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Scottish Parliament considers petition calling for study on economic impact of driven grouse shooting

Earlier this year, Les Wallace lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee calling for a comprehensive and independent study into the full economic impacts of driven grouse shooting (see here). This petition was due to be heard by the Petitions Committee last week but they ran out of time so they deferred […]
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Raptor shot in North York Moors National Park

North Yorkshire Police have tweeted about the shooting of a raptor two days ago in the North York Moors National Park: At the moment there is no further information about the circumstances of this reported incident, the species, the extent of its injuries, and whether it’s alive or dead. Hopefully the police will issue a […]
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Where have all the merlins gone? A lament for the Lammermuirs

Earlier this year a peer-reviewed scientific paper was published in the journal British Birds, documenting the long-term decline of merlins on four driven grouse moors in the Lammermuirs, south east Scotland (see here). In that paper the authors, all members of the Lothian & Borders Raptor Study Group, detailed the results of their 30-year study […]
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The Natural England hen harrier satellite tag cover up

Last week we blogged about how Natural England has been withholding 15 years worth of hen harrier tagging data, most of it paid for with public funds, and we encouraged blog readers to email them and ask for the data to be released without further delay (see here). Specifically, we wanted to find out how […]
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National golden eagle survey 2015: low occupancy on Eastern Highland grouse moors remains a concern

Every year a proportion of the Scottsh golden eagle population is surveyed by licensed experts from the Scottish Raptor Study Group. This phenomenal voluntary effort (currently 373 home ranges [approx 53% of known ranges] monitored by 150 eagle experts) provides invaluable data that are submitted to the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme and are used to […]
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Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) annual conference 2017

Booking is now open for this year’s Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) annual conference, which takes place at Northumbria University in Newcastle on Saturday 18th November 2017. For further details and to book your place, please visit the NERF website here.
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Two parliaments, two politicians, two questions, two very different attitudes to raptors

Dim-witted DUP dinosaur Jim Shannon MP (Strangford, Northern Ireland), a member of the Countryside Alliance and not known for having a sharp intellect, posed the following written parliamentary question on 5 September 2017: Question 8483: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, if he will consider controls on the number […]
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Three raptor workers short-listed for national conservation awards

Huge congratulations to Brian Etheridge, Andrea Hudspeth and Logan Steele, three Scottish Raptor Study Group members who have been shortlisted in this year’s Nature of Scotland Awards. Brian Etheridge is on the shortlist for the RSPB Species Champion Award. To be shortlisted for this award ‘the entrant will have achieved something extraordinary to conserve a […]
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Natural England must release hen harrier satellite tag data

Natural England has been fitting tags to English hen harriers since 2002. First it was radio tags and then, since 2007, it’s been satellite tags. So far, Natural England has refused to release detailed information about the fate of these tagged hen harriers because the data were being collected as part of a PhD study. […]
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Driven grouse shooting & mountain hare culling under more political scrutiny this Thursday

More angst for the dark side this week as yet more political attention is given to driven grouse shooting and mountain hare culling. The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee will convene on Thursday 14 September to discuss a number of new petitions lodged by members of the public. We’re interested in two of these petitions: […]
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Conservation status of mountain hares: parliamentary questions lodged

As many of you will know, the mountain hare is listed on Annexe V of the EU Habitats Directive (1992), which requires member states to maintain this species in favourable conservation status. As you’ll also know, the mountain hare is a legal quarry species in Scotland (during the open season of Aug-Feb) and is routinely […]
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Imagine that! Satellite tags continue to function after non-suspicious deaths of two hen harriers

This morning the RSPB announced that two of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers, Mannin & Grayse, had died in non-suspicious circumstances. Both had been tagged at a nest on the Isle of Man in July 2017. Grayse was discovered dead on the island on 9th August. Her brother Mannin left the island on 14th August […]
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Raptor persecution highlighted as key concern in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Earlier this year the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority opened a public consultation to inform its next five-year Management Plan (2018-2023). Residents and visitors were invited to submit comments on three open-ended questions: What do you love about the National Park? How do you think the National Park can be improved? What do you think […]
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GWCT twisting the truth about hen harrier persecution, again

