Posts Tagged ‘red kite

15
Oct
21

‘Star lot’ in GWCT’s auction is a day’s shooting at an estate currently at centre of police investigation into shot red kite

It’s always interesting to look at the auction lots in the shooting world’s regular fundraising drives. I think it’s useful, and quite telling, to see who’s supporting who and it can often explain a great deal about why many shooting organisations refuse to call out the criminals when yet another raptor persecution crime is uncovered and instead simply pretend not to have noticed that anything’s happened (also known as wilful blindness).

In the era of a so-called ‘zero tolerance’ approach to raptor persecution, repeatedly declared by the large shooting organisations but yet to be effectively demonstrated in any meaningful way (because it’s all just a blatant publicity stunt in my opinion (e.g. see here)) it’s even funnier to scrutinise the auction booklets and see ‘who’s doing who’.

The latest auction from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) reveals an interesting donor, hailed as the auction’s ‘star lot’ on the GWCT website.

This ‘star lot’ comprises a 250-bird mixed pheasant and partridge day for eight guns at the ‘renowned’ Salperton Park in January 2022.

Does Salperton Park ring any bells to anyone? It does to me. This is where a red kite was found in March this year with multiple injuries caused by someone blasting the bird with a shotgun. The extent of the kite’s injuries, with serial fractures, is an indication that it was shot very close to where it was found, critically injured, on the estate (see here and here).

Gloucestershire Constabulary opened a criminal investigation focusing on Salperton Estate and local area, although PC Ash Weller was quoted in the local press:

We are exploring all avenues as this could have been someone travelling through the area rather than someone local to the area“.

Yeah, righto, PC Weller, it wasn’t as if the county was in a Tier 4 ‘stay at home’ lockdown period or anything, or that other alleged persecution incidents had been reported previously at this location, or indeed that raptor persecution has demonstrable links to the game shooting industry. Yeah, let’s focus on the least plausible explanation and go from there.

Needless to say, nobody has yet been charged or prosecuted and nor are they likely to be because the evidence required to link a named individual to this wildlife crime is virtually impossible to attain, even when the police are looking in the right direction.

Where does that leave us?

The sporting agency, Mark Osborne’s William Powell, can continue to advertise the estate as ‘one of the country’s most celebrated partridge shoots”, sporting clients can continue to fork out for shoot days on the estate, and the GWCT can trouser thousands of pounds worth of funds from their auction’s ‘star lot’.

Tremendous.

08
Oct
21

Shotguns & dead bird of prey seized during multi-agency raid in Wales

Article from The Leader (8th October 2021)

MORE than a dozen shotguns and a dead bird of prey have been seized following an investigation into the illegal killing of raptors in the Ceiriog Valley.

The operation that took place this week was carried out by North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team, in partnership with the RSPB Investigations Team, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Welsh Government, targeting those suspected of unlawfully poisoning birds of prey.

It came following an investigation launched in July into the poisoning of a red kite, found dead in the Ceiriog Valley on February 27 [Ed: see here].

Toxicology tests carried out on the bird by the Welsh Government earlier this year revealed it tested positive for Bendiocarb – a highly toxic pesticide.

Officers believe the incident was a deliberate act.

[Photo from North Wales Police Rural Crime Team]

Following this week’s searches, which included the recovery of 15 shotguns, the dead bird of prey was sent off for toxicology tests, while dangerous chemicals also discovered at one property are being dealt with.

Sergeant Dewi Evans of the Rural Crime Team said:

It’s time to stamp out persecution against our birds of prey. We are glad to have worked with Welsh Government, National Wildlife Crime Unit and RSPB Investigations on our operation targeting those suspected of criminally harming our wildlife. We look forward to working with our partners again in future.

RSPB Investigations officer Niall Owen said: “This was a well organised multi-agency operation and a positive step in the right direction for investigating raptor persecution in Wales.

“We, as a team, are committed to working alongside the police to safeguard the future for birds of prey and uncover these barbaric crimes against our birds.

