And so it continues….
Today, the Scottish Government agency responsible for reporting on poisoned animals released the stats for the first quarter of this year (i.e. Jan-March 2013).
You will not be surprised to learn that, yet again, poisoning incidents have taken place and Police Scotland have chosen to suppress the information.
The data confirm that a poisoned red kite was discovered in March in ‘Central Scotland’ – no detailed location information given, naturally. Lab tests show it had been poisoned with Mevinphos. Four months for that information to slip out in a largely un-read government report. The level of secrecy involved in these cases is quite remarkable.
The data also show the poisoned baits that were uncovered at Leadhills in March – interestingly, they confirm the presence of Carbofuran but don’t comment on the number of baits found (which we know was a considerable number – see here) but they do say the baits were found inside gamebags. Four months on from the discovery and we’re still waiting for Police Scotland to make a public statement, not least to warn residents and visitors about the discovery of potentially fatal poison in a publicly-accessible location.
Also included in the data is the discovery of a Carbofuran-laced pigeon bait in Tayside in February 2013. Again, where was/is the public warning from Police Scotland?
It’s just bloody pathetic. Don’t tell us that the information has been suppressed for ‘operational’ reasons – that’s totally ridiculous and isn’t fooling anyone. The suppression of information benefits the landowners and gamekeepers – nobody else.
Compare this suppression of information with the work of Police Wildlife Crime Officers in Devon & Cornwall. Two of their WCOs – PC Josh Marshall and PC Paul Freestone – are so amazingly proactive that as well as having their own personal wildlife crime blogs (here and here), they’ve even set up a Wildlife Crime Group blog for their area (see here). On this blog, you’ll find information providing tips and advice about different types of wildlife crime, as well as information about specific alleged offences. For example, here they report on the recent suspected poisoning of two buzzards, and even provide photographs – all within a few days of the alleged crime being reported. Hats off to those two guys – committed, proactive, helpful and informative (although if you’re reading this Josh & Paul, you might want to revise your information about potential threats to harriers!!).
Back to Scotland….we would like to know why Police Scotland consistently fails to inform the public about alleged raptor persecution incidents, especially those involving the discovery of highly dangerous banned poisons in public areas. The public has a right to be kept informed. Sure, the Police may need a few weeks to conduct their initial investigations without letting on what they’re up to – as we’ve said over and over and over again, nobody in their right mind would want to interfere with that process and jeopardise a potential prosecution – but when it gets to three, four, five months after the incident and its bloody obvious that the investigation is dead in the water, then what possible reason is there for withholding the information, putting the lives of people and animals at risk? Here are some reasons: wanting to appease the landowners and gamekeepers on whose land the poison had been found, and wanting to appease the wider gameshooting industry who just hate to have the truth exposed about poisoning and the other methods of persecution that are being used against raptors on a regular basis.
If you’re also curious about the blanket suppression of information, you could always email the new Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Portfolio Leader, Detective Superintendent Cameron Cavin, and ask him to explain. One question to ask, as a friendly opener, nothing more, might be whether he has ever held membership in a game-shooting organisation, like, ooh, er, let’s say BASC for example, and if so, whether that membership is still held?…. Coincidentally, Det. Super. Cavin also just happens to have strong connections with central Scotland so he might also have information about the progress of the case concerning the poisoned red kite found there in March, or perhaps about the buzzard found there in March that had been caught in an illegal trap and had to be euthanised as a result of its injuries (see here). Bear in mind if you do email him, he’s obliged to reply within 20 working days so he can’t just ignore you, although obviously he can choose to fob you off without providing a satisfactory answer.