msps told illegal killing is threatening raptor populations in Scotland

Yesterday, Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee was told that the illegal killing of raptors on Scottish sporting estates is jeopardising raptor populations. The Committee was hearing the details of the RSPB petition, signed by over 220,000 people in the UK (including nearly 22,000 people in Scotland) and submitted to the government in March 2010. The petition (#PE1315) calls for an increase in government efforts to clamp down on illegal raptor persecution.

You can watch the proceedings on ‘Holyrood TV’ – the first 43 minutes of the video concern the raptor discussion: Look for the category 4/5/2010.

The MSPs agreed to pursue the petition by writing to the government, police chiefs and landowners’ groups. Whilst this may appear to be a step in the right direction, the status quo remains. We already know what the responses will be:

The government will trot out the same old lines about how determined they are to stamp out raptor persecution and will point towards their involvement with PAW to demonstrate their concern. The police will say they are working hard to catch the perpetrators and cannot discuss on-going cases. The landowners’ groups will say that the persecution will only stop if they are given licences to kill predators legally. Yaddah yaddah yaddah. You only have to read this blog to know that persecution continues relentlessly, the police are ineffective and PAW hasn’t acheived anything of significance since it was established.

The key question is – what ACTION will be taken to stop raptor persecution on Scottish sporting estates?

Click here to read the details of the petition: PE1315

Click here for the news story:

spate of recent poisonings kills eagles, kites, buzzards & peregrine

One of the dead white-tailed sea eagles undergoing post mortem

A disgraceful spate of recent poisonings in Ireland has resulted in the death of 2 white-tailed sea eagles, 1 golden eagle, 3 red kites, 3 buzzards and a peregrine.

The sea eagles were poisoned by the illegal pesticide carbofuran. The golden eagle, kites, buzzards and peregrine were killed by alphachloralose, a pesticide still manufactured and legally available in Ireland.

Police investigations are underway.

For the full sorry story:

estate owner gets apology after being called an “arrogant old bastard” by wildlife crime officer

The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, John McNeill, has told Tayside Police that they must deliver an ‘unreserved apology’ for derogatory comments made about an estate owner during an alleged wildlife crime incident.

The investigation centred around allegations from two former gamekeepers that their employer had instructed them to kill any buzzards that were caught in crow traps on the estate. During the investigation, the estate owner became aware that Tayside Police’s civilian wildlife crime officer had referred to the estate owner as an “arrogant old bastard”. The estate owner made a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Commissioner, and also complained about his arrest, which he said caused “unneccesary distress” to his family.

Alan Stewart

The civilian wildlife crime officer in question might be Alan Stewart, a high-profile former police inspector who has been investigating wildlife crime in Tayside for a number of years and is the only one listed on the Tayside Police website:

To read the Police Complaints Commissioner’s report in full: PCCS_-_1004-2010-00491-PF-TP_-_Final_report

Of course, while all this name-calling and crying to the police has been going on, the real issue of importance (the alleged illegal killing of buzzards on this estate) has been conveniently buried.

This is not the first time that Tayside Police’s effectiveness has been called into question. Earlier in 2010, the RSPB launched a stinging attack on Tayside Police for its apparent ‘lack of follow up’ on several alleged wildlife crimes in the region. The most prominent of these was the incident involving a poisoned white-tailed sea eagle that had been found dead on Glenogil Estate in August 2009. Tayside Police did not make an appeal for information until 6 months later, and only then because a local newspaper began to ask questions:–