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Our year in review: July – December 2016

Our Year in Review: January – June 2016 can be found here. Here’s part two. JULY An horrifically injured buzzard was found on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here). Illegally set traps were found on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park, with a critically injured common gull found caught by its legs […]
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Our year in review: January – June 2016

This year has been the busiest ever for this blog with over 870,000 views, up from 556,000 views in 2015. Here are some of the year’s highlights from January – June, with part two coming shortly. JANUARY We started the year analysing some data. We looked at RSPB Scotland’s recently published 20 year review of […]
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Parliamentary reception for group promoting wildlife criminal

Yesterday we blogged about the launch of the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group’s new initiative, Game for Growth, aimed at promoting the value of country sports to the Scottish economy (see here). We mentioned that Andy Wightman MSP had lodged a Parliamentary Question asking whether public funds (via VisitScotland as part of the Game for […]
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Parliamentary Question: is public money being used to promote wildlife criminals in Scottish shooting sector?

Last week it was announced that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) has plans to boost the value of game shooting, stalking and fishing to the rural economy by £30 million, via its new ‘Game for Growth’ strategy. The Game for Growth strategy document can be read here: sctsg-game-for-growth-strategy-document-dec-2016 It’s a pretty turgid read, full […]
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Mark Avery wins Conservation Hero of the Year Award

He’s too modest to make this announcement himself so we’ll do it for him: Mark Avery has been voted by Birdwatch magazine readers as their 2016 Conservation Hero of the Year. He will balk at the title and many of us will revel in making mild piss-taking references to Bonnie Tyler, which he’ll accept with […]
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Gamekeepers want sea eagles, kites, buzzards, sparrowhawks & ravens added to General Licences

Further to this morning’s blog about RSPB Scotland’s damning response to SNH’s General Licence consultation (see here), we said we’d write a separate blog about some of the other responses that SNH received. SNH has now published all the responses, and they’re well worth a read: all-responses-to-snh-general-licence-consultation-2016 There are many organisations and individuals calling for ravens […]
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RSPB Scotland slams General Licence system as ‘cover for criminal destruction of raptors’

Earlier this year, SNH opened a consultation on the use of General Licences (GLs), in anticipation of updating the terms of use for their suite of 2017 GLs. This wasn’t anything new. SNH regularly reviews the GLs, but, as has happened so many times before, this year SNH has yet again ignored the on-going conservation […]
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Deja vu

Yesterday we published a map. It showed part of the East Arkengarthdale Estate in North Yorkshire where an illegal cache of poisons had been discovered in 2014. Here’s the map again: Did anyone else get a sense of deja vu when looking at that map? Have a look at that forest block at the top […]
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Subsidy penalty for East Arkengarthdale Estate?

Ten days ago we blogged about the RSPB’s Investigations Team finding a buried poisons cache on the East Arkengarthdale Estate in North Yorkshire in 2014 (see here). Incredibly, nobody was prosecuted for this illegal stash and, despite the best efforts of North Yorkshire Police, the gamekeeper who had admitted using the poisons cache had his […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Beater’ is lost, presumed dead

Another of the 2016 cohort of satellite-tagged hen harriers has been reported as ‘lost’, presumed dead. This time it’s a bird called ‘Beater’, a young male who hatched on the admirable Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms National Park. According to the most recent blog update from Blanaid Denman (Project Manager, RSPB Hen Harrier Life […]
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The gamekeeping myth of thriving raptors

There was a good letter published in The Courier a couple of days ago, in response to the Gift of Grouse propaganda that raptors are ‘thriving’ on grouse moors. Sir, – A recent article by a game-keeping lobbyist painted a picture that all was well on our uplands and that birds of prey were thriving, […]
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Scottish Justice Committee examines performance of Crown prosecutors in wildlife crime cases

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is in the middle of an inquiry into the role and purpose of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). This is a broad inquiry focusing on the core role of the COPFS and examining its effectiveness and efficiency, how well it works with stakeholders and the support it […]
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Minutes of meeting between Cairngorms National Park Authority & Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association

Last month we blogged about a comment that had been made during an official meeting between the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and the SGA. The comment came from a CNPA Board member (Eleanor Mackintosh) who was advising the gamekeepers to ‘cover up’ dead mountain hares so that photographs of the corpses couldn’t be published […]
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East Arkengarthdale Estate: some questions for the grouse shooting industry

