Peregrine chicks taken in Peak District nest raid

Another godawful headline (this time from the Derby Telegraph) for the ‘authorities’ that supposedly run the Peak District National Park – a supposedly protected landscape blasted by grouse shooting and a bottomless pit for wildlife crime and raptor persecution.


No, there is nothing in the newspaper report that specifically points to grouse shooting for the removal of yet more Peregrines – it could have been Mark Avery’s fabled ‘nurses on a day out’ enjoying a spot of falcon theft what done it – and it could have been linked to pigeon flyers or wealthy falconers – but the fact is that the ‘dark peak’ area of this blighted part of the countryside is notorious for its gamekeepers and their tight hold over everything that comes in or out of the grouse moors, and (as Bob Berzins memorably put it in a stinging post on Mountain Hare persecution in the very same ‘national park’ just yesterday), “There is no video footage of gamekeepers shooting mountain hares but then again there’s no footage of them shooting raptors either. So we’re left to explain the gaps in our skies, our missing birds and mammals…Spend time in the uplands and it’s obvious what’s happening“.

Modern gamekeeping is very different from the old Victorian attitudes, we’re repeatedly told. The reality on the ground, with satellite-tagged Hen Harriers constantly ‘disappearing’ and Peregrines nesting close to grouse moors repeatedly losing chicks tells a very different story. We don’t claim to cover every raptor crime in the Peak District (and certainly not in the detail that the brilliant Raptor Persecution UK website does) but in the last eighteen months even we’ve posted Another Peregrine poisoned on a Peak District grouse moor, RSPB | Catalogue of bird crimes in Peak District NP, Peregrine falcon eggs taken from three sites in Peak District, Note the quotation marks: ‘Appeal after ”protected” Peak District buzzard is shot’, Another dead Buzzard reinforces the lie of ‘national parks’.

The gamekeeping ‘community’ was vigorously defended by the lobbying group BASC in a laughably tear-stained eulogy recently, but during a long series of phone calls this week in which I spoke with applicants for our newly-created equipment fund the true nature of gamekeeping was repeated to me over and over again by genuine, honest people who have found themselves at the sharp end of responses to ‘meddling’ by ‘outsiders’ trying to stop wildlife crime and the abuse of wildlife.

No, if gamekeeping really wants us to us to believe it’s all about conservation – and not about committing wildlife crime to support the rearing of millions of birds to be shot for fun by people whose idea of the countryside is a place that rings with shots as the air fills with feathers and tumbling corpses – they’re going to have to work far damn harder at proving it rather than threatening monitors and issuing denials once a week…


A nest with three Peregrine chicks in it has been raided in a remote part of the Peak District National Park.

Derbyshire Rural Crime Team have launched an investigation into the incident which says happened on land owned by the Forestry Commission.

The birds, along with their eggs are legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making the theft of the chicks illegal.

Peregrine’s are an iconic part of the Peak District’s natural heritage and the theft of the young chicks, Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts say, jeopardises the recovery of the species.

Tim Birch from the Wildlife Trust said: “We all lose when this happens.

“Thousands of people visit the Peak District National Park every year to walk in stunning scenery and have the opportunity to watch these magnificent birds in the wild.

“We need to see tougher sentences that reflect the seriousness of this crime and to act as a deterrent.”

Measures had been put in place to try and protect peregrines in a bid to try and help them survive and prosper in the Peak District.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, said: “Scientific data and crime reports show that raptor persecution is endemic in the Peak District National Park, particularly impacting iconic species like peregrine and goshawk: this is despite both the species and landscape having the fullest legal protection in the UK.

“These crimes have been statistically linked to land managed for driven grouse shooting.

“Furthermore, the site in question has suffered repeat incidents of raptor persecution on many previous occasions and only recently an adult peregrine was found poisoned close by.

“More has to be done as it is clear the initiatives in place are failing.”

The Wildlife Trust say a number of other nesting sites are being monitored throughout the Peak District National Park, however the number of breeding pairs are understood to be much lower this year than expected according to information already gathered.

Anyone with information about the most recent incident is being urged to call Derbyshire Rural Crime Team on 101 or to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Jonathan Chubb, Peregrine chicks taken in Peak District nest raid, 22/June/21