Posts Tagged ‘peregrine


Peregrine confirmed poisoned in North Wales

From North Wales Police Rural Crime Team:


Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 3

Legal proceedings continued yesterday in the case against James Hartley, a gamekeeper from the Bleasdale Estate in Bowland who is accused of a number of offences in relation to the alleged killing of two peregrines in April 2016 (see first court report for details here). Mr Hartley has pleaded not guilty to the alleged offences.

Yesterday’s case management hearing focused on legal argument relating to the admissibilty of evidence. Due to reporting restrictions imposed by District Judge Goodwin at a previous hearing, we are unable to publish the specifics of the legal argument until the case concludes.

District Judge Goodwin reserved judgement at yesterday’s hearing and is expected to deliver judgement to the court on 26 March 2018.

PLEASE NOTE: given the sensitivity of this case we won’t be accepting comments on this particular blog post. Thanks.


National peregrine survey results: illegal persecution on grouse moors affecting distribution

Periodically there are synchronised national surveys for a number of raptor species in the UK, which help to build a picture of national and regional population trends.

In 2014 a national peregrine survey was undertaken, to follow up on the previous survey completed in 2002. The results of the 2014 survey were published yesterday in the journal Bird Study.

The full paper can be read here

A press release from the BTO (whose scientists led the study) can be read here

If you read beyond the superficial headline (‘World’s fastest bird making a comeback’) you’ll see that although peregrines are doing fantastically well in the lowlands and in many urban environments, all is not well for peregrines in the uplands, and particularly in areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.

This will come as no surprise to regular blog readers. It’s not exactly news to learn that illegal persecution on driven grouse moors is affecting the distribution and abundance of peregrines on a national scale, just as it is affecting the national popuation of golden eagles and hen harriers.

Photo of a dead peregrine that was found shot next to a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park in 2016 [RSPB photo]

An excellent paper by Arjun Amar and colleagues, published in 2011, examined 1081 peregrine nest histories across northern England between 1980-2006 and found that productivity of peregrines on grouse moors was 50% lower than pairs breeding on non-grouse moor habitat. This was attributed to illegal persecution rather than to prey constraints.

Another paper by the North East Scotland Raptor Study Group, published in 2014, demonstrated an on-going decline in the breeding population of peregrines on driven grouse moors on the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park, a trend that has persisted since 1991.

Anecdotal information suggests a continuing decline in the number of breeding peregrines on the driven grouse moors of Bowland in Lancashire.

And last year, further information was published by the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative documenting the continuing decline of breeding peregrines in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park, an area dominated by driven grouse moors.

The results of the 2014 national peregrine survey don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, they simply confirm what has been known for years.

The question is, what, if anything, will the statutory authorities do about it? Continued wilful blindness is no longer an option.


Diverting attention from the illegal killing of peregrines on grouse moors

One of the many criticisms about the proposed reintroduction of hen harriers to southern England is that if a population does manage to become established, the grouse-shooting industry will use it to divert attention from the on-going eradication of this species on intensively managed driven grouse moors. ‘Look, hen harriers are doing just fine in the lowlands, the species’ conservation status has improved, everything’s fine, there’s nothing to worry about anymore’.

If you don’t think that that’s what will happen, just take a look at this letter from the Countryside Alliance, published in The Times yesterday:


Sir, your report that the peregrine falcon is “now seeking sanctuary in cities as it comes under threat” fails to provide vital context (“Prized peregrine falcons falling prey to greed“, News, Jan 9). The peregrine falcon population reached a low of about 150 pairs in the 1960s as a result of the impact of toxic agricultural chemicals such as DDT in the food chain as well as illegal persecution. However, improved legislation and protection has helped the peregrine falcon to expand its range and numbers. The latest estimates place the number of peregrines at a historic high of 1,500 pairs, and has led to the peregrine having its conservation status declared “secure”. The species, like other raptors such as the buzzard and red kite, is an undoubted conservation success.


No mention then, of how illegal persecution on the north of England grouse moors is suppressing local peregrine populations (see here).

No mention then, of how the preliminary results of the 2014 national peregrine survey show a sharp decrease in peregrine occupation in the UK’s uplands, especially in areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting (see here).

No mention then, of how illegal persecution has led to the continuing decline of peregrines in the grouse moor areas of north east Scotland, particularly on the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park (see here).

No mention then, of how illegal persecution has led to the continuing decline of the peregrine’s breeding population on the grouse moors of Bowland.

No mention then, of how illegal persecution has led to the continuing decline of the peregrine’s breeding population on the grouse moors of the Dark Peak in the Peak District National Park (see here).

Funny, that.