Following on from today’s earlier news that in December 2014 a poisons cache had been uncovered on a driven grouse moor called East Arkengarthdale Estate in Yorkshire, and that a gamekeeper had admitted in open court that he was responsible for placing the poisons in that cache, but he avoided prosecution and had his firearms […]
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Poisons cache found on Yorkshire grouse moor – no prosecution

This just beggars belief. Have a read of this blog (here) written by Senior RSPB Investigations Officer, Guy Shorrock. It tells the story of how he and a colleague discovered a cache of poisons hidden underground in a small forestry plantation on Hurst Moor, a driven grouse moor which forms part of the East Arkengarthdale […]
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Gift of grouse: their propaganda exposed

The Gift of Grouse – a campaign run by the Scottish grouse-shooting industry to promote the so-called ‘benefits’ of driven grouse shooting, have been well and truly caught with their pants down. Some of you may remember a story from last year, where the Gift of Grouse made great claims about the number of bird […]
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Today’s evidence session on licensing of gamebird hunting: Scottish Moorland Group & BASC

This morning the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee took evidence from the Scottish Moorland Group and BASC on the petition to introduce gamebird hunting licencing (see here for background to this petition). The two witnesses today were Dr Colin Shedden (BASC) and Tim (Kim) Baynes (Scottish Moorland Group, part of Scottish Land & Estates). The […]
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Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), part 12

Criminal proceedings continued yesterday (6 December 2016) against landowner Andrew Walter Bryce Duncan, who is alleged to be vicariously liable for the crimes committed by gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick in April 2014. Gamekeeper Dick was convicted in August 2015 of killing a buzzard on the Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire by striking it with rocks and repeatedly […]
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Further delay in case against Angus Glens gamekeeper accused of pole trapping offences

Criminal proceedings continued on Monday (5 December 2016) against Scottish gamekeeper Craig Graham. Mr Graham, 51, is accused of setting and re-setting a pole trap, baited with a pheasant carcass, on the Brewlands Estate between 9-17 July 2015. He has denied the charges. This case was first called on 31 March 2016. A provisional trial […]
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‘Giant buzzards’ eating dogs, warns Tipperary newspaper

The following article was headline news last week in the Tipperary Star, a local rag in the Irish Republic: ATTACKING BUZZARDS TARGET TERRIERS By Noel Dundon A call to have the protection orders on buzzards lifted has been made following a number of incidents in which the birds of prey have taken terriers and other […]
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Shot buzzard rehabilitated & returned to the wild in North Yorkshire

At the end of October we blogged about a buzzard that had been found with shotgun injuries in Thirsk, North Yorkshire (see here). The bird’s broken femur was expertly pinned by Mark Naguib of Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic and the buzzard then underwent a period of care and rehabilitation with the wonderful Jean Thorpe of […]
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Scottish Moorland Group & BASC due to give evidence on licensing of gamebird hunting

Ah, now it all makes sense. We had wondered about the timing of yesterday’s article by the Gift of Grouse campaign, claiming that ‘raptors are thriving on Scottish grouse moors’ (see here). Why publish it when they did? There was bound to be a reason, and it looks like we’ve just found it. The Scottish Petitions […]
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“Risible, make-believe tosh”: RSPB responds to Gift of Grouse propaganda

RSPB Scotland has responded to the ridiculous claim (see here) made by the Gift of Grouse that raptors are ‘thriving’ on Scottish grouse moors. Here is the RSPB’s press release (reproduced below): RSPB SCOTLAND RESPONDS TO GIFT OF GROUSE PRESS RELEASE RSPB Scotland has dismissed a press release issued today by the “Gift of Grouse” […]
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Scottish landowners pretend that raptors are ‘thriving’ on driven grouse moors

We’ve come to expect outlandish propaganda from the Gift of Grouse campaign group, designed to portray driven grouse moors as models of excellence for raptor conservation. But this time they’ve exceeded all expectation. Forget their usual unsubstantiated post-truth drivel, wholly disconnected to reality, because that’s got nothing on their latest effort, which takes the stretching […]
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Case against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon re: shot hen harrier, part 7

Criminal proceedings continued at Elgin Sheriff Court today against Scottish gamekeeper Stanley Gordon. Mr Gordon, 60, of Cabrach, Moray, is facing a charge in connection with the alleged shooting of a hen harrier in June 2013. Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far in this case: Hearing #1 (19 May 2016): Case continued without […]
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Illegally-set traps on Invercauld Estate: not another cover up?

