Posts Tagged ‘red kite

26
Apr
17

Raptor satellite tag review: the questions being addressed

As many of you will be aware, we are currently awaiting the publication of a review of raptor satellite tag data in Scotland.

This review was commissioned in August 2016 by Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, in response to the news that eight satellite-tagged golden eagles had all ‘disappeared’ in the Monadhliaths. She said she wanted to see whether the data demonstrated ‘a pattern of suspicious activity’.

Photo of a young golden eagle, satellite-tagged by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group (Photo by Dan Kitwood).

The Cabinet Secretary later extended the review to not only look at golden eagle satellite tag data, but also data from tagged red kites and hen harriers. This was in response to the news of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier (‘Elwood’) who also ‘disappeared‘ in the Monadhliaths just a few weeks after fledging.

We knew the review was being undertaken by two highly experienced and respected researchers (who each have a publication list as long as your arm) so there weren’t any concerns there, and we knew that the report was due to be submitted to SNH by the end of March 2017. Other than that, very little detail has emerged about what, exactly, the review would include.

Following a recent FoI to SNH about a related matter, we now have some information about the questions the review will address:

This information was revealed within some correspondence between Scottish Land & Estates and SNH in February this year. The name of the SLE correspondent has been redacted but it’s probably safe to assume it was (now recently departed) CEO Doug McAdam. It looks like SLE are a bit twitchy about what this review might reveal. Here’s a copy of the correspondence: Correspondence between SLE_SNH re sat tag review

So when can we expect the review to be published? We know a draft was submitted to SNH at the end of March 2017 and that it was sent to three experts for peer review. Almost a month has now passed so we would expect the peer-review process to have been completed and any proposed editorial suggestions to have been finalised. What we don’t know is whether the publication of this review will be delayed due to election purdah.

What we can be sure of is if the review has not been published by the time of the General Election on 8 June, SNH and the Scottish Government will be put under intense pressure to put it in the public domain. If they think the public will sit quietly for months, or years, awaiting publication, they are very much mistaken.

08
Apr
17

Red kite shot in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire police have issued the following appeal for information:

APPEAL FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SHOOTING OF RED KITE

7 April 2017

Police are appealing for witnesses and information after a wounded bird of prey was taken to a vet in Buntingford.

The Red Kite was spotted in Furneux Pelham, Buntingford, in distress and unable to fly. The vet concluded that the Kite had been shot and had suffered injuries which meant that it had to be put down.

Rural Operational Support Team Sergeant Jamie Bartlett said: “All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. As a bird of prey Red Kite persecution is monitored by DEFRA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, as Raptor Persecution is a National Wildlife Crime Priority. Not only is this a serious criminal offence but, this female would have been ready to breed this season and its death will impact on the local Kite population.

If anyone has information about this incident or has seen people shooting or carrying hunting rifles in the area, please contact the Herts Police non-emergency number 101 quoting reference A2/17/197.”

ENDS

Photo of a red kite by Richard Stonier

07
Apr
17

Killing red kites is de rigueur in Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire

Today the RSPB’s Investigations Team has published a blog focusing on red kite persecution in North Yorkshire.

Many of you will already know that North Yorkshire is consistently rated as the worst county in the UK for recorded raptor persecution crimes and in recent years there has been a steady report of illegally-killed or injured raptors, particularly red kites, being discovered in this region. (Photo: M Ruddock)

In fact in the last ten years (2007-2017), twenty six red kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution in North Yorkshire (18 poisoned, 8 shot), and these are only the ones that have been found. How many other victims were there? (Graph: RSPB)

But North Yorkshire is a huge area and has two National Parks (Yorkshire Dales & North York Moors) as well as two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Howardian Hills & Nidderdale). When the average member of the public hears of a poisoned or shot kite being found in North Yorkshire, they probably think of it as a one off, random, & isolated killing. They’d be wrong.

