Peregrine Falcon Shot and Injured

A male peregrine falcon has been shot and badly injured on the banks of the River Eden near Armathwaite in Cumbria.

A cyclist found the bird flapping in a field, bundled him up in a towel and put him in his rucksack before cycling to Carlisle to seek veterinary assistance.

Vet Edda Pohlandt, of Falcon Vets, London Road, Carlisle said: “The man who brought him in was cycling from Penrith to Carlisle for a physio appointment when he came across the bird. “He brought him straight in and I took a look at him. I did an x-ray and saw the pellet and the shattered bones. I put him under anaesthetic and then operated on him”

The injured wing must be kept in a sling for four weeks before Edda can carry out another x-ray. She said: “Birds tend to heal faster than humans. I’ll make a decision in a few weeks whether or not to take the pins out and see how he goes.

We have no further information at this stage as to any possible police enquiry

More on this story –

And here –

Hogg-wash and the WANE Bill at Langholm.


As most readers of this blog will be aware the Scottish Government introduced the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) bill to parliament on 9th June 2010.

The purpose of this bill is to modernise game law, abolish the designation ‘areas of special protection’, improve snaring practice, regulate invasive non-native species, change the licensing system for protected species, amend current arrangements for deer management and deer stalking, strengthen protection of badgers, change how muirburn can be practised, and make operational changes to the management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The bill (as introduced) can be seen here.

The Rural Affairs and Environment Committee has been appointed the lead committee to scrutinise the bill and as such has called on various bodies to provide views on the general principles of the bill.

Written submissions can be read here.

Naturally the most important issue on this bill, from a raptor conservation aspect, will be any change to the licensing system for protected species which could theoretically pave the way for the licensed killing of raptors in Scotland.

In a change to the usual passage of such bills the 18th meeting was held in The Buccleuch Centre in Langholm on 7th September 2010 . A full transcript of the meeting can be viewed here.

(The most relevant discussion involving raptors commences at col 2991)

Alex Hogg (chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association) had much to say on the subject of the licensed killing of raptors and ravens. Mr Hogg pleaded his case saying –

I only have a problem with young rogue buzzards. If I could deal with those specific ones, the problem would stop, I am quite sure. A lot of money would be lost to the rural economy if every shoot in Scotland ended up losing poults. A pheasant poult is worth the same as a lamb—it is worth about £35 when it is shot, and that is a huge amount of income for the rural economy. All that we are asking for is something to deal with specific rogue birds. We do not feel that a huge number would be involved,

Mr Hogg forgot to mention that his last application to the Scottish Government was to kill 12 buzzards on his estate alone, is that a few rogues? And that multiplied by the number of shooting estates in Scotland! Mr Hogg also omitted to expand upon his valuation of his pheasant poults. On an average pheasant shoot the number of pheasants shot is (optimistically) around 50% of the number of poults released so Mr Hogg’s pheasant poult is actually worth £17.50 As he already stated that his employers shoot is a small family operation, i.e. non commercial, it could be argued that they are in fact worth considerably less.

Mr Hogg went on to comment about the “fantastic”number of raptors in Scotland. He obviously fails to mention the vast tracts of Scotland’s uplands where raptors could be expected to be found, but invariably aren’t, these areas being generally termed “grouse moors”

  We have worked hard to reduce wildlife crime, and anybody who is caught poisoning any birds of prey will be thrown out of the SGA. Nevertheless, I point out that the numbers of birds of prey in Scotland are at a fantastic high. We have 440 pairs of golden eagles and more than 700 pairs of harriers, whereas there is nothing in England at all. Our raptor population has not stopped rising since the 1960s. The incidence of bird poisoning rose last year, but I am sure that, through peer pressure over the next couple of years, it will go down to nearly zero, although we will not get rid of poisoning. It is like rape and murder—it will always be there. We will try our hardest to drive it out of the country. However, we also need some means of managing the raptor population, the raven population or whatever population we are trying to balance with our work in the countryside. 

Mr Hogg is often telling us that poisoned raptors are planted on shooting estates and gamekeepers are blameless scapegoats, therefore it’s hard to understand why he thinks that peer pressure will stop raptor poisoning. Is this an admission that gamekeepers are carrying out raptor persecution crimes?

Mr Hogg’s finale was his roadmap to stop wildlife crime in Scotland which can basically be summarised as “give me my licence to shoot buzzards and wildlife crime is a thing of the past” !

  I feel that wildlife crime would stop in the next two or three years if we could address the question that Mike Russell asked, which was how many is too many. How many hen harriers does Langholm need? How many raptors, ravens, rabbits or whatever does an estate need? An estate needs to be managed and kept in balance with nature. It is dead easy to make a political decision about enforcement—to say, “We should jail people for 20 years”—but we should try to get people around a table to try to get them to come to a commonsense solution that everyone will benefit from. People who are involved in wildlife tourism, grouse shooting and the private estates all want the same thing, so we must be able to get around a table and thrash out the issues until we get an answer.

