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Mark Osborne on hen harriers, Mark Avery and Chris Packham

Some of you will be very familiar with the name of sporting agent Mark Osborne. He is feted within the grouse-shooting industry for his ability to turn a ‘poorly performing’ grouse moor in to “something beyond the moor owner’s wildest dreams” (e.g. see here). Some of you may be more familiar with the names of some of […]
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SNH notifies two more estates of intention to restrict General Licence

The ability for SNH to impose a General Licence 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 meeting […]
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Mountain hares killed and dumped in a bin on grouse moor in Peak District National Park

Earlier this month a group called the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) released disturbing footage they’d filmed during the spring on the Moscar Estate, a grouse-shooting estate in the Peak District National Park (see here). The footage included masked men, purportedly gamekeepers, snaring badgers and mountain hares. Derbyshire Constabulary is currently investigating the group’s claims. HIT […]
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Scottish Raptor Study Group letter in response to estate licensing scaremongering claims

Earlier this month we blogged about two articles that were published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday about so-called ‘draconian’ proposals to introduce a licensing scheme for game shooting estates (see here). One piece was just a review of various organisations’ positions and the other one was a fairly lengthy comment piece written by Carrieanne […]
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National Trust to receive petition calling for cessation of grouse shooting

Today (Tuesday 25 July 2017) the National Trust will receive a petition calling for the cessation of grouse shooting on one of their moors in the Peak District National Park. The petition was launched last year by a newly-formed group called Moorland Vision (see website here). It was triggered by a video we posted on […]
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Gas gun on Broomhead Estate: an update

Ten days ago we blogged about a gas gun that had been photographed on the Broomhead Estate in the Peak District National Park (see here). This moor is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The SSSI and SPA designations are, in part, to […]
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Hen harrier ‘reintroduction’ to southern England: Project team visits France

Continuing on from recent blogs (here, here and here) about a series of updates on the proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England, here’s some more news gleaned from the latest FoI response from Natural England. We know from previous FoI responses from Natural England that the Southern England Reintroduction Team has been scouting around looking […]
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Hen harrier ‘reintroduction’ to southern England: revised costs

Continuing on from recent blogs (here, here) about a series of updates on the proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England, here’s some more news gleaned from the latest FoI response from Natural England. The estimated cost of a ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England has previously been estimated at £515k (see DEFRA’s Hen […]
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Hen harrier ‘reintroduction’ to southern England: Dartmoor as potential new release site

Continuing from yesterday’s blog about a series of updates on the proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England, here’s some more news gleaned from the latest FoI response from Natural England. We knew from previous FoIs that Natural England was looking at Wiltshire and Exmoor National Park as the two preferred release sites for […]
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Hen harrier ‘reintroduction’ to southern England: new project manager appointed

As many of you will know, DEFRA’s Hen Harrier (In)Action Plan was launched in January 2016. We’ve been particularly interested in two of the six ‘action points’: Brood meddling, and a ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England. We blogged recently about how this year Natural England has been refusing to release any more information […]
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Super computer needed to count this year’s English hen harrier nests

Here’s the tried and tested method that Natural England has deployed in recent years to count the number of hen harrier nests in England. In fact they’ve only needed one hand to complete the task. This year, there are so many hen harrier nests, they’ve had to deploy a super computer to cope with the […]
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SGA Chairman wonders why gamekeepers aren’t respected

We always look forward to the publication of Scottish Gamekeeper, the quarterly rag for members of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. As you can imagine, it’s often stuffed full of bright intellectual commentary and an appreciation of birds with hooked beaks and sharp talons. The latest edition landed on our doormat last week and as ever, […]
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There’s nothing ‘draconian’ about licensing game shooting estates

There were a couple of articles published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday yesterday about the possibility (probability) of the introduction of game shoot licensing in Scotland. The first article didn’t bring anything new to the story; it was just a re-hashed version of who’s said what since Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced a package […]
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“The hen harrier…..this is a nasty bird of evil habits. It must be got rid of at all costs”

