Golden eagle found poisoned on Angus grouse moor

A two-year old golden eagle named ‘Fearnan’ has been found dead on a Scottish grouse moor. He had been poisoned with a banned pesticide. The poison hasn’t been named but we’ll take an educated guess at Carbofuran, the gamekeepers’ poison of choice.

Interestingly, there are three separate press releases about this latest disgraceful crime:

One from the government via PAW (here)

One from the police (here)

One from RSPB Scotland (here)

Usually, we’re lucky to see anything for at least 4-5 months after the crime so it’s somewhat surprising to see the scuffle for media attention on this one. Could this be a sign that Environment Minister Wheelhouse has put his foot down and demanded that timely press statements are released? We can’t think of any other reason why the police should suddenly change their tactics from seemingly apathetic to seemingly responsive.

Of course, regular blog readers will already know that Fearnan is not the only poisoned eagle to have been found dead in the Angus Glens. In fact, there’s been a fair bit of raptor persecution over the last nine years. Here’s a list of incidents we’ve compiled from various published reports:

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle. Prosecution? Highly unlikely!

We think you’ll agree, this is overwhelming evidence that some people in the Angus Glens are systematically persecuting birds of prey, they have been for many years, and those same people are avoiding criminal justice for their disgusting and illegal activities. We call them The Untouchables.

Why have they been able to avoid prosecution for so long?

Now would be a good time to ask the Environment Minister for an explanation. While you’re at it, please also mention your revulsion about the continued practice of illegal raptor persecution on driven grouse moors. The time for estate licensing is here; the game-shooting industry, quite clearly, cannot or will not self-regulate.  Emails to:

RIP Fearnan.

posioned GE Lethnot 2013

42 thoughts on “Golden eagle found poisoned on Angus grouse moor”

  1. and I see its “the tiny minority” who are at it again! They really get around dont they?. Until such as the scottish government and its ministers grasp the nettle that is widespread persecution of raptors and total disregard for the law, on grouse shooting estates, then we will see this again and again.
    Ban Driven Grouse Shooting its a totally unsustainable and damaging land use.

    1. Utterly sympathise with your views, Dave. However, I do not believe that those who are “at it” are a tiny minority. This an iceberg situation where bulk of the crime is below the surface. I see it where I live and where there is a large pheasant shoot. Trying to do something aboutwildlife crime has been problematic.

      The more that the likes of Raptor Persecution can do to expose what is happening the greater the chance of a positive result.

      The news tonight of the poisoned eagle in Angus has rather wasted my evening.

      1. ‘However, I do not believe that those who are “at it” are a tiny minority’
        I thought he was being sarcastic.

      2. Dougie!!..In 30 years of fighting bird of prey persecution I have never, ever subscribed to the “tiny minority” myth..even when there was a lot of pressure to do so by those naive idiots who think you can reason with tradition driven criminal thugs. I had thought my posting was very clear on that.

        1. Sorry Dave, no personal criticism intended. I read it somewhat differently. I fully go along with your views and what have done/are doing over the years. I am sure that we both share detesting all forms of raptor persecution. Good luck.


    2. If it’s the tiny minority who are responsible for all these Raptor poisonings then it follows that they must be known, how else would they know it’s the tiny minority who are guilty. if that’s the case we should be seeing the SGA reporting this known tiny minority to the police, what’s that you say, some of the tiny minority are possibly members of the SGA, surely not ?

  2. Words fail us at Project Raptor….Well actually they don’t! Was there a police raid on the estate? I wonder if the police were wearing full uniform when they entered the estate to remove the eagle and so alerting any criminals in the area, giving them the opportunity to tidy up? Also, surely a perfect case for vicarious liability? Let’s remember, this bird was sat tagged and so fortunately it was found, but will be just the tip of the iceberg in the number of eagles shot, poisoned or trapped in 2013. These are the vanished, but let’s not forget them either and all the other raptors which have been slaughtered over the past twelve months. Let us use this latest sickening crime to turn the volume up on this issue and go into 2014 with even more determination to uncover, expose and combat this attack on our most magnificent, iconic and supposedly, protected of species. If we can’t even protect raptors here in Scotland then what hope the rest of our wildlife?