Is anyone fooled by Alex Hogg’s apparent willingness to negotiate? Certainly, the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee asked some very well-informed and revealing questions.  Mr Hogg and the SGA appear to be desperately trying to drum up some support for the licensed killing of raptors. We can only hope that the committee recognises and appreciates the damage that this proposed legislation could cause Scotland’s reputation across the world as an environmentally responsible, modern and forward thinking country.

eagle killers getting away with it

The aim of this blog is to monitor the occurrence of illegal raptor persecution incidents across Scotland, and to report on the outcome of each case. As you will already know from reading the blog entries, persecution incidents have been occurring for many years and involve most of our raptor species, including golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, red kites, hen harriers, buzzards, goshawks, sparrowhawks, ospreys, kestrels and owls. Let’s see what progress, if any, has been made by our law enforcement bodies,  starting with our most iconic species, the golden eagle and white-tailed eagle.

When the news hits that another eagle has been illegally poisoned or shot, there is, quite rightly, public outrage. Each event is usually followed by a statement from those responsible for upholding the law that they are determined to stamp out these crimes and bring the guilty party to justice. Let’s see how well they’ve been doing. The following is a review of cases involving 13 dead eagles since 2006:

MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle is found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Grampian Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, nearly 4.5 years later, no arrests have been made.


 JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle is found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launch an investigation. As of September 2010, nearly 4.5 years later, no arrests have been made.




AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle is found on a Peebleshire estate. A post-mortem reveals she has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. This female was part of the only breeding pair of golden eagles remaining in the Scottish Borders. She had a young dependent chick still in the nest. Lothian & Borders Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, over 3 years later, no arrests have been made. 



AUTUMN 2007: Tayside Police receive a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) has allegedly been shot on an estate in Angus. The tip-off included the name of the alleged shooter and that the body had been burned to hide the evidence. ‘Bird N’ was part of the cohort of reintroduced sea eagles that were donated by Norway and released in Scotland in August 2007. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. As of September 2010, 3 years later, no arrests have been made.

MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle who hatched on Mull in 2007 and was known as ‘White G’ is found dead on the Glenquoich Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals he has been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that includes Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also reveals a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fenceposts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests reveal the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contain the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. As of September 2010, nearly 2.5 years later, no arrests have been made.

JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle is found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launch an investigation and state they are “following a positive line of inquiry“. As of September 2010, 15 months later, the outcome of this “positive line of inquiry” has not been made public.


JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle, known as ‘Alma’, is found dead on the Millden Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals she has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Alma is a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements were followed by thousands on the internet. Tayside Police launch an investigation. As of September 2010, over a year later, no arrests have been made.

AUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle is found dead on Glenogil Estate, Angus. A post-mortem reveals it has been poisoned by the illegal pesticide, Carbofuran. Reports circulate that this bird actually died in March 2009, but RSPB fieldworkers could not locate the transmitter signal. The decomposed body was eventually found in August 2009, after an expert fieldworker was brought in. Tayside Police did not release a press statement about this alleged persecution incident until January 2010, 6 months after the dead body was discovered, and probably 9 months after it was killed. As of September 2010, over a year later, no arrests have been made.

MAY 2010: Three dead golden eagles are found on Skibo Estate, Sutherland. They are found with a dead buzzard and a dead sparrowhawk. All are suspected victims of illegal poisoning and the bodies are sent for forensic post-mortem in Edinburgh. Northern Constabulary launch an investigation. As of September 2010, 4 months later, the post-mortem results have not been made publicly available. The result of the police investigation has also not been made publicly available. UPDATE Nov 2010: SASA report indicates the golden eagles were poisoned.

JUNE 2010: Two dead eagles are discovered on a grouse moor nr Inverness. The golden eagle and the white-tailed eagle were collected by the RSPB and sent to the SASA lab for inspection. They are later confirmed to have been poisoned by Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary does not make any public appeal for information – nor does the RSPB. You have to ask why not?

osprey that died in Caithness had been shot

Further to the post on 15 Sept 2010 about the opsrey that died from intentionally-inflicted injuries after being found in Caithness – according to The Northern Times  it has now been confirmed that this was a young bird that died from gunshot injuries.

The Northern Times story here:

RSPB Birdcrime 2009 Report Shows Continuing Raptor Persecution

The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime 2009 report was published today and shows that 2009 was the second worst year for raptor persecution in the last decade.

This depressing report shows that there were 384 reported persecution incidents against birds of prey in the UK  during 2009, 123 in Scotland, 224 in England, 17 in Wales and 11 in Northern Ireland, 9 incidents could not be allocated to a single country and were recorded at a UK level. Incidents include trapping, shooting, poisoning and nest destruction.

