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Scottish Government announces Grouse moor management review group

Back in May 2017, Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced an intention to set up an independently-led group to review grouse moor management practices, and to advise on the introduction of an estate shoot licensing scheme. This was mainly in response to the publication of the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, which found that almost one […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Manu’ disappears in North Pennines

RSPB press release: ANOTHER RARE HEN HARRIER GOES MISSING Police and the RSPB are appealing for information following the disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier near Carlisle. The harrier, named Manu, was one of a nest of two chicks monitored and protected by the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership and tagged as part of the […]
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Three Scottish raptor workers scoop national conservation awards!

MASSIVE congratulations to Scottish Raptor Study Group members Logan Steele, Andrea Hudspeth and Brian Etheridge who have all scooped top prize in their respective categories at the annual Nature of Scotland Awards! L-R: Logan, Andrea, Mike Dilger (presenter) and Brian Logan and Andrea won the Political Advocate of the Year Award. This award is ‘to […]
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New report reveals widespread raptor persecution in Northern Ireland

The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAW NI) has today published its latest report on bird of prey persecution 2015-2016. The report reveals that there were five confirmed illegal persecution incidents reported in 2015 and a further six in 2016, involving the killing of 12 protected birds of prey in Northern Ireland […]
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Great British Game Week not so great after all

It’s Great British Game Week this week (Nov 20-26) and the game-shooting industry is busy promoting it. The industry is desperate to get more people to buy game, particularly gamebirds, because there are deep concerns that supply is outstripping demand – here is a very interesting article on the subject by Charles Nodder of the […]
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Threshfield Moor named as missing hen harrier John’s last known location

Further to blogs about ‘missing’ satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘John’, who disappeared on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in early October (see here and here), North Yorkshire Police has just issued the following appeal for information: North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following the loss of a hen harrier on Threshfield […]
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Poisoning of reintroduced red kites in England: new paper

A new scientific paper has just been published that suggests anti-coagulant rodenticide poisoning, illegal pesticide poisoning, and lead poisoning ‘may be slowing the recovery of red kites in England’. The paper, ‘Poisoning of reintroduced red kites (Milvus milvus) in England’ has been authored by scientists from the Institute of Zoology, Natural England, FERA Science Ltd […]
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DEFRA’s response to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting petition

Late last week DEFRA provided its response to Gavin Gamble’s e-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting after the petition reached 10,000 signatures. DEFRA’s response was entirely predictable and we have no intention of spending time on a detailed analysis of its complacency and denial; Mark Avery has already covered this well (see […]
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Police Scotland’s reluctance to discuss raptor crimes puts public safety at risk

Last week we blogged about an incident caught on a Forestry Commission Scotland camera in spring 2017 showing two masked individuals, one carrying a firearm, within 30m of a raptor nest site in a public forest (see here). Forest Enterprise Scotland refused to tell us at which species’ nest and in which public forest this […]
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Scottish Government dragging its feet on grouse moor management review

Following last week’s blog about how an announcement was imminent on the formation and composition of the independently-led grouse moor management review group, another deadline has been and gone. As you’ll recall, Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced this review on 31 May 2017, following the Scottish Raptor Study Group’s petition calling for game-shoot licensing […]
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Hen harrier ‘missing’ on grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park is ‘John’

Last month we blogged about yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier that had suspiciously ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see here). We only knew about it because North Yorkshire Police mentioned it on Twitter and posted a few photographs from the search scene: We made a general enquiry to Natural […]
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Police Scotland silent after armed masked men filmed at raptor nest in public forest

Forestry Commission Scotland staff routinely install cameras at the nests of several raptor species (e.g. goshawk, osprey, golden eagle, hen harrier, buzzard) to undertake dietary studies and to help identify individually-marked birds by their colour rings. If the cameras happen to film anything suspicious at these nests (e.g. unlicensed visits by armed criminals) the footage […]
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Concerns about toxic lead ammunition “nonsense” according to Botham

A few weeks ago Ian Botham featured in an article published by The Times, in which it was reported Botham had accused the RSPB of being “dishonest” (see here). The Times article was apparently based on an interview that Botham had done with the Shooting Gazette. Thanks to one of our blog readers, we now […]
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Scot Gov’s grouse moor management review: Chair announcement imminent

