Posts Tagged ‘trap

21
May
19

SNH announces consultation on General Licences

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has announced it is to launch a public consultation on the General Licences later this summer.

[The use of traps like this one are ‘regulated’ under the General Licences but that ‘regulation’ is rarely enforced]

Here’s the SNH press release:

SNH to launch General Licence Consultation

A 12-week consultation about General Licences will take place later this year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced today.

A General Licence is a type of species licence that allows users to control wild birds or destroy their nests, for reasons such as preventing serious damage to crops, protecting public health, and guarding air safety when flocks of birds are liable to get in flight paths.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of National Operations, said: “We want to ensure that General Licences in Scotland are clear, proportionate and fit-for-purpose. In light of the complicated situation in England with General Licences right now, we have decided to bring forward our consultation which had been scheduled for 2020.

Our General Licences cover relatively common situations – such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety – when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific situations. As with any licence, we need to ensure that General Licences strike the appropriate balance between species conservation and a range of other legitimate interests.

We would like to reassure those who are currently operating under General Licences in Scotland that these remain in place, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.”

The consultation will ask stakeholders for their views about how General Licences work in practice, what they should cover, and how they are worded.

ENDS

This proposed review and public consultation of the General Licences is no surprise given the recent situation with similar General Licences in England which Natural England has had to admit are unlawful, after a legal challenge by Wild Justice.

And whilst the proposed SNH review and consultation is to be welcomed, long-term blog readers will know we’ve been here many times before (e.g. see herehereherehere, here and here) and although SNH has responded to some criticisms in the past by making some minor amendments, most of the requests for reform have fallen on deaf ears.

General Licences are still considered to be a light-touch form of regulation for the killing of wild birds and there are MANY areas of improvement still needed, not only to address the principle that lethal control of birds should be a last resort, but also to close the loopholes being routinely exploited by raptor-killing criminals. If calls for reform are ignored again, without justification, SNH may well find itself facing another legal challenge.

We look forward to the launch of the consultation later in the year and we’ll be encouraging as many people as possible to submit a response.

UPDATE 5pm: RSPB Scotland has issued a strong statement welcoming the review in light of some of the current General Licences being “not fit for purpose”. Spot on.

Advertisements
13
Apr
19

Illegal trap user escapes trial after prosecution shambles

Here’s another example of another raptor persecution case collapsing.

This was published in the latest edition of Legal Eagle (#87), the RSPB Investigation Team’s newsletter:

It’s so frustrating. Yes, the CPS is massively under-resourced and struggling to cope with far more serious crimes than this, so even more justification, then, for the need for a specialist wildlife crime unit to investigate and then prosecute alleged offenders.

Who’d pay for that? Licence the entire game shooting industry, which is the industry responsible for the vast majority of raptor persecution crimes, and it’d raise millions. Sorted.

23
Mar
19

New satellite tag to detect illegal killing of golden eagles in Cairngorms National Park, eagle-killing hotspot

Press release from Cairngorms National Park Authority (23 March 2019)

Cutting edge technology to provide new insight into lives of Scotland’s golden eagles

An innovative new type of satellite tag has been designed to provide a boost to understanding raptor movements and behaviour, as well as help understand the fate of birds which die in the Cairngorms National Park and more widely across Scotland.

Over the next 18 months some young Golden Eagles in and around the Cairngorms National Park will be fitted with a novel ‘Raptor Tracker’ tag, as part of a trial which will provide key information on movements and behaviour, such as whether a bird is feeding or resting. Most importantly, it will provide an instant fix on any birds which die.

Tags in current use are limited in what information they can provide on the exact location of any bird which dies.  This new tag uses the ‘geostationary Iridium’ satellite network and ensures that signal information is always available. Crucially, it has been developed with multiple sensors; these immediately send a ‘distress’ signal, with an exact location, back to base if unusual behaviour is detected. This early warning system has the added benefit of helping to rapidly identify and recover birds which have died.

[An illegally killed satellite-tagged golden eagle, believed to have been trapped on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens resulting in its legs almost being severed, and then dumped in a layby several km away, inside the Cairngorms National Park, where it was left to die an horrific death. Photo by RSPB]

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: This is great news for improving our understanding of eagle behaviours, and in the fight against wildlife crime. The tags should make a real difference in deterring would-be criminals, as well as playing a key role in establishing exactly what happened, should any of these magnificent birds of prey disappear or die in unusual circumstances.”

Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said: “Raptor conservation and tackling wildlife crime is one of the aims of the recently launched Cairngorms Nature Action Plan 2019-2023. This is an exciting breakthrough in the technology around raptor conservation, understanding the birds and combatting wildlife crime.”

Robbie Kernahan, Head of Wildlife Management, of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) added: “This exciting new technology will give us new information on the movements of these iconic birds. This should also be a significant deterrent to anyone thinking of persecuting raptors, as we will have detailed information on birds’ movements in the minutes leading up to their death.”

Charlie Everitt, UK National Wildlife Crime Unit commented: “This new tag is a significant step forward in using technology to research further the intriguing ranging behaviour of Golden eagles. However, the implications for preventing wildlife crime and as an aid to enforcement are also very apparent. I look forward to the trial and working closely with colleagues in CNPA and SNH.“

Phil Atkinson, Head of International Research, BTO said: “BTO has been developing new tagging technologies for several years, working to increase the quality and type of information collected. These new ‘Raptor Tracker’ tags have the potential to reveal new aspects of Golden Eagle behaviour, providing fascinating insights into their lives. We are looking forward to the trial and what it reveals.”

The CNPA and SNH have been working on this for over two years, and for the last six months the British Trust for Ornithology has been involved in developing the new tag. The tags will be placed on birds over the next 18 months to trial them. Changes can be made to the tags remotely to ensure that they are working optimally.

If the trial proves successful, the organisations will look at putting these on more Golden Eagles and also the potential miniaturisation of the technology to allow similar tagging of Hen Harriers and other species.

END

Some of what has been written in this press release is absolute nonsense, in terms of the limitations of some of the highly sophisticated satellite tags currently deployed on golden eagles. However, to focus on that would detract from the bigger picture of what is being proposed, and that’s far more important to discuss.

The development of a tag that can potentially send what amounts to a distress signal from the exact location and at the exact time the tagged eagle is being illegally killed is to be warmly welcomed. If this tag works as the manufacturers claim it will, it will provide wildlife crime investigators with high quality evidence of the precise location of the crime, which currently can only be inferred from tag data depending on the tag’s ‘duty cycle’, which determines when it’s programmed to transmit data to the tag operator (this can vary between a matter of hours and a number of days, depending on tag type). That would be a seriously good development.

What it wouldn’t do is to identify the individual criminal, especially if the crime took place on a large grouse moor estate where multiple gamekeepers are employed (which is where most of the golden eagle killing in Scotland has taken place). In those situations, the wildlife crime investigation wouldn’t get any further than the current situation we see playing out so often today –  that is, the body and the tag removed from the scene and destroyed, “no comment” interviews from all suspects and no way for the police to identify the actual individual responsible. Without that identification, a prosecution cannot proceed.

That’s not to say that the estate would get off scot free though, as they currently do. Conservationists have been arguing that the pattern of evidence from the current raptor satellite tags that suddenly and inexplicably ‘disappear’ should be sufficient evidence for SNH to impose General Licence restrictions on the offending estates. For some reason (unexplained, as far as we can tell), this has not been happening, even though the Environment Cabinet Secretary acknowledges the significance of the data pattern (see her editorial in the Government’s annual wildlife crime report). However, if this new tag can do what is claimed it can do, there’s no question that that information should be accepted by SNH and sanctions should be applied to the estate involved.

It’s great that this tag will be trialled in and around the Cairngorms National Park, given that some of the more intensively-managed grouse moors in and at the edge of the Park are well-known golden eagle-killing hotspots, as shown in this map derived from data provided in the golden eagle satellite tag review in 2017. It’s interesting that none of the people quoted in the press release mentioned this fact!

It is though, very pleasing indeed to see such senior figureheads recognise that the deployment of satellite tags on threatened raptor species is an acceptable and important conservation tool and a helpful investigative tool for detecting wildlife crime. It seems the concerted campaign by several meat heads in the gamekeeping world, which has included disgraceful personal attacks and smears on the integrity of those who fit satellite tags, has fallen on deaf ears.