“Laying poison baits in the countryside to target birds of prey is not only illegal but represents a huge danger to any person or animal unlucky enough to come across it.

“We would like the thank North Wales Police for their commitments to follow up these incidents.”

ENDS

05
Sep
21

Freedom of information documents highlight gamekeepers, fox hunting and raptor persecution in 3 public forests

The Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind has today revealed that Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) is still permitting the use of fox-hunting foot packs in several public forests, partly for the benefit of privately-owned grouse shooting estates. These public forests also happen to be in well-known raptor persecution hotspots.

In a freedom of information response, FLS admitted allowing the fox-hunt foot packs to operate in three public woodlands near Inverness: Loch Farr Wood, Farr Wood and Meall Mor near Moy.

[Moy has long been of interest to this blog, mostly for the frequency of illegal raptor persecution incidents recorded there for over a decade. And then there’s this: a photo to illustrate the stupidity of setting fire to the moor for grouse management, a few hundred yards from some publicly-subsidised wind turbines!]

The FoI documents also reveal that FLS staff suspected that gamekeepers were visiting the forests to look for fox dens to block up, which also happened to be beside Schedule 1 raptor nests, some of which have been repeatedly attacked in previous years.

For example, in 2016 Police Scotland issued an appeal for information after one goshawk and four buzzard nests were abandoned in suspicious circumstances in Moy Forest (see here).

In 2017, also in Moy Forest, masked gunmen were caught on camera underneath a goshawk nest. The nest, containing a clutch of eggs, was mysteriously abandoned shortly afterwards (see here and here).

In July this year, Police Scotland appealed for information after a dead goshawk was found in Loch Farr Wood – this bird had been shot (see here).

The issue of fox-hunting is beyond the remit of this blog although I’d question whether a Scottish Government agency should be complicit in supporting the eradication of native predators for the benefit of driven grouse shooting, which is what appears to be happening here.

If you’d like to read more about OneKind’s freedom of information request and FLS’s response about fox-hunting, gamekeepers and raptor persecution in these public forests, please see the OneKind blog (here) and an article in today’s National (here).

Meanwhile, as the authorities seem unable to tackle raptor persecution in public forests, we’re all still waiting to see whether NatureScot will impose a General Licence restriction on Moy Estate following the discovery of a poisoned satellite-tagged red kite found on the grouse moor almost a year ago, in October 2020 (see here).

07
Jul
21

Red kite poisoned in North Wales – police appeal for information

North Wales Police Rural Crime Team has issued an appeal on Twitter for information after a toxicology report earlier this month confirmed that a red kite had tested positive for the poison Bendiocarb.

Unfortunately the details of this latest wildlife crime are vague. The kite was found ‘in the area’ of the Ceiriog Valley ‘earlier this year’ and the police believe the poisoning was ‘potentially deliberate’.

That’s it, I’m afraid. No specific location, no details of the circumstances and no date of discovery. [See update below]

There is a police reference number (21000458355) to quote if anyone has any information that could help the police investigation. Please call 101 if you can help.

UPDATE 8th July 2021: Thanks to PC Dewi Evans of the Rural Crime Team for pointing out the following posting on the Rural Crime Team’s Facebook page. For the benefit of those not on Facebook, here’s what it says:

The Rural Crime Team has launched an investigation into the poisoning of a red kite, found dead in the Ceiriog Valley. The bird of prey, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, was found deceased on February 27th earlier this year and attended to by RSPB Investigations Team. Toxicology tests carried out by the Welsh Government have since revealed the bird tested positive for Bendiocarb – a highly toxic insecticide. Officers believe the incident was potentially a deliberate act and are asking anyone with information to get in touch. It comes following several similar incidents reported in the area over the past three years, with a number of ravens and crows also found to have been poisoned using another substance .PC Dewi Evans, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team manager said: “We suspect the red kite died as a result of the unlawful use of poison and as a result, we have launched an investigation into the incident. “The deliberate poisoning of a bird brings a serious risk to humans and other animals and is hugely irresponsible. “We are currently looking into a potential motive for this incident and ask members of the public who have information to get in touch.” Anybody with information is asked to contact officers at the North Wales Police Rural Crime Team via the website or by calling 101, quoting reference number 21000458355. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

