Posts Tagged ‘spring trap

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?

07
Sep
20

Police investigate shot buzzard remains found on Wirral pheasant shooting estate

The discovery of the remains of a buzzard have led to a joint investigation into alleged raptor persecution and other wildlife offences on a game-shooting estate on the Wirral.

The decomposed corpse was discovered next to a hunting tower on the estate in July 2020, according to a social media posting by a group called ‘Cheshire Against Blood Sports’. The buzzard’s decapitated head and legs were found close by. An x-ray at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre reportedly found the body was ‘peppered with shot’. It’s not known how old the corpse was but it’s clear from the photographs that decomposition was quite advanced.

[All photos from Cheshire Against Blood Sports]

Other allegations made by the group include ‘unchecked Larsen traps & decoy birds found dead in the trap’. The group has also posted photographs of what looks to be a clam trap with the decomposed remains of something in it, an uncovered Fenn trap (although the circumstances of its use are unclear) and a large stink pit containing the rotting corpses of wildlife.

The group reports that the joint Merseyside Police/RSPCA investigation concluded with a visit to the estate in late August where words of advice have apparently been given. There are not thought to be any impending prosecutions.

It’s believed the pheasant, partridge and duck shooting on the estate is leased to a third party.

[All photos from Cheshire Against Blood Sports]

This article was re-published on the Birdguides website on 13th September 2020.

27
Aug
20

Lamb euthanised after stepping on illegally-set spring trap in North York Moors National Park

A lamb has been euthanised after being found in the North York Moors National Park with an illegally-set spring-trap attached to its leg.

The lamb was discovered on 8th August 2020 and was seen by a vet, who reported a nasty bone infection tracking up the lamb’s leg from the trap injury. A decision was taken to euthanise the stricken animal.

The use of this type of spring trap (a Fenn trap) became subject to new regulations in April this year as it is no longer considered humane for killing stoats. Gamekeepers have been urged to stop using them altogether in most situations and switch to a trap with a different design (e.g. see here and here).

Nevertheless, even if the operator of this particular trap had a defence for its lawful use, it would appear that it had still been set illegally if this lamb had managed to get its leg caught in it. Spring traps have to be placed inside a tunnel (artificial or natural) with excluders at each end to prevent non-target species entering the tunnel and getting caught.

Of course, even though the police are investigating this incident the chance of anyone being prosecuted is absolutely zero because it would be virtually impossible to determine who had set the trap. Even if there was a lawful requirement for the trap operator to have an identifying tag on the trap (which there isn’t), the police would still have enormous difficulty finding sufficient evidence to demonstrate it had been set by the operator and not by a third party.

What the police can do, though, is to visit the landowners in this area and ‘give them advice’ about the lawful use of traps.

Interestingly, this lamb was found on land close to Hutton-le-Hole, which is remarkably close to where the suspected poisoned sparrowhawk was reported a few days ago (here) and where a satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappeared’ in 2018 (see here).

Anyone with information about any of these cases, please contact PC Jez Walmsley at Malton Police Station on 101.

 

14
Aug
20

New report suggests up to quarter of a million animals killed in traps & snares on Scottish grouse moors each year

Press release from League Against Cruel Sports (Scotland), 13th August 2020

Shocking new statistics show up to 260,000 animals killed each year on Scottish shooting estates to increase the number of grouse to be shot for ‘sport’

Charity publishes ‘Calculating Cruelty’, a field study of Scotland’s hidden shame

  • 57,000 killing devices deployed each day in Scotland representing the equivalent of over 10,000,000 active trapping and snaring days per year.
  • Up to a quarter of a million animals are killed each year in an attempt to totally eradicate foxes, stoats, weasels and crows to increase the number of grouse.
  • Nearly half of the animals killed are non target species such as hedgehogs, dippers and mistle thrush.

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland has published the most comprehensive and robust field study of ground predator control on Scotland’s shooting estates. Over 15 months, an independent surveyor mapped the location and frequency of traps and snares set on seven shooting estates to calculate the true extent of animal killing as a result of predator control to sustain the driven grouse shooting industry.

Analysis of the survey data by a leading scientist concludes that up to a quarter of a million animals are killed every year to maintain high numbers of grouse for sport shooting, with nearly half of these non target species. The study also found that failure to comply with existing codes of practice is widespread on Scottish grouse moors, and that best practice guidelines produced by professional organisations that represent the shooting industry appear to serve little useful function.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “These figures have shocked and appalled us. This is the most comprehensive, quantitative study of predator control giving an illustration of the grim reality of Scotland’s grouse moors, where up to a quarter of a million animals are simply wiped out to ensure grouse numbers are kept artificially high.