We look forward to hearing about the field trials on this new tag in due course. Well done to all involved.

09
Mar
19

‘Eagles are being slaughtered as part of serious organised crime’

Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform held its first ever fringe event at a party political conference yesterday, at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee.

The event was chaired by Claudia Beamish MSP and three speakers from Revive joined the panel (Dr Ruth Tingay of RPUK, Max Wiszniewski, Revive Campaign Manager, and Dr Craig Dalzell, Head of Policy & Research at Common Weal) with another coalition member (Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland) in the audience.

[Photo by Louise Robertson]

Each speaker gave a ten minute presentation followed by approx 20 minutes of questions from the floor.

It was brilliant to see a number of journalists in the audience, resulting in some good coverage in the papers today.

The Herald focused on the illegal persecution of golden eagles and hen harriers on or close to driven grouse moors and journalist Alistair Grant got the message loud and clear that, in our opinion, the extent of this persecution on many driven grouse moors is such that it amounts to serious organised crime. [Definition by the National Crime Agency: ‘Serious crime planned, coordinated and conducted by people working together on a contuining basis. Their motivation is often, but not always, financial gain‘]

Here’s the text from The Herald article:

GOLDEN eagles and other protected birds of prey are being illegally slaughtered in what amounts to “serious organised crime”, a leading expert has said.

Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK said birds are being killed on or near grouse moors across Scotland before the evidence is then removed to avoid prosecution.

She spoke out during a fringe meeting at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee.

Claudia Beamish MSP, the party’s environment spokeswoman, said it backed strict new rules for estate owners – including a total ban on the use of lead shot and the large-scale cull of mountain hares.

She said: “In order for grouse moors to continue, if indeed they do, there needs to be very robust licensing.”

Labour delegates heard grouse moors cover almost a fifth of Scotland, with estates handed more than £300,000 a year in public subsidies.

Revive, a coalition of organisations calling for change, insisted estates should be stripped of this cash as part of a crackdown aimed at encouraging radical land reform.

It said the intensive land management associated with driven grouse shooting causes environmental damage.

Meanwhile, there is evidence scores of birds have been illegally killed on or near estates, it said.

Dr Tingay, a leading raptor ecologist, said: “My argument is that what we are seeing here – not just with golden eagles but with other birds of prey, particularly hen harriers, which are also persecuted on driven grouse moors – is serious organised crime.

If the Government accepted this, we would see a lot more resources coming in to deal with this issue.”

She said some estimates suggest 50 eagles a year are disappearing.

Revive is made up of Raptor Persecution UK, Friends of the Earth Scotland, animal charity Onekind, the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and think tank Common Weal.

Craig Dalzell, head of policy and research at Common Weal, said estates should be opened up to other uses.

He said grouse moors in Scotland had an annual economic impact of £32 million and were responsible for around 2,640 jobs.

In comparison, forestry boasts an annual economic impact of £973m and creates 26,000 jobs, he said.

ENDS

The Press & Journal also covered this fringe event and journalist Tom Peterkin headlined with this:

Here’s the text of the P&J article:

Labour has said there should be robust licencing of grouse shooting amid claims that illegal wildlife killing on sporting estates amounted to “serious organised crime”.

The call was made by Shadow Environment Secretary Claudia Beamish at a Labour conference fringe meeting where she cast doubt on the survival of the pastime in the long-term.

The meeting was hosted by Revive, an organisation campaigning for the reform of the country sport and whose agenda includes stripping grouse moor landowners of public subsidies.

Speaking at the meeting, Ms Beamish said it would be “valid” for a licencing system to take into account issues raised by Revive.

Ms Beamish said: “I think that in order for grouse moors to continue – if indeed they do – there needs to be very robust licencing and robust monitoring.”

Ms Beamish made her remarks after campaigners claimed grouse moors only supported 3,000 jobs on an average salary of £11,500 despite accounting for almost one fifth of Scottish land.

Ruth Tiingay of Raptor Persecution UK, drew attention to golden eagles killed on Scottish moors, arguing it was “serious organised crime”.