A few days ago we blogged about a series of letters published in The Times (Scotland) relating to the disappearance of a young satellite-tagged hen harrier Calluna, who recently vanished after visiting a Deeside grouse moor. Scottish Land & Estates used the incident as an opportunity to falsely accuse the RSPB of not following agreed […]
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Hawk & Owl Trust still refusing to admit Hen Harrier Rowan was shot

This is hilarious. In the latest edition of the Hawk & Owl Trust’s members magazine (Peregrine, No 106, Spring/Summer 2017) there’s an article entitled ‘The Hen Harrier – A Controversial Bird‘. There’s a bit about their 2016 satellite-tagged hen harrier, Rowan: “Three months after being tagged, Rowan’s satellite data indicated that something was awry. Stephen […]
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Impromptu demo outside Scottish Parliament, Friday 1pm

In response to last week’s news about missing hen harrier Calluna, who disappeared from a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park just a few weeks after fledging, there will be a peaceful protest this Friday outside the Scottish Parliament against the continued persecution of hen harriers. This demo is a spontaneous response, hastily organised […]
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Scottish Land & Estates and their indefensible distortion of the truth

So, following RSPB Scotland’s recent appeal for information relating to the suspicious disappearance of hen harrier Calluna on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park, we’ve blogged a bit about the response given by landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates (SLE). First of all we had SLE’s Chairman Lord David Johnstone (Dumfriesshire Dave) […]
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Political silence in response to missing hen harrier ‘Calluna’

Raptor persecution, and particularly the illegal killing of hen harriers, has been identified as a National Wildlife Crime Priority. Interesting then, that following last Friday’s news that Police Scotland is investigating  the disappearance of another missing hen harrier (‘Calluna‘), who vanished in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park in August, […]
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On cue, Scottish landowners’ rep attacks RSPB re: missing hen harrier Calluna

In a move that is fast becoming as predictable as the disappearance of a satellite-tagged raptor on a driven grouse moor, a representative of landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has launched an attack on the RSPB following yesterday’s news that hen harrier Calluna has ‘disappeared’ after visiting a Deeside grouse moor. In […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier disappears on grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park

Well that didn’t take long, did it? Just a few weeks after fledging, one of the 2017 cohort of satellite-tagged hen harriers has already ‘disappeared’, with its final signal emitted from a grouse moor on the 12th August, the opening day of the grouse-shooting season. Hen harrier ‘Calluna‘ (photo RSPB Scotland) RSPB Scotland press release: […]
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Raven-killing licence, breeding hen harriers & return of a familiar name at Leadhills Estate

Regular readers of this blog will be very familiar with the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire. We’ve been blogging about it for years, not only as a well known hotspot for illegal raptor persecution but also because of the owners’ links to the establishment and to landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates. Here’s […]
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Raptor persecution features on Countryfile Summer Diaries

It was good to see a feature on raptor persecution on Tuesday’s edition of Countryfile Summer Diaries. Well done to experts Ian Thomson (RSPB Scotland) and David Anderson (Forest Enterprise Scotland) for telling it how it is. Available to watch on BBCiPlayer for 29 days (starts at 15.33) – click HERE And….cue calls from the […]
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Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged raptors

A few weeks ago we created a map for Mairi Gougeon MSP (Angus & Mearns, SNP) to show her the areas of her constituency where satellite-tagged raptors had either been found illegally killed or had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances. Unsurprisingly, the main hotspot area was centred on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens. Mairi, […]
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A shedload of golden eagles satellite tagged in new RPUK/Chris Packham project

At last weekend’s British Birdfair at Rutland Water we joined with Chris Packham to launch a new joint project. Privately funded by a pair of extraordinarily generous and supportive philanthropists, this project has been in development since the New Year. We are grateful not only to our funders, but also to a number of people […]
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Another red kite found shot dead in County Down

A three-month old red kite has been found shot dead in County Down, Northern Ireland. The bird, hatched in May and tagged ‘Black 5W’, was found dead on a public road last Thursday (17 August 2017) outside Moneyslane, between Banbridge and Newcastle. An initial x-ray revealed pieces of shot in the bird’s corpse and the […]
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Police appeal in suspected peregrine poisoning incident