“The hen harrier….this is a nasty bird of evil habits. It quarters the moor a few feet above the ground and pounces on grouse or chicks it catches unawares. It must be got rid of at all cost”. This is a quote. You might think it’s attributable to Amanda Anderson (Director, Moorland Association). It’s not […]
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Another gas gun on Broomhead Estate grouse moor, Peak District National Park

Regular blog readers will know we’ve been banging on about the use of propane-powered gas guns (bird scarers) on grouse moors for a couple of years. For those who don’t know, propane gas guns are routinely used for scaring birds (e.g. pigeons, geese) from agricultural crops – they are set up to deliver an intermittent […]
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Meet the raptor scientists: series of public talks in Scotland, Sept 2017

Here’s an unusual opportunity to listen to a number of raptor scientists talking about their research, with subsequent panel discussions and audience debate. Day one will be held in Edinburgh (Friday 22 September 2017) at the Royal Botanic Garden Lecture Theatre. Tickets cost £20 and this includes refreshments and lunch. Here’s the programme: Day two […]
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Eight Scottish osprey chicks translocated to Poole Harbour, Dorset

Some welcome conservation news for a change: Press release from charity Birds of Poole Harbour: Eight Osprey chicks from Scotland have safely arrived in Poole Harbour as part of a five-year translocation project, aimed at re-establishing this species on its former breeding grounds on the south coast of England. The project which is being run by Birds […]
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Police investigating footage of ‘gamekeepers’ shooting & snaring wildlife in Peak District National Park

The Mirror has just published an article entitled “Barbaric”: Wild animals trapped and shot in UK National Park to protect birds for shooting season and a by-line stating “Film taken in Peak District National Park shows gamekeepers shooting and trapping wild animals in a bid to stop them killing grouse as bird hunting season nears” (see […]
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Natural England still refusing to release details of Hen Harrier brood meddling plans

Regular blog readers will know that we’ve taken a keen interest in DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan, which was published in January 2016. We’ve been particularly interested in two of the six action points of this plan: brood meddling and the southern reintroduction. On brood meddling, through a series of FoIs last year, we were […]
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Protest march to Downing Street, 12th August 2017

A coalition of wildlife campaigners will be marching to Downing Street on the Inglorious 12th August 2017 to protest about the on-going cruelty and criminality against badgers, foxes and hen harriers in the UK countryside. Key issues of this protest include the Government’s ineffective and costly badger cull policy, strengthening rather than appealing the Hunting […]
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Mass shooting of protected gulls on Lancashire grouse moor

RSPB press release:blog (as read on Mark Avery’s blog) The RSPB has learned that large numbers of protected birds are being killed on a grouse moor in Lancashire. A RSPB staff member working in the Bowland area discovered two estate workers shooting nesting lesser black-backed gulls – on a grouse moor managed by the Abbeystead Estate […]
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Gift of Grouse chef told to refrain from calling red grouse “organic”

Following earlier blogs where we challenged Gift of Grouse chef Andrew Fairlie’s claim that red grouse are “organic” (see here and here), the Foods Standards Officer at Perth & Kinross Council has completed an investigation. Here are the findings: “You are alleging that Mr Fairlie makes a fraudulent claim about organic status of red grouse […]
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Trading standards investigating claim red grouse are “organic”

A few days ago we blogged about an extraordinary claim that red grouse are “organic” (see here). The claim was made by chef Andrew Fairlie, who runs the Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie Restaurant at Gleneagles Hotel. His claim was widely published in Scottish newspapers and also promoted on the Gift of Grouse website. We did a […]
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Buzzard caught in illegally-set trap on Monadhliaths grouse moor

Police Scotland have this afternoon published the following statement: Investigation into illegal setting of traps, Strathdearn Police Scotland can confirm that an investigation into the alleged illegal setting of traps to deliberately target birds of prey near Auchintoul, Strathdearn has been launched. Police were informed of an incident that occurred on 7 June 2017 where […]
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Gift of Grouse chef claims red grouse are “organic”

The Scottish grouse shooting industry’s propaganda machine, The Gift of Grouse, is definitely a gift that just keeps giving. It stumbles from one gaffe to the next with extraordinary frequency. This week, the Gift of Grouse has joined forces with “Scotland’s leading chefs” to promote the use of red grouse in more restaurants and hotels. […]
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How divisions within SNP affect rural policy decisions, including tackling raptor persecution

