Posts Tagged ‘sparrowhawk

10
Mar
20

Sparrowhawk shot in Devon

The RSPB and Devon & Cornwall Police are appealing for information after a sparrowhawk was shot in Devon.

[An x-ray of the shot sparrowhawk, by Westmoor Veterinary Hospital]

Map showing Tamar Foliot, near Plymouth, Devon:

From an RSPB press release issued 9 March 2020:

Devon and Cornwall Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected sparrowhawk was found illegally shot near Plymouth.

The female bird was discovered alive but injured in a paddock in Tamerton Foliot, Plymouth. Seeing it was unable to fly, the finder recovered the bird and contacted the police on 2 February 2020.

The bird was x-rayed by Westmoor Veterinary Hospital in Tavistock and found to contain a shotgun pellet in its wing.

Emily Roisetter, a veterinary nurse, said: “On examination one of our vets could feel an unusual lump in its wing, which lead us to be suspicious that a pellet was present, and this was confirmed with the x-rays.”

The bird is currently being cared for at a wildlife centre.

Investigating Officer Sergeant Northmore, of the Crownhill Neighbourhood Team, said: “We would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and saw or heard anything which could have been related to this incident, or has any information they think could be useful, to contact us.

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 or fill in the RSPB’s confidential online reporting form here

ENDS

 

25
Feb
20

Another pigeon fancier convicted for killing a sparrowhawk

Last week we blogged about pigeon fancier Duncan Cowan who was convicted for shooting a sparrowhawk in Stirlingshire and was fined a pathetic £450 (see here). Incidentally, there’s more to that story, coming soon.

Today, another pigeon fancier at the other end of the country has also been convicted of killing a sparrowhawk, this time with a catapult in his neighbour’s garden. Yovanis Cruz pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates Court and was fined £653 plus £85 costs plus £63 victim surcharge (£801 in total).

[The sparrowhawk victim. Photo via RSPB]

We await further details on this case. [See blog update below]

Unlike Scotland, where increased penalties for wildlife crime are about to be enacted via the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) (Scotland) Bill which is currently at Stage 1 of parliamentary scrutiny, there are no plans by the Westminster Government to consider an increase in penalties for wildlife crime.

After gamekeepers, pigeon fanciers accounted for a significant proportion of all those convicted for raptor persecution crimes between 1990 – 2018, according to RSPB data (BirdCrime Report 2018).

UPDATE 19.15hrs: The RSPB has now published a press statement about this case (here)

 

19
Feb
20

Pigeon fancier fined £450 for shooting sparrowhawk

A pigeon fancier has been fined a measly £450 after pleading guilty to shooting and killing a sparrowhawk.

60 year old Duncan Cowan from Cowie in Stirlingshire was observed coming out of his shed with an air rifle and firing at a sparrowhawk in the field behind his garden on 18 April 2019. He fired three or four times as the sparrowhawk attacked a pigeon.

The police were called and the Scottish SPCA took the shot sparrowhawk for veterinary attention but it didn’t survive its injuries.

[Cowan outside his shed. Media handout]

Yesterday at Stirling Sheriff Court Cowan pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 1(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 resulting in the fine.

Sara Shaw, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment, said: “I welcome today’s conviction and the message it sends to those who choose to commit acts of violence against wild birds. Wild birds are given strict protection under our wildlife laws and COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”

The sooner the proposed increased penalties for wildlife crime are enacted, the better. Having said that, the current maximum penalty available is £5,000 and/or a six month custodial sentence so a fine of £450 is still incredibly lenient for the deliberate injuring (and subsequent killing) of a protected species.