UPDATE 8th October 2021: Shotguns & dead bird of prey seized during multi-agency raid in Wales (here)

17
Jun
21

Red kite shot in Wales, now rehabbed & released

Press release from RSPCA (14th April 2021)

Red kite released after shot bird was rescued and rehabilitated

An inspector who rescued an injured red kite who was found beside a road unable to fly has filmed the magical moment she released the majestic bird back into the wild after a month of rehabilitation.

Our inspector Suzi Smith had been called to rescue the bird after a concerned member of the public found the red kite unable to take off because of an injured wing.

Found at the side of the A470 in Builth Wells on March 16, the bird was safely captured by Suzi before being taken to Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre to be assessed. While there, vets x-rayed the bird and discovered that the kite had been shot.

Suzi, who has been rescuing animals for us for twenty years, said:

It was an honour to be able to release this beauty after weeks of treatment and rehab at Vale Wildlife Hospital.

The bird had been shot, and had a guarded prognosis but the team at Vale worked their magic and the red kite has thankfully been able to go back into the wild where they belong.

It’s very upsetting to think that this beautiful bird was deliberately targeted and shot and this is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Anyone with any information about how this bird came to be harmed is urged to call our inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and it’s an offence to kill, injure or take wild birds except under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and or an unlimited fine.

ENDS

Thanks to the blog reader who alerted me to this press release from April 2021. I don’t recall seeing any appeal for information in March 2021 when this bird was picked up injured by the side of the road.

Great work by the team at Vale Wildlife Hospital.

UPDATE 7th July 2021: Appeal after red kite wounded by shotgun pellets (here)

26
May
21

Sensationalist media reporting over red kite ‘attack’ will not help stop persecution

When I talk with international colleagues about the problem we have in the UK with bird of prey persecution, many of them are baffled how it can still be ‘a thing’ over here, so many decades after societies elsewhere developed a much more progressive attitude.

To be honest it’s a question I struggle to answer, but it is indeed still ‘a thing’ in many parts of the UK, as entries on this blog will attest. One of the causes of this ongoing perception that birds of prey are ‘bad’, ‘evil’, ‘vermin’ etc is undoubtedly the sensationalist, distorted version of reality published by mainstream media, designed to grab headlines rather than sensibly inform.

Here’s a classic example from yesterday, after a red kite lifted a custard cream from the hand of a two-year-old boy in Henley, Oxfordshire and accidentally scratched the back of his hand. Here’s how the press responded (The Times, Sky News, The Guardian, Daily Mail):

The toddler wasn’t ‘attacked’, nor was the town, and nor are residents being ‘terrorised’ by red kites, which the Daily Mail says ‘resemble eagles’!

Red kites are skilled opportunists and if there’s an easy meal to be had, they’ll take it. The situation in Henley with red kites coming in close to humans has been exacerbated by some residents feeding scraps to the kites in their gardens, and although this has been widely discouraged some people continue because they still enjoy having the kites around, 30 years on from the reintroduction project just a few miles outside Henley.

I know the Chilterns very well and the draw has always been the kites. The vast majority of people I know there and others I meet when out walking there are not ‘in fear of being attacked’ and nor do they believe they are living in a ‘Hitchcock horror’. Those of us lucky enough to have kites around relish the fact we can live alongside these birds and get enormous pleasure from seeing them every day.

This unsubstantiated hysteria generated by the press does nothing to educate the public about the benefits of having birds of prey in our environment and will not help to stop those still intent on killing any bird of prey whether by trap, poison or the gun.