Press release from Devon & Cornwall Police, 18 August 2017: POISONED PEREGRINE FALCON: WITNESS APPEAL Officers are investigating an incident after being contacted by staff at Glendinning Quarry in Ashburton, on Tuesday 15 August, following reports of an injured Peregrine falcon. The falcon had been located on the floor of the quarry which is home […]
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New RPUK/Chris Packham project launching at Birdfair this weekend

We’ll be launching a new project at the British Birdfair this weekend, in collaboration with Chris Packham and a number of others. Come along to the Events Marquee at 11am on Saturday morning (19th August) to find out more! For those who can’t attend the Birdfair, we’ll be blogging about the project next week. Hope […]
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Harry didn’t kill Sally

The Sun’s take on the news that satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier, Sally, has ‘disappeared’ in Norfolk:
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Magnus Linklater and his fake facts: caught out, again

So, last night we posted a blog about a Times front-page article and a Times leader article that quite clearly was an attack on the good name of the RSPB. The author of the front-page article was Magnus Linklater, a ‘journalist’ with a reported association with grouse shooting and a track record of producing fake […]
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Natural England Hen Harrier satellite tag data – a new development

Natural England has been fitting tags (radio and satellite) to hen harriers since 2002 as part of what was called the Hen Harrier Recovery Project. That’s 15 years of tagging. (Photo by Jenny Weston) In all that time, they’ve managed to publish just two summary reports: A future for the hen harrier in England (2008) and then […]
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Is a grouse shooting apologist making up stuff to attack the RSPB? Surely not!

Slightly away from our usual blog topics, some of you may have seen a full page advert in some national newspapers today, placed in the form of an open letter to RSPB Scotland (see: Times Coalition advert) by a consortium of companies hoping to be involved in the construction and/or operation of a massive offshore […]
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Species Champion Mairi Gougeon MSP speaks up for hen harriers

‘Species Champions’ are members of the Scottish Parliament who have agreed to provide political support and awareness for Scotland’s threatened wildlife, under a scheme organised by Scottish Environment LINK. Mairi Gougeon (nee Evans) MSP is the Species Champion for the hen harrier, and it was fantastic to see her attend Hen Harrier Day at Loch […]
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Satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier Sally ‘disappears’ in Norfolk

If it’s not news of a hen harrier being persecuted, or a marsh harrier being persecuted, then it’ll be a Montagu’s harrier. The RSPB has just published a blog detailing the ‘disappearance’ in Norfolk of satellite-tagged Montagu’s harrier ‘Sally’ on 6th August 2017. Sally was an adult female who had featured on the BBC’s Autumnwatch […]
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Natural England Board making up justification for Hen Harrier southern reintroduction?

Last month we blogged about the minutes of a Natural England Board meeting (held 22 March 2017) in relation to the proposed reintroduction of hen harriers to southern England. The published minutes stated: ‘The NE Board has considered the overall objective of the southern reintroduction [of hen harriers] and agreed this was to help relic […]
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Fact check for Angus Glens Moorland Group – red grouse are NOT organic

Dear oh dear. It’s only been six weeks since Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlie was told by Perthshire Council’s Food Standards Officer to stop referring to red grouse as being organic (see here), and yet now the Angus Glens Moorland Group Coordinator is claiming that red grouse are “100% organic“. Lianne MacLennan was quoted in the […]
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Grouse shooting industry silent on marsh harrier persecution

Last Thursday (10th August 2017) North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, who had been filmed trying to shoot a nesting Marsh harrier on a Yorkshire grouse moor in May. Some more armed men, still dressed as gamekeepers, were also filmed removing eggs from the Marsh harrier’s […]
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Ian Thomson (RSPB Scotland) resolute against illegal raptor persecution

For those who couldn’t make it to Hen Harrier Day in the Highlands, here’s a short video of the presentation given by Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations RSPB Scotland. Well worth 11 minutes of your time.
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Scottish Raptor Study Group publishes Moorland Mythbuster guide

