Posts Tagged ‘shooting

25
May
19

Brilliant response from North Pennines AONB to illegal buzzard shootings

On Thursday we blogged about two separate wildlife crimes that had occurred recently in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) where two buzzards had been shot – one near Steel and one near Blanchland (see here), an area with a growing reputation for raptor persecution.

[Photo of one of the shot buzzards and an x-ray by Hadrian Vets]

This is an area where the landscape is dominated by grouse moors and we commented on the number of ‘official’ signs in the region offering public information on access rules and warning of ‘dangerous mine or quarry excavations’. We suggested that in addition to these signs, the North Pennines AONB Partnership team might consider putting up other signs, warning the public that they were entering a known raptor persecution hotspot, offering tips on what to look out and providing information about how to report any suspicious activity.

This led to a short discussion on Twitter with the Director of the AONB Partnership, Chris Woodley-Stewart , who told us there weren’t any plans to put up new signs because he “doubted we’d get permission“. Presumably that means permission from the land owners.

It’s difficult to understand why grouse moor owners in a raptor persecution hotspot might not want to encourage members of the public to keep an extra eye out for raptor killers, isn’t it? Aren’t they all supposed to find raptor persecution abhorrent? Aren’t they all supposed to be doing their utmost to fight it? Aren’t they represented by the Moorland Association on the police-led Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)? Isn’t their Moorland Association rep, Amanda Anderson, chomping at the bit looking for ways her members can contribute to the objectives of the RPPDG (e.g. raising awareness about raptor persecution)? Isn’t one of the conditions of being an RPPDG member the need to provide evidence of either proactive or reactive responses to raptor crime? The Moorland Association hasn’t even published a statement on its own website to raise awareness about these latest crimes against two birds of prey. We fully expect RPPDG Chair Nick Lyall to hold the Moorland Association to account at the next RPPDG meeting.

In complete contrast to the Moorland Association’s apparent silence, the North Pennines AONB Partnership (also a member of the RPPDG) has responded brilliantly, and, refusing to be deterred by the constraints of potentially unhelpful private landowners, the Partnership has instead taken the initiative to distribute posters on public land, and deliver leaflets to shops and pubs, alerting the public to the buzzard shootings, appealing for information, and informing people what to do if they suspect raptor crime in their area.

[Photo of a North Pennines AONB Partnership team member posting an appeal for information on a public notice board. Image from @NorthPennAONB]

Not only that, but Chris Woodley-Stewart has written an angry statement that’s been posted on the front page of the North Pennines AONB website, as follows:

BUZZARDS SHOT IN THE NORTH PENNINES AONB

Comment from Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director, North Pennines AONB Partnership

Two buzzards – a protected species – have been shot in the north eastern part of the North Pennines (24th April at Steel, Hexhamshire and 13th May near Blanchland). One bird survived the shooting but its injuries meant it had to be euthanised. But that’s a euphemism – it had to be killed, which was the vile intention of the person who shot it.

We hear a lot (though actually not enough) about the potentially catastrophic long-term declines in our wildlife populations, but buzzards have bucked the trend. There’s been a tremendous eastward recolonisation by buzzards over the past 20 or so years and they are now a daily sight here in the North Pennines, when once they were very scarce. There are around 65,000 pairs of buzzard in the UK now and it’s our most common raptor; I find that a cause for great joy – these are magical birds, for me symbols of freedom and wild places.

We have no idea who killed these birds, though logically it is someone with access to a shotgun. Regardless of who is responsible, or why they did it, this is not merely objectionable, it is a crime and whoever did this is a criminal.

This corner of the North Pennines is gaining a reputation as a raptor crime hotspot, these two buzzard deaths adding to the eight red kites that have been illegally killed in the Muggleswick area (5 miles from Blanchland) since 2010. The killers are breaking the law, tarnishing the reputation of the place they live in and, most importantly, needlessly killing our precious native wildlife.

AONB Partnership staff have been out leafleting the area this morning, putting up posters and giving flyers to shops and pubs, calling for information on the recent crimes. We have written to the relevant Parish Councils today to draw their attention to these incidents. If you have relevant information, you can come forward confidentially and use the RSPB’s Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101 or contact the police on 101, quoting log 722 14/05/19. You can also provide information through www.northumbria.police.uk

Whoever is doing this, for whatever reason, it simply has to stop.

ENDS

The speed with which the AONB Partnership has reacted, and the unequivocal condemnation of these wildlife crimes, including a public acknowledgement of the area’s growing reputation as a raptor persecution hotspot, is to be applauded. This is a first class response, entirely what should be expected of a genuine RPPDG member, determined to play their part in the fight against raptor persecution. Well done to all at the North Pennines AONB.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen clear public condemnation of raptor crime by an AONB being despoiled by ongoing raptor persecution. In recent years we’ve also heard from the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB (here), the Chair of the Bowland AONB (here) as well as the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (here) and the Peak District National Park Authority (here).