Our report ‘Calculating Cruelty’ leaves us in absolutely no doubt that managing such large parts of Scottish moorland for an industry which makes a woefully low contribution to the economy is entirely misguided and outdated.

Between June 2018 and September 2019 a surveyor, with over 20 years experience of game management recorded the scale, distribution and use of legal grouse moor management equipment and practices. Using the Scottish right to responsible access, the estates were walked and all ground was viewed so that the items being specifically surveyed were likely to be found. All ground was covered at least once with all tracks and watercourses checked carefully. The estates surveyed were had various intensities of management practices, and included:

● Millden Estate, Angus

● Tillypronie Estate, Aberdeenshire

● Glenmazeran Estate, Inverness-shire

● Easter Clunes, Inverness-shire

● Kildrummy Estate, Aberdeenshire

● Invermark Estate, Angus

● Skibo Estate, Sutherland

The survey was carried out without the estates being notified so that the data were not biased by management practises changing as a result of the survey and no legally set trap or snare was interfered with in any way. This is the first time that such a widespread and detailed survey of estates has been undertaken.

The report published by the League, is part of a series of reports by the various partners of Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform, a campaign group bringing together social justice, environmental and animal welfare organisations. Since its inception in 2018 Revive has shone the spotlight on the circle of destruction surrounding driven grouse moors, campaigning for their radical reform.

Robbie Marsland added: “The enormity of the figures produced by the data in this report is simply staggering. The League and our partners in Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform think it is unconscionable to kill any animal, let alone up to a quarter of a million, to ensure that hundreds of thousands of grouse can then be shot for ‘sport’.

Driven grouse shooting is surrounded by a circle of destruction which is Scotland’s hidden shame. This cruelty and willful disregard for the environment and our wildlife needs to stop once and for all starting with a complete ban on all snares and traps.

ENDS

The League has published two new reports, ‘Calculating Cruelty’ and ‘Hanged by the Feet until Dead’, both of which can be downloaded below:

Calculating Cruelty

Hanged by the Feet until Dead

A copy of both reports has been sent to every MSP in the Scottish Parliament.

There is also a short video highlighting the key findings of this study:

38 Degrees has launched a new petition, ‘Stop grouse shooting’s war on wildlife‘ which can be signed HERE

There has been the usual criticism of these two reports by the game shooting industry although so far this criticism appears to be focused on personal and defamatory abuse of one of the report’s lead author Professor Stephen Harris rather than any criticism of substance about the reports’ actual findings. This is what we’ve all come to expect – anybody who dares try to shine a light on the murky practices of this industry immediately becomes a target and attempts are made to smear, distort, misrepresent and undermine that person’s professional and personal integrity.

Read the reports for yourselves, look at the eye-watering number of traps recorded on some of these estates and judge for yourselves whether this level of intensive and largely unsupervised slaughter of wildlife, to facilitate a ‘sport’, is acceptable in modern Scotland.

You’ll notice Millden Estate in the Angus Glens was one of the seven estates surveyed, and also reported as the most intensively-managed of all seven. That won’t be a surprise to many readers as this area has been accurately described by Chris Townsend as ‘savaged, stripped and blasted land’ (see here for some shocking photos).

Millden has featured on RPUK many times and readers may recall the most recent Millden blog – last October there was a huge multi-agency raid for suspected animal fighting and during that raid a number of dead raptors were also discovered and as a result a gamekeeper was suspended (see here, here and here).

We understand that cases are progressing on the animal fighting allegations as a result of the SSPCA investigation but it is not known whether any of the wildlife crime allegations are progressing – these are apparently being investigated by Police Scotland.

20
Jul
20

Wildlife killed in illegally-set trap and snares in south Scotland

Press release from Scottish SPCA (17 July 2020)

Scottish SPCA raise concerns after animals die suffering in illegal snares and traps

The Scottish SPCA is appealing for information after being alerted to deceased animals caught in illegal snares and traps over the last month.

The Society’s special investigations unit was alerted to two incidents of badgers in illegal snares in North Lanarkshire since 5 July and a hare was discovered trapped in a spring trap in the Pentland Hills on 18 June.

From 2018 to 2019, the charity dealt with almost 60 incidents involving animals caught in snares and traps. The majority of these animals were dead on arrival.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity supports an outright ban on all snares due to the level of suffering an animal is caused.