Max Wiszniewski of Revive said his organisation was “not going for a ban” on grouse shooting “however understandable that would be”.

Rather Revive’s focus was to reform it as much as possible, including an end to government subsidies, heather burning limits, a lead ammunition ban, a ban on snares and more action against wildlife crime.

He said: “The question may come about if the industry can’t survive after the necessary reforms, it possibly has to reflect on itself.”

ENDS

This was a very worthwhile event. Revive signed up more supporters to its pledge for grouse moor reform (you can sign online here if you haven’t already done so), it was an opportunity to interact with a number of politicians who were keen to learn more about the Revive campaign and the media was interested in what we had to say.

Well done to Max (Revive Campaign Manager) for organising this event and many thanks to Claudia Beamish MSP for her interest and support.

Revive will be at other party political conferences later this year.

04
Dec
18

Buzzard & hobby found with horrific spring trap injuries on Isle of Wight

Police press release (4 Dec 2018):

POLICE INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED AFTER BIRDS OF PREY KILLED BY ILLEGAL TRAPS ON ISLE OF WIGHT

Two protected birds of prey, likely to have been caught in illegal spring traps, suffered ‘horrific and traumatic’ injuries.

A joint investigation has been launched by Isle of Wight Police and the RSPB after the birds, a buzzard and a hobby, were found with severed legs in woodland at Littletown, near Briddlesford.

The buzzard was found dead, with a missing foot, on March 14. The hobby — a small falcon similar to a kestrel – was found alive, also with its foot missing, on September 23. It was taken to the RSPCA and put down.

[The buzzard with a severed foot]

[The hobby with a severed foot, photo by RSPCA]

The RSPB said today (Tuesday) the birds were likely to have been illegally trapped.

The birds, a hobby and a buzzard, were found with horrific injuries. Both had lost a foot as a result of becoming caught in a spring trap,” said a spokesperson.

Police were alerted and the birds were sent for post-mortem examinations. The report concluded: ‘Both birds suffered traumatic amputations of one lower limb consistent with the affected leg being caught and held in a spring trap.’

All wild birds are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine with up to six months in jail.

Jenny Shelton, from the RSPB’s investigations unit, said: “Spring traps are sometimes used to catch and kill vermin, and are legal if placed in a tunnel, with a restricted entrance, for this purpose. However spring traps set out in the open are illegal, and pose a huge danger to wildlife. 

We have had numerous reports over the years of birds of prey being deliberately caught in these brutal devices. Birds of prey are incredible creatures and it’s devastating that the lives of these two birds have ended in this way. We are grateful to the people who reported these birds. If you find an injured bird of prey, or come across a metal trap set out in the open or on a pole, call the police on 101 immediately.”

PC Tim Campany, from the Country Watch team, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues from the RSPB to establish what happened. One line of enquiry is that the birds may have been caught and held in a spring-type trap.

This is illegal and is a barbaric method of trapping. It leaves the bird, once freed from the trap, unable to land and feed and it will eventually die of starvation.

Raptor persecution is a priority of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and will not be tolerated.

I would urge anyone with information on suspicious vehicles, persons, or traps located in the Bridlesford area to call us now.”

Anyone with information should call Isle of Wight Police on 101, quoting the reference 44180374840.

ENDS

Illegal raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority, so why the hell has it taken nine months for the news of this buzzard to emerge, and two and a half months for the hobby? What’s the point of appealing for information so long after the events?

It’s just not good enough.

These incidents will also cast a shadow on the proposed reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to the Isle of Wight.

30
Nov
18

Illegal gin trap found set near Nairn, Highlands

Police Scotland has issued a statement about the discovery of an illegal gin trap found set near Nairn in the Highlands:

ILLEGAL GIN TRAP FOUND NEAR NAIRN (30 Nov 2018)

Police in Nairn have issued a warning about the use of illegal traps following the discovery of one set near the town.

The illegal gin trap, although rusty, was fully functioning and was discovered by a member of the public on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28 near Howford Bridge a few miles south of the town.

Nothing had been caught in the trap and the device has since been recovered by officers.