Public awareness is growing, the pressure is mounting all the time.

UPDATE 25 May 2019: The second buzzard shooting incident was originally reported as being on 14 May 2019. We’ve now been advised (by North Pennines AONB Director Chris Woodley-Stewart), that the bird was found on 13 May 2019. Text now amended above.

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23
May
19

Two buzzards found shot next to grouse moors in North Pennines AONB

Northumbria Police have launched an investigation following the discovery of shot buzzards, in two separate crimes, both close to grouse moors in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Northumbria Police press release (22/5/19):

POLICE INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED AFTER BIRDS OF PREY SHOT IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Officers are investigating after two separate reports of buzzards being shot and killed in the Hexham area.

One incident occurred on April 25, in Steel, Hexham where enquiries established the bird had been shot and injured. It was taken to a Wildlife Sanctuary and subsequently examined by a local vet where it had to be put to sleep.

The second occurred on May 13, in Blanchland, Hexham where the bird was found dead near the river Derwent.

[Photos and x-rays from Hadrian Vets]

[RPUK map showing the location of Steel and Blanchland in the North Pennines AONB]

PC Lee Davison, Northumbria Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer, said: “Northumberland is home to a variety of wildlife-including birds of prey. The persecution of birds of prey like buzzards is quite rightly an emotive issue and I want reassure the public that we take it very seriously. It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing and we are working with partners to identify suspects. I would ask anyone who has any information to get in touch with us.”

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations team said: “Buzzards are beautiful birds which bring pleasure to many and are a crucial part of our natural landscapes and ecosystems. All birds of prey are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Yet buzzards, peregrines, red kites and other birds of prey are being illegally killed in Northumberland, and other upland areas in the UK.”

Anyone who has information that may assist police should contact officers on 101 quoting log 722 14/05/19 or report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk

Anyone wishing to convey information in confidence can call the Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101, which has been set up for those within the shooting community who wish to speak out about raptor persecution.

ENDS

What the police statement doesn’t include is detail about the local land use and the history of illegal raptor persecution in the area (shootings, poisonings, pole traps). That information has been provided by the RSPB in their own blog here.

Some of us were in this part of the AONB just a few months ago having a look at this extensive area of grouse moors (although not believed to be the grouse moors mentioned in relation to these current cases), and we noticed a lot of signs like these:

[Photos by Ruth Tingay]

These public information/warning signs had been endorsed by various authorities such as Natural England and the North Pennines AONB (see logos) and undoubtedly provide a useful public service:

Isn’t it time we also saw other public signs, endorsed by the authorities, highlighting areas that have been identified as raptor persecution hotspots and warning people to be alert to the evidence of such crimes and what to do if they stumble across such suspected evidence, i.e. who to report it to?

Presumably the grouse shooting estates wouldn’t object to this sort of signage being attached to posts next to their land given that they all denounce illegal raptor persecution and claim to want it stamped out (the crimes, not the raptors).

Perhaps this could be a consideration for Supt Nick Lyall and his reinvigorated Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)? Given that the North Pennines AONB is in the process of joining the RPPDG, they could trail blaze this initiative as an indication of just how seriously they’re taking illegal raptor persecution on their patch.

Wouldn’t it be great to see other RPPDG ‘partners’ such as the Moorland Association, Countryside Alliance and BASC helping the North Pennines AONB to raise funds to support such a scheme and/or providing the labour to install the signs.

UPDATE 25 May 2019: Brilliant response from North Pennines AONB to illegal buzzard shootings (here)

UPDATE 25 May 2019: The second buzzard shooting incident was originally reported as being on 14 May 2019. We’ve now been advised (by North Pennines AONB Director Chris Woodley-Stewart), that the bird was found on 13 May 2019. Text now amended above.

17
May
19

Raven found shot & decapitated in Cheshire

RSPB press release (16 May 2019)

Raven found shot in Cheshire

A protected raven has been found illegally shot near Delamere Forest, Cheshire, triggering a police investigation.

The bird was found in a field by a man walking his dog along the edge of the forest. The bird had no head but had no other injuries. He contacted the RSPB’s Investigations unit for advice, and they arranged for the bird to be collected and x-rayed.

The x-ray revealed as many as nine pieces of shot in the raven’s body. The cause of the bird’s missing head however is not known.

[Photos via RSPB]

Ravens and birds of prey are protected by 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.

Cheshire Police carried out detailed enquiries, including conducting a search of the area and speaking to local farmers. However, no leads were uncovered. The public are now being called on to step forward with any information which may help identify the culprit.

Jenny Shelton, from the RSPB’s Investigations Unit, says: “The countryside is somewhere we should all be able to enjoy, and our incredible birds and wildlife are part of what makes places like Delamere Forest so special.