It looks like the Scottish Government is about to announce the Chair and members of the much-anticipated independent review group that will be tasked with considering the environmental impacts of grouse moor management techniques and to recommend options for regulation, including licensing. Back in October 2017, the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee agreed to write to […]
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More crayons than credibility at GWCT HQ

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has responded to the publication of the RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report with an extraordinary blog, attributed to Director of Communications, Andrew Gilruth. Read it here. Someone’s been busy with the crayons, creating a bizarre graph showing the number of incidents reported to the RSPB, but totally ignoring the […]
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Buzzard shot in Barnsley: South Yorks Police abandons case, RSPB appeals for info

RSPB press statement: Buzzard shot in Barnsley sparks investigation A buzzard found illegally shot in a wood near Barnsley has prompted concern by the RSPB and police. A local birder saw the bird fall out of a tree in Warren Wood, Stainborough on 9 August and reported it to the RSPB’s Investigations unit (crime@rspb.org.uk). An […]
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Chair of Bowland AONB condemns illegal raptor persecution

Following the recent publication of the RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report, it has been very encouraging to see a steady stream of public statements of condemnation of illegal raptor persecution from various organisations that previously have been pretty quiet on the subject, unless prodded with a large stick. This is indicative of increased public awareness of […]
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Peak District National Park Authority responds to RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report

The Peak District National Park Authority has issued a statement in reponse to the publication of the RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report. Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, said: “Killing birds of prey is illegal. I am appalled by the persecution of any protected species, no matter what the circumstances. The RSPB’s […]
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General Licence restriction – the Raeshaw Estate fiasco continues…

Good grief. Just when you thought this pantomime couldn’t get any more ridiculous…. As many of you will know, Raeshaw Estate in the Scottish Borders was one of the first in Scotland to be subjected to a General Licence restriction, issued in 2015, based on clear police evidence that wildlife crimes had been committed although […]
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Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) responds to RSPB’s Birdcrime 2016 report

The Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) has just published its response to the publication of the RSPB’s Birdcrime 2016 report. Read it here NERF’s unreserved condemnation of the continued illegal killing of birds of prey is everything you would expect from an organisation that works at the frontline of raptor conservation. In addition, NERF welcomes […]
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Costs/benefits study of driven grouse shooting due to begin spring 2018

In September 2017 the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee considered petition # PE01633, submitted by Les Wallace, calling on the Scottish Government to sponsor a comprehensive and independent study into the full economic impacts of driven grouse shooting. The Petitions Committee agreed that a full independent study was needed but was unsure whether this topic would […]
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SNH refuses to disclose details of individual General Licence restriction

In September 2017 we learned that SNH had imposed a General Licence restriction on an individual for alleged criminal activity in relation to raptor persecution (see here). This was a highly unusual restriction because it applied to an individual rather than to an estate. At the time the restriction was announced, SNH provided virtually no […]
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Jim Shannon MP tells Westminster “there are too many birds of prey”

Dim-witted dinosaur Jim Shannon MP (DUP, Strangford, NI) is back making a fool of himself again. Just a few weeks after being told that the UK Government “is not considering any further controls on the number of raptors” (see here), here’s what the Countryside Alliance member said in the Westminster Parliament yesterday: From Hansard (2 […]
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Interesting bedfellows: 4

Every now and then we blog about who’s (figuratively) getting in to bed with whom within the grouse-shooting industry. Previous installments in this revealing series have included this, this and this. Today’s fascinating bedfellows are the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and Mark Osborne, joint owner of William Powell and grouse moor management ‘guru’, […]
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Chair of Nidderdale AONB condemns illegal raptor persecution

Don’t ever underestimate the power of public pressure. You know that big solid wall of silence we’re all so used to looking at every time a raptor crime is discovered and reported? It looks like it’s finally beginning to crumble. The latest to speak out, spontaneously (i.e. without prompting), about the continued illegal killing of […]
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BASC Chairman Peter Glenser calls for “honesty” in raptor debate