After gamekeepers, pigeon fanciers accounted for a significant proportion of all those convicted for raptor persecution crimes between 1990 – 2018, according to RSPB data (BirdCrime Report 2018)

 

 

 

20
Aug
19

Sparrowhawk shot on Isle of Man: Local bird charity & police appeal for info

Joint press release from Manx Wild Bird Aid, police & local Government (20 Aug 2019)

Manx Wild Bird Aid, Police Wildlife Crime Officers and the Isle of Man Government are seeking information in relation to a juvenile female sparrowhawk that was found injured at Ballure, Ramsey on the 13th August 2019.
The sparrowhawk was discovered with a single gunshot wound and was recovered alive by a member of the public who passed it over to the charity Manx Wild Bird Aid, who care for sick and injured wild birds.
Unfortunately the bird died of its injuries soon after.
Manx Wild Bird Aid informed the Police Wildlife Crime Officers and Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) Biodiversity Officers. Analysis of the bird’s injuries by a vet showed that the bird had an entry and exit wound consistent with being shot. The bird also sustained broken bones when it fell to the ground and would not have been able to move far from the location where it was found.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: “I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to get in touch with the Biodiversity Officers at DEFA. It is illegal to kill or injure sparrowhawks on the Isle of Man. Protecting our wildlife is immensely important and our department and local charities work hard to ensure these animals are protected“.
A spokesperson for Manx Wild Bird Aid, said: “Not only has this wild bird been shot illegally, it is particularly upsetting that it has been injured in such a way to cause a lengthy period of unnecessary suffering prior to dying“.
Wild birds are legally protected under the Wildlife Act 1990 and it is an offence to kill or injure wild birds with the exception of game species. Penalties of up to £10,000 can be imposed.
Anyone with information relating to this case is being asked to contact Louise Samson, Biodiversity Officer DEFA 685835 or Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.
ENDS
10
Jul
19

Attempted theft of sparrowhawk chicks in Edinburgh

Two men tried to steal five protected sparrowhawk chicks from a nest at the River Almond near Newbridge.

Police in Edinburgh and the Scottish SPCA are investigating the attempted theft , which was thwarted by members of the public walking in the area.

Officers say that the men were seen in woodland close to the Almond Aqueduct, close to Cliftonhall Road, at around 2pm on Saturday. They then told a member of the public that there was a nest nearby that contained five chicks, and intimated that they planned to steal them with a view to selling them on. They indicated that they had tried to remove a number of chicks from the nest.

Police were then contacted and officers attended the scene before also contacting the Scottish SPCA.

[Sparrowhawks, photo by Dave Culley]

One of the suspects is described as being white, in his 50s, around 5ft 6ins to 5ft 9ins tall and he was wearing a black baseball cap, black down jacket, black jeans and black shoes. The other man was white, in his 30s, of slim build, slightly taller and wearing a Aberdeen FC shirt and shorts, with white trainers. They both spoke with local accents.

Inquiries to identify these men are said to be ongoing, and police want anyone who spotted them in the area to come forward.

PC Charles Davidson , wildlife crime officer said: “We are working with our partners to fully investigate this report and would remind the public that the taking, or harming, of these raptors is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

I’d appeal to any dog walkers or member of the public who may have been near the Union Canal on Saturday afternoon, and who saw these two men, to get in touch with officers should they have information to assist our inquiries.”

Scottish SPCA special investigations unit undercover inspector said: “We are pleased the attempt to steal the sparrowhawk chicks was halted by the vigilant members of the public.

We want to make it clear to the public that all birds, including birds of prey, are protected by law and it is a criminal offence to remove eggs, chicks or birds from the wild.

Under no circumstances should they be removed from the wild.

Any incident of this nature will be fully investigated by the Scottish SPCA together with Police Scotland .”

Anyone with information should contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 3414 of 6 July. Alternatively you can phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS (from Edinburgh Live website)

12
Apr
19

Sparrowhawk found tied to plastic bottle in Angus

The SSPCA is appealing for information after a sparrowhawk was found cable-tied to a plastic bottle in Carnoustie, Angus.

A member of the public found the bird on Sunday 7 April in a field at the top end of Lochend Road. The SSPCA attended and released the bird after checking it for injuries.

[Photos by SSPCA]

SSPCA rescue officer Dionne Boyack said, “We were notified by a concerned member of the public who came across the sparrowhawk. It was found to be tethered in an unusual way, so we don’t suspect this to be a falconer.  The bird was restrained with cable ties and attached to a bottle which was hindering its ability to fly. It is possible the bird got caught up in this unfortunate way by accident. After assessing the sparrowhawk for injury and being satisfied that he had none, I freed him and he flew away.