    1. Don’t they first have to catch the poisoner which isn’t going to happen and then prove their bosses know about it.
      Vicarious liability is a joke.
      I agree there should have been raids.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Dave Dick – it is time that ‘Driven Grouse Shooting’ was banned, there are obviously far too many wild life criminals involved with it. Ban it and you cut the number of countryside law breakers at a stroke. The land could be used in far more productive ways.

    1. Thanks Chris..that makes two of us!..youll notice I keep saying driven grouse shooting..Im not anti shooting but this “grouse management” system has long ago had its day. Its not even a sensible way to look after grouse with its “boom and bust” cycles and heavy disease burden on the birds.

    2. You can make that three. I would be quite happy if driven grouse shooting was banned, as well as pheasant shooting.

      It would certainly appear that last year’s decline in poisoning incidents could only be described as a temporary blip, as incidents this year have increased dramatically. As for PAWS, it is time that the whole idea is shelved. Conservation organisations, and other organisations and groups that are clearly opposed to the widespread illegal practices being carried out in the countryside, should form their own breakaway group – how can they possibly continue to work alongside organisations that simply refuse to stamp out wildlife crime and refuse to accept the levels of criminal acts being carried out to preserve shooting interests?

      Unsurprisingly, we have the same old shite from the SGA, SLE and the Environment Minister, about “partnership working” and a “minority element”.

      Does anyone know if this estate is a member of SLE?

      1. Four – only too happy for driven grouse and pheasant shooting to be banned. Why no prosecutions for vicarious liability? Could it be that some/many of these are royal estates? Or am I being naive – is it just obvious to everyone else?

  4. Utterly appalling – no end to this. The savages that pollute the shooting fraternity are still endlessly at work. What a bunch of scum these people who do this are. They have no place in a civilised society. All these dodgepots in the Scottish parliament who do not take action to stop this have a lot to answer for,

  5. These Scottish government can hand ring all they want. Simple measure such as allowing video evidence in court plus introducing a licencing system for grouse moors would flush out the criminals. The fact that its nearly 2014 and protected raptors are dieing day in,day out on Scottish shooting estates tells you all you need to know about the governments priorities in this area.

  6. The killing of this golden eagle is beneath contempt. Everyone who is committed to stopping raptor persecution needs make their views known to the Environment Minister.

  7. Totally sickening, enough is enough. Would getting the appropriate evidence and hopefully forcing the closure of a guilty estate cause shock waves through the shooting world and finally get these people to clean up their act?

    1. I doubt it, they have friends in extremely high places, and as far as they are concerned they are doing nothing wrong. I think they believe that because they own the land they can do just as they please with it, and I think they do. I think they actually believe that the wildlife protection laws shouldn’t apply to them and that they are providing a service to the countryside by removing Raptors.

  8. Here is a copy of an email sent to the Environment Minister. Thanks to blog reader Alister Clunas for allowing us to publish it here. By the looks of our blog stats, a lot of people have already clicked on the link to the Minister’s email address. Please keep writing and letting him know how you feel.

    Dear Mr Wheelhouse

    I am appalled that yet another Golden Eagle has been found poisoned in Angus. However congratulations are due to the police, PAW and the RSPB for getting a press release out promptly.

    The litany of raptor persecution continues unabated. The golden eagle is supposed to be our national bird. We should protect, value and treasure eagles not poison and persecute them.

    A small number of people perhaps as few as 50 are preventing the will of the Scottish people and the government of Scotland to see certain birds of prey reach their full ecological range. This is not a new problem. Most birds of prey have been protected since 1954. How long are SLE and SGA allowed to be part of PAW? Thier line is that it is only a matter of time and peer pressure that will stop persecution? How long will the government be taken in by this tosh?

    Why then are the few allowed to defy democracy. We have government funded schemes to re introduce sea eagles and red kites but these are not reaching their full potential because of persecution.

    I want to be able to take my grandson to see golden eagles. He is one year old, by the time he is old enough to go and look for eagles will there be any left? Why should these small number of persecutors prevent me from doing so.

    I for one have had enough but when will the government have had enough and take appropriate action?

    • stop the sham that is PAW – It gives SLE and SGA some credibility that they do not deserve. They are not contributing anything useful to the debate and just snipe from within at the RSPB and others;
    • consider giving greater powers to the SSPCA as was promised;
    • allow surveillance evidence;
    • make a single person responsible for each trap;
    • take forward a successful prosecution case to establish vicarious responsibility;
    • licence driven grouse moors.