Raven populations are starting to recover in the UK following centuries of persecution and superstition. These magnificent birds are protected by UK law, yet this is the latest in a growing number of ravens which have been illegally killed in recent months.

The persecution of ravens and birds of prey is a serious issue, and much more common than many of us might think. It’s incredibly difficult to uncover the culprits in cases like these, and you wonder how many other birds have been illegally shot which we don’t hear about. We would like to thank Avian Veterinary Services and Cheshire Police for their help and hard work.”

PC Gerard Gigg of Cheshire Police said: “Can members of the community, when they witness any crime involving wildlife or indeed any other suspicious activity, report it immediately by calling 101, or 999 if the crime is ongoing.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, which occurred around 23 March 2019, call 101, ask for Cheshire Police and quote reference number: 19100137950.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form here.

ENDS

17
May
19

Peregrine found injured at a West Midlands quarry had been shot

The West Midlands Ringing Group is reporting a shot male peregrine found injured at a quarry:

From Twitter today:

@RingersWmYesterday we had a call from a quarry to say that there was an injured peregrine on site. We arrived on site and along with @RSPCA_official we assessed the situation and were able to catch the young male within a few minutes. The bird is now at hospital having its wing assessed.

[Photos from West Midlands Ringing Group]

From @RingersWmPeregrine update. Unfortunately the young male we helped rescue yesterday has been found to have been shot and has two pellets stuck in its wing, which has healed over but is infected. Awaiting a decision from the vet tomorrow on the likely outcome. Sad times. Will keep u updated.

ENDS

16
May
19

Peregrine found suspected shot at Elton Reservoir in Bury

The RSPCA is appealing for information after the discovery of a dead peregrine at Elton Reservoir in Bury, Greater Manchester.

The bird was found by a member of the public on 7 May 2019, already quite extensively scavenged. Local media coverage claims that an x-ray demonstrates the bird was shot with an air rifle (e.g. here). To be honest, the x-ray isn’t very clear – it’s been taken from a side view rather than with the wings splayed, and this has distorted the radiograph. There may be shotgun pellets in the right wing but a further x-ray and/or post mortem would prove conclusive.

If anyone has any information about this incident please contact the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018.

13
May
19

Injured goshawk found in Peak District National Park had previously been shot

This has been reported a bit messily but essentially the bottom line is that an x-ray of an injured goshawk found in the Peak District National Park last winter has revealed it had been previously shot.

The bird, initially mistaken as a peregrine, was first reported injured by a Derbyshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer on social media in November 2018:

According to this news report, the x-ray didn’t reveal any problems and the cause of the bird’s wing injury was unknown. Although according to this blog from the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group, the x-ray showed a small piece of shot, but with no entry or exit wound this was determined to have been the result of an earlier shooting at an unknown time and location.

Last week Derbyshire Police provided a further update on social media, six months on:

As we’ve previously reported (e.g. here), goshawks (and several other raptor species, especially peregrines and hen harriers) have been struggling in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park for several decades due to on-going illegal persecution.

26
Apr
19

Police investigate shooting of two goshawks in Scottish Borders

From Peeblesshire News, 26/4/19:

INVESTIGATION INTO SHOOTING OF RARE BIRDS

Police are appealing for information after the illegal shooting of rare birds of prey in the Borders.

On February 14, a member of the public discovered a dead goshawk on land near Abbey Saint Bathens, Duns, and reported the matter to the RSPB.

Forensic analysis of the bird was undertaken, and it was established that it had been shot.

Police were then contacted on Thursday, April 25.

The news comes after the shooting of another goshawk in the Peebles area on March 2.

Inquiries into both shootings are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to come forward.

[Goshawk by Mike Lane]

Wildlife Crime Co-Ordinator, Constable Steven Irvine, said: “Inquiry was already underway into the shooting of the goshawk in March and we are now conducting inquiries into the earlier shooting of the bird in February. These birds are a protected species and unlawfully killing them is a very serious offence. Anyone who can assist with these investigations should contact police immediately.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said “Goshawks are one of Scotland’s rarest breeding raptors, with only about 150 breeding pairs. Despite the fact that most of their diet consists of crows, woodpigeons and rabbits, species that are perceived as pests by some farmers and gamekeepers, cases of illegal persecution against this species are not uncommon, depriving people of the opportunity to see this charismatic and spectacular bird of prey.

We join with the police in asking that if anyone has information about this crime, or other raptor persecution incidents, they contact Police Scotland.”

ENDS

Well, well, well. More illegal raptor persecution in the Scottish Borders.

You know the place – it’s where SNH have been “able to reassure ourselves persecution is not an issue” (see here).

UPDATE 17.15hrs: This story is now on the BBC news website and provides further information about the second shot goshawk, saying it was found dead by a dog walker near Eddleston Quarry on 2 March.




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