Goshawk killed on grouse-shooting estate in North York Moors National Park

There’s probably a joke being made in Baronial halls along the lines of ‘waiting for crimes against birds of prey/North Yorkshire/all coming at once‘ – but the situation in North Yorkshire and the so-called North Yorks’ National Park’ and rampant raptor persecution isn’t remotely funny. It’s hateful and utterly shameful. This region, as many of us know all too well, is the most notorious hot spot for crimes against birds of prey in the country.

And it’s all because of grouse shooting. Because this fetid little hobby of the rich is underpinned by wildlife crime and much of the ‘national park’ is actually owned by shooting estates who have a hatred for anything that threatens to make even the tiniest dent in their profits

The latest act of criminality in North Yorkshire involves a ‘masked man’ on an as yet unnamed shooting estate killing a Goshawk in a cage trap (*see comments below). Is there any chance that ‘masked man’ wasn’t a gamekeeper? No charges have been brought yet but let’s speculate. Firstly, anyone who has ever been on a grouse moor will know full well just how quickly gamekeepers arrive on the scene when they spot an ‘outsider’ – the chances of anyone wandering around an estate and not being hoovered up fairly quickly is pretty unlikely. Secondly, suppose someone had outwitted the keepers, who the bloody hell else wants to kill a Goshawk? Most members of the general public wouldn’t know a Goshawk if one landed on them with an ID label round its neck; activists or birders might be tempted to release a bird of prey caught in a trap (which, incredibly might land you in court), but they certainly wouldn’t kill it; and …well, there really is no other ‘and’. Goshawks are predators, they take small birds. Grouse chicks are small birds (though don’t tend to hang around in forests where Goshawks typically hunt) and as shooting estates can charge ‘sportsmen’ around £3000 to spend the day slaughtering those very chicks when they’re a few months old, you really don’t have to be a University professor to understand what’s going on – and has been going on for as long as shooting estates have existed.

As usual, the ‘park’ authorities (whose hands are admittedly tied somewhat by legislation that supports the mass killing of grouse and the use of ‘cage traps’ – and which in fact makes it illegal to damage traps and snares, listing them as private property) are asking for witnesses to come forward. They shouldn’t hold their breath. Appeals don’t work amongst the notoriously tight-lipped ‘band of brothers’ who roam the moors, firearms at the ready, to take out everything from foxes to badgers, Hen Harriers, Buzzards, and of course Goshawks. Of course they know the name of the keeper who did this, and of course they know who gave him the orders to do it – but they won’t be telling anyone, because that would expose the routine nature of wildlife crime on shooting estates and destroy the ‘gamekeeping as conservation’ baloney shooting lobbyists are desperately trying to sell the public at the moment.

And. tell you what, if gamekeepers don’t like this portrayal of their ‘professionalism’, don’t whine at us (again): get your colleagues to join the 21st century and stop breaking the law. If that’s ‘too difficult’ a task come on here and tell us why. Explain what pressures to break the law estate owners put on you. Explain to us how YOU are different and work to protect birds of prey, but your older colleagues mock you. Explain to all of us just how you justify going against the norms of society by killing wildlife day in day out just so that shooters can spend the day killing even more wildlife. Our email address is below.


North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information about an incident in which a goshawk appeared to be killed after becoming caught in a cage trap.

Video footage, which was passed on to North Yorkshire Police, shows the bird becoming caught in the trap in the early hours of 2 May 2020. Shortly afterwards, an individual with their face obscured is seen entering the trap and appears to deliberately kill the bird before removing the body in a bag.

The trap was located on Howl Dale Moor near Goathland in the North York Moors National Park.

North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Jeremy Walmsley, is urging anyone with information to come forward:

”The goshawk is one of the most protected species of bird in the UK and it is extremely distressing that an individual would choose to kill any bird of prey. I appeal to anyone with information about this horrific crime to get in touch with the police and help us to find the person responsible for the death of this magnificent bird.

“We see far too many incidents of birds of prey killed or injured in North Yorkshire and as a police force we are doing all we can to put a stop to this inhumane and callous crime.”

Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority said:

“We are deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century and, despite an improvement in numbers, persecution and habitat loss remain a constant threat to their survival.

“Killing or injuring a bird of prey is illegal, cruel and must be prosecuted wherever possible. We are working alongside the police to support them in their investigations and we would strongly urge any witnesses or anyone who has any information to come forward. With your help the offender(s) can be brought to justice.”

If you have any information which could help this investigation, please call 101 quoting reference: 12200073462 or if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

North Yorks Police force press-release, 15 July 2020