Five separate poisoning incidents unreported at end of 2010

Earlier this month, PAW Scotland released the ‘2010 poisoning hotspots’ maps as part of their annual reporting. Along with the maps, they released a report called ‘Bird of Prey Poisoning Incidents 2006 to 2010 – Incident Details’. Here is a PDF of that report: 0114784

The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the ‘incident details’ are about as vague as you can get. However, the report does have its uses. There appear to be five separate poisoning incidents that took place between October and December 2010 that were not apparently reported/publicised in the press; three incidents in Tayside and one each in Lothian & Borders and Strathclyde. An internet search has failed to locate any information about these cases. Why do you think Tayside Police, Lothian Police, Strathclyde Police, and the RSPB (if they were involved in the investigation) were so quiet about these incidents?

Ref 10192: 1 buzzard poisoned by carbofuran, 2 pigeon baits. Oct 2010, Tayside.

Ref 10196: 2 buzzards poisoned by carbofuran isofenphos. Oct 2010, Tayside.

Ref: 10204: 1 buzzard poisoned by carbofuran. Nov 2010, Lothian & Borders.

Ref 10206: 1 buzzard poisoned by carbofuran, 1 pheasant bait. Nov 2010, Strathclyde.

Ref 10225: 1 red kite poisoned by chloralose. Dec 2010, Tayside.

Update on Moy Estate case

Following our blog posts on 3 June 2010 and 4 June 2010…….

According to an article published in the Press & Journal last week, two men will appear at Inverness Sheriff Court next month to face charges following the police raid on Moy Estate last June.

Gamekeepers James Rolfe (now 20), of The Gate Lodge, Moy, and Wayne Grant (now 32), of Limetree Cottage, Moy, are charged with offences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Rolfe is accused of possessing a dead red kite at the Gate Lodge, Moy, on June 3 2010, while Grant is charged with having 56 black-headed gull eggs in an out-building at his home on the same date.

The case was called at Inverness Sheriff Court last week but neither defendant was at the hearing. Fiscal depute Karen Smith said that lawyers for the two men had asked for the case to be continued without plea. The case was adjourned until 7 April 2011.

Thank you to the contributor who sent us a copy of this newspaper article. We have been unable to find an on-line link.

Gamekeeper charged with wildlife crime offences on Inverinate Estate

The case against a gamekeeper accused of wildlife crime offences began at Inverness Sheriff Court last week. Andrew Slaughter, 34, of Faddock, Killialan, Kyle, faces two charges under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 in connection with setting a spring trap at Glen Elchaig on Inverinate Estate on 22 September 2010.

He also faces a charge under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 that he failed to ensure that a crow which was caught in a trap was “provided with adequate shelter and protection from adverse weather”. A fourth charge states that he “set a spring trap which was capable of catching birds, pine martins, badgers and otters”, contrary to the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948.

Slaughter, who did not appear in court, had his case continued without plea until 7 April 2011.

Thank you to the contributor who sent us a copy of the newspaper report about this article (published in Press & Journal, 18 March 2011). We could not find an on-line link to this article.

Inverinate Estate, close to the Isle of Skye, is believed to be owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, crown prince and ruler of Dubai. He is thought to have bought the 63,000 acre estate for £2 million 25 years ago. The Sheikh, worth an estimated £12 billion, is believed to visit the estate with his family for a few weeks every year in the summer.

Two dead peregrines in Motherwell: strychnine poisoning confirmed

Two dead peregrines were found at the same location in Motherwell, near Glasgow, on two consecutive days in February. Tests revealed they had both been poisoned by strychnine. Strychnine is a banned pesticide, outlawed in the UK since September 2006 by the EU’s Biocide Directive, which states that it can no longer be sold or stored in the UK. Strychnine causes muscle spasms and violent seizures, acute pain and respiratory difficulties before death.

The first dead body was found at the foot of the high-rise block of flats called Coursington Tower, Motherwell, on February 15 2011. The second body was found in the same place the following day. This location is just a few metres away from a primary school and it is fortunate that the bodies were not picked up or handled by passing school children. Strychnine poisoning can be fatal in humans after absorption, inhalation or swallowing.

Interesting to note that the location where the bodies were found is also within a couple of miles of a racing pigeon club. Although the racing pigeon community does not have such a bad record as the gamekeeping community for raptor persecution, they do have a track record and peregrines are one of their well-publicised targets for hatred.

