Posts Tagged ‘shooting

19
Nov
20

Shot buzzard found dead in Peak District National Park

Press release from RSPB (19 Nov 2020)

Young buzzard found dead had been illegally shot

The RSPB is appealing for information regarding the death of a protected buzzard in Little Hayfield, within the Peak District National Park between Manchester and Sheffield.

A local resident found the buzzard, a juvenile which had hatched this summer, freshly dead on 5 September 2020, in a paddock adjacent to woodland and a driven grouse moor. They contacted Derbyshire Police on 101 and reported it to the RSPB. The body was x-rayed by a local vet who identified a broken leg and a piece of lead shot lodged within the bird’s chest. It is possible that the injuries were sustained at different times during the bird’s short life.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “This was a tragic end to the life of a young bird which had barely begun to spread its wings. The sight of a buzzard soaring overhead is part of the pleasure of being out in the Peak District. This is one of our most visited National Parks and should be a place people can go to enjoy nature, and a place in which nature is protected.

Buzzards are sadly highly vulnerable to illegal killing, and RSPB data shows that more buzzards were the object of persecution in 2019 than any other raptor species. While it’s not clear whether shooting was the cause of death, it’s clear that this bird had been illegally shot at some point in its very short life. We are therefore appealing to the public for information.”

If you have any information relating to this or any other raptor persecution incident, call Derbyshire Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations at crime@rspb.org.uk or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx

Alternatively, if you have sensitive information about this or any other raptor crime which you wish to share anonymously, you can call the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

16
Nov
20

Buzzard-shooting caught on camera

Press release from RSPB (16 November 2020)

Horror as buzzard gunned down on nature reserve boundary

A member of the public witnessed and filmed the moment the bird of prey was shot out of the sky

The buzzard was found fatally injured over a week later

Due to its injuries the bird could not be saved and sadly had to be euthanised

The RSPB is appealing to the public for information regarding the illegal shooting of a protected bird of prey.

On 10 October 2020, members of the public out walking stopped to watch a buzzard in flight, on land adjoining the south-west boundary of the RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve near High Halstow. One of them started filming it on a mobile phone when they suddenly heard a loud shot, and the bird crumpled and fell from the sky before their eyes.

The witnesses called the police on 101. Kent Police and the RSPB conducted a search of the area, but the body could not be found. However, a few days later, on 19 October, a birdwatcher reported seeing a buzzard with a broken wing close to where the buzzard had fallen. RSPB reserve staff set out and discovered a badly injured buzzard on the ground. It was rushed to a local vet but the bird couldn’t be saved and had to be humanely euthanised.

An x-ray of the body revealed that the bird had four pieces of shot lodged in its wing, shoulder and leg. The injury to the wing, which had caused the break, was consistent with the timing of the recent witnessed shooting. However, three of the pellets were older, indicating that the bird had been shot before on an earlier occasion.

Police have spoken with a man in connection with the incident.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. Yet according to the RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report, there were 85 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK in 2019 – with many more likely to have gone undetected. More buzzards were the object of persecution in 2019 than any other raptor species. 

The witness, who does not wish to be named, said:

Northwood is a really special place for my family. We had just lost a loved one, so my dad suggested we take a walk to clear our heads. We were watching a buzzard flying together with another bird of prey, and I quickly got my phone out and started filming it. It was a beautiful sight. Then suddenly we heard a crack and the buzzard crumpled and fell to the ground. It was a feeling of utter shock; we couldn’t believe what we’d just seen. My sister was in floods of tears, we were just so shaken. It was not what we’d envisaged for our walk together. One moment we were watching something so alive, then the next a human had needlessly and senselessly taken it away – it felt like such a horrific waste.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations, said: “Nature has the power to lift our spirits, never more so than in these difficult times. No-one should have to witness wildlife being killed illegally before their eyes and our utmost sympathy goes out to the family.

We regularly gather evidence of raptor persecution, either finding bodies full of shot or illegal traps, but it’s rare that a bird is killed and filmed right in front of someone. This incident really brings home the horrible reality of what is happening to our birds of prey.