If anyone in the area has any information about how the bird came to be trapped in this way, please contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”

06
Mar
18

Stody Estate exonerated after gamekeeper’s conviction for mass raptor poisoning

Regular blog readers will remember the mass poisoning of birds of prey on the Stody Estate, Norfolk in 2013.

In October 2014, Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert was convicted of a series of wildlife crime offences on the estate, including the mass poisoning of birds of prey (10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk) which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013. He was also convicted of storing banned pesticides and other items capable of preparing poisoned baits (a ‘poisoner’s kit’) and a firearms offence (see here and here).

Photo of nine of the buzzards poisoned by gamekeeper Lambert [photo: RSPB]

In our opinion, gamekeeper Lambert got off pretty lightly when he was sentenced in November 2014. Even though the judge acknowledged that Lambert’s crimes had passed the custody threshold, Lambert received a 10-week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six-week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and dead buzzards (suspended for one year) and was ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge. In our opinion (see here), this was absurdly lenient for one of England’s biggest known mass raptor poisoning incidents, and on top of that, Lambert wasn’t even sacked – it was reported that he’d been allowed to take early retirement from the Stody Estate.

However, even though Lambert appeared to have got off lightly, his employers at Stody Estate were hit with a massive financial penalty (through cross-compliance regulations), believed to be the biggest ever civil penalty imposed for raptor persecution crimes.

Today though, the High Court has ruled that Lambert’s actions were “not directly attributable” to Stody Estate or its senior management and the subsidy penalty has been quashed!

In other words, the employer (Stody Estate) cannot be held accountable for the criminal actions of its employee (Allan Lambert). That’s quite astonishing, although it’s difficult to comment in detail without knowing the finer details of Lambert’s employment contract with Stody Estate. [UPDATE 7th March – full written judgement now available at foot of this blog post]

It does seem like yet another example of the need to introduce vicarious liability legislation for specific offences against birds of prey in England, as has been done in Scotland.

Stody Estate photo by RPUK

The following article has been published in the EDP:

A farm company was wrongly penalised after a gamekeeper poisoned wild birds of prey to preserve game birds for shooting, the High Court has ruled.

Allen Lambert poisoned 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk which he saw as a threat to 2,500 pheasants and partridges laid down for a 10-day “family shoot”.

The gamekeeper on the 4,200-acre Stody Estate in north Norfolk was convicted of an offence under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1981 in October 2014.

And, in January last year, then Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, stripped Stody Estate Ltd of 55pc of its farm subsidy for that year.

Overturning the penalty today, a senior judge noted that there had been “no finding of fault” against the company, based in Melton Constable, or its senior management.

The mere fact of Mr Lambert’s conviction did not prove that poisoning the birds was “directly attributable” to his employer, said Mrs Justice May.

“Some further enquiry directed at the level of fault, if any, on the part of Stody Estate in connection with Mr Lambert’s actions was required,” she added.

“In the absence of any finding of fault there was no proper basis for the imposition of a penalty.”

The Stody Estate, which has 15 employees, has been farmed by the MacNicol family for 75 years and Charles MacNicol is its managing director.

Estate manager, Ross Haddow, has day to day management of the farm and Mr Lambert had been a gamekeeper since 1990, living in a tied cottage.

The Rural Payments Agency, which administers the single farm payment subsidy scheme, at first said the company should lose 75pc of its subsidy.

That was reduced to 20pc by the Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel, but the penalty was upped again, to 55pc, by Ms Leadsom last year.

Stody Estate Ltd and its management were “exonerated” from any involvement in poisoning birds, the court heard.

But Ms Leadsom concluded that “the intentional acts of Mr Lambert, acting within the scope of his employment, were to be treated as those of the farmer, being Stody Estate.”

The issue was of such importance to the farming industry that the National Farmers Union intervened in the case, arguing that the penalty could only lawfully have been imposed if Charles MacNicol, or possibly Mr Haddow, had poisoned the birds.

Mrs Justice May said that that was going too far, but nevertheless ruled that Mr Lambert’s actions could not be “directly attributed” to Stody Estate or its management. The penalty was quashed.

ENDS

UPDATE 7 March 2018: The written judgement can be read HERE (with thanks to @borobarrister)




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