Update | Poisoned Golden Eagle

Police Scotland have issued a statement about the Golden Eagle found poisoned near the notorious Invercauld Estate in March. This is the same estate that likes to talks about the amazing conservation work that it does (while misleadingly quoting figures about the huge numbers of endangered birds that breed there), but of which the RSPB’s Ian Thomson more accurately says in the quotation below, “Raptor persecution crimes on grouse moors in this area happen regularly. In 2019, a young eagle was photographed caught in a trap less than two miles from here, and in 2016, a line of illegal traps targeting birds of prey was found set across the hill less than three miles away.”

Note in the statement below the very clear and unequivocal line: the bird had been illegally and intentionally poisoned. Grouse estates talk absolute bollocks about encouraging raptors and having zero tolerance for wildlife crime. For decades they have routinely targeted and illegally killed birds of prey because they threaten the profits they make selling farmed Red Grouse to shooters who have neither the integrity to question why there are so few raptors on grouse estates nor the self-awareness to wonder what will happen to their own reputations when the whole shitshow collapses and they are shown to have propped it up for so long.

The tide does seem to be turning though. While we think licencing grouse moors does nothing but legitimise the slaughter of grouse and native predators, and the shameful abuse of land that could be so more beneficial if used for public good rather than for the benefit of hobbyists with guns, it does point at last to an awareness that criminality is rife on grouse moors.

And it is rife. We have said many times that if the grouse estates really were innocent they would have challenged, for example, Dr Mark Avery’s use of the phrase ‘underpinned by wildlife crime’ in court. They would have obliterated websites like this, but they know (just as we do) that the evidence is overwhelmingly against them, and the last thing they want to do is have that exposed in court, in the media, and to public opinion.

Police Scotland’s enquiries need to be open and transparent too. There are far too many of us who are not 100% convinced that there has not been a bias or (perhaps more generously) a leniency shown to wealthy landowners that they have not earned and do not deserve. If the Police could help convict some of those that will simply never understand that in fact, no, they can’t simply do what they want when they want, these shameful killings will continue and the Cairngorm’s (and unfortunately Scotland’s) reputation as a haven for wildlife criminals will be maintained.

 

Officers are continuing enquiries into the poisoning of a bird of prey found dead near to Crathie in Aberdeenshire

On Friday, 19 March, 2021, a Golden Eagle was found dead on a hillside on the Invercauld Estate.

Subsequent forensic examination confirmed the bird had been illegally and intentionally poisoned.

Extensive enquiries are being carried out and on Tuesday, 4 May, 2021, officers acting under warrant, searched a number of properties on the Invercauld Estate. No arrests were made and enquiries are ongoing.

Detective Constable Daniel Crilley, wildlife crime unit said: “Poisoning a bird or animal is not only cruel and callous but it can also harm other wildlife. Illegal persecution of raptors will not be tolerated. It is one of the six priorities set by the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit and Raptor Persecution is the current focus of Police Scotland’s year-long campaign, Operation Wingspan.

“We are determined to protect these magnificent birds and here in the North East, we work closely with a number of partners, such as the RSPB and NatureScot, to tackle wildlife crime, which can be particularly challenging to investigate.”


Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, wildlife crime lead for Police Scotland, said: “Scotland’s rich, rare and diverse wildlife and landscapes are among its biggest attractions. We cannot allow the indiscriminate use of poisons and pesticides to threaten our natural heritage.


“Police Scotland, working with our key partners, is committed to protecting our wildlife habitats and to bringing those who seek to destroy or harm it, to justice.”


Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said: “Raptor persecution crimes on grouse moors in this area happen regularly. In 2019, a young eagle was photographed caught in a trap less than two miles from here, and in 2016, a line of illegal traps targeting birds of prey was found set across the hill less than three miles away. The perpetrators of these crimes don’t just threaten wildlife, but put at risk the reputation of the area and the jobs dependent on the associated tourist industry.”

Members of the public are police’s eyes and ears and anyone with information regarding this matter is asked to call Police Scotland via 101, quoting incident number 2757 of 19 March 2021.

Police Scotland, 05 May 21