We are so grateful to them for picking up the phone and reporting this incident. We know that passing on information about any crime can be difficult, but if you do see anything, or have any information about this or any other crime involving birds of prey, please call our confidential hotline number (0300 999 0101). Your call could make all the difference and prevent more birds being killed.

We are in a climate and ecological emergency and losing our wildlife at a frightening rate. We all have a role to play, which is why we need an immediate halt to incidents such as this.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Kent on 101 and quote the crime reference: 11-0064. You can also call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

There is a short clip of the buzzard-shooting on the RSPB blog here

14
Nov
20

RSPCA appeals for information after sparrowhawk shot in Scunthorpe

Article from the Lincolnite, written by Ellis Karran, dated 13 November 2020.

Bird of prey had to be put down after it was shot with an air rifle

RSPCA investigating the case

The RSPCA is appealing for tighter controls on air weapons after a sparrowhawk was put to sleep due to being shot by an air rifle in Scunthorpe.

The bird was found lying on its back with its wings out after flying out of woods near Darnholme Crescent on Wednesday, before crashing into a car because of its injuries from the gunshot.

A passer-by spotted the bird of prey and contacted the RSPCA who brought it in for treatment.

The decision was made to put the sparrowhawk down as a result of its injuries, with the bird’s chest and wing damaged beyond repair and rehabilitation being impossible.

[Photos by RSPCA]

RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell, investigating the case, said: “This poor sparrowhawk was in a very bad way after being shot and after further assessment, very sadly the decision was made to put the bird to sleep to end its suffering.

It is likely that the bird was shot with an air gun while in flight, and it is very concerning that somebody in the area was taking shots at wildlife in this way.

Whilst there are some shooting practices which are legal, it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act to intentionally injure, kill or take a wild bird, except under licence.

Anyone found guilty could face an unlimited fine and/or six months imprisonment.

The animal welfare charity are now appealing for information about the incident, asking anyone who can help resolve this incident to call 0300 1238018.

ENDS

11
Nov
20

SNH grants licence to Leadhills Estate for out-of-season muirburn

Leadhills Estate, which has been at the centre of over 50 police wildlife crime investigations in the last two decades, has had two gamekeepers convicted for committing wildlife crime offences during that time, and is currently the subject of a three-year General Licence restriction, imposed after Police Scotland found ‘clear evidence’ of wildlife crimes having being committed by persons unknown in recent years, and is under further police investigation since more allegations have been made this year, was granted a licence by SNH to undertake out-of-season muirburn on estate grouse moors in September.

There have been some jaw-dropping revelations on this blog over the years but this one is right up there.

[Muirburn on Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A quick recap of the situation (for those who want more detail please see the links to previous blog posts below).

In April 2020 the Scottish Government temporarily banned all muirburn in Scotland under emergency Coronavirus legislation (see here).

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, in July 2020 Mark Osborne, acting on behalf of Leadhills Estate, applied to Scottish Natural Heritage for an out-of-season licence to conduct muirburn on the estate in September after spraying some areas with glyphosate (see here).

Scottish Natural Heritage (now rebranded as NatureScot but that’s irrelevant) refused the licence application in August (here) and Osborne immediately appealed the decision (see here).

That’s where we left the saga last time. Here’s what happened next…..

SNH was obliged to consider Osborne’s appeal, although it wasn’t obliged to overturn it’s previous decision to refuse permission.

Here’s how SNH’s reconsideration went:

According to the Freedom of Information documents that have been released, that’s it. That’s the extent of the discussion at SNH about whether Leadhills Estate should be given permission to set fire to its grouse moors out of season and in the middle of a global pandemic.

A couple of days later SNH wrote to advise Osborne of its U-turn decision and sent him the licence, as follows:

There has been some discussion amongst RPUK colleagues and associates about whether SNH’s decision to issue this licence was a breach of the Government’s emergency Coronavirus legislation which had temporarily banned muirburn until the official season opened on 1 October 2020. I might return to that topic.