The RSPB has created a map of where these confirmed red kite killings took place and it’s really quite obvious to see where red kite persecution is de rigueur; parts of the eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and parts of the Nidderdale AONB. Oh, and guess what the major land use is in these two areas? Intensively managed driven grouse moors. (Maps: RSPB)

Here is a closer view of the Nidderdale map, showing that 22 of the 26 red kite victims were killed here:

When you look at these maps it’s worth remembering that they are only showing confirmed incidents of red kite persecution. These maps do not include other confirmed crimes such as illegally-killed or injured buzzards, illegally-killed or injured hen harriers, illegally-killed or injured peregrines, illegally-killed or injured kestrels, illegally-killed or injured marsh harriers, poisoned baits, illegal poison caches, and illegally-set traps. Nor do they include ‘probable’ crimes against raptors, particularly ‘disappearing’ satellite-tagged raptors, especially hen harriers.

A couple of weeks ago, Police Superintendent Chris Hankinson (who leads the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group in England & Wales) wrote a comment on this blog (here). He said that the RPPDG was ‘working towards publication of a national map showing raptor persecution incidents with the aim of triggering activity from the local police force and community who can assist with information and intelligence to capture those responsible‘.

With the greatest respect, Supt Hankinson, the national maps are already available and have been for years (thanks to the diligent recording work of RSPB Investigations staff and their annual BirdCrime reports) and yet there hasn’t been a single prosecution for red kite persecution in the Nidderdale AONB (or the whole of North Yorkshire) for over ten years. Stop wasting your time pandering to those organisations in the RPPDG ‘partnership’ who are probably contesting every single incident and get on with leading the group to the known hotspot areas. The Nidderdale AONB would be a good start.

UPDATE 16.51hrs: Meanwhile, local business owners are putting up their own money towards a reward to catch the kite killers. Great stuff – the local fight back is on. See article in Harrogate Advertiser here

07
Apr
17

Red kite shot dead near Toddington, Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information following the discovery of shot red kite in Bedfordshire.

A member of the public found the kite’s corpse at Daintry Wood near Toddington (unfortunately no date has been provided. UPDATE: corpse found 27 Feb 2017) and it was sent to ZSL for a post mortem where an x-ray revealed 10 pieces of lead shot lodged in its body, indicating it had probably been shot at close range.

Anyone with information is asked to call Bedfordshire Police on 101.

RSPB press release here

27
Mar
17

Another red kite shot dead in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a yet another shot red kite.

The latest victim was found near Greenhow, in Nidderdale, on the afternoon of Saturday 11 March 2017.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer David MacKay: david.mackay@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk and quote reference number 12170047155.

Last year North Yorkshire Police investigated the deaths of 10 red kites that had been shot or poisoned in the county. The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park are notorious black spots for raptor persecution, particularly for red kites and hen harriers. This region is dominated by land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Photo of red kite by Claire Marshall

18
Mar
17

Ross-shire Massacre: three years on

Today marks the three year anniversary of the mass poisoning of red kites and buzzards at Conon Bridge in the Scottish Highlands – a crime that became known as the Ross-shire Massacre.

A total of 22 dead raptors (16 red kites and 6 buzzards) were discovered in a small geographic area over a number of weeks, beginning on 18 March 2014. Toxicology tests confirmed that 16 of these raptors (12 red kites and 4 buzzards) had been poisoned with a banned substance. Police Scotland has so far refused to name the poison, ‘for operational reasons’.

Nobody has ever been charged in connection with this crime.

Under Scottish law, there is a three year time limit for bringing a prosecution for offences committed under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (in England the time limit is two years). The clock starts ticking from the date the offence was commissioned. Three years later, the case becomes ‘time barred’ and even if the culprit is identified after this date, a prosecution under the Wildlife & Countryside Act is not possible.

We’ve been waiting for this three-year anniversary to arrive because we’ve got quite a bit to say about this case, particularly the police investigation, but we’ve been unable to publish these comments while the case was still considered ‘live’. Once the three-year anniversary was reached, we expected to be able to write a blog about the string of police cock-ups without worrying about legal restrictions and compromising the investigation.