The snares that killed the badgers were illegal as both had been set on a fence line. This is unlawful due to the risk of an animal trapped being wholly or partially suspended which can lead to severe unnecessary suffering. The snares also did not have a ‘stop’ which does not allow the device to tighten after a certain point. All snares are legally required to have an identification tag but this was absent on both devices. The snare in Motherwell was made out of nylon which is an illegal material for use in snares.

The hare was caught in an outdated spring trap which became illegal for use on non-target animals in April 2020. Trap operators should be aware of the recent change in legislation that dictates which traps are legal and which traps are no longer approved. This particular trap was unapproved and was not legal in the circumstances in which it was used.

Scottish SPCA special investigations inspector, who cannot be named due to undercover operations, said:

Snare and trap operators must check on the device every 24-hours and this was not the case in these incidents.

These animals were caused unimaginable physical and mental anguish being caught in these traps. The creatures will have experienced slow and agonising deaths. The level of suffering they would have felt is unimaginable.

The badger in Airdrie had been dead for two or three months and in Motherwell, the animal had been deceased for over 24 hours.

The badgers must have passed under the fence and become caught in the snare. One under its front legs and the other around its neck. Both animals must have panicked and this caused the snare to constrict them further and further.

The hare was found in the Pentland Hills near Balerno trapped by its front leg. By the time we found it, the leg had almost been severed due to the amount of struggle and fight put up by the animal.

These areas are popular with dog walkers so we would ask that anyone with pets in the areas are vigilant. Snares and traps are indiscriminate and domestic animals such as dogs and cats can also be caught in them. It is illegal for anyone to tamper with a legally set snare or trap so we would ask the public not to attempt this. If someone suspects a device is set illegally then they should contact us immediately.

We’ve been working closely with our partners at Police Scotland on these wildlife crimes and both agencies are keen to find those responsible.

We’d also like to thank the owners of the land in Airdrie, Premier Woodlands, who have been fully cooperative and are keen to find those responsible.

If anyone has any information on whoever may have set these snares or traps or if anyone finds what they believe to be an illegal item, we would urge them to phone our animal helpline immediately on 03000 999 999. All calls can be treated confidentially.”

ENDS

06
Jul
20

Leadhills Estate granted ‘individual licence’ to shoot crows

As many will recall, in November 2019 SNH imposed a three-year General Licence restriction on the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire following ‘clear evidence from Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on this estate’ (see herehere, here, here, and here).

Those alleged offences included the ‘illegal killing of a short-eared owl, two buzzards and three hen harriers’ that were ‘shot or caught in traps’ on Leadhills Estate since 1 January 2014 (when SNH was first given powers to impose a General Licence restriction). SNH had also claimed that ‘wild birds’ nests had also been disturbed’, although there was no further detail on this. The estate has consistently denied responsibility, obviously.

[This male hen harrier was found with its leg almost severed, caught in an illegally-set trap next to its nest on Leadhills Estate in 2019. Despite valiant efforts by a top wildlife surgeon, the bird didn’t survive. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

As many of you will also know, a General Licence restriction is supposed to prevent an estate from killing so-called ‘pest’ species (e.g. crows) that would otherwise be permissible under the General Licences but that estates can still apply to SNH for an ‘individual licence’ to circumvent the General Licence restriction and continue killing birds, albeit with a bit more paperwork to complete.

This ridiculous situation is a legal quirk, outlined in a Judicial Review, and isn’t SNH’s fault (although SNH could be doing a lot more to point out the system failings to the Scottish Government). Basically if a penalised estate isn’t provided with an opportunity to apply for an individual licence the estate could argue the system was unfair and the legality of the General Licence restriction probably wouldn’t stand. If further wildlife crimes are discovered on the estate when an individual licence is in place, SNH can revoke the individual licence but the estate can simply reapply for another one. We’ve discussed how the General Licence restriction is a wholly ineffective deterrent plenty of times in the past, (e.g. see here, here, here, here) and last year we even gave evidence to this effect alongside RSPB Scotland and others to a Scottish parliamentary committee (here).

Since the General Licence restriction was imposed on Leadhills Estate in Nov 2019 we’ve been interested to find out whether the estate has applied for, and been granted, an individual licence.

An FoI request has revealed that yes, SNH issued an individual licence that was valid between 27 April – 1 June 2020 but this was far more restrictive than the individual licences (e.g. see licence details here) that were issued to Raeshaw Estate when a GL restriction was imposed on that estate in 2015.

