Posts Tagged ‘shooting


Case against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin: part 2

Legal proceedings continued at Preston Magistrates Court yesterday in the case against gamekeeper Timothy David Cowin, 44, who is alleged to have shot two protected short-eared owls in April 2017 at Whernside, Cumbria in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is further alleged he was in possession of items (a shotgun and an electronic calling device) capable of being used to kill wild birds (see here for first blog about this case).

At a case management hearing yesterday Mr Cowin was invited to enter a plea but was stopped by his defence lawyer, Michael Kenyon. There followed an extraordinarily fractious series of submissions by the defence and the CPS prosecutor, Ms Parker.

The defence argued that not all the paperwork had been received from the CPS, despite many requests, and that some of the paperwork that had been received was “defective in its wording” and some witness statements were incorrectly dated. The defence submitted that the case should be dismissed on these technicalities.

The prosecution argued that some papers hadn’t been served because of the uncertainty of the address that had been provided (Mr Kenyon’s home address as opposed to a legal company’s business address) and that some communication from the defence had not been answered promptly due to the prosecutor being on annual leave. The issue of missing paperwork and incorrectly dated statements had been raised with the police and the CPS was awaiting a response.

District Judge Goodwin, looking quite exasperated by this farcical and ill-tempered display, suggested the lawyers improve their communications with each other. She directed the CPS to review the evidence by 29 March 2018. Once reviewed and revised as appropriate, the defence was directed to submit skeleton arguments and provide documents in support. The CPS was directed to serve a skeleton argument in response and provide documents in support, to be lodged with the court by 26 April 2018.

Mr Cowin was released on unconditional bail and was told he must attend the next court hearing, scheduled for 11 May 2018.


Buzzard found shot dead in Suffolk

From East Anglian Daily Times (26 Feb 2018)


Police are investigating the shooting of at least one Common buzzard – a legally protected bird of prey – that was found dead in a Suffolk wood.

Two buzzard corpses were reported to Suffolk Constabulary’s wildlife crime team in an incident described by naturalists as “appalling and abhorrent.” The bodies were found in woodland known as Little Carr, “on the edge of a shooting estate” on the banks of the River Dove, near Hoxne, the team’s Sgt Brian Calver said yesterday.

The discovery was reported by “a person with shooting rights”, but when a police officer visited the site only one corpse could be found. It was believed that the birds died in January, he said.

At first it was thought the bird that was found may have died as a result of poisoning but analysis of X-rays has proven that the bird was shot. We are in the process of looking into this and we will be as absolutely thorough in our investigations, as we are with all wildlife crime – and we will be trying to secure a prosecution,” said Sgt Calver.

He urged members of the public who discovered any bird of prey corpse in the countryside to report their find and its exact location to police. Any corpse should not be handled, because of the risk of poison being involved, but photographic evidence would be helpful, he added.

[Buzzard photo by RPUK]

Gi Grieco, chairman of the 400-strong Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group, said the latest persecution case was “appalling and abhorrent.”

The illegal persecution of birds of prey on the grouse moors of upland Britain is a well-documented, ongoing and major conservation issue but cases such as this latest one in Suffolk – which is certainly not the first of its kind – shows that this illegal activity is also a problem in lowland Britain,” said Mr Grieco.

This is a disgraceful incident and we hope that the police investigation results in a prosecution that ends with the appropriate penalty imposed on the perpetrator.”

The site of the incident is in Waveney Bird Club’s catchment area and club founder Steve Piotrowski, the author of The Birds of Suffolk, said: “This is yet another upsetting case of raptor persecution. It’s a shame that countryside thugs are tarnishing the name of the shooting estates that do stick to the law and do some good things for conservation.

The criminals think they can get away with it. The police do seem to struggle with prosecutions and they need all the help a vigilant public can give them.

Common buzzards were rare in Suffolk up to the 1980s because of heavy persecution that took place previously but now they are recovering, hopefully, to the level they should be at. For them to still be persecuted is not just upsetting, it’s illegal.”

Lewis Thornley,the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s director for central England, said: “While it’s important to remember that an investigation is ongoing, BASC utterly condemns crimes against protected raptors and would urge anyone with information to assist the police.

Anyone shooting a protected species damages shooting’s reputation and puts at risk the freedoms currently enjoyed by those who shoot legally and sustainably. Such actions have no place among the law-abiding shooting community.”

Anyone with information relating to the buzzard deaths is asked to contact Suffolk police on 101 and ask for Pc Lee Andrews-Pearce, quoting the crime reference 37/8990/18



Sparrowhawk shot dead nr Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

Press release from North Yorkshire Police:


Police are appealing for information after a sparrowhawk was found shot near Knaresborough.

The dead female sparrowhawk was found by a member of the public north of the village of Nidd, between Knaresborough and Ripley, with a fresh, bloodied injury, on Sunday 25 February.

The results from a subsequent x-ray showed that the bird had a smashed and broken wing. The x-ray also revealed a piece of shot lodged in the bird’s body. A police investigation is now underway.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless birds of prey (raptors) are still shot, poisoned and trapped, and North Yorkshire has more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England. As part of a bid to tackle this, in February North Yorkshire Police teamed up with the RSPB, RSPCA, and North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks to launch ‘Operation Owl’. The joint initiative saw staff distribute flyers and posters to local businesses and talk to members of the public about raptor crime, to raise awareness of the issue.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Our wonderful countryside is host to many specially-protected birds of prey. It is absolutely unacceptable that people think they can ignore the law and subject these birds to poisonings, shootings, nest destruction and the illegal use of spring traps without consequence. We will be doing everything in our power to catch these offenders, supported by our colleagues in the RSPB and the volunteers in the national parks.”

Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, added: “Two years ago a red kite was found shot in this same area, so there is clearly a problem here. We believe there will be someone out there who has information about what is going on in this area. We urge you to come forward and call us, in complete confidence, on our Raptor Crime Hotline.”

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, choose option 1 and be ready to quote reference 12180034821.

Alternatively email If you wish to remain anonymous, call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline for free on 0300 999 0101.


An impressively detailed and quick press release & clear evidence of genuine partnership working. Great stuff from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce.


Gamekeeper accused of killing owls on grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park

A grouse moor gamekeeper appeared at Lancaster Magistrates Court this morning to face a series of charges linked to alleged wildlife crime.

Timothy David Cowin, 44, is alleged to have shot two protected short-eared owls in April 2017 at Whernside, Cumbria in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is further alleged he was in possession of items (a shotgun and an electronic calling device) capable of being used to kill wild birds.

Mr Cowin’s solicitor, Michael Kenyon, requested an adjournment and no plea was entered.

Mr Cowin will be invited to submit a plea at a case management hearing scheduled for 15th March 2018.

PLEASE NOTE: For legal reasons, we will not be accepting comments on this post at this stage. Thanks.

Photo of Lancaster Magistrates Court by Ruth Tingay


Buzzard found shot dead near Powys

From ITV News:

A buzzard which was found illegally shot near Powys has prompted concern by the RSPB and police.

The bird was found dead on the ground by a walker near Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant on 10 February, and it was reported to the police.

The bird was X-rayed by a local vet and found to contain at least eight pieces of shot.

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

Jenny Shelton of the RSPB said: “It is saddening and concerning to hear that another protected bird of prey has been shot. This is a serious problem in Wales and the rest of the UK, and one which the RSPB employs a specialist team to tackle. We recently launched a hotline to provide a means of reporting crimes against birds of prey in complete confidence. Someone out there will know what has happened to this bird – please speak out and help end this brutal and illegal behavior“.

41 reports of wild bird crime in Wales were made to the RSPB’s Investigations unit in 2016, according to the 2016 Birdcrime report, published last November.

The report also revealed that there were no prosecutions for bird of prey persecution in the UK during 2016.

RSB Cymru Biodiversity Manager Stephen Bladwell said: “Knowing another bird of prey has fallen foul to persecution in Wales is disheartening. The latest Birdcrime report showed Powys was joint second highest UK County for raptor persecution from 2012-16 – with 22 confirmed incidents during the period. It seems there is a real problem in the county that needs addressing quickly if we are to protect the area’s wildlife. Our investigations team will continue to support Natural Resources Wales and the Rural Crime Team to address the issue“.



Marsh harrier nest attacked on Yorkshire grouse moor: an update

In August 2017 we blogged about how a marsh harrier nest on Denton Moor in Nidderdale, Yorkshire had been repeatedly attacked by armed men dressed as gamekeepers (see here).

The adult harriers had been shot at and the eggs had been removed from the nest during a series of visits in May 2017, all caught on camera by the RSPB.

North Yorkshire Police launched an investigation, including a public appeal for information, and the RSPB released its video footage in the hope that somebody might be able to identify any of the armed men.

Unsurprisingly, there was a deafening silence from the leading representatives of the grouse-shooting industry (Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Countryside Alliance, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust), which can’t have helped the efforts being made by the police.

As is so often the case we didn’t hear any more about this investigation and we assumed that in the absence of any witnesses or new evidence, and the wall of silence from the shooting industry, the case had been quietly parked along with all the others that never make it to court. However, it seems we’d underestimated North Yorkshire Police’s new Rural Taskforce.

Earlier this week, the RSPB Investigations Team provided an update on this criminal investigation and it’s quite clear that North Yorkshire Police has deployed a certain level of creative determination in its efforts to bring these criminals to justice.

According to the RSPB blog, North Yorkshire Police had tried to use forensic voice analysis to compare the voices caught on the camera footage with the voices of several suspects who had been brought in for interview. Unfortunately, the sound captured on the video footage was of insufficient quality to allow a comparison. That’s a shame, but full marks to the police for trying.

Think how much easier it would be, not to mention the savings to the public purse, if those within the grouse shooting industry stepped forward to help the police identify these criminal gunmen dressed as gamekeepers on this Yorkshire grouse moor.


Masked gunmen at goshawk nest in Moy Forest

The following article was published today in the Press & Journal:

For regular blog readers, this is a story we ran in November 2017 (here) when we’d found out through an FoI that a masked gunman and an associate had been caught on camera near a raptor nest at an undisclosed public forest in Scotland.

We were pretty shocked that Police Scotland had kept silent about this incident and, given public safety concerns, we encouraged blog readers to write to their local MSPs to ask questions about the (mis)handling of this case (here).

We also asked Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and the Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, about this issue but neither bothered to respond.

Police Scotland did respond to some of our blog readers requests for information (see here) but refused to discuss the details or reveal the location. However, several local MSPs did commit to taking this up with the Police on behalf of their constituents.

At least one of those MSPs was as good as his word and we’ve recently received copies of correspondence between him and his constituents, which we’ll blog about early in the New Year.

For now, it is apparent that this political intervention has resulted in Police Scotland issuing an appeal for information (only 8 months too late) and revealing the location as Moy Forest, a site well known for being targeted by raptor killers.

Nobody will be surprised to learn that the land around Moy Forest is managed for intensive driven grouse shooting.

Well done to those blog readers who chased up this story, well done to those MSPs who followed up with the Police, and well done to Kieran Beattie at the P&J for taking it to press. But it’s pretty pathetic that we all had to go to such lengths to get Police Scotland to react. Not good enough.

There’s a lot more to talk about in relation to this incident and we’ll be returning to it in the New Year….


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 3,783,833 hits


Our recent blog visitors