    The time for action is now.

    Yours sincerely,

    Alister Clunas, CEnv MCIEEM

  9. Comment on main article ‘ould this be a sign that Environment Minister Wheelhouse has put his foot down and demanded that timely press statements are released? We can’t think of any other reason why the police should suddenly change their tactics from seemingly apathetic to seemingly responsive.’
    You know better than me but i thought it was just that because of the satellite tag they had to act. There was just too much publicity to wait. Pure politics in my opinion.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. The information would have been put out by Roy Dennis, so the police and PAW Scotland had no other option than to release the information. Put simply, it was out of their hands – if it had been left to them, the public would have been kept in the dark for many months. All the more reason to disband the failure of an organisation that is PAW Scotland, or throw out SLE and the SGA for their continued failure to clamp down on crime and their refusal to accept that illegal persecution is common and widespread on shooting estates.

      How long before SLE or the SGA claim that the bird was planted?

  10. very sad news, but don’t tarnish all gamekeepers with that same brush, I live and work on a country estate I have worked with keepers, all of them above the law and would never condone this, but also the public have an even bigger part to play, example dog owners letting there dogs chase and kill wildlife and gamebirds inc the deer,,we get told to “get a life” when we approach them about it ,most seem to think its fine to let there dog run all about the country side with no respect for the wildlife that lives there or for the people that work and live there,,joe public and his dog are one of the biggest wildlife criminals out there and what gets done about this? nothing

    1. Paul, to many of us it does appear that most estates and keepers are breaking the law, purely because of the volume of wildlife crime that is known about, which most would assume is only a tiny tip of a very large iceberg. Honest keepers, of which I assume you are one, must have an idea of who is flouting the law, so as to protect the reputation of your profession, why don’t the good ones out the bad?

  11. and don’t even get me started on on Cats, thay kill more wildlife than anything ive ever seen and a lot of the time its for fun , thay don’t eat it,,why are cats allowed to be let outside with no supervision what so ever ? one hedge row on the estate that I know of used to be filled with wild birds,,,not now as someones pet cat has made sure of that

    1. RE the above postings defending keepers..a. If you really are sincere I would just point out that I have known many cases where even the keeper’s own wife didnt know what they were getting up to out there – of course they will tell you they are working within the Law..cases like this show how commonly, they are not……and b. Its the commonest criminal excuse in the world, “look at all the other bad guys, theyre much worse than me” wont wash and it wont take away from the regular killing of protected birds, by human beings who know better…a cat or a dog doesn’t.

  12. Over 100 emails sent to the Environment Minister’s inbox so far – well done and thank you to everyone who cared enough to spend a few minutes tapping on a keyboard. For those of you who haven’t done it yet..don’t stand by and watch from the sidelines. The Environment Minister works for YOU – tell him what you expect of him.

  13. Details of a recent visit to upper Glen Lethnot where Fearnan was found are on my blogspot but included seeing 1 x Golden Eagle sub adult, 2 x Ravens, 1 x White-tailed Eagle adult, 5 x Common Buzzard and 1 X Red Kite.

    1. That doesn’t sound like the single species grouse monoculture most people on this blog are making it out to be Dave!?

      1. Obviously, with large numbers of prey items available, predators will be attracted to these areas, however many of them end up dead, killed illegally by gamekeepers. In fact, there is the chance that some, or even all of the individuals that Dave mentioned are already dead.

        The fact remains that many species of raptor are at unnaturally low population levels, and the sole reason for this is the relentless, illegal persecution carried out on game estates, by gamekeepers.

    2. The question is Dave have these birds been seen on a regular basis and how many of them survived in the area long enough to breed. In fact, have any of them been seen since or have they followed their ancestors into the black hole ???

  14. Such a pity Grouseman that if you had to make a comment on this post, it couldn’t have been to say how disgusted you were at the poisoning of this young eagle & that you hoped the criminal responsible is convicted & suitably sentenced. With regard to the comments you DID make, you may have had a point if the species Dave mentioned were all breeding successfully in that area.

    1. Now now Pheasant Beater you didn’t really expect Grouseman to abandon the dark side and come over to the force did you?

  15. Just keep witnessing and reporting and protesting -even the Govt will have to act eventually !
    Its a long ‘game’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s