However, of greater interest, to me, is how SNH’s decision-making on whether to issue an out-of-season muirburn licence apparently failed to consider the wider picture of what’s been going on at Leadhills, and especially the current three-year General Licence restriction placed on the estate, by, er, SNH. Didn’t anybody think about that?

Ah, well somebody did, but unfortunately it seems this person’s expert input wasn’t invited as part of the decision-making process:

There’s quite a lot to take in about this case, and the details and circumstances of this particular licence. An FoI has been submitted to SNH to see the licence return which, as detailed in condition #9, should have now been submitted to SNH by Osborne.

And it turns out that this isn’t the first year that SNH has granted an out-of-season muirburn licence to Leadhills Estate. More on that shortly.

For some reason, the phrases ‘taking the piss’ and ‘impotent licensing authority’ are uppermost in my mind.

05
Oct
20

Kestrel shot and killed in West Yorkshire

Every report of a shot raptor is shameful, but there’s just something even more senseless about shooting a kestrel.

[Photo by Annette Cutts]

A kestrel has been shot and killed in the Pudsey area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, according to a tweet from West Yorkshire Police’s Leeds Wildlife and Rural Crime Team today.

No further details have been made available yet, i.e. date, specific location or type of weapon etc.

If anyone has any information please contact West Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote the crime reference number #13200496679.

23
Sep
20

Raptor persecution highlighted in House of Lords

Natalie Bennett is a long-time supporter of the campaign for grouse moor reform and particularly against the illegal killing of birds of prey – she’s been a familiar spokesperson at many Hen Harrier Day events over the last few years.

Now Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, she is using her position in the House of Lords to keep up the pressure.

Here’s a question she posed to DEFRA Minister The Rt Honourable Lord Zac Goldsmith on 16th September 2020 (text from Hansard):

Here is Zac’s response:

Zac said, “I would welcome access to the report that the noble Baroness mentions“.

Here you go, Zac, the report, documenting the 44 hen harriers that have either vanished in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed illegally killed, most of them on or close to driven grouse moors, since 1 January 2018, can be read here

But that report is now out of date. The running total now stands at 45 hen harriers that have either vanished in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed illegally killed, most of them on or close to driven grouse moors, since 1 January 2018 (see here for details).

For completeness, although as a DEFRA Minister you must surely already be aware of this, the peer-reviewed science, based on Natural England’s own data, that demonstrates that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers in England were ten times more likely to ‘disappear’ or be illegally killed on or close to British grouse moors, can be read here.

The question now is, what do you intend to do about it?

[An illegally killed hen harrier. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

21
Sep
20

Police appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in Dorset

Press release from Dorset Police (21 September 2020)

Appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in North and East Dorset

Dorset Police has been working alongside Natural England and the RSPB following two raptor persecution incidents in North and East Dorset.

Raptor persecution – which is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities and involves birds of prey – includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance.

The laying of poisoned bait is illegal. All birds are protected by law in the UK, with the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 being the primary legislation protecting the wildlife and their environment.

In April 2020 it was reported that several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmore Wood area near Blandford. These birds were sent for testing and enquiries remain ongoing.

The birds were found near to public access routes on land owned by more than one landowner.

In August 2020 officers received a report from an animal rescue centre that a number of dead and sick animals from the Verwood area were bought in to them. The animals included buzzards, an owl and a rabbit. These animals were all sent for testing.

Two of the buzzards involved in the Verwood incident survived and have been tended back to health by staff at the rescue centre.

[Photos via Dorset Police]


Police Constable Rob Hammond, of North Dorset police, said: “It is very concerning to see these harrowing incidents occurring in our area and an investigation is underway into each of the reports.

I would like to warn members of the public that this poison could be harmful to anything or anyone that comes into contact with it.

There is a real danger that persecution can affect any kind of bird. More common species such as kites, which have recently returned to our area and are making good progress, and buzzards can come to harm. Tragically it will also have an impact on rarer birds of prey such as ospreys, which have recently been reintroduced to the Poole harbour area and roam for miles, and hen harriers, which are almost extinct in this country.

