then.

fire1

And here’s a photo taken the following day showing the extent of this fire. The area burned was huge and this image only shows part of it as the damage extends over the hill. Doesn’t look much like small ‘patch’ or ‘strip’ burning, does it? Perhaps it wasn’t muirburn after all?

fire2

The fire wasn’t properly extinguished and was left unattended. Isn’t that against the muirburn code?  This photo was taken on the afternoon of Thursday 6th Oct at 17.10hr. Here the fire has engulfed one of the estate’s middens (stink pits) where the rotting carcasses of dead wildlife are dumped and the area ring-fenced with snares to catch any animal that comes along to investigate the putrid remains.

fire3

This photo was taken at 17.35hr on Thursday 6 Oct. The fire was still unattended and creeping towards the FCS forestry block, 200m away.

fire5

It’s ok though, nothing to worry about because “burning heather is the same as getting your hair cut“.

07
Jun
16

More raptor persecution at Moy

Moy chicksPolice Scotland has issued an appeal for information following the discovery of disturbed and abandoned buzzard and goshawk nests in the Moy Forest near Tomatin in the Scottish Highlands.

During May this year, one goshawk and four buzzard nests have been abandoned in suspicious circumstances, with some evidence of illegal disturbance. These nests were being monitored by staff from Forestry Enterprise Scotland.

Further details and an appeal for information here

This area is no stranger to illegal raptor persecution. In 2010, a 20-year old gamekeeper employed by Moy Estate was convicted for possession of a dead red kite that was found in the back of his vehicle. It had two broken legs and it’s head had been smashed in.

During the police raid on the grouse moors of Moy Estate, the following was also found:

  • The remains of a further two dead red kites.
  • A red kite’s severed leg, along with wing tags that had been fitted to a sateliite-tracked red kite, hidden in holes covered with moss.
  • Six baited spring traps illegally set in the open.
  • A trapped hen harrier (still alive) caught in an illegally set spring trap.
  • A poisoned bait.
  • Four leg rings previously fitted to golden eagle chicks found in the possession of a gamekeeper.

No charges were brought against anybody for these additional crimes.

Our previous blogs on Moy can be read here.

Moy is also home of the annual Highland Game Fair, regularly attended by certain MSPs, Scottish Land & Estates and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association to ‘celebrate’ the activities of the game-shooting industry.

The petition to ban driven grouse shooting can be found here

08
Jun
15

Henry’s tour day 39: Moy Estate

Mon 8 June 2015 - Copy

Henry paid a visit to Moy Estate in the Monadliaths.

Regular blog readers will probably remember what was found on Moy Estate in 2010:

  • A dead red kite in the back of a gamekeeper’s vehicle. It had two broken legs and had died as a result of a blow to the head.
  • The remains of a further two dead red kites.
  • A red kite’s severed leg, along with wing tags that had been fitted to a sateliite-tracked red kite, hidden in holes covered with moss.
  • Six illegal baited spring traps set in the open.
  • A trapped hen harrier (still alive) caught in an illegally set spring trap.
  • A poisoned bait.
  • Four leg rings previously fitted to golden eagle chicks found in the possession of a gamekeeper.

A 20-year-old gamekeeper (James Rolfe – straight out of game-keeping college) was charged with possession of the dead red kite and was fined £1,500. No charges were ever brought against anyone for any of the other offences.

Previous blogs on Moy: see here, herehere and here. It’s particularly worth having a look at this, especially in light of recent hen harrier ‘disappearances’ in England. They weren’t necessarily shot (as the grouse-shooting industry keeps telling us) – they could just as easily have been trapped like this (as the grouse-shooting industry keeps forgetting to mention).

The gamekeeper on Moy was convicted four years ago in 2011. Since then, several more satellite-tracked red kites have ‘disappeared’ since their last signals emitted from Moy, and several buzzard and goshawk nests seem to fail each year. It’s quite windy at Moy. It was probably the wind that blew off those rings from the young golden eagles’ legs and blew them straight in to a jar inside the gamekeeper’s house. It was probably the wind that severed the leg of the red kite and then blew it in to a hole on the moor and then blew moss over the hole to cover it. It was probably the wind that blew away the more recent ‘missing’ red kites. It was probably the same wind that blew holes in those buzzard and goshawk nests, too. Still no breeding hen harriers on this estate – yep, must have been blown away.

Word has it that the game management on Moy Estate is being taken over by a sporting agent with whom we’re very familiar. Cue hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of night vision equipment to carry out his particular style of grouse moor management.

Henry left the estate before darkness fell. He lives another day, although he’s still single.

02
Aug
13

Moy game fair: carry on regardless

The Moy Game Fair starts today. On the Moy Estate.

Moy is quite the venue. In 2010, the following was found there:

  • A dead red kite in the back of a gamekeeper’s vehicle. It had two broken legs and had died as a result of a blow to the head (see photo).
  • The remains of a further two dead red kites.
  • A red kite’s severed leg, along with wing tags that had been fitted to a sateliite-tracked red kite, hidden in holes covered with moss.
  • Six illegal baited spring traps set in the open.
  • A trapped hen harrier caught in an illegally set spring trap.
  • A poisoned bait.
  • Four leg rings previously fitted to golden eagle chicks found in the possession of a gamekeeper.

In May 2011, gamekeeper James Rolfe was convicted for possession of the dead red kite found in the back of his vehicle. He was fined £1,500. No charges were brought against anyone for any of the other offences.

If you’re heading to the Moy Game Fair, keep an eye out for ‘missing’ red kites. In May 2011, a satellite-tracked red kite ‘disappeared’ there. In August 2011, another red kite ‘disappeared’ there.