Have we moved in to a parallel universe? It feels like it today. First we have BASC’s acting chief executive, Christopher Grafficus, admitting there are “criminals among us” and urging his members to stop killing raptors (see here) before also admitting that the number of convicted gamekeepers “must be the tip of the iceberg” (see […]
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Convictions for raptor persecution “must be the tip of the iceberg”, admits BASC chief

Further to this morning’s blog about BASC’s acting chief exec Christopher Graffius urging his members to stop killing raptors (here), here’s some more detail. The Times article had suggested that Christopher had written a letter to BASC members, in response to the publication yesterday of the RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report. It turns out that ‘letter’ […]
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“There are criminals among us” – BASC chief condemns raptor killers

Christopher Graffius, acting chief executive of the British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) has spoken out against the raptor killers within the shooting industry, according to an article in today’s edition of The Times. For those who can’t read the small text, here’s a transcript: SHOOTING CHIEF GUNS FOR RAPTOR KILLERS By Jerome Starkey, […]
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Reactions to RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report: compare & contrast

Following this morning’s publication of the RSPB’s 2016 Birdcrime report (see here), it’s fantastic to see such widespread media attention on the continued illegal killing of birds of prey in the UK. Guy Shorrock (RSPB Investigations) gave a cracking interview on BBC Breakfast (available to watch on iPlayer here, but only for the next 24hrs. […]
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RSPB publishes Birdcrime 2016 report

Press release from RSPB: REPORT REVEALS CONTINUED PERSECUTION OF BIRDS OF PREY IN UK RSPB’s Birdcrime report reveals a minimum of 81 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK during 2016, but many illegal killings are going undetected or unreported. There were no prosecutions for these persecution offences, the first time this […]
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Video of THAT Chris Packham talk at Birdfair 2017

The three-day-long British Birdfair takes place annually at Rutland Water in August and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. Every year, Chris Packham is given a prime time Saturday morning slot in the huge Events marquee, to talk about whatever he likes. This year, Chris used his slot to highlight the ongoing work […]
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SNH says ‘no General Licence restrictions currently under consideration’ but what about these 9 cases?

The ability for SNH to impose a General Licence (GL) restriction order on land where there is evidence of raptor persecution taking place came in to force on 1 January 2014. This measure, based on a civil burden of proof, was introduced by then Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse in response to the continuing difficulties of […]
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Botham crowned King of Bollocks

Congratulations to the newly-crowned King of Bollocks, Ian Botham. Here’s his acceptance speech. Here’s why he’s talking bollocks. Here’s the King of Bollocks celebrating his coronation with You Forgot the Birds Board Directors George & Zippy Advertisements
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“I couldn’t let those words go to waste” – Finn Wilde

“I couldn’t let those words go to waste“, writes 15 year old Findlay Wilde. If you want to know what he’s talking about, and how you can get involved, have a read of Finn’s blog HERE Advertisements
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Scottish gamekeepers complain about alleged escalation of trap vandalism

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association is today complaining about an alleged escalation in the vandalism of animal traps on shooting estates. This supposed increase has been attributed to ‘activists’ and the SGA wants the law tightened up so that the alleged perpertrators can be prosecuted. There’s widespread media coverage about it today e.g. in The National […]
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Hen harrier brood meddling: Natural England delays release of information

Two days ago we blogged about how Natural England has delayed the release of information about the proposed reintroduction of hen harriers to southern England (see here). Today, we’re blogging about how Natural England has delayed the release of information about the proposed hen harrier brood meddling scheme. Anyone seeing a pattern emerging here? So, […]
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Police appeal for info after sparrowhawk found shot dead in East Yorkshire

Humberside Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a dead sparrowhawk ‘with injuries consistent with being shot with a shotgun’. It is suspected to have been killed on or around 16th October 2017 near to the quarry and Boyes Lane in Keyingham, East Yorkshire. Anyone with information is asked to contact Humberside Police […]
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“We have more Spoonbills breeding in Yorkshire than we do Hen Harriers”