Last month the Scottish Mail on Sunday published some right old tosh about how game shoot licensing would threaten the livelihood of gamekeepers and their families (see here). In one of the articles, a comment piece by gamekeeper’s wife Carrieanne Conaghan (who, we’ve since been told, works as a sales rep in a publishing house […]
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More illegal raptor persecution hotspots revealed in new map

Ian Thomson, Head of RSPB Investigations Scotland has written an interesting blog examining the ‘disappearance’ and/or illegal killing of satellite tagged red kites and hen harriers – see here. It’s well worth a read. And take a close look at this map, illustrating the locations of suspicious disappearances as well as where the corpses have […]
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Video of marsh harrier persecution on North Yorkshire grouse moor

If anybody has been foolish enough to believe any of the grouse shooting industry’s recent propaganda onslaught in the run up to the Inglorious 12th, here’s a shocking reminder of what really goes on. Press release published today by North Yorkshire Police: POLICE INVESTIGATE PERSECUTION OF BREEDING MARSH HARRIERS North Yorkshire Police are investigating an […]
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W Yorks Police Firearms Licensing Dept: in breach of policing code of ethics?

A couple of days ago, the following extraordinary tweet appeared on the West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Department’s official twitter account: This is a shocking abuse of position. According to the national Policing Code of Ethics, police officers and staff are supposed to be impartial and non-political. For an official police account to use the […]
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Record number of hen harriers fitted with satellite tags

  RSPB press release: The RSPB has fitted a record number of hen harrier chicks with satellite tags in the UK this year, more than doubling the number from any other year. More than 24 birds have been fitted with transmitters so far, the majority of them in Scotland, as part of the conservation organisation’s […]
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Grouse shooting industry in desperate attempt to greenwash its rampant criminality

While hundreds of extremist armchair conservationists (an oxymoron, surely?) turned out in force to support Hen Harrier Day events up and down the country last weekend, the grouse shooting industry was preparing to unleash a barrel of propagandist articles and ‘new research’ in a desperate attempt to greenwash the rampant criminality that threatens to take […]
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Cabinet Secretary at Moy Game Fair: what message for the raptor killers?

The Moy (Highland) Game Fair kicks off today, where the great & good of the game shooting world gather to celebrate their activities. Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, will be there again this year, especially as this is bang slap in the middle of his constituency and he’s a […]
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Botham in tantrum over car crash radio interview

Hopefully by now you’ve all had a chance to listen to Ian Botham’s masterclass in how not to do a radio interview – the best car crash radio for some time (see here). Now Botham’s having a tantrum, claiming he was “ambushed by an anti-shooting agenda” and has threatened to boycott the BBC “unless something significant […]
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Police interview man re: shot red kite in Nidderdale

North Yorkshire Police have issued a further appeal for information about the shooting of a red kite in Nidderdale. The kite was found near Greenhow in Nidderdale on Saturday 11th March 2017 (see here). Since then, a number of rewards have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved. One […]
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Peregrine shot in Ipswich – police investigation launched

Suffolk Police are investigating the shooting of a young male peregrine in Ipswich. The bird, one of four to have fledged this year from the Mill Tower at Ipswich Waterfront, was found alive but in an emaciated condition at the weekend. He was taken to Riversbrook Veterinary Practice where an x-ray revealed he had been […]
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Three successful hen harrier nests in England (none on driven grouse moors)

The RSPB has just announced the results of the 2017 hen harrier breeding season in England. There was a pathetic total of three successful nests (England has the capacity for ~330 pairs). The three successful nests (with ten fledglings) were on land managed by the Forestry Commission in Northumberland. Read the full, sorry details on […]
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Ian Botham masterclass on how not to do a radio interview

You’ve got to listen to this. It’s the funniest nine minutes of car crash radio you’ll have heard for a long time. It’s Ian Botham, being interviewed on BBC Five Live this morning, talking about how the public spirited game shooting industry is planning to donate thousands of lead-poisoned pheasants and partridges to the poor […]
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Mountain hares slaughtered on Scottish grouse moors: new report published

On the eve of the open season (1st August) for killing mountain hares in Scotland, animal welfare charity OneKind has published a new report outlining concerns about the scale of this slaughter taking place on Scottish grouse moors. The report can be downloaded here: mountain hares persecution report Onekind 2017 The report provides a good summary […]
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