The individual licence at Leadhills Estate only permits the shooting of two species – hooded crow and carrion crow, in a limited part of the estate and apparently to protect lambs.

According to condition #8 of this licence, the licensee has to submit a written report to SNH within one month of the licence expiring (so by 1 July 2020) detailing the scaring methods deployed and the number of birds shot. We have submitted an FoI request for this information.

We’ve also asked SNH for details of the compliance checks made for the duration of this licence. SNH has said in the past that compliance checks would form part of the ‘tighter scrutiny’ involved with an individual licence. Let’s see. Presumably this type of environmental monitoring/legal compliance check would have been one of the Government-sanctioned jobs during lockdown.

27
May
20

Stoat killed in illegal trap on grouse moor in Teesdale

There’s an article in the Northern Echo today reporting the discovery of a dead stoat in an illegally-set Fenn trap on an unnamed Durham grouse moor.

A member of the public had found the stoat and reported it to the League Against Cruel Sports, who reported it to Durham Police.

[Dead stoat caught in illegal Fenn trap on unnamed Teesdale grouse moor, photo via Northern Echo]

An unnamed spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said:

We received reports of a suspected illegal Fenn trap in the Teesdale area and on investigation, found it was illegal and the trap subsequently removed by the landowner.

We would like to remind all those concerned that following new legislation that came into effect on April 1, 2020, the use of Fenn traps and all copycat designs have now been made illegal to trap stoats.

We would encourage landowners to comply and remove any traps that are illegal if they have not already done so.

If members of the public should see any traps which they think are illegal they can contact us by calling 101.”

We’ve blogged previously about the new rules for trapping stoats (see here).

We know that Fenn traps have also been found set in position on other grouse moors since the traps became illegal and we’re aware that at least some of these have been reported to various police forces.

It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before someone is actually charged with an offence for continuing to use these now-illegal traps for killing stoats, rather than the landowner simply being ‘encouraged to comply’ with the law.

12
May
20

Parliamentary questions on proposed new offences for trap damage

At the beginning of May we blogged about the Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s claims that it was currently ‘negotiating with Government’ for the creation of a new offence relating to trap damage (see here).

[A spring (Fenn) trap set on a log, designed to catch and kill any animal that stands on the trigger plate. Gamekeepers argue that traps like these, and others, are routinely damaged by members of the public. Photo from the Untold Suffering report published by the Revive Coalition last year. NB: It is no longer legal to use Fenn traps for killing stoats in the UK as they have been ruled inhumane – new trap designs have recently been approved (see here)]

This claim of apparent ‘negotiation’ with the Government is of particular interest, given the Scottish Government’s longstanding and ongoing failure to bring in legislation to licence grouse moor management, despite endless reviews and mountains of evidence, collected over many years, that demonstrate a clear and unequivocal link between grouse moor management and illegal raptor persecution.

It looks like we’re not the only ones with an interest in these claimed ‘negotiations’. Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell has lodged the following Parliamentary questions:

S5W-28828: To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association regarding creating offences and sanctions in relation to animal trap damage, broken down by (a) date and (b) location of discussion.

S5W-28829: To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to change the law in relation to the wilful damage of animal traps.

Answers to these questions are due by 19 May 2020.

UPDATE 16 May 2020: Scottish Government denies ‘negotiating’ with gamekeepers on new offences for trap damage (here)

08
May
20

North Yorkshire Police frustrated at ongoing raptor persecution

Following on from the news that yet another shot raptor has been found in Nidderdale AONB (see here), there’s a topical news feature in today’s Yorkshire Post about the ongoing illegal persecution of birds of prey in North Yorkshire.

The article starts off well and focuses on quotes from Inspector Matt Hagen, who leads the North Yorks Police Rural Task Force and also from Supt Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG – the so-called partnership approach to tackling raptor persecution).

Here’s an extract:

The shooting, poisoning and trapping of birds such as red kites and buzzards is a crime previously described by the RSPB as “a stain on our countryside” and has risen in recent years after they were introduced to Yorkshire in the late nineties.

It is thought the offences have been happening for a long time, although increased awareness from the national police campaign Operation Owl has led to a rise in reports from the public.

Nidderdale in particular has been highlighted as a hotspot for the crime, while shootings of birds of prey have also been reported around West Yorkshire.