Well done to the SSPCA for taking the lead on this investigation. Anyone with information about this incident should call in confidence to the SSPCA helpline: 03000 999 999.

News story here:

2010 map of shame: raptor poisoning on the increase (again)

Here we go again…..the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) has published the latest raptor persecution ‘hot-spot’ map based on the official poisoning figures from 2010. Surprise surprise, the number of confirmed poisonings in 2010 was higher than in 2009 and, once again, incidents were recorded throughout the length of mainland Scotland.

Once again, the map refers only to confirmed poisoning incidents – it does not indicate the locations where poisoned baits were discovered. Why not? It also does not indicate any other type of illegal raptor persecution incident such as shooting, trapping, beating, trampling, nest destruction, egg-stealing or other types of deliberate interference. Why not? It doesn’t name the estates where poisoned raptors were discovered. Why not? It doesn’t name the estates where poisoned baits were discovered. Why not? Same old, same old – these were the very questions we were asking this time last year and no doubt we’ll be asking them again next year when yet again, nothing has changed:

The Scottish Government said the latest maps (both the 2010 map and the cumulative 2006-2010 map) were put together based on SASA data, with input from the government, RSPB Scotland and the SRPBA. I wonder what the SRPBA’s contribution was? Perhaps they were looking over the shoulder of the map-designer and making sure the hotspots were edged an inch or two away from some of their members’ estate boundaries? Heaven forbid that the finger of suspicion should point toward an SRPBA member – they all love raptors and its just a very unhappy coincidence that the land they manage seems to be devoid of hen harriers and eagles and red kites and peregrines and goshawks….

In a statement, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “It’s disappointing to see that there has been no improvement in the number of birds of prey being deliberately and illegally poisoned in Scotland in the last twelve months. The fact that 132 of these iconic species have been targeted in the last five years is unacceptable.

It’s especially sad that some of the victims, such as sea eagles, are part of reintroduction programmes and there really has to be a change in attitude amongst those who are persistently involved in killing raptors.

We are taking measures to tackle this problem and have introduced a new vicarious liability offence as part of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill to make sure that those who direct or turn a blind eye to bird persecution can be held to account.

I also fully support the work of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, which is looking at developing innovative ways to address this persistent problem.”

Ah yes, the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, whose members include representatives from certain organisations who refuse to even accept that hen harrier persecution is an issue, let alone that any of their members could possibly be responsible. Does anybody with an ounce of intelligence really expect this group to ‘deliver’ anything other than bland sound bites about ‘partnership working’?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, reports are filtering through of the latest bird of prey poisoning incident in Scotland – more news on this when we can confirm the source.

Link to the PAW Scotland press release on the 2010 raptor poisoning maps:

Tetra Pak heiress accuses lairds of killing golden eagles

Today’s Daily Telegraph newspaper (Sat 12/03/2011) carries the story of wealthy heiress Sigrid Rausing, the owner of Coignafearn Estate in the Monadhliath mountains, who accuses lairds and their gamekeepers of killing golden eagles in Scotland because they believe it is a “victimless crime”.

Sigrid Rausing

In an intelligent and well informed attack on Victorian attitudes to land ownership and management,  Dr Rausing told The Daily Telegraph that many owners of sporting estates took the view that “they own the land, and no one has the right to interfere”. She went on to say, ” On the other hand most landowners are in receipt of quite substantial grants.  There is no reason why the public should pay grants to landowners whose philosophy of land management is hostile to the whole idea that the public has a right to intervene.”

Sigrid Rausing, a philanthropist and publisher who is the daughter of Hans Rausing, the Swedish billionaire whose father built the Tetra Pak packaging empire, is a breath of fresh air in Scottish highland estate ownership. When she took over the estate one of her first actions was to ban the estate keepers from killing raptors and introduce policies at Coignafearn to incorporate a “traditional model of a sporting estate within a conservation model” to prove it is possible to “transcend the hostility between the two ways of viewing land ownership.”