Always be careful if you see a dead bird of prey or a group of them together – do not touch them, especially if it can be clearly seen that they have white or blue matter in any open wound.”

If you come across a dead raptor, or group of dead raptors, please report this to Dorset Police by taking a photograph and marking the location of the incident using a grid reference or an app, such as What3words. Please also report this to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline on 0800 321600.

The RSPB can be contacted for advice or information, but the matter must be reported to Dorset Police and the WIIS for an investigation to be carried out.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at http://www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200052754 for the Ashmore Wood incident and 55200131382 for the Verwood incident. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.

ENDS

17
Sep
20

45 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed since 2018

Two days ago we blogged that at least 44 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed illegally killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 45 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed since 2018.

Here’s the blog we’ll publish every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June 2020 when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It has since been updated a few times as we learned about more satellite-tagged hen harriers that had vanished during lockdown in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairnorms National Park (here), on a notorious grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (see here) and on a grouse moor believed to be involved with the brood meddling in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier that ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, this time a bird called Fingal who vanished from a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills in May 2020 (see here).

That brings the gruesome tally to 45 hen harriers. (We’re still waiting to hear whether three hen harriers, satellite-tagged by Natural England this year and have since vanished (here), are being treated as suspicious disappearances by the police and if so, they will be added to this list).

Four Five.

Forty five.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 45:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants conservationists to stop fitting satellite tags?

16
Sep
20

44 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

Last month we blogged that at least 43 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 44 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018.

Here’s the blog we’ll publish every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June 2020 when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It has since been updated a few times as we learned about more satellite-tagged hen harriers that had vanished during lockdown in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairnorms National Park (here) and on a notorious grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (see here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier that ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, this time a bird called ‘Dryad’ who vanished from a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in September 2020 (see here).

That brings the gruesome tally to 44 hen harriers. (We’re still waiting to hear whether three hen harriers, satellite-tagged by Natural England this year and have since vanished (here), are being treated as suspicious disappearances by the police and if so, they will be added to this list).

Four Four.

Forty four.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 44:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants conservationists to stop fitting satellite tags?

11
Sep
20

Gunman filmed at hen harrier nest site with decoy eagle owl

The RSPB Investigations Team has published a blog this afternoon detailing an incident that was witnessed by a Natural England fieldworker at a hen harrier nest site in Cumbria during the breeding season.

[Hen harrier, photo by Frank Burns]

The full blog can be read here but the pertinent part is reproduced as follows:

‘We understand that a Natural England fieldworker was monitoring a hen harrier nest on moorland near Whernside, Cumbria, when he saw a man wearing camouflage carrying a firearm and a live bird of prey, believed to be an eagle owl about 300m from the hen harrier nesting area. He tethered the bird and sat a short distance away with his gun. In the circumstances there seems little doubt the intention was to draw in raptors, presumably the hen harriers, to shoot them. The use of a tethered live bird as a decoy to kill or take a wild bird is in itself illegal, but a method that seems to be increasingly used for targeting raptors. This was no doubt a highly stressful situation, we understand the fieldworker took some video footage and made himself visible. This eventually had the desired effect, and the suspect, realising he was under observation, left. It was reported to the police but due to evidential issues around establishing the identity of the suspect, it was not possible to take the matter forward to court. The RSPB would like to place on record our thanks to Cumbria Constabulary and the CPS for their determined efforts to progress this investigation. We firmly consider that this incident and the video should now be put in the public domain’.

Now, putting this news out late on a Friday afternoon isn’t helpful to anyone (apart from Natural England and the criminals within the grouse shooting industry who may hope that it’ll all blow over by Monday).

It won’t.

There is a lot to say about this incident as well as about Natural England’s continuing pisspoor conduct on all things hen harrier.

We’ll be coming back to it on Monday morning.

[Cartoon by Gerard Hobley]

UPDATE 15 September 2020: More on that gunman filmed with a decoy owl near hen harrier nest site on Whernside (here)




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