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An ATV full of dead mountain hares on Farr Estate grouse moor

This photograph was taken today on the grouse moor of Farr Estate in the Monadhliaths in the Scottish Highlands. As today is the last day of the ‘open season’ for killing mountain hares, this slaughter is not criminal in the legal sense. But in an ethical sense? So much for ‘voluntary restraint‘, eh? Seems they […]
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“I have no truck with the argument that raptors damage driven grouse shooting” says Environment Cabinet Secretary

Last Saturday, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, delivered a speech to members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG) at their annual conference in Perthshire. She deserves a good deal of credit, not only for giving up her Saturday morning, but particularly for her willingness to come and speak […]
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Scottish Gamekeepers chairman attacks Raptor Study Group

Alex Hogg, Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, has a long track record of talking out of his backside. Previous missives directly attributable to the SGA’s esteemed leader have included lines such as, “Professional gamekeepers do not poison raptors” (here), “It is unfair to accuse gamekeepers of wildlife crime” (here), “In the last ten years […]
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Review of gamebird hunting regulations finally published

The long-awaited Scottish Government-commissioned review of game bird hunting regulations in other European countries has finally been published today. First commissioned by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse back in 2014, there has been growing impatience to see this report published, especially as the Scottish Parliament’s Environment (ECCLR) Committee is now considering the Scottish Raptor Study […]
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Police Scotland under fire for withholding info on raptor poisonings

Last week we blogged about Police Scotland’s intention to withhold information about raptor persecution crimes for up to three years from the time the offence was committed, as part of their ‘investigative strategy’. We weren’t impressed (see here). Unsurprisingly, we weren’t alone. The following article was published in the Press & Journal yesterday: Fears people […]
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Buzzard shot dead in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police have issued the following press release: Buzzard shot in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty North Yorkshire Police are investigating an incident in which a Buzzard was shot in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A dead buzzard was found on 1 February 2017 in an area called High Skelding, near […]
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Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: donor countries

We’ve blogged quite a bit about the ridiculous proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England, one of the six action points in DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan. Here’s a quick recap: 28 Nov 2016 – Hen Harrier reintroduction to southern England: an update (here) 3 Jan 2017 – Hen harrier reintroduction to southern England: […]
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Overnight nest protection for hen harrier nests – RSPB recruiting

In preparation for this year’s breeding season, the RSPB is looking to hire six people to work as part of an overnight nest protection scheme for any hen harrier breeding attempts in northern England. It’s a pretty sad indictment that in 2017, even with the Government’s so-called Hen Harrier Action Plan in place, hen harrier […]
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Gamekeeper chat

The following conversation took place on a Facebook page called ‘Gamekeeper chat’ on 12 February 2017. They were discussing buzzards: Not very bright, is he? Shall we just remind ourselves what Dr Colin Sheddon (BASC) said in his recent evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee? He told MSPs that a licensing scheme to regulate […]
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Raptor persecution data & golden eagle conservation status – anyone see a pattern?

This first map will be familiar to many of you. It’s from the excellent Golden Eagle Conservation Framework report (2008) and shows a summary of the golden eagle’s conservation status in Scotland. Conservation status was assessed by looking at the data from three national golden eagle surveys (1982, 1992, 2003) and applying a series of […]
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Police Scotland intend to withhold raptor persecution info for 3 years

A couple of weeks ago we blogged about Police Scotland withholding information about raptor persecution crimes from the RSPB’s 2015 Birdcrime report (here). Their approach was in sharp contrast to every other UK police force that had provided data for this report. This wasn’t the first time we’d noticed a distinct lack of transparency from […]
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Leaked email reveals Natural England’s views on Hen Harrier Action Plan

The following internal email was written by Rob Cooke (Natural England Director) on 6 February 2017: Hen Harriers Hen harriers (HHs) are having a rough time in England. Although juvenile birds have a high natural mortality there is plenty to suggest that illegal persecution is ongoing, either through shooting or disturbance. The level of persecution […]
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Poisons cache on East Arkengarthdale Estate: no prosecution, no subsidy penalty

In December 2016 we blogged (here) about the discovery of an illegal poisons cache, buried in a small forestry plantation on Hurst grouse moor, part of the East Arkengarthdale Estate in North Yorkshire. The discovery had been made (and filmed) by the RSPB’s Investigations team in December 2014 and March 2015. RSPB Investigator Guy Shorrock […]
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Goshawk dies in ‘mysterious circumstances’ on Queen’s Sandringham Estate

Not for the first time, the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk has been at the centre of a police investigation in relation to a raptor incident. According to an article in today’s Mail on Sunday (here) a police investigation was launched after Sandringham Estate staff mailed a young goshawk’s tracking tag back to the BTO on […]
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Buzzard shot in Essex

The following images and text have been posted on the South Essex Wildlife Hospital: ‘A very weak buzzard found at the side of a road was assumed to have been a road traffic casualty. Having x-rayed the bird, the reason it wasn’t flying was obvious. Several shot gun pellets were lodged in its body, wing […]
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Mystery hen harrier ‘John’ from the class of 2016

Yesterday Mark Avery wrote a blog about about DEFRA’s ridiculous hen harrier brood meddling plan, due to start this year. In his blog, Mark reminded us that in 2016 there were four young hen harriers that were satellite-tagged at two nests on Forestry Commission land in Northumberland, as mentioned in this local newspaper article last […]
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Case against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon re: shot hen harrier, part 8

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. He has denied the charge. Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far in this case: Hearing #1 (19 […]
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Countryside Alliance – regretful or forgetful?

