RSPB Scotland: 2011 persecution report published

RSPB Scotland has just published its latest report, The Illegal Killing of Birds of Prey in Scotland in 2011. You probably won’t be surprised or shocked by the content, especially if you’ve read the previous 17 annual reviews. In fact, when you read this 18th review, you might get a strong sense of déjà vu.

It opens with a Foreword by Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland. Apart from the new photo, this foreword looks like a cut and paste job from the 2010 report, with a few words or sentences added or adjusted. To be fair, not much has changed since the 2010 report was published so perhaps he felt justified in repeating what he’d written the previous year.

Then there are RSPB Scotland’s strategic recommendations for addressing raptor persecution. Again, these show a remarkable similarity to the recommendations made in the 2010 report, and also in the 2009 report. The recommendations were / are still good and to see them repeated again is a useful indicator of how little progress has been made by those with the power to push them forward.

Next come the tables showing the confirmed and probable persecution incidents recorded by the RSPB during 2011. It’s these tables that the game-shooting lobby usually object too – they’re especially reluctant to accept the ‘probable’ incidents although to date, they’ve failed to provide a convincing argument to account for any of them.

The data in the 2011 tables demonstrate once again that illegal raptor persecution is widespread, with incidents reported in Perthshire, Angus, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries-shire, East Ayrshire, Borders and Inverness-shire. We counted 15 very familiar-sounding locations within these regions, although there are a few notable absentees this time. Have they stopped their criminal activities or have they just got better at covering up? Time will tell.

Just focusing on the confirmed incidents, in total 17 incidents of deliberate poison abuse were confirmed during 2011, involving 20 victims: 7 buzzards, 4 red kites, 1 golden eagle, 2 peregrines, 2 ravens and 4 other bird species. Sixteen other illegal incidents relating to shooting, nest destruction, and the use of uncovered spring traps or cage traps were confirmed. The victims included 8 buzzards, 2 peregrines, 1 goshawk, 1 sparrowhawk, 2 kestrels and 1 short-eared owl. As in previous years, not all of these incidents were publicised at the time they occurred. It’s a continual disappointment that several years have to pass before the public learns of these appalling crimes.

Once again the occupations and interests of those convicted for illegal raptor persecution crime have been analysed (data from 2003-2011 inclusive). 87% of them were gamekeepers (7% pigeon racers, 3% pest controllers, 3% farmers).

The report includes an interesting case study of poisoned raptors that have been found in recent years on the Glen Kyllachy and Farr Estate near Inverness. Very little of this information has been previously published and certainly this is the first time these photographs have been published. It’s a shame it’s taken several years for the info and images to reach the public domain but nevertheless it’s very encouraging to see RSPB Scotland highlight these cases, especially as Northern Constabulary hasn’t bothered.

All in all the report makes for grim reading, but nobody should be surprised by that. We all owe a large debt of gratitude to the RSPB’s Investigations Team for meticulously collecting these data and especially for making them publically available.


Here’s some media coverage:

RSPB Scotland press release here

BBC news article here

STV news article here

Herald Scotland article here

Scottish Gamekeepers Association: statement here

Scottish Land and Estates: nothing yet

@SNHMedia: “SNH report finds vast majority of gamekeepers highly qualified”. Link to this.

PAW Scotland: nothing yet

7 thoughts on “RSPB Scotland: 2011 persecution report published”

  1. From the BBC and SGA – Mr Hogg said: “This is at a time when raptor numbers are, in many cases, the highest ever recorded and more and more people are losing increasing number of livestock to birds of prey, putting jobs and families at risk in a difficult time for the Scottish economy”. Am I not getting something here? Have you ever read such arrant tosh? And more of the same old hand wringing from the rspb (underserving of capitalisation).

    “We all owe a large debt of gratitude to the RSPB’s Investigations Team for meticulously collecting these data and especially for making them publically available” – Yes. Another report. Just what was needed. And we’d owe a larger debt of gratitude for a few high profile court cases and a few hefty sentences. Perhaps spend some of the profits from the next bird fair on some investigative research or a 25k reward for information leading to a successful prosecution? SSPCA anyone?

  2. Quote: “SNH report finds vast majority of gamekeepers highly qualified”.

    I agree gamekeepers are the most highly qualifed, they are qualified in the art of murdering our protected wildlife and getting away with it scot free. They have vast experience in using all illegal methods to slaughter the Raptors as never before. They are adept in the use of poisons, traps, guns and a variety of other methods in their relentless onslaught of eradication. Their skills in how to avoid being caught at it and the sly underhand methods used to hide the evidence are well known. Yes I have to agree with SNH, they are extremely well qualified.

  3. I see when reading the tosh about (wrongful actions of a tiny minority) on the SGA web site, that on the news item previous to this, that some low life stole a Hunting Chair from an estate near Kilearn and that the police are on the case. Well if the police pursue this “wildlife crime” with there usual efficiency the estate will wait a very long time before they get it back. You never know it’s absence might mean that a few Raptors/Deer/Hares/Rabbits/Crows etc etc may well survive a few days longer.

    1. And surprise surprise they’re questioning the validity of the RSPB’s data. Apparently these data haven’t been ‘verified’ by other PAW members. Presumably, as the RSPB work so closely with the police, then the individual police forces can ‘verify’ all the recorded incidents that weren’t the victims of illegal poisoning and thus verified by SASA (i.e. the shot ones, the trapped ones, the beaten to death with a stick ones etc).

      It’s also unsurprising to read this:

      “This is at a time when raptor numbers are, in many cases, the highest ever recorded and more and more people are losing increasing number of livestock to birds of prey, putting jobs and families at risk in a difficult time for the Scottish economy”.

      First of all it’s total bollocks to suggest that “raptor numbers are, in many cases, the highest ever recorded”. Don’t they read the scientific papers? What have golden eagles, hen harriers, red kites and goshawks all got in common in Scotland? Their populations are limited by illegal persecution. FACT. There may well be other species too, although the scientific studies have not yet been published.

      Second, where are these people whose jobs and families are at risk [because of birds of prey]? There are certainly a few gamekeepers who have lost their jobs and thus put their families at risk through their own criminal activities (i.e. they’ve been caught either trying to kill, or killing birds of prey). But the inference from the SGA’s statement is that innocent people are also ‘at risk’. Let’s have some genuine examples, not some imaginary friends.

      There’s no doubt that the SGA has publicly condemned illegal raptor persecution time and time again. But the incidents we keep writing about on this blog speak for themselves. Perhaps the SGA aren’t as influential as they like to think?

      Instead of trying to discredit the RSPB’s stats, how about we see the SGA and Scottish Land & Estates publically expel the criminals in their midst? If they did that then MAYBE they’d carry a bit more influence/credibility.

  4. The SGA are running scared of rogue gamekeepers, they know who they are but do nothing! another year and another long list of illegal killings, how many gamekeepers have been kicked out for bringing shame on their industrywhat information is the SGA holding back after doing their own investigations, the SGA remind me of the wizard of oz, no brains, no courage and no heart

  5. The only rogue gamekeepers, [edited] are the individuals who don’t do what’s expected of them and persecute the Raptors at every opportunity. They’re the ones who are in the minority.

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