Ironically, representatives from the game-shooting industry will all be there, telling visitors how great their industry is for nature conservation. So much for strong leadership and zero tolerance (see here).

Talking of venue choice……..take a look at this! A government-approved GWCT training course being held at the one and only Glenogil Estate!

The photograph below shows the dead red kite with two broken legs and severe head injuries, lying in the back of a gamekeeper’s vehicle.

Moy kite 2a

31
Dec
12

Here comes 2013….the year of natural scotland

imagesHappy Hogmanay!

Tomorrow marks the start of another Scottish government themed year: The Year of Natural Scotland, in which we’re encouraged to celebrate Scotland’s stunning natural beauty and biodiversity. Good job it wasn’t this year’s theme as there might have been some red faces in the government:

  • SGA gamekeeper Whitefield sentenced for poisoning four buzzards (he already had an earlier wildlife crime conviction). His sentence this time? 100 hours community service.
  • Scottish gamekeeper McLachlan, convicted for possession of the banned poison Carbofuran. Fined £635.
  • Scottish gamekeeper Barrie lost an appeal for his sentence of £520 for illegal possession and control of a wild bird.
  • COPFS choosing not to prosecute a Scottish gamekeeper who had been filmed beating birds to death with a stick inside a crow cage trap.
  • Scottish gamekeeper Christie convicted for wildlife crimes relating to the illegal use of a crow cage trap. His sentence? An admonishment (a telling off).
  • Scottish gamekeeper Graham convicted for allowing a buzzard to starve to death inside a crow cage trap. Fined £450.
  • Scottish gamekeeper McKellar convicted for possession of banned poison. Fined £1,200.
  • Scottish gamekeeper Scobie convicted for using banned poison. Fined £270.
  • A satellite-tagged golden eagle mysteriously ‘disappeared’ in the Angus glens.
  • A satellite-tagged golden eagle mysteriously ‘disappeared’ to the North East of the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Peregrine chicks mysteriously ‘disappeared’ from a nest site in Dumfries & Galloway.
  • A golden eagle was found dead, poisoned in Lochaber.
  • A golden eagle was found dead in suspicious circumstances on the Isle of Harris. Still awaiting results.
  • A satellite-tagged golden eagle mysteriously ‘disappeared’ in the Monadhliaths.
  • A poisoned raven, crow, and three poisoned baits were found in the Borders.
  • A satellite-tagged golden eagle was found dead near a lay-by in Aberdeenshire. Its injuries and its sat tag data suggested it had been illegally trapped on an Angus grouse moor and then dumped during the night and left to die.
  • A golden eagle was found shot and critically injured on a grouse moor in Dumfries & Galloway.
  • Barry, the sat-tagged hen harrier from Langholm mysteriously ‘disappeared’.
  • Buzz, the sat-tagged buzzard mysteriously ‘disappeared’ in the Angus glens. (More on this case in the New Year).
  • Willow, a sat-tagged marsh harrier mysteriously ‘disappeared’ in Galloway.
  • A hen harrier was found shot dead on an Aberdeenshire grouse moor.

These are just a few of the ‘highlights’ from Scotland this year – there are a few more that we can’t yet report but we will in the New Year. And of course this list doesn’t include other confirmed incidents from other parts of these fair isles such as England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic; a list that includes shot and poisoned sea eagles, buzzards, kites, harriers, peregrines and sparrowhawks. Nor does it include the incidents that went undiscovered.

We’ll be blogging quite a lot about the Year of Natural Scotland, which hopefully won’t be just a banner-waving exercise by the government but an opportunity for them to put their money where their mouths are. You don’t think so? No, neither do we. Why should 2013 be any different from the previous three decades of ineffective action?

A hint of what’s to come is the revelation that the theme will be highlighted during several events throughout the year. Two particular locations caught our attention: the Scone Game Fair and the Moy Game Fair.

The Scone Game Fair is of course organised by the GWCT. That’s the same GWCT that has recently asked for the addition of buzzards and sparrowhawks to the General Licences (that means they want permission to kill them…we’ll be blogging about that shortly). It’s also the same Game Fair that has previously attracted sponsorship from some very, how shall we put it, ‘surprising’ sources.

The Moy Game Fair is held on the Moy Estate near Inverness. If you’re unaware of this place, try googling it.

Thanks for all your interest and support in 2012…we’ll see you soon. Sláinte!

This golden eagle was found shot, critically injured &left to die on a Scottish grouse moor. Photo SSPCA

This golden eagle was found shot, critically injured and left to die on a Scottish grouse moor. Photo SSPCA

11
Oct
12

Is this what happened to the Langholm harriers?

Is this what happened to this year’s Langholm harrier chicks, Barry and Blae? (Blae confirmed dead, Barry now ‘missing’ – see this morning’s blog entry below).

These photos were taken on Moy Estate in 2010. Naturally, nobody was charged with these offences. Probably not enough “hard evidence”, eh? One gamekeeper (James Rolfe) was charged with possession of a dead red kite that was found in the back of his vehicle. The kite had two broken legs and its head had been caved in with a blunt instrument (see here and here for background info).

This first photograph shows a skinned rabbit that had been placed out on the moor. Can you see the hidden spring traps on either side of this bait? No? Any passing raptor would probably struggle to see them, too:

This next photo shows another bait found set on Moy with two spring traps. This time the moss has been removed so the traps could be photographed. These traps are illegal when used in this way:

This next photo shows a hen harrier caught in one of the illegal traps that had been laid out on Moy Estate. The picture is slightly blurred but we can forgive the photographer, given the circumstances:

Here’s the same harrier being carefully removed from the trap. This one was lucky – he survived:




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