Ross-shire Massacre: six months on

rk5It’s been (just over) six months since 22 raptors were poisoned in a single incident at Conon Bridge in Ross-shire.

So far, we know that 16 of those birds (12 red kites + 4 buzzards) were killed by ingesting “an illegally-held poisonous substance”. We know that the name of the poison has been redacted from official government documents in the public domain. We know that nobody has been arrested.

That, in a nutshell, is about the sum total of the ‘official’ information that is available about one of the most high-profile wildlife crimes in recent years.

Isn’t that amazing? Six months on and that’s all there is?

However, if you’d been sitting in Lecture Marquee #3 at the Rutland Birdfair on Saturday 16th August, you’d have heard that the poison used to kill all those birds was Carbofuran, and that the perpetrator is known. Indeed, the (alleged) perpetrator was virtually named and anyone sitting in that marquee who had any local knowledge of Conon Bridge would know exactly who was being implicated.

It was an astonishing talk delivered by Sir John Lister-Kaye, who introduced himself as a Vice-president of RSPB. It was astonishing both in the level of detail about the case that was delivered, but also in the level of inaccuracy about raptor persecution in general. For someone with Lister-Kaye’s credentials, the content of that talk left our jaws hanging open.

Given the wholly inaccurate statements he made about raptor persecution in general (including a claim that Carbofuran could be used under licence to treat seed crops (!!) and that raptor killing in Scotland has never really been widespread until very recently and then only as the landowners’ angry backlash following the introduction of vicarious liability), his statements about the Ross-shire Massacre need to be treated with caution.

Nevertheless, whilst he deserves to be pulled up on his shoddy research skills, he deserves credit for standing up in that marquee and giving more information in 20 minutes than Police Scotland has managed in six months.

Previous blogs about the Ross-shire Massacre here

11 thoughts on “Ross-shire Massacre: six months on”

  1. Strange…Sir John has always been a doughty fighter against raptor persecution..and destruction of habitats by estates and farming interests in Scotland..he also wrote the foreword to my book “Wildlife Crime”..any reader of that will be left in no doubt about the widespread nature of raptor killing over the last couple of centuries [and of course continuing at the present time]…I hope hes not going soft in his later years??

  2. You know, I don’t really know the Conon Bridge area, maybe it would help if you completely at random, yes totally at random, randomly chose a screenshot from google maps or google earth to lets us know what the area looked like. I’m sure no one would think anything of any Houses in the Background Which we would know Were completely random and Entirely unConnected and unRelated to The alleged Perpetrator in the Area. Just to help us all visualise this location.

  3. Please eds. don’t leave us so in the dark.
    Can you at least tell us if it was pheasant-keeper, farmer (or both), grouse moor game-keeper, lunatic etc.
    Sounds like it is already in the public domain if you happened to be in that tent.
    Or better still does anyone have transcript or youtube clip?

    1. Sorry, Prasad, not prepared to publish that here. Despite JLK’s claims, nobody has been charged, let alone convicted, so it’s dangerous to state the perpetrator is known. At best, you could say an alleged perpetrator is suspected. But even then, we know that a significant piece of information has still not yet been revealed, which, in our opinion, casts doubt on the identity of the alleged suspect. Unfortunately we can’t publish that info. Yet.

  4. I don’t doubt that the substance used is known locally, and there is a suspect or suspects named locally too but in the interests of fairness, why believe one thing that JLK states and rubbish the rest?

    In my experience from when JLK was on the Scottish Committee of RSPB he gave a very good impression of a patronising gobsh*te, and I’ve not had good reason to change my mind since.

    Spouting off at the bird fair sounds right up his street and we don’t need it. Its too easily dismissed as “inappropriate wild speculation”

  5. strange, why has someone not told the police what was heard, they may say oh its just hearsay evidence, but they could visit the person who has allegedly done the killing and ask questions,

  6. Can the person who heard the talk contact me today September 24th please? Olivia Bell, Inverness Courier, 01463 xxxxxxx

  7. Carbofuradan has been totally banned across the EU for several years now so he’d want to brush up on a few facts before he lectures the public on such matters

  8. If the police do not come clean and fullfil their statutory duty… the internet is a medium for leaks… the govt use it. The press is a start! Time to force their hand .. Not doing anything is not an option!

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