Dr Rausing certainly has not let the grass grow under her feet since she has taken over at Coignafearn as far as encouraging eagles is concerned. Four artificial golden eagle eyries have been built in locations where the birds used to breed and two have been “built up” by immature eagles, but so far no breeding pair has returned.  Dr Rausing has stated the most likely reason is that “individuals have flown over the estate boundary and been killed on other estates”. She added: “The food supply and habitat on Coignafearn is excellent for eagles, with plenty of red grouse, blue hares and red deer grallochs. We also protect blue hares on the estate. At any one time, probably up to ten to 12 juvenile, immature and sub-adult golden eagles might be present on the estate.”

Sigrid Rausing, we applaud your enlightened attitude and congratulate you on your actions to encourage a truly balanced habitat on your estate .

Telegraph article here –

Peregrine Found Shot Dead in Lincoln

Police are investigating after a one-year-old peregrine falcon was found shot dead in Lincoln.

The falcon, which was killed by shotgun wounds, was recovered from Brayford Pool in the city.

It was unclear at first how the bird died, but post-mortem results have confirmed it was shot, Lincolnshire Police said.

Full Story Here –

Wishy Washy WANE Bill

We can expect to see more images like this in the coming years

The long-debated WANE Bill (Wildlife and Natural Environment [Scotland] Bill) was finally passed by the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 2nd March 2011. Talk about a missed opportunity to crack down on an industry that continues to flout the law when it comes to wildlife crime! “The Scottish Government is not prepared to tolerate continued persecution of our magnificent birds of prey. This government is prepared to act to introduce new measures to combat wildlife crime”, said a pig as it flew over Inverness Police Station.

A concise overview of how the final Bill relates to the continuing illegal persecution of our so-called protected raptors can be found here:

While some aspects of the new Bill are to be welcomed, including the introduction of vicarious liability, other measures that could have had a greater impact were refused. One such measure, estate licensing, was turned down in favour of allowing the sporting estates an opportunity to introduce voluntary self-regulation. This manifests itself in the form of the ‘Wildlife Estates Initiative’, dreamt up by the SRPBA in the later stages of the WANE Bill proceedings when it looked like they were under threat from the introduction of a licensing system. Who believes that this ‘initiative’ will work? Isn’t it crystal clear, after five decades of systematic raptor persecution, that the shooting industry has proven itself incapable of voluntary self-regulation? Will the new ‘initiative’ be as lacking in credibility as their May 2010 letter to the Environment Minister that 200+ estate owners signed to say that they opposed raptor poisoning? (The same letter that proved to be highly embarrassing just a few weeks later when multiple poisoned raptors were found on Moy Estate, one of the letter’s signatories). We look forward to watching how their latest ‘initiative’ rolls out, and particularly whether they actually publicise the names of the estates that have signed up to it (information that they have so far failed to make public). If they wish to be taken seriously then transparency will be essential.

In summary, there is as much chance of the current WANE Bill being an effective deterrent to illegal raptor persecution as there is of the SGA opening a wildlife sanctuary. However, full credit should go to Peter Peacock MSP for doing his utmost to secure a safe future for our declining raptor populations. He will be sorely missed when he steps down from politics in May, although we are pleased to note that he intends to lobby his colleagues from the sidelines. RSPB Scotland and the SRSGs also deserve credit for their lobbying efforts throughout the WANE Bill process. Some credit should be given to Roseanna Cunningham for sticking to her guns on the vicarious liability issue, although she loses points for stamping all over some of the other proposals that really could have made a difference.

As we approach the Scottish elections in May, you may want to know how your MSP voted on the raptor persecution issue during the WANE Bill. Check out the official report here:

Songbird Survival hints at experimental raptor cull

In a move that will not surprise anyone who understands the history and background of those involved with the pressure group Gamebird Songbird Survival, their Policy Director Keith McDougall has suggested that in the future, Gamebird Songbird Survival might extend its current experimental cull of corvids to a cull of birds of prey:

Idiots. If you want to read about the ‘science’ that this group uses to justify its thinly-disguised anti-raptor stance (especially their notion that reintroducing white-tailed eagles to East Anglia would decimate the local songbird population – because oh yes, sea eagles are well known for their dietary preference of songbirds), check out their website and read their newsletters – always worth a good laugh:

And then read Animal Aid’s fascinating report on who’s who at Gamebird Songbird Survival:

Holkham Estate advertises for new head gamekeeper

Former Holkham Estate Head Gamekeeper Nicholas Parker’s employers have advertised for a new head keeper in the 2 March edition of the Shooting Times.

Many thanks to the contributor who sent us this copy of the Shooting Times jobs page.