In July we blogged about the discovery in June of a critically-injured Common gull that had been found caught in two illegally-set spring traps on Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park (see here). We also blogged about a bizarre press statement from Invercauld Estate (issued via the GWCT’s twitter feed) in which they denied […]
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‘More evidence required’ before mountain hare culls are regulated, says Cabinet Secretary

More parliamentary questions about the mass slaughter of mountain hares have been asked recently, thanks to Alison Johnstone MSP (Scottish Green Party). We were particularly interested in this one: Question S5W-04501: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party. Date lodged: 4/11/2016. To ask the Scottish Government what measures it is taking to ensure that estates adhere […]
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Birders’ Choice Awards 2016

Birdwatch magazine is once again hosting the annual Birders’ Choice Awards, now in its third year. These awards are designed to ‘celebrate the best – and condemn the worst – in birding and conservation’. We were genuinely surprised, and flattered, to find ourselves nominated in the Conservation Hero of the Year category. Looking at the […]
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SSPCA powers: revisiting the role and powers of the water bailiffs

Many of you will know that we’ve been following the glacial progress of the Scottish Government’s decision on whether the SSPCA should be given increased investigatory powers to help tackle wildlife crime, and particularly, illegal raptor persecution. Here’s an overview of how this ‘key priority’ has been (mis)handled so far. Following the consultation, which ended […]
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Hen harrier ‘reintroduction’ to southern England: an update

One of the six action points in DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Inaction Plan is to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England: DEFRA’s HH Inaction Plan has been widely criticised by conservationists, with the main focus being on the brood meddling part. The proposed southern ‘reintroduction’ hasn’t received much attention, largely because the scoping project on which […]
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Congratulations to multi-award winning Mull Eagle Watch!

Mull Eagle Watch is a community-based partnership offering visitors the chance to enjoy guided trips to see the reintroduced white-tailed eagles without disturbing them. Starting in 2000 at Loch Frisa, the project has grown to become one of the UK’s best-known and loved wildlife tourism attractions, bringing in five million pounds to the island every […]
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Raptor persecution data withheld from Scot Gov’s latest annual wildlife crime report

The Scottish Government has today published its latest annual Wildlife Crime Report – the 4th one since it became a statutory obligation under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. The current report is entitled the ‘2015’ report, but it actually refers to wildlife crimes recorded from April 2014 to March 2015. Just like […]
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Cairngorms National Park mountain hare cover up denied

Last week we blogged (here) about an extraordinary comment attributed to Eleanor Mackintosh, a Board member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). During a discussion with the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association on 29 September 2016, Ms Mackintosh apparently suggested they use covers on the back of vehicles to hide the evidence of mountain hare culls […]
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New PhD study to examine impact of medicated grit on moorland ecosystem

Excellent news! A PhD scholarship is on offer at Leeds University to examine the impact of the drug Flubendazole (the active ingredient in medicated grit) in grouse moor river catchments. Medicated grit is routinely used by the grouse shooting industry to dose red grouse with high quantities of the worming drug Flubendazole. It’s being used […]
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Raptor persecution in Northern Ireland: 2014 annual report published

Press release from Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (Northern Ireland) NI raptor deaths rise, new report reveals A report into the illegal killing of Northern Ireland’s native birds of prey has been published by the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime. It reveals there were nine confirmed illegal poisoning or persecution incidents, affecting 11 […]
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Statement from Wildlife Estates Scotland on membership status of Newlands Estate

Those of you who’ve been following the long drawn-out saga of prosecutions relating to the wildlife crime that took place on Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire in 2015 will know that we’ve been asking questions of various organisations associated with this estate. One of those questions has been about the membership status of the Newlands Estate in […]
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Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), part 11

They’re having a laugh. Criminal proceedings continued yesterday (22 November 2016) against landowner Andrew Walter Bryce Duncan, who is alleged to be vicariously liable for the crimes committed by gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick in April 2014. Gamekeeper Dick was convicted in August 2015 of killing a buzzard on the Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire by striking it […]
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Brood meddling: the proposed social science study

We’ve recently been blogging about DEFRA’s hen harrier brood meddling scheme, due to start in the 2017 breeding season. A series of FoIs has uncovered some of the plans to date (e.g. see here, here, here). Today’s blog relates to the proposed social science study, which is being viewed as an integral part of the […]
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Case against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon re: shot hen harrier, part 6