[Photo of the gin trap from Police Scotland]

[RPUK maps showing location of Howford Bridge, south of Nairn]

Wildlife liaison officer Constable Jonathan Clarke said: “Gin traps have been illegal for many years and are entirely indiscriminate. This device could have caused serious injury to a wild animal, a pet or even a person if they been caught in it.

Setting a trap such as this is a criminal act, as is possessing something like with the intention of using it.

Setting one in an area close to the river which is popular with dog walkers is extremely reckless and it is fortunate that this was discovered before anything or anyone was injured.

No further traps have been found but I would urge the public to be vigilant when walking in the area.

If anyone does find a trap then please do not try to deal with it on your own but carefully note the location and report it to police immediately.

Enquiries into this trap are ongoing and I would urge anyone with information to contact police on 101, using reference NM3269/18, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

ENDS

Well done Police Scotland for a very fast response to remove the trap and for an equally speedy public alert.

It’s shocking to see these traps still in use. Gin traps have been banned in England since 1958 and banned in Scotland since 1971, and yet still they’re being used to target wildlife.

It’s not clear which species was being targeted in this latest case but previously we’ve seen gamekeepers using them to trap buzzards (gamekeeper convicted in 2015 (here) and his boss convicted for vicarious liability (here) and earlier this year a red kite was trapped resulting in horrific injuries (here)).

25
Oct
18

Buzzard caught in illegally-set trap near Moy

Once again, we’re having to report on the deliberate persecution of a protected bird of prey in the Moy area of Highland Scotland, a well-known raptor persecution hotspot.

RPUK map showing location of Moy:

Police Scotland has issued the following appeal for information this morning:

Appeal after buzzard reported trapped south of Inverness

Police Scotland can confirm that an investigation is ongoing following a report of a trapped buzzard near Moy south of Inverness.

The buzzard was discovered by a member of the public earlier in October. However, following a subsequent search of the area by police the bird has not been located.

The trap was close to a fence near to a rough, marshy grazing area close to the B9174 and the national cycle path between Moy and Craggie.

Inspector Mike Middlehurst said: “This unfortunately appears to be an example of deliberate unlawful use of a legal trap to cause suffering to a bird of prey.

A lot of good work has been done in the Highlands and this has been a good season for raptors locally, so any evidence of continued persecution is disappointing.

The location next to the national cycle network path will hopefully help us identify anyone seen acting in a suspicious manner in the area.

Anyone seen near the fence lines, walking up the fence lines, placing articles on the fence posts would be of great interest to us.

We are appealing for anybody who has information about this incident or any other wildlife persecution in the Highland area contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

ENDS

The road number cited in the police press release appears to be inaccurate. The police say it is the B9174 but it looks like this should read the B9154 as this is the road that runs between Moy and Craggie.

Interestingly, Police Scotland has not published the pictures of the trapped buzzard, photographed by the member of the public who found the bird in distress. However, from the police press release, especially the penultimate sentence, it seems reasonable to conclude that this buzzard was caught in a pole trap. A pole trap is a spring trap that has been fixed to the top of a post. When a bird lands on it, the jaws of the trap smash the birds legs, often breaking them. As the trap is fixed to the post, the bird cannot fly away and it is left to dangle upside down, held by its legs, until it dies or until the trap operator comes along and kills it.

Here’s a photo from our archives of another buzzard that had been caught in a illegal pole trap. It didn’t survive its horrific injuries.

These are barbaric devices that cause immeasurable suffering and as such have been banned from use since 1904. However, pole traps are still routinely used as a weapon of choice on game-shooting estates as we see all too often (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here). Anyone caught using these traps deserves a lengthy custodial sentence. There is simply no excuse for such savagery in 21st Century Scotland.

We’ve blogged about raptor persecution in the Moy area many many times, including the illegal use of traps and reports of armed masked gunmen visiting the nest sites of protected species. Here are a few examples: here, here, here, here, here and just last year there was a report of another buzzard that had been caught in an illegally-set trap in this area (here).

[RPUK map showing the B9154 road between Moy and Craggie. The red dots are confirmed raptor persecution incidents in this area]

And of course, this grouse moor dominated area has also been identified as one of the hotspot areas where satellite-tagged golden eagles ‘disappear’:




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

Blog Stats

  • 5,034,851 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors

Advertisements