A couple of days ago we read the following short conversation on Twitter, which followed the news that Police Scotland are investigating the shooting of a short-eared owl on Leadhills Estate: Dominic Mitchell (@birdingetc): Another day on a Scottish grouse moor, another protected bird of prey shot. When will the authorities take effective action to […]
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Fox-hunting duo convicted on basis of covertly-filmed video evidence

Well this is all very interesting. Today, after a long-running court case, two members of the Jedforest Hunt in the Scottish Borders have been convicted at Jedburgh Sheriff Court of illegal fox hunting (see BBC news article here and League Scotland article here). The prosecution case relied heavily upon covertly-filmed video footage, filmed by investigators […]
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“Fiercest critic” yet to be fierce or critical

Back in January this year we wrote a blog about Conservative MSP Edward Mountain (Highlands & Islands) who had written a guest article for the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s quarterly rag. In that article, Mr Mountain wrote this: ‘I believe that challenging the ‘spectre’ [of land management reform] is vital, if the very countryside we all value and […]
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Parliamentary question re Crown’s decision to drop wildlife crime prosecutions

The issue of the Crown Office’s questionable decisions to drop five wildlife crime prosecutions in recent months is not going away. Mark Ruskell MSP (Scottish Greens) has now lodged the following Parliamentary Question: The answer given by the Lord Advocate to the earlier question to which Mark refers is this: It’s an interesting question from […]
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GWCT back-pedalling on hen harrier cull idea

So, further to our last blog about the GWCT calling for a ‘limited cull’ of hen harriers in response to the news that hen harriers have sunk further in to decline, the GWCT is now saying (on Twitter) that we have deliberately misrepresented their position and that they are NOT calling for a cull of […]
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GWCT responds to hen harrier decline with calls for a ‘limited cull’

This is just astonishing. Following this morning’s news that the UK’s hen harrier population has descended further in to decline, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has published the following response: The GWCT says the results of the national hen harrier survey indicate that balance in moorland conservation and management in the UK is needed more […]
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National hen harrier survey reveals further decline

Press release from RSPB Scotland: Hen harrier numbers have fallen by 9% in Scotland since 2010, according to the latest national survey of these birds, with the total population now estimated to be less than 500 breeding pairs. The fifth national hen harrier survey was carried out in 2016 by the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage […]
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Short-eared owl shot on Leadhills Estate – police appeal for info

Police Scotland are appealing for information after the shooting of a short-eared owl was witnessed on the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate, South Lanarkshire. According to this article in the Carluke Gazette, the shooting was witnessed about 11.45am on 31 May 2017 (ironically, the day Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced a package of new measures to […]
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Game shoot licensing discussed on BBC’s Landward programme today

Today’s edition of the BBC’s Landward programme had a small feature on proposals for the introduction of game shoot licensing, including contributions from Duncan Orr-Ewing (RSPB Scotland) and Lord David Johnstone (Scottish Land & Estates). It is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days (Episode 12, starts at 17 mins – […]
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Further comment on admissibility of video evidence from more law academics

Last week we blogged about a commentary from Professor Peter Duff (Aberdeen University Law School) on the admissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions (see here). As a quick summary, we fundamentally disagreed with Professor Duff’s conclusions that “the courts would not excuse such an irregularity in obtaining the video evidence and prosecutions would […]
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Edradynate Estate gamekeeper in court for alleged crop poisoning

Well this is absolutely fascinating. From the Courier & Advertiser (Perth & Perthshire edition), 22 June 2017: Gamekeeper in court over estate crop poisoning allegation. A senior gamekeeper has appeared at Perth Sheriff Court accused of poisoning crops on a Perthshire estate. David Campbell was working on the Edradynate Estate, near Aberfeldy, when he is said […]
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New osprey translocation project for Poole Harbour, Dorset

PRESS RELEASE: A new and exciting Osprey translocation has been given the go ahead to take place in Poole Harbour this year as a first stage in establishing a south coast breeding population of this spectacular bird. The project is being led by local charity Birds of Poole Harbour, Scottish charity the Roy Dennis Wildlife […]
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More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes

We’ve all learned by now how Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group, likes to spin the facts; we only wrote about it last week (see here). Here’s another well-spun article. We missed it when it was published in the Scottish Sporting Gazette (Summer 2016) but someone has kindly sent through. It’s classic […]
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Local volunteers patrolling peregrine nest sites in Forest of Dean

Following a spate of peregrine persecution incidents, the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has teamed up with local residents in the Forest of Dean to launch a protection scheme, including the installation of video cameras at nest sites and regular patrols to report any suspicious behaviour. Full story on the GloucestershireLive website here Very well done, Gloucestershire […]
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Another year, another gas gun deployed on a driven grouse moor

It’ll come as no surprise to anybody that gas guns are still being deployed on driven grouse moors, at a critical time in the hen harrier breeding season. Here is one photographed this week in use on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens (photo from one of our blog readers): We’ve been blogging about the […]
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Scottish Government to review use of stink pits on game shooting estates

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the use of stink pits (middens) on game-shooting estates, following a motion from Christine Grahame MSP. Stink pits are piles of rotting animal carcasses (often including the corpses of wild and domestic animals) that are dumped in a heap and surrounded by snares. The putrefying stench from the corpses attracts […]
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Law professor comments on inadmissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions

As regular blog readers will be aware, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the public prosecutors in Scotland, have, in the space of two months, either dropped or refused to prosecute five cases of alleged wildlife crime. These include: 25 March 2017 – gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough (Dalreoch Estates), accused of the alleged […]
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MSPs to debate use of stink pits on game shooting estates

Tomorrow (Thursday 15 June 2017) Christine Grahame MSP (SNP) will lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the use of stink pits on game shooting estates. Stink pits (also known as middens) are piles of dead, rotting carcasses, surrounded by snares, that are used by gamekeepers to lure in predators that can then be […]
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Technology challenge launched to solve problem of finding hidden or destroyed satellite tags

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has joined forces with Scottish Natural Heritage to co-sponsor a new CivTech challenge aimed at finding a creative and innovative technology-based solution to the problem of finding ‘disappearing’ satellite tagged raptors. As you’ll be aware, satellite-tagged raptors are ‘disappearing’ in Scotland and England with increasing frequency. There was a time, […]
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Heads Up for Harriers: Tim Baynes claims illegal persecution an “historical controversy”

Another week and another duplicitous article from Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group. This guy seems to live in a perpetual state of denial when it comes to the illegal persecution of raptors on driven grouse moors. This time he’s penned an article for the latest edition of Shooting Times about the […]
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Shot buzzard successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild

Last month we blogged about this adult female buzzard that had been found ‘down, shocked and injured’ in Norton, North Yorkshire. She has severe lacerations to her head and feet, believed to have been caused by trying to escape from a cage trap. An x-ray also revealed a shotgun pellet lodged on her right leg/foot. (Photos […]
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3 orphaned peregrine chicks now fostered; one to become a Springwatch star

Over the weekend we blogged about the suspected poisoning of two adult peregrines at a quarry nest site in Clee Hill, Shropshire, leaving three vulnerable chicks in need of rescue (see here). Thanks to the efforts of a team of experts from various organisations, the three rescued chicks have now been fostered into two wild […]
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New petition calling for study on economic impact of driven grouse shooting

A new public petition has been launched by Les Wallace asking the Scottish Parliament to ‘urge the Scottish Government to sponsor a comprehensive and independent study into the full economic impacts of driven grouse shooting’. The petition can be read here. It seems that Les was way ahead of the game because as his petition […]
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Police lead multi-agency wildlife crime search on game shooting estate in Borders

Statement issued this evening by Lothian & Borders Police: As part of ongoing efforts to tackle wildlife crime, police in the Scottish Borders led an operation in the Longformacus area on Monday 5 June supported by our partners in the Scottish SPCA, RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and other experts. Land and property were searched […]
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3 million blog views

Today we reached another milestone – three million blog views – and funnily enough this comes exactly a year to the day when we reached two million. Many thanks to everyone who supports this blog, whether by reading, commenting, contributing or sharing. Here’s a reminder of why we do it. This image is of a […]
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