Criminal proceedings continued at Elgin Sheriff Court on Friday against Scottish gamekeeper Stanley Gordon. Mr Gordon, 60, of Cabrach, Moray, is facing a charge in connection with the alleged shooting of a hen harrier in June 2013. Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far in this case: Hearing #1 (19 May 2016): Case continued […]
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Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate) part 10

Criminal proceedings continued on 15 November 2016 against landowner Andrew Walter Bryce Duncan, who is alleged to be vicariously liable for the crimes committed by gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick in April 2014. Gamekeeper Dick was convicted in August 2015 of killing a buzzard on the Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire by striking it with rocks and repeatedly […]
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Cover up in the Cairngorms National Park!

Well done to Scottish animal charity OneKind for organising today’s protest rally at the Scottish Parliament, enabling campaigners to call on MSPs to put an end to the mass unregulated slaughter of tens of thousands of mountain hares on Scottish grouse moors. Ingeniously, OneKind replicated the now infamous image of that truckload of dead mountain […]
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Protest rally against mountain hare slaughter takes place at Holyrood tomorrow

Just a reminder that there will be a protest rally outside the Scottish Parliament building tomorrow, against the continued slaughter of mountain hares on Scottish grouse moors. As many of you will know, tens of thousands of mountain hares are massacred on Scottish grouse moors, including inside the Cairngorms National Park. These killing sprees are […]
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Brood meddling: the role of the ICBP

We’ve learned, through a series of FoIs about DEFRA’s planned hen harrier brood meddling scheme, that the practical aspect of the trial (i.e. the removal of eggs/chicks from the nests and the subsequent captive-rearing) will be undertaken by the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire (see here and here for previous blogs). The […]
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More brood meddling revelations

Following on from yesterday’s blog on some of the details emerging about DEFRA’s hen harrier brood meddling scheme (see here), here are some more revelations that have come to light from a series of FoIs. There’s a document written by Steve Redpath, Adam Smith (GWCT) and Martin Gillibrand (then secretary of the Moorland Association) dated […]
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Hen Harrier brood management working group: what they’ve got planned

In January 2016, DEFRA published its Hen Harrier (In)Action Plan (see here). There are six ‘action’ points, including #6, a brood management (meddling) trial, where it is proposed to remove hen harrier eggs/chicks from driven grouse moors when breeding pairs have reached a certain density on that moor or on nearby moors, hatch and rear […]
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Review of European gamebird hunting regulatory systems due to be published shortly

The Scottish Government’s long-awaited review of the systems used to regulate gamebird hunting in other European countries is due to be published ‘shortly’. This review was first commissioned two and a half years ago by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, during a parliamentary debate on wildlife crime / raptor persecution, way back in May 2014 […]
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BBC Radio Scotland features 30 minute discussion on raptor persecution

BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme this morning featured a 30 minute discussion about raptor persecution. The interviewees included Duncan Orr-Ewing (RSPB Scotland), Logan Steele (Scottish Raptor Study Group), Tim (Kim) Baynes (Scottish Moorland Group) and Derek Calder (Head Gamekeeper, Edinglassie Estate). The programme’s presenter, Euan McIlwraith, said he wanted to ‘get under the […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier Tarras ‘disappears’ in Peak District National Park

‘Tarras’, a young hen harrier from this year’s Langholm cohort, has ‘disappeared’ in the Peak District National Park. The following statement has been issued on the Langholm blog: We have concerns for ‘Tarras’ a young female Hen Harrier tagged by Stephen Murphy (Natural England) at Langholm this summer. The transmitter on the juvenile Hen Harrier […]
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Scottish petitions committee to hear more evidence on licensing of gamebird hunting

Two weeks ago, representatives from the Scottish Raptor Study Group and RSPB Scotland gave compelling evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee, advocating the need for the licensing of gamebird hunting across Scotland (we blogged about it here). Today, the Petitions Committee reconvened and discussed how they were going to move forward with this petition […]
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National survey reveals golden eagles still ‘missing’ from Eastern Highland grouse moors

The results of a national survey of golden eagle territories have revealed mixed fortunes for this iconic species. The survey, undertaken in 2015 by licensed experts from the Scottish Raptor Study Group and the RSPB, was a follow up to the previous national survey, undertaken in 2003. The recent survey shows an overall 15% increase […]
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