The Countryside Alliance has responded to the RSPB’s 2015 Birdcrime report with the following statement: The RSPB has recently published its Birdcrime Report for 2015, which provides a summary of the offences against wild bird legislation that were reported to the RSPB. While we are grateful for the work the RSPB do in the detection […]
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Chris Packham talks about Lush Skydancer bathbombs, live at 2pm

At 2pm today Chris Packham and members of the RSPB’s Investigations & Hen Harrier Life project teams will be making Lush Skydancer bathbombs in a parody of one of those cooking/foodie type programmes. They’ll also be talking about the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life project. You may remember, in 2015 Lush (the high street cosmetics store) […]
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Two red kites confirmed poisoned in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Yesterday, North Yorkshire Police put out the following press release: POLICE WARNING FOLLOWING RED KITE POISONING Police are appealing for information and warning about the dangers of illegal bird of prey poisoning. Two red kites were found poisoned in the Nidderdale area of North Yorkshire in 2016. One was found near Pateley Bridge on 12 […]
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Driven grouse shooting auctioned at Tory fundraising ball

Every year the Tory party hosts a lavish Black & White fundraising ball for wealthy donors, with a range of opulent prizes on offer in an auction. We’ve blogged about this event before (see here) when in 2015 one of those auction prizes – an opportunity to shoot 500 pheasants and partridge at the Maristow […]
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Satellite-tagged hen harrier Mick ‘disappears’ in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Natural England has today issued the following press statement: North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following the loss of a hen harrier in Upper Swaledale. Mick, a young male, fledged in Northumberland last summer. He was fitted with a satellite tag in July by a hen harrier expert from Natural England. His tag stopped […]
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Botham spinning more balls, again

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any more cock and bull stories from Sir Ian Botham. He’s been pretty quiet since he was caught out mis-using the good name of the BTO last August, but on Saturday he was back attacking the RSPB in an article in the Telegraph. The article (here), written by ‘Online […]
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Police Scotland continue to withhold raptor persecution data

Earlier today we blogged about the publication of the RSPB’s 2015 UK Birdcrime report (here). Have a look at the report’s data appendices: rspb-birdcrime2015_appendices You’ll notice a statement in relation to Appendix 3 (which is a table of confirmed and probable bird of prey and owl persecution during 2015). That statement says: ‘The details of some […]
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RSPB publishes 2015 UK Birdcrime report

On Friday (3 Feb 2017) the RSPB published its latest UK Birdcrime report (2015). The format for the 2015 report has changed. Instead of publishing a downloadable PDF, the report has been published ‘online’ – see here. This isn’t to everyone’s liking, including ours; we prefer to have a report that can be filed and […]
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Hawk and Owl Trust dig themselves in to a deeper hole re: shot hen harrier Rowan

The Hawk and Owl Trust are digging themselves in to a deeper hole. Most people looking at the x-ray of hen harrier Rowan’s leg injuries, which was published yesterday, would be able to interpret the image fairly easily. A fractured leg with a number of radio-dense foreign bodies associated with the injury site; radio-dense foreign […]
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Shot hen harrier Rowan – here’s that x-ray

For those of you who have been following the story of the Natural England / Hawk & Owl Trust / Cumbria Police cover-up re: whether hen harrier Rowan had been shot (see here and here), the RSPB has just published the x-ray: Is that a shattered leg bone with bits of shotgun pellet lodged in […]
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Satellite-tagged Hen Harrier ‘Carroll’ is dead

With depressing predictability, another of the 2016 cohort of young hen harriers has been found dead. ‘Carroll’ hatched in a nest on Forestry Commission land in Northumberland – one of only three nests in England last year. Named after the late raptor worker Mick Carroll, this bird was satellite-tagged as part of the RSPB’s Hen […]
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Shot hen harrier Rowan – a Natural England/Hawk and Owl Trust cover up? Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part blog. For Part one, please read here. The following information is a timeline of what happened and has been compiled from a series of FoIs. Natural England has refused to release some of the information we asked for (notably a copy of the post mortem report that was […]
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Shot hen harrier Rowan – a Natural England/Hawk and Owl Trust cover up? Part 1

This is Part 1 of 2 blogs. Hen harrier ‘Rowan’ was one of two harriers satellite-tagged by the Hawk & Owl Trust at Langholm in the summer of 2016. On 28 October 2016, a joint press release issued by Natural England and the Hawk & Owl Trust revealed he had been found dead in Cumbria […]
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