Just in the last few months alone there have been reports of a poisoned red kite in Scotland (here), a poisoned red kite in Lincolnshire (here), a poisoned red kite in Dorset (here), a shot red kite in the Cotswolds (here), a shot red kite in Norfolk (here), a suspected shot red kite in Warwickshire (here), a red kite killed in an illegally-set trap in Berkshire (here), a poisoned red kite in North Yorkshire (here), dead red kites found in suspicious circumstances in Wiltshire (here), a shot red kite in Wales (here)……and on and on and on.

The UK media needs to get a grip and stop demonising these birds.

12
May
21

Warwickshire Police investigate death of red kite

Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team published the following statement on Facebook on 7th May 2021:

Wildlife Crime Officers from the Rural Crime Team are investigating the death of a Red Kite discovered in a field near to Caldecote Lane, Nuneaton on Wednesday 28th April. Raptor Persecution is one of the National Wildlife Crime Units priorities in the UK. Red Kites were on the verge of extinction following decades of persecution in this country. The last few decades have seen their numbers grow and re establish themselves. They are protected under the Countryside and Wildlife act and it is an offence to intentionly [sic] kill or injure them. If you have any information surrounding the incident please contact Warwickshire Police quoting incident number 0140 of 28th April 2021.

It’s a pretty vague statement. The only part that relates to this particular incident, if there even is an incident, is: ‘…..death of a Red Kite discovered in a field near to Caledcote Lane…’.

There’s no indication from this statement that its death was at all suspicious, but presumably there was some indication at the scene that this wasn’t a natural death.

The story has been picked up by a few local newspapers but I haven’t been able to find out any more detail and couldn’t see any statement or appeal for information on the Warwickshire Police website.

UPDATE: There are rumours on social media that the kite had suffered shotgun injuries but this detail has not yet been confirmed by the police.

23
Apr
21

Red kite believed to have been shot & hung from a tree

There is a disturbing news report this afternoon that a red kite has been shot dead and was hung from a tree in a Norfolk village.

According to the Eastern Daily Press, ‘Norfolk police were called to Swaffham Road in Cockley Cley on Friday, April 9, after someone reported a dead bird hanging from a tree.

Police arrived on the scene to find a red kite, and an X-ray led to a vet finding shot dust around the right ulna and one of the legs being broken, police have said‘.

[A red kite. Photo by Natural World Photography]

Given the date, location, species and the x-ray that was published in this article (that appears to have been lifted from here), I believe this red kite is the same one that Norfolk Constabulary tweeted about and I blogged about last week (see here) although there was no mention of it being hung in a tree.

Presumably this new information has been provided to the press by Norfolk Constabulary, although I still can’t find a press release on the police website. It’s really not good enough. Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority and the bare minimum should be a press release from the police with what can be viewed as reliable detail for accurate reporting.

Other new information in the EDP article includes a named contact at Norfolk Constabulary – PC Chris Shelley.

If you have any information about this incident please contact PC Shelley on 101 quoting reference 36/25060/21 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

This is the second report of a dead raptor found hung in a tree in recent weeks. Earlier this month Police Scotland were investigating an incident where a dead buzzard had been strung up in a tree, reportedly after dying of natural causes (here).

21
Apr
21

Police conduct another multi-agency raid after two buzzards confirmed poisoned in Teesdale

Press statement from Durham Constabulary (21 April 2021)

Operation targets raptor persecution

Officers have teamed up with partner agencies on a special operation to target raptor persecution.

Operation Sunbeam included members of the Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Policing Team, RSPB, Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit who carried out searches at two properties in Teesdale this morning (April 21).

It follows an incident last year when two common buzzards were found dead in Teesdale woodland. Forensic tests indicate they were illegally poisoned with a banned pesticide.

[Two poisoned buzzards. Photo by RSPB]

After gathering all the information, the team searched the properties for any harmful substances and two men are now helping officers with their enquiries.

PC David Williamson, who led the operation, said: “We will always do everything we can to support our rural communities and work with partners to act on information received about alleged criminal activity.