Disturbingly, there have also been reports of pets being killed after eating poisoned meat left out in suspected attempts at targeting scavenging birds of prey.

Between November 2018 and March of this year, there were 15 crimes recorded in North Yorkshire alone of birds being shot, poisoned or trapped, or tagged birds reported missing. Of these, nine had been shot, including a barn owl found shot in Ryedale in December 2019.

[A shot buzzard found in North Yorkshire in 2018, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

Inspector Matt Hagen, who is Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “These crimes are very difficult to investigate because they happen in isolated places and there is often no one around to witness them.

“From what I have seen, some of the people that persecute birds of prey are of the opinion that they diminish the numbers of pheasants, grouse or partridges.

“Many gamekeepers are very pro-conservation, but it just takes one or two individuals in that industry to make a real impact. This is especially the case with hen harriers because they are so endangered. Many birds of prey that are persecuted we find that they were on a grouse moor, or at least near to one of those areas.

“I do know that with the hen harriers, there are not many left in this country, and if this carries on it may well be that they disappear.”

Poisoning is also an issue, where perpetrators leave out poisoned rabbit carcasses for carrion-eating birds such as red kites to find. This poses a risk to local wildlife, pets and even children, police have said.

Insp Hagen added: “We recently had two dogs poisoned in Pateley Bridge, one of whom sadly died. This is still being investigated, but it happened in an area known as a hotspot for these crimes.”

Operation Owl is a campaign originally spearheaded by North Yorkshire Police which has since been made into a national campaign urging the public to be eyes and ears for crimes committed against birds of prey, as most occur in remote areas.

Superintendent Nick Lyall of Bedfordshire Police currently leads the campaign, and has been meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service and senior Government ministers to urge for the crimes to be upgraded from summary-only offences – which can only be dealt with by magistrates and have more lenient sentences – to either-way offences, meaning they can be tried in a crown court.

Supt Lyall said: “We can do search warrants linked to wildlife crimes, but we can’t use our serious crime tactics of covert policing, such as surveillance, to catch these offenders. So for example, if we knew of a nest that was being targeted, we currently can’t put cameras in to see who was disturbing that nest.”

Supt Lyall added that only one or two people are convicted each year for crimes against these birds, with police relying mainly on witnesses as evidence.

“With the remote places these crimes are happening in, that makes it very difficult to prosecute,” he added.

The impact of these crimes is not just felt by the community, but on the environment as well.

A report published by the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in September revealed that red kites were failing to expand breeding territory from Wharfedale into neighbouring Nidderdale.

– END OF EXTRACT –

It was pretty accurate reporting up to this point but then it descended in to farce, first with this statement from the journalist:

‘Despite this there is hope, and most gamekeepers and landowners are now strongly committed to conserving all species, with 2019 being a record year for endangered hen harriers breeding’.

There’s a short, but crucially important, word missing from this statement, and that word is ‘say’. As in, ‘…..most gamekeepers and landowners say they’re now strongly committed to conserving all species……’

Of course they’re going to say they’re against raptor persecution – they’ve been saying that for 66 years, ever since the Protection of Birds Act 1954 was enacted. However, all the evidence, of humongous proportions, suggests otherwise!

The article then continues with contributions from Amanda Anderson (Moorland Association) and John Clarke (National Gamekeepers Organisation) both churning out the familiar patter about supposed ‘zero tolerance‘ of raptor persecution and Amanda particularly focusing on the so-called ‘enthusiastic’ support of moorland estates for hen harriers!

She ‘forgot’ to mention the two current police investigations in to the alleged witnessed shooting of hen harriers on two grouse moors and the game shooting industry’s subsequent silence (see here). She also ‘forgot’ to mention the 31 (at least) hen harriers believed to have been illegally killed since 2018, the year when grouse shooting industry reps would have us believe that hen harriers were welcomed back on the grouse moors. She also ‘forgot’ to mention the 2019 research paper that demonstrated that at least 72% of satellite-tracked hen harriers tagged by Natural England were believed to have been illegally killed on British grouse moors.

[This hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set spring trap (which almost severed his leg) on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate last year. He didn’t survive. Read his grim story here. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Meanwhile, back in the real world unofficial reports from around the UK but particularly from areas managed for driven grouse shooting in the north of England indicate that raptor persecution crimes are still being committed, and that includes hen harriers being targeted yet again.

There’s a famous quote that springs to mind that some journalists would do well to consider:

If someone says it’s raining, and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the f***ing window and find out which is true“.




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