Photo of a dead peregrine that was found shot next to a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park in 2016 (RSPB photo)


Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 2

Today we attended Preston Magistrates Court in anticipation of listening to a case hearing in relation to the prosecution of James Hartley, a gamekeeper from the Bleasdale Estate in Bowland who is accused of a number of offences in relation to the alleged killing of two peregrines in April 2016 (see first court report for details here).

Photo by RPUK

Mr Hartley has pleaded not guilty to the alleged offences and today’s hearing had been initiated for the court to hear legal arguments from both the prosecution and defence before the onset of a potential trial.

At some point between the first hearing in September 2017 and today’s hearing, this case has been elevated to be heard by a District Judge rather than by magistrates. We don’t know the reason for this.

Legal arguments were not heard in court today, and a further date for those arguments to be heard has been set for 14th March 2018.

In addition, defence barrister Justin Rouse QC requested that District Judge Goodwin direct, under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, Section 4(2), “no publication of preliminary interests“, due to what he described as “inappropriate reporting of the previous hearing“. No details of the alleged inappropriate reporting were given in court.

District Judge Goodwin agreed with Mr Rouse’s concerns and, in the interest of avoiding the substantial risk of prejudicing the case, she directed that “nothing pertaining to the legal arguments may be published prior to the conclusion of this case“.

At the end of today’s hearing we asked District Judge Goodwin for clarification on this point and she told us that as of today we may not publish anything about the specific legal arguments that are due to be heard on 14th March (although we can report on these legal arguments at the conclusion of this case), but we were free to report that today’s hearing took place and we are free to report on the trial (if it proceeds) as long as that reporting is fair and accurate – the usual caveats for reporting on legal proceedings.

Given this direction from District Judge Goodwin, we will not be publishing any blog readers’ comments on this particular case until it has concluded.

Depending on the outcome of the legal arguments to be heard on 14th March 2018, and District Judge Goodwin’s judgement (which she said would be ‘reserved’ – which means she won’t make a judgement on the day of the hearing but will take time to consider the legal position and announce her judgement at a later date), a preliminary trial date has been set for 23 April 2018 and is expected to conclude on 30 April 2018.


New report reveals widespread raptor persecution in Northern Ireland

The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAW NI) has today published its latest report on bird of prey persecution 2015-2016.

The report reveals that there were five confirmed illegal persecution incidents reported in 2015 and a further six in 2016, involving the killing of 12 protected birds of prey in Northern Ireland (6 x buzzards, 5 x peregrines, 1 x sparrowhawk). As with every other annual raptor persecution report these figures are probably just the tip of the iceberg.

The report’s lead author, Dr Eimear Rooney (Raptor Officer for the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group) commented: “This latest persecution report helps us all to understand the scale and distribution of the problem. It is particularly shocking to see new areas appear on the hot-spot maps, showing the issue of raptor persecution to be widespread. It is heart-breaking to think of the deaths of these protected birds but it is particularly shocking to see the continued usage of highly toxic Carbofuran. The PAW NI group will continue to take action to tackle raptor persecution and it is encouraging to see all the partners proactively working together on this report.”

Hotspot map of confirmed incidents of raptor persecution, and poisoned baits & wildlife, reported in Northern Ireland from January 2009-December 2016.

Download the PAW NI report here

Read the PAW NI press release here

On the subject of illegal raptor persecution in Northern Ireland, a 13-year old boy named Dara MacAnulty is doing a 45km sponsored trek in January 2018 to help raise funds for a new raptor satellite-tagging project in Northern Ireland.

Dara is a pretty special young man, passionate about the environment, especially raptors, and he has an exceptional talent for expressing his thoughts – have a read of his blog and you’ll be constantly questioning how a thirteen year old can possibly write so well!

Dara’s fundraising project is off to a good start but he needs more support. If you’ve got a few quid to spare, please consider supporting his efforts HERE. Thanks.


Peregrine found shot in Cambridge

Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a shot peregrine on the outskirts of Cambridge.

The young bird was discovered injured on 18 September 2017 and was reported to the Raptor Foundation. A veterinary x-ray revealed a pellet from an air rifle lodged in its shoulder and a metal fragment also lodged in its wing, preventing the bird from flying. Vets believe the bird could have been shot up to 10-14 days earlier based on its low weight.

Information from the peregrine’s leg ring revealed this bird fledged from a nest on the outskirts of Cambridge earlier this year.

The peregrine is currently receiving expert care at the Raptor Foundation but it’s not yet known whether it will recover sufficiently to be released back to the wild.

PC Alun Bradshaw of Cambridgeshire Police is urging anyone with information to come forward. Tel 101 and use incident reference number CF0539270917.

Media coverage:

Cambridge Independent News here

BBC News here

RSPB Investigations blog here

ITV news here

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