Posts Tagged ‘red kite

29
Aug
17

Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged raptors

A few weeks ago we created a map for Mairi Gougeon MSP (Angus & Mearns, SNP) to show her the areas of her constituency where satellite-tagged raptors had either been found illegally killed or had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances. Unsurprisingly, the main hotspot area was centred on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens.

Mairi, as the Hen Harrier Species Champion, attended this year’s Hen Harrier Day at Loch Leven where she acknowledged the issues and spoke passionately about the need to address illegal raptor persecution. We welcomed her interest and enthusiasm and look forward to seeing her use her position to good effect.

We’ve now created another map, this time for MSP Fergus Ewing’s constituency of Inverness and Nairn. For new readers, Fergus also holds a senior position in the Scottish Government – he is Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.

This latest map is based on data from the recent expert review of golden eagle satellite tag data and also from the RSPB’s recent map showing the locations of ‘disappeared’ or illegally killed satellite-tagged hen harriers and red kites. Here it is, showing the locations of 15 satellite-tagged raptors (8 x golden eagles, 6 x red kites, 1 x hen harrier) that were either illegally killed in Fergus’s constituency or ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in his constituency:

And just like the map we created for Mairi, the hotspot areas within Fergus Ewing’s constituency all just happen to be on land managed for driven grouse shooting. Imagine that!

Unlike Mairi Gougeon MSP, as far as we can tell, Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing has never publicly spoken out about the illegal persecution of raptors on grouse moors, either within his own constituency or beyond (if anyone has any evidence to the contrary we’ll be happy to post it here).

He did, sort of, hint at it in a statement he made about grouse shooting in 2015 when he was Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism:

I am very pleased to be able to extend support to all of those who make a success of fields sports in a professional and responsible fashion. Their efforts bring to Scotland a number of visitors who are very welcome and make a significant financial contribution to the sector”

but you’ll note that he very carefully avoided mentioning raptor persecution crimes or any of the other environmentally damaging effects of intensive grouse moor management.

And he can’t claim that he’s unaware of what’s going on – we’ve contacted him on social media many times about this issue, especially when persecution incidents have been detected in his constituency (most recently in July – see here). He has chosen to ignore us at every turn and has given his full public support to grouse moor management in well known raptor persecution hotspots including the Angus Glens and the Monadhliaths.

If you live in Fergus Ewing’s constituency of Inverness and Nairn, you might want to contact him to ask him what he’s doing about the illegal killing of raptors on grouse moors in this area. He has a responsibility to respond to the concerns of his constituents. Email: Fergus.ewing.msp@parliament.scot

If you don’t live in Inverness and Nairn but wish to raise concerns about the level of illegal raptor persecution on the grouse moors of this Cabinet Secretary’s constituency, please use this email address: Scottish.Ministers@gov.scot [and mark it for the attention of Fergus Ewing].

For far too long we’ve allowed certain politicians to get away with wilful blindness about this ongoing criminality. It’s up to all of us to hold these elected representatives to account.

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22
Aug
17

Another red kite found shot dead in County Down

A three-month old red kite has been found shot dead in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The bird, hatched in May and tagged ‘Black 5W’, was found dead on a public road last Thursday (17 August 2017) outside Moneyslane, between Banbridge and Newcastle.

An initial x-ray revealed pieces of shot in the bird’s corpse and the body has now been sent for a full post-mortem.

Anyone with information on the incident can contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 837 of 17/8/17.

Further details on BBC News (here) and the Belfast Telegraph (here).

The tiny, reintroduced red kite population in Northern Ireland is under serious threat from on-going persecution. Another red kite was found shot in Co Down in 2015 (here) and in 2014, four kites were illegally killed in Co Down (one was shot, three were poisoned – see here).

In 2016, in response to a PAW report on raptor persecution in Northern Ireland, a new, multi-agency initiative called ‘Operation Raptor‘ was launched, aimed at targeting those who continue to kill protected birds of prey.

15
Aug
17

Species Champion Mairi Gougeon MSP speaks up for hen harriers

‘Species Champions’ are members of the Scottish Parliament who have agreed to provide political support and awareness for Scotland’s threatened wildlife, under a scheme organised by Scottish Environment LINK.

Mairi Gougeon (nee Evans) MSP is the Species Champion for the hen harrier, and it was fantastic to see her attend Hen Harrier Day at Loch Leven a couple of weeks ago. She wasn’t the only MSP present – also in attendance was Alexander Stewart MSP (Scottish Conservatives) and Andy Wightman MSP (Scottish Greens) – Andy had cycled from Edinburgh and broke his pedal 5 miles away but still managed to make it on time – impressive!

