A ‘tree feller’ and a ‘bird of prey nest’. The headline from the Stroud News today tells just half the story, because the bird of prey in question was a Goshawk (one of the country’s rarest birds of prey – and a species loathed by shooting estates) and the ‘tree feller’ (or ‘agricultural labourer as he’s described in the report) took out just one tree in the wood, and that one tree contained the active nest. It’s hard to miss a large raptor’s nest (and female Goshawks are the same size as Buzzards). They are a massive pile of sticks, the ground below is spattered with ‘whitewash’, and Goshawks are noisy birds. Anyone from a tree feller to an agricultural labourer to a shooting estate manager will know damn well there is an active Goshawk pair in a woodland if they spend more than a few hours in the locale. It is inconceivable that just one tree could be cut down without the individual knowing that it contained an active nest. The RSPB Investigations Team clearly think so too, and are quoted saying in an exasperated tone, “It appears that this was the only tree in the wood to be felled and then completely removed at a time when it contained an active goshawk nest” adding that raptor persecution is a National Wildlife Crime priority and the Goshawk a priority species.Continue reading
Let’s ask ourselves a question: who – or what – uses hundreds of thousands of traps to kill millions of native mammals and birds? Mammals like foxes, stoats, Mountain Hares, and birds like carrion Crows, Jays, and, it turns out – and who knows how often this has happened in the past – Little Owls. These are tiny birds: about the size of a starling, or 22 cms (8.7 in). They typically breed in small holes or clefts, and will often hunt for food by swooping to the ground and running after their prey (small mammals), chasing them into tunnels. Ground-based traps with open entrances which are designed to kill mustelids. It seems inconceivable that ‘accidents’ like this haven’t happened more regularly. We’ll never know of course because few of us are looking into traps, and even fewer are doing so before gamekeepers empty those traps and dispose of evidence. The thanks of all of us should go to the member of the public who discovered this shocking example of gamekeeping’s grim toll on our wildlife, and kudos to the National Anti Snaring Campaign who reported it on Facebook.Continue reading
“No-one seems to know about it…”, says Channel 4 News reporter Alex Thomson as yet another grouse shooter on The Duchy of Lancaster’s Goathland Moor walks away claiming to know nothing about the illegal killing of a Goshawk by a gamekeeper on the very same moor just a few months ago. The superb Raptor Persecution UK popularised the term ‘wilful blindness’ to characterise the head-in-the-sand attitude of the entire shooting industry when confronted with wildlife crime and boy was it ever on show last night…Continue reading
The media stories triggered by the filming of a ‘masked man’ killing a Goshawk, one of the UK’s rarest and most persecuted birds of prey, continue to build. Today the Yorkshire Post is reporting that three gamekeepers have been suspended (note ‘suspended’, we discuss this in the full post). Firstly though, Goshawks are routinely killed on shooting estates, so why has this bird made the headlines?
Four elements stand out that have probably helped this particular case gain traction…
A couple of days ago news broke that a ‘masked man’ had been filmed killing a Goshawk on an estate in North Yorkshire. At the time the name of the estate was being withheld as a story was being prepared for a major newspaper. That voluntary embargo has now been lifted. An article with an accompanying video was published just after midnight this morning in The Times which was headlined “‘Killing’ of rare bird of prey filmed on one of Queen’s grouse moors in North Yorkshire”. The incident took place at “Goathland Moor in North Yorkshire, part of the Duchy of Lancaster”.Continue reading
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.. The latest act of criminality involves a ‘masked man’ on an as yet unnamed shooting estate killing a Goshawk in a cage trap. Is there any chance that ‘masked man’ wasn’t a gamekeeper? No charges have been brought yet but let’s speculate…Continue reading