However, it has been suggested to us that the three-year time bar may not take effect until the third anniversary of the last dead bird’s discovery, rather than the third anniversary of the actual poisoning offence. This seems a bit of a stretch to us (we believe there was only one poisoning offence, on 18 March 2014, not a series of them) but, as we’re not lawyers, we need to tread carefully and err on the side of caution.

We’re not entirely certain of the date the last dead raptor was found at Conon Bridge, although we blogged about it on 26 April 2014. Because of this uncertainty, we will not be blogging about this case until early May, just to be absolutely sure that we’re not compromising any chance of someone being prosecuted for this crime (yes, highly unlikely, we know, but we have to play the game or face a charge of contempt).

More in May. In the meantime, for anyone who wants to read what we’ve previously written about this fiasco, click here and scroll through the pages.

09
Feb
17

Two red kites confirmed poisoned in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Red Kite Mali HallsYesterday, North Yorkshire Police put out the following press release:

POLICE WARNING FOLLOWING RED KITE POISONING

Police are appealing for information and warning about the dangers of illegal bird of prey poisoning.

Two red kites were found poisoned in the Nidderdale area of North Yorkshire in 2016.

One was found near Pateley Bridge on 12 March 2016. Tests have attributed its death to alphachloralose. Traces of aldicarb and three rodenticides (difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum) were also identified.

The second was found near Bouthwaite on 18 May 2016. Shockingly, tests have shown the presence of eight different poisons – alphachloralose, aldicarb, bendiocarb, carbofuran and isofenphos, together with three rodenticides.

Officers are appealing for information about the two incidents, and warning members of the public about the dangers of this illegal practice. Hard-hitting posters urging people to report suspected wildlife poisoning are being distributed across the county.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The use of poisons in the two Nidderdale cases is particularly shocking. The practice of lacing animal carcasses with poison to kill other wildlife is cruel and illegal. It is also a serious risk to members of the public and their children or pets if they come into contact with them.

If you find a mammal or bird that you believe has been poisoned, please do not touch it, as poisons can transfer through skin contact. Also keep youngsters and pets well away. Make a note of the location, including GPS co-ordinates if possible, and anything else that is around or near the animal, and contact the police immediately”.

Anyone with information about the poisoning of the red kites found in Nidderdale should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12160043415, or email ruraltaskforce@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

ENDS

Have a look at this map. The poisoned red kite at Bouthwaite was found just to the north of the Gouthwaite Reservoir, and the poisoned red kite near Pateley Bridge was found just to south. Look at the land use on either side of the reservoir: this is driven grouse shooting country.

nidderdale

Presumably these two poisoned red kites were part of the ten suspicious red kite deaths investigated in North Yorkshire in 2016. Most of those were confirmed shot but there were a number of suspected poisonings too.

It seems strange that North Yorkshire Police is only now appealing for information about two poisoned red kites that were found nine and eleven months ago respectively. The delay may be due to issues at the toxicology lab (it wouldn’t be the first time) and therefore beyond North Yorkshire Police’s control. The delay is certainly at odds with the commendable speed with which North Yorks Police announced some of last year’s shot red kites (e.g. see here – shot kite found on Sunday, press release out by Monday). They were also incredibly quick off the mark to go out and investigate the three illegal pole traps found on the Mossdale Estate grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year, and although senior officers ballsed up what should have been a straight forward prosecution, at least they were honest and transparent, admitted the mistake and amended their policies as a result.

The long delay aside, it is very good to see North Yorkshire Police provide detailed information about the type of poisons used in these two crimes (take note, Police Scotland). It’s also very good to see them proactively warning the public of the danger of these highly toxic substances (again, take note Police Scotland), especially as we head towards spring, which is typically the time when illegal raptor persecution really hots up.

North Yorkshire Police have certainly got their work cut out fighting wildlife crime, and particularly raptor persecution. North Yorkshire is consistently rated the worst county in the UK for the number of reported crimes against raptors, and a lot of it takes place in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park. We were only talking about this region two days ago in relation to the ongoing persecution of hen harriers.

ydnp_aonb

Photo of red kite by Mali Halls




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