Two months ago we learned that Natural England could no longer use the long-held excuse of an impending PhD submission as reason to withhold hen harrier satellite tag data (see here) so we started to ask for the release of these 15-year-old data. Many blog readers also took the time to contact Natural England about […]
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Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: Natural England delays release of information

One of the six action points in DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Inaction Plan is to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England: As regular blog readers will know, finding out information about this ‘let’s divert attention from illegal persecution on driven grouse moors’ scheme has been as difficult as finding breeding hen harriers on driven grouse moors. Natural England […]
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Scot Gov’s grouse moor management review: update due in 2 weeks

Earlier this month the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee met to discuss progress on the Scottish Raptor Study Group’s petition calling for licensing of all gamebird hunting. The Committee agreed to write to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham for a ‘detailed update’ on the proposals she announced back in May 2017, which included setting up an independently-led […]
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‘No further comment’ from Natural England on latest missing hen harrier

Last week we blogged about a North Yorkshire Police search for a satellite-tagged hen harrier that had ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see here). We asked Natural England, on Twitter, when they would be making a statement about this. They didn’t respond. So we emailed them. Here’s the response: […]
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Wise words from Glen Tanar Estate

There are a number of estates whose names crop up with depressing regularity on this blog, usually for all the wrong reasons. Glen Tanar Estate isn’t one of them. We have written about this estate over the years (e.g. here, here, here), as have others (e.g. here, here, here) but we’ve only ever had good […]
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Another Parliamentary question on conservation status of mountain hares

Last week we discovered that SNH had reported to the EU Commission in 2013 that the mountain hare was in ‘Favourable Conservation Status’ (see here). This startling revelation was revealed after a Parliamentary question from Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone. We wanted to know more detail about how SNH had made its assessment, and it […]
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Grouse moors are “centres of excellence” for mountain hares, claims deluded industry rep

You’ve got to hand it to Tim (Kim) Baynes, spokesman for the Scottish Moorland Group / Scottish Land & Estates / Gift of Grouse, his ability to spin even the worst of the grouse-shooting industry’s excesses is becoming legendary (e.g. see here, here, here). He’d probably even give Amanda Anderson (Moorland Association) a run for […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ on Yorkshire Dales National Park grouse moor

North Yorkshire Police have today been searching an unnamed grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for a ‘missing’ satellite-tagged hen harrier: Here’s a map of Craven District in North Yorkshire (outlined in red), covering part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and nestled inbetween the Bowland and Nidderdale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty […]
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Green MSP lodges Parliamentary motion calling for moratorium on mountain hare culls

Following the news on Friday that ten conservation and outdoor organisations have renewed a joint call on the Scottish Government to provide greater protection for mountain hares (see here), Scottish Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone has now lodged a Parliamentary motion calling for ‘urgently required’ action: Motion S5M-08225: Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green Party, Date lodged: […]
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Scottish Government under more pressure to protect mountain hares

RSPB press release: MOUNTAIN HARE CULLS CONTINUE DESPITE A PERIOD OF “VOLUNTARY RESTRAINT” SAYS SCOTTISH WILDLIFE ORGANISATIONS A coalition of ten environmental and outdoor organisations have repeated their appeal to the Scottish Government to introduce urgent safeguards for mountain hare populations. The group (1) is asking for a temporary ban on all mountain hare culling on grouse […]
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Podcast interview with RPUK blogger Ruth Tingay

For anyone who might be curious…. This podcast was recorded last week (thanks to Charlie Moores, digital media producer at LUSH). To listen, please click HERE Advertisements
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Scot Gov says mountain hare has favourable conservation status – but on what evidence?

Last month, Alison Johnstone MSP lodged a series of parliamentary questions relating to the conservation status of mountain hares (see here), including this one: Question S5W-11180: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scotish Green Party. Date lodged: 8/9/2017. To ask the Scottish Government what reports it has made to the EU Commission in the last 10 years regarding […]
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Yet another buzzard found shot in North Yorkshire

The reputation of North Yorkshire as a raptor persecution hotspot is well known. Here’s yet another victim to add to the long, long list…. This buzzard was found injured at Dunnington (a village to the east of York) on 29 September 2017. It was taken to the vets where an x-ray revealed shotgun pellets lodged […]
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