Tag: raptor persecution

JustGiving | Peter Howe’s Project #camtag

The licencing of grouse moors is now the default position for many conservationists working to stop the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers, and while we (mostly) respect the conservationists involved we have very, very little respect for the idea of sanctioning grouse shooting, permitting the ongoing slaughter of native predators in traps and snares, and hoping against hope that the vague threat of an unenforceable licencing system will stop highly experienced wildlife criminals that have been getting away with it for years from continuing on down the same path. Call us cynical, but it seems to us that licencing is exactly what the raptor persecutionists want: once they’ve ticked the box and been granted licences, that will effectively be the end of trying to stop grouse shooting. And while there is grouse shooting there will always be the illegal killing of Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, Goshawks and whatever avian threat estates imagine might impact their profits in the years to come…Is there an alternative? Step forward Peter Howe, founder of 3rd Eye Technology (3ET), and his ingenious idea to develop a tiny camera that could sit alongside the satellite tags that are fitted to more and more birds of prey.

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Natural England and FOI data on Hen Harriers

Natural England comes in for a huge amount of flak because as the government’s conservation watchdog we need it to be effective – but it clearly isn’t. The appointment of Tony Juniper as NE Chair in March 2019 brought a brief flicker of hope that the department would take up the fight for wildlife again, but that hasn’t transpired. NE’s support for the slaughter of badgers to protect dairy farming is an especially egregious example, and there are far too many cases of NE supporting the shooting industry (they work very closely with shooting lobbyists BASC for example and have blocked access to countryside to help out a shoot adjacent to an SSSi in Wiltshire). Surely though NE aren’t deliberately hiding information from the public? After all, it’s we ‘the public’ that fund Natural England. Data on where these birds are being killed comes via satellite-tags that we the taxpayer are buying. We fund the staff working on collecting the data. And of course we pay them to run the epically stupid Hen Harrier ‘brood meddling’ scheme which sees Hen Harrier chicks moved from grouse moors to ‘protect them’ from illegal killing on grouse moors before re-releasing them back into the countryside when of course they fly back to the grouse moors and are illegally killed…

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Poisoned kite first to fledge in Strathspey since 1880

Police Scotland has confirmed that a Red Kite found dead in the Ruthven area near Moy, Tomatinin in October, had been poisoned with a banned pesticide. So another day, another raptor poisoned with a banned pesticide. Which pesticide isn’t identified but it will be one of the eight listed on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005, many of which are well-known to be favoured by certain employees of the shooting ‘community’ for their toxicity: Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide, Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium cyanide and Strychnine. Several of these chemicals are the base ingredients of the infamous ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ which poisoned two spaniels in North Yorkshire in April this year. Inevitably this poisoning has led to a discussion about the licencing of grouse moors. Would a poisoning incident like this have taken place if an estate’s licence to sell Red Grouse to shooters was potentially be at risk? It’s difficult to realistically see what difference licencing would make in cases like this…

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Hen Harriers return to Wharfedale moorland

Well, well, well. Who could possibly have predicted this etc etc. In what must be one of grouse shooting’s worst-case scenarios coming true, a previously ‘dead’ moorland that banned grouse shooting activities (ie high levels of raptor persecution and rotational burning) has reportedly sprung back to life, birds of prey have started to roost, and peatland habitats have begun to regenerate. After all the time and money grouse shooting’s lobbyists have spent telling us that without the skilled management techniques (ie high levels of raptor persecution and rotational burning) of the ‘conservationists with guns’ Britain’s uplands would simply curl up and waste away…Nonsense, of course. Kudos NG Bailey, and kudos the Yorkshire Post and journalist Grace Newton for continuing to speak up for wildlife in a region that has repeatedly been acknowledged as the worst for raptor persecution in the UK

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Shooting | The ‘I was set up’ script

The RSPB Investigations Team have just posted a graphic blog looking at a wildlife crime that apparently – er, isn’t…The difficulties of obtaining prosecutions have been discussed many times before. Without anyone witnessing and recording an individual committing a crime, lawyers will typically fall back on the ‘not enough evidence’ defence. They don’t need to do much more than that. It may be bleeding obvious that an illegal trap used to catch raptors set on the fence of a pheasant shoot is going to have been placed by the gamekeeper (or an employee of the shooting estate) but that’s not enough – no matter how often it happens in exactly the same circumstances. Without video evidence – like the recording of the Goshawk killing on the Duchy of Lancaster’s estate in July – perpetrators of wildlife crime just keep getting away with it. What is particularly striking about this case, though, is that the gamekeeper involved didn’t just retreat into silence, he claimed that he was ‘set up’, saying that “the spring trap would not fit on the post next to where the dead kite was hanging”.

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Another dead Buzzard reinforces the lie of ‘national parks’

Our so-called ‘national parks’ are not what many of us imagine. They are neither wildlerness nor pristine, nor do they protect the wildlife that lives within them. They are in fact largely privately-owned, large areas are run as shooting clubs for the wealthy, and birds of prey especially are probably safer in parks and farmland. The shooting of yet another Buzzard in the wildlife crime hotspot of the Peak District ‘national park’ will come as little surprise to anyone paying attention. Raptors frequently die in ‘national parks’, and we’ve reported on that fact many times. That is because ‘national parks’ are heavily gamekeepered, are blighted with grouse shooting estates, and birds of prey are simply not tolerated. Anyone walking anywhere near a shooting estate in a ‘national park’ looking for birds of prey won’t find them.

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17 White-tailed Eagles killed ‘unnaturally’ in Ireland since 2007

The White-tailed Eagle – one of the world’s largest eagles with a massive average two metre wingspan – was once fairly common throughout much of Europe, and widespread in Scotland and Ireland in the 18th century. More than 100 eyries were known in Britain with at least 50 in Ireland in the early 19th century. By 1900 only a handful of pairs remained on the British Isles, all in Scotland. The last breeding record in Scotland was on the Isle of Skye in 1916, and the last British White-tailed Eagle was shot in Shetland two years later. As became so evident when reintroduction programmes began and pairs rapidly started to establish territories again, habitat loss or a lack of prey was not a factor. As the RSPB states unequivocally, “The species became extinct in the UK as a result of direct and sustained persecution by shepherds, gamekeepers, fishery owners, skin collectors and egg collectors“.

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RSPB | Birdcrime Report released

Every year the RSPB releases a Birdcrime Report (which can be downloaded for free as a pdf). The new report covers 2019, and has a welcome focus on the wildlife crimes that underpin the grouse shooting industry (which the RSPB wants licencing rather than banning outright – something we’ve previously discussed in ‘Grouse Moors | Licencing Slaughter’). The whole report is of course well worth reading. If you’re a lobbyist for the grouse shooting industry you’ve got to hope that no-one finds this thing because it’s incendiary, but if you’re a regular member of the public with a love of birds while the report is quite depressing (despite the positive actions outlined inside) it’s good to see just how pointed the RSPB’s criticism of grouse shooting has become.

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