It was gratifying to see all three of these politicians giving up their Saturday to come along. And they didn’t just turn up for the photo call and then clear off; they spent a considerable amount of time talking with the public, asking pertinent questions (and listening to the responses!) and they all stayed to hear the presentations throughout the afternoon. Mairi even gave a short but very encouraging presentation – you can watch it here (it’s only 4 mins long – well worth a listen, thanks to Guy Shorrock for recording it):

Perhaps of all three politicians in attendance, Mairi had the most cause to be there. Not just as the Hen Harrier Species Champion, but also because her SNP constituency is Angus North & Mearns, which includes the Angus Glens grouse moors, a notorious raptor persecution hotspot.

The history of illegal raptor persecution in this area is well known (see here for a long list of incidents), and it’s also known for its lack of breeding hen harriers – not a single recorded breeding attempt on these grouse moors for 11 years, although there was one breeding attempt in the area this year, but it wasn’t on a driven grouse moor. It’s clear from Mairi’s speech that she is well informed about the situation there.

Here’s a map we’ve created for Mairi to study. It’s a map of her constituency and includes data from the recent expert review of golden eagle satellite tag data and also from the RSPB’s recent map showing the locations of ‘disappeared’ or illegally killed satellite-tagged hen harriers and red kites. It’s quite clear that it’s the grouse moor areas of the Angus Glens that are bringing her constituency in to such disrepute.

Thanks to all three MSPs for their genuine interest in protecting the hen harrier and particular thanks and good luck to Mairi – we hope blog readers will support her endeavours to draw political attention to this species’ plight.

11
Aug
17

More illegal raptor persecution hotspots revealed in new map

Ian Thomson, Head of RSPB Investigations Scotland has written an interesting blog examining the ‘disappearance’ and/or illegal killing of satellite tagged red kites and hen harriers – see here.

It’s well worth a read. And take a close look at this map, illustrating the locations of suspicious disappearances as well as where the corpses have been found:

Here’s a direct quote from Ian:

It is clear from this map that, like golden eagles, the distribution of illegally killed or suspiciously disappeared satellite-tagged red kites and hen harriers is far from random, and shows clear clusters in some upland areas. As with the “hotspots” for eagles, these clusters are almost entirely coincident with land dominated by driven grouse shooting management, again including areas like the northern Monadhliaths and the Angus Glens. But, harriers and kites have clearly being targeted in other regions – notably, but not exclusively, upper Strathspey, Strathnairn and the Lowther Hills of S Lanarkshire‘.

Following the recent news that the RSPB, in partnership with LUSH, has satellite-tagged a record number of hen harriers this year, we can expect many more dots to appear on this map, most of them will be added before Xmas.

We’ll be undertaking some finer analyses of this map, probably next week, and we’ll be asking blog readers to get involved. More on that soon.

There’s one other point in Ian’s blog that is worth highlighting here, in response to the unsubstantiated yet repeated claims by some that raptors do better on driven grouse moors than they do on RSPB reserves:

More pairs of hen harriers bred successfully on one RSPB reserve on Islay in 2017, than on the grouse moors of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire, Angus and the Scottish Borders put together. In fact, RSPB nature reserves hold 10% of Scotland’s breeding population of hen harriers, with 46 pairs in 2016‘.

How many hen harriers do you think bred successfully on Scottish grouse moors in 2016 (where driven shooting took place – not on moors which are currently not being shot)?

Photo of hen harrier Annie, who was found shot on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire in 2015. (Image: RSPB Scotland).

02
Aug
17

Police interview man re: shot red kite in Nidderdale

North Yorkshire Police have issued a further appeal for information about the shooting of a red kite in Nidderdale.

The kite was found near Greenhow in Nidderdale on Saturday 11th March 2017 (see here). Since then, a number of rewards have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved. One of these rewards has been offered by local businesses in nearby Pateley Bridge (see here).

Last month North Yorkshire Police interviewed a local man in connection with the incident and now they are appealing again for more information.

PC David Mackay, a Wildlife Crime Officer from the North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force said: “We have had a good response so far from the public to our appeal for information, and I am urging anyone who has not yet come forward to do so now. This lengthy investigation shows that we take bird of prey persecution extremely seriously“.

North Yorkshire Police is being supported in the investigation by the Yorkshire Red Kites group. Doug Simpson, the Yorkshire Red Kite Co-ordinator, said: “I am pleased to hear of the progress made in this case. I would encourage anyone with any information not yet reported to contact the police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer David Mackay:  david.mackay@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk and quote reference number 12170047155. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The grouse moor areas of Nidderdale and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park are well known raptor persecution hotspots. 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). Twenty two of those red kites were killed in Nidderdale or the National Park. Earlier this year the RSPB wrote a blog about red kite persecution in this region and produced this shocking map:

Well done North Yorkshire Police for persistence with this latest investigation (see press release here).

Red kite photo by Richard Stonier

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




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