The positive action taken this morning will continue and I would encourage anyone with information about this type of crime to get in touch.”  

[Genuine & credible partnership working. Photo from Durham Constabulary]

The action was part of the Health and Safety Executive’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme which was makes enquiries into the death or illness of wildlife, pets and beneficial invertebrates that may have resulted from pesticide poisoning. 

Guy Shorrock, senior investigating officer for the RSPB, provided specialist advice on the subject.

He said: “The illegal killing of birds of prey is a serious national problem so we are delighted with the really well-prepared response from Durham Police, working with partner agencies.

We hope this sends a clear message that the illegal killing of birds of prey won’t be tolerated and action will be taken.”

Ian Guildford, investigative support officer for the National Wildlife Crime Unit added: “It was a very well organised response and great to see agencies coming together to tackle this type of issue.”

If you have any information call 101 or email PC Williamson at david.williamson@durham.police.uk

ENDS

This is brilliant and follows in the footsteps of three other recent multi-agency raids in response to raptor persecution crimes.

On 15th March 2021 there was a raid in Lincolnshire (see here), on 18th March a raid in Dorset (here), on 26th March a raid in Devon (see here) and now this raid in Teesdale.

It’s alarming that all four raids were triggered by the use of banned poisons to kill birds of prey and it’s also quite telling that these offences took place in counties spread across England. This is not a small, localised issue as the shooting industry would have us believe – this is widespread criminality and involves the use of banned poisons that have the capacity to kill anything that touches it, including humans.

Well done to all the partners involved – this is genuine and credible partnership working. Let’s hope their efforts are rewarded with successful prosecutions and convictions.

20
Apr
21

Lincolnshire Police provide update on investigation into poisoned red kite

On 15th March this year, the RSPB tweeted that there’d been a multi-agency raid on two properties in Lincolnshire in connection with the poisoning of a red kite in 2020. Lincolnshire Police, supported by the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the RSPB’s Investigations team, reportedly seized substances that were sent off for toxicology (see here).

[Multi-agency partnership working in Lincolnshire in March 2021. Photo by RSPB]

Today, Lincolnshire Police have issued the following press statement:

Investigation launched into suspected bird poisoning

Last year a Red Kite was found dead by a member of the public on a piece of land in the Crowland area.

The bird was sent off for forensic toxicology tests through the government Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). The result of this analysis has been returned to us and indicates that the bird was poisoned.

Following this result, Lincolnshire Police Wildlife Crime officers, along with partner agencies including the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), Natural England and the RSPB, have been involved in a detailed investigation and two searches have been carried out at addresses in the Crowland area under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

During these searches, items have been recovered which are believed to have been linked to this offence, including some suspected banned pesticides. Investigations are ongoing and two people have been identified in relation to this and they will be spoken with in due course. 

Detective Constable Aaron Flint, Officer in the case has said: “Raptor Persecution is one of the UK’s National wildlife crime priorities and is taken very seriously by Lincolnshire Police. These offences will always be dealt with expeditiously and robustly. Deliberate killing of birds of prey is an offence which I urge the public to report if they become aware of it.

I would like to add, that if a bird of prey is found dead and you believe it is suspicious it should be reported to the police immediately to allow an investigation into its death to commence. The bird may have been poisoned which poses obvious health and safety concerns if handled. Providing the police with the What3words location would be extremely useful when reporting an incident”.

Guy Shorrock, senior Investigations officer with the RSPB, added: “Though raptor persecution data for 2020 has not yet been collated, the number of online reports relating to confirmed incidents and police follow up action around the UK indicate this problem is clearly not going away

Lincolnshire police would like to remind the public that any offences or information they come across can be reported via 999 (for urgent matters) or 101 for other non-urgent matters or visit the Lincolnshire police website to report it online.

ENDS

This is good stuff from Lincolnshire Police. Strong partnership-working with specialist agencies for the follow-up raids and a clear statement about what the investigation is about and its current status.

Let’s hope these efforts result in a prosecution and conviction.




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