Again the trend showed that most incidents involved game shooting interests with a bias towards the upland grouse moors in Scotland and Northern England where the main victims of persecution are: golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, hen harrier, goshawk, peregrine and red kite.

In the report, the RSPB has made 11 recommendations for government action, so that these appalling crimes can be eradicated. These include the introduction of a “vicarious liability” offence which would make land managers and owners responsible for the actions of their employees.

Despite several successful prosecutions the conviction rate and subsequent sentencing appears pitifully poor and ineffective.

Full RSPB Report –


gamekeeper claims poisoned red kite was “planted”

poisoned red kite

An un-named gamekeeper from the estate in Tayside where a poisoned red kite was found in July 2010 has denied all involvement and claims the dead bird was “planted“.

The self-proclaimed SGA member said: “There is something funny about this and I think someone else has killed this bird and planted it on my estate. Why they have done that, I don’t know“.  This view will come as no surprise to the regular readers of this blog – it is the standard line that is heard so often from the SGA.

He went on: “Anybody who does this should be jailed because it’s not on and I have never done anything like this in my life“.

Interesting that over the last 15 years, the following have all been found dead, confirmed poisoned, on this estate: 9 buzzards, 2 sparrowhawks, 2 crows, 1 gull, 1 tawny owl, 1 pole cat, 1 domestic cat, and now 1 red kite. In addition, 12 poisoned baits have been discovered there (see blog post Aug 27 2010). Whoever is doing the “planting” is managing to maintain a long-term campaign of illegal killing.

Full article about the un-named gamekeeper in The Courier here:

osprey dies from deliberately-inflicted injuries in Highlands

Northern Constabulary have launched an investigation after an osprey has died from what the police are calling ‘deliberately-inflicted injuries’. The osprey was rescued from close to the River Dunbeath in Caithness on Monday. It received veterinary attention but died from its injuries.

BBC news story:

Northern Constabulary appeal for information:

UPDATE 18 Sept: It has now been confirmed this osprey had been shot:

Young red kite shot dead in Cumbria

30 young red kites were released into the Grizedale Forest in August 2010

Just five weeks after being released as part of the latest red kite reintroduction scheme, a young male kite has been found dead in Artengill, Cumbria. A post mortem examination revealed the young bird had been shot 4 times in the chest.

Police have begun an investigation, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

Will the culprit be brought to justice? Unlikely. It is yet another disgusting mindless act of violence by someone in the shooting community who knows he/she will get away with it. How many more of these incidents are we going to have to read about?

BBC news story here:

Cumbria Police Appeal for Information here:

The young male was identified by his wing tag

SGA wants buzzards back on the vermin list

A recent episode of Fieldsports TV was dedicated entirely to the views of the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association Chairman, Alex Hogg, who, according to the programme’s presenter, wants buzzards back on the ‘vermin’ list. And there was me thinking we were in 2010, not 1910.

What justification does Alex use to support this Victorian attitude?  “The biodiversity in Scotland is seriously being threatened by buzzards“. Presumably then, Alex doesn’t view buzzards as a fundamental component of biodiversity! I would argue that biodiversity in Scotland is seriously being threatened, but not by buzzards, nor any other predator for that matter, but by the actions of those gamekeepers who persecute raptors and also release millions of non-native gamebirds into the environment with little apparent consideration for the ecological impact of these birds.

In the revealing interview, Alex argues for the provision of government-endorsed licences to kill buzzards. He then realises that this view probably does not fit with the recent image he has been trying to portray of the gamekeeper, and that his view is probably going to be distasteful to the majority of the general public, so he modifies it by saying, “We don’t need a licence to kill that many – it’s just a few rogue buzzards“. Are these “few rogue buzzards” in addition to the many buzzards (and kites, eagles, harriers, peregrines, goshawks, sparrowhawks, owls) that continue to be illegally persecuted by gamekeepers across Scotland? And how many is “just a few“? In his recent application for a licence to kill buzzards on the estate where he works, he asked to kill 12. Let’s do a crude estimate here – let’s say there are approximately 400 sporting estates in Scotland, and each one wants to kill 12 buzzards a year – that would be a total of 4,800 buzzards killed per year. Hardly “a few“.

If you want to hear more of Alex’s views, the episode is available on YouTube here:

dead buzzards spark police probe in Badenoch

A dead buzzard

Police have begun an investigation into the possible poisoning of buzzards in the Scottish Highlands area of Badenoch.

Northern Constabulary said a member of the public had found a dead buzzard on an un-named (of course) sporting estate at the weekend. A follow-up search by the police led to the discovery of a second buzzard.

Tests are currently being carried out to determine whether the birds were poisoned.

BBC news story:

Northern Constabulary appeal for information: