Masked gunmen caught on camera attacking goshawk nest in Cairngorms National Park

goshawkPolice Scotland and the RSPB have released video footage showing a gang of masked gunmen attacking a goshawk nest in the Cairngorms National Park.

The gunmen, wearing balaclavas, were filmed on a secret camera set up to monitor the nest site on Forestry Commission Scotland land at Glen Nochty, Strathdon. They made at least four visits to the nest tree – 14th May 2014 at 10.26hrs and again at 20.08hrs, and 15th May 2014 at 09.11hrs and again at 20.01hrs.

The video has been released in an appeal for information – nine months after the crimes were committed.

You can watch it here.

Interestingly, this FCS forest is very close to the boundaries of three grouse moor estates. Now, it’s not apparent from the video whether the criminals are gamekeepers (hard to tell when they wear balaclavas) but we’ll take an educated guess that it isn’t a gang of District Nurses having a bit of recreational downtime in between home visits, out for a little spot of armed trespass, dressed up in camouflage and firing bullets at the nest of a protected species. A species that just happens to be hated by those involved with game-bird shooting.

Media coverage:

BBC news (with a quote from Environment Minister Aileen McLeod) here

RSPB Scotland press statement here

There’s actually been a great deal of media coverage, which is excellent, including P&J, Daily Record, STV News, and the video was broadcast on Reporting Scotland. Strangely, no publicity from the SGA….

Amusingly, this shocking video footage coincides with a campaign currently being run by the Countryside Alliance who are lobbying for police to ‘unmask’ hunt sabs. In the longer term, they also want the next Government to review the law around wearing balaclavas. You can read their campaign notes here – and they really are worth a few minutes of your time. The Countryside Alliance should be careful what they wish for – there’ll be a lot of gamekeepers who won’t be happy if they’re banned from covering their faces while committing their crimes (see recent convictions of balaclava-wearing criminal gamekeepers such as George Mutch and Glenn Brown).

Countryside Alliance masked thugs - Copy

38 thoughts on “Masked gunmen caught on camera attacking goshawk nest in Cairngorms National Park”

  1. Doesn’t take much imagination to guess that the perpetrator’s of this crime were indeed, those enemies of the natural countryside – gamekeepers.

    Why wait 9 months to release the video of this despicable event?

  2. Looking at that campaign website I am not sure what relevance the examples they include have to the unmasking campaign.
    If a PC was hanging around during any of those incidents I am fairly sure there are one or two existing laws they could use rather than just ask them to remove their balaclavas.
    If there isnt a copper around I cant really see someone intent on committing a crime deciding not to wear a disguise because its against the law.

  3. We can’t tell from the video if they are gamekeepers or not but we can put 2 and 2 together and come up with the correct answer

  4. Is this not proof enough that the enemy of protecting our national heritage of wildlife, is being opposed by seriously determined people who will require strong hands to remove from the scene? The kid glove approach with its gentle sentencing or none at all, just a fine that is what a toff spends on lunch, is given.

    We need a massive and determined force to develop in Scotland, combining all who want to rid this country of the hegemony of badly managed shooting estates and others who do not respect wildlife laws. Our sad wee country has been blighted in many criminal ways, and part of that criminality has been the brutal reign of those who have captured our land. Tough talk, yes, and there are plenty of humane and determined people ready to outmatch the thug killers of our birds of prey, by demanding effective enforcement of our laws, and keeping up a constant and corrosive pressure on what passes for Government in this country. If the resources are needed to beef up the Police, then let us tell our politicians that we want an impartial wildlife crime unit set up, with suitable mobility to act when required. Why have we been so deferential to those landowners who have not moved with the times, the ones who feel it is their right to kill wildlife to sustain a vile industry called game bird shooting? There are those who have recognised the need for change, so they are out of my concern. Up till now, there has been nothing shillyshallying. Let us identify the criminals and those who have supported in the Police, Fiscal Service and the Judiciary, and continue to do so. Also, those politicians who give the nod and wink to maintain the status quo. It is time the land was in the hands of the people all over Britain. Decision making on what should be done in the countryside should not be left to local councillors and MSPs alone. The public, conservation and animal welfare organisations should for a separate political state, to monitor and control the lack of deftness and effectiveness from our parliaments. This is the age of microscope and searchlight being applied to the actions of those who have vaunted into the cockpits of power. To me, and many others, the majority, we want accountability and total control over the whole landscape of Scotland and the rest of the UK by its people. Just read the papers every day, and see how our society has been mis-run, and the part in question here is the practice of blood sports by a few privileged people with their forelock touching employees and low paid followers. The Goshawk and the Elephant deserve to live and not be shot by “sportsmen”. The same mob that exported the Red Fox to Australia to hunt them, AND WHEN BORED WITH THAT, HUNTED TO POOR ABORIGENES FOR SPORT.

  5. Please tell me someone has tweeted this video to the chap organising the Countryside Alliance’s drive against balaclavas.

    Of course, the could turn it around into good PR by condemning the attack and pressing forward on the drive with renewed vigour.

    1. Yes, we have tweeted a link to the Countryside Alliance. No response from them, although Shooting Times responded – with pics of masked hunt sabs and tales of intimidation – no condemnation of what is shown in this video though. How telling.

      1. “The wildlife of today is not ours to dispose of as we please. We have it in trust. We must account for it to those who come after.”

        Unless it’s a raptor or might affect our gamebirds/quarry species.

      2. The CA’s unmasking drive is nothing more than a PR stunt in an attempt to discredit the sabs which stand in the way of those who like to kill our wildlife for fun and want to remain anon. Strange they seem to ignore those on their own side who regularly conceal their faces but for completely different reasons. Intimidation and extreme violence are the meat and drink for the pro blood sport lobby, it’s well documented yet conveniently ignored and swept under the carpet.

          1. I’ve seen that already and it is indeed priceless. Funny how all these so called legal hunts still seem to need terrier men. Since when do trails go underground and need to be dug out or flushed with terriers?

  6. Again so many of these field ‘sport’ issues are linked – same warped mentality. I’ve been looking at hunt sab videos taken at many of the fox hunts which of course only kill foxes by accident when out trailing. Have shown them to my family who do not have any particular axe to grind with field sports and they were disgusted. Hunt monitors struck with whips, abuse which if the sab was non white was invariably racist, monitors ridden down including one I saw today of a woman on the Bristol Sabs who had to be taken to hospital after one clown on horseback rode straight over her (not convicted – insufficient evidence, ring any bells?) it goes on and on. Many of the participants and followers of this wonderful rural tradition (rings more bells?) do not turn out on close acquaintance to be the salt of the earth country type who could be on the Archers, but nasty, stupid and backward eejits quite capable of going up to women and threaten them with violence and often carry through with it. The hunts film sabs and monitors too, but funnily enough footage of hunt protestors being violent and abusive are incredibly rare – doen’t match with the supposed thuggery of anti hunt people. I notice that the charming Fieldsports channel regularly does supportive features on fox hunting so they are still part and parcel of the same twisted mind set.

    A couple of days ago I put in a post saying that we must do everything possible to get the env/conserv orgs to push Mark Avery’s epetition on driven grouse shooting as hard as possible. It deserves to be 100,000 signatures plus, but is stuck at just under 21,000 at moment. After this episode near THREE grouse moors can I please reiterate that message. We have a chance to give a bit of a slap to this sick fraternity of yobs right now. In the longer term think there is going to have to be a coalition of groups or even a specific organisation that campaigns for reform (i.e grossly restrict) field sports and estates. Sadly they seem to be blocking progress far more effectively than we are making it with conservation and ecological restoration.

  7. It doesn’t matter whether these people were gamekeepers or pigeon fanciers, the fact is they were breaking the law on several counts. The fact that they knew they were breaking the law and covered their faces so not to be identified makes you wonder just what other firearm assisted crimes they are capable of. You have to ask just how serious do these crimes have to be to make the police do their job properly, are they waiting until a member of the public is seriously injured or even killed before they tell the shooting fraternity enough is enough.

  8. It is a great pity that we can’t borrow some man/bear traps (you know the grown up version of the pole traps) from the game keepers. That would soon put them off their attacks.

  9. Given their knowledge of the nest and their ability to visit several times in close succession should be enough to flag them up as living locally. The police should be able to withdraw the shot gun licences in the parish around this offence for a year… in case it happens again.

  10. These people are despicable. We must do more to stop this murder which is usually by gamekeepers. One step would be to refuse to vote Tory. They have increased subsidies to grouse moors and clearly support this cruelty as well as hunting with dogs and killing badgers.

  11. Sorry but there seems to be no mention of what happened to the Goshawk/Goshawks.Were they harmed or was the nest destroyed ?
    Correct me if am wrong,but is the National Park,under Scots Law, a public place and therefore the low life discharged a firearm in a public place.If a youth had discharged even an air rifle in say Easterhouse the police would have been making sure they found out who done it,yet in a National Park 4 idiots go about with firearms intent on doing damage to the nest or worse killing a Goshawk and nothing seems to be getting done about it until a lot of time has passed.Strange.
    As for the idiots( hired hands)young males in their early to mid twenties,at least one of them with some form of firearms training.The reason they had masks would suggest someone tipped them off about the hidden camera,but couldn’t find it.How did they know about the nest ?Also,were they definitely firing shotguns as they didn’t look or sound like shotguns to me.
    And another thing what would these morons have done if members of the public had stumbled across them ?
    Scottish Government get your finger out …….

    1. Yeah definitely..what would their reaction have been to anyone seeing them (4 guys in masks carrying guns). Imagine they had a vehicle with registration plate and they were seen getting into it – they would know a good chance they’d be caught. People involved in field sports are hardly buddhists and any witness could have been in serious trouble…scary. Good point to raise and stress. 4 youngish guys together trying to kill raptors..age old attitudes changing? Don’t think so.

  12. Unbelievable, you would think that scene was from a third world country, armed men out in daylight in a state owned forest in a national park poaching protected wildlife!
    How have these people got guns, surely the gun licensing scheme needs totally overhauling, someone has deemed these people are fit and safe to have a gun yet look at how they behave with them. surely alarm bells must be ringing somewhere.
    Who would you pursue for vicarious liability, SFC probably sell the shooting rights but they must have to comply with the Cairngorms national parks authority, these organisations cant sit back and allow this to continue they have to take action to protect our wildlife on their patch.
    Thank god for secret camera’s, shameful acts again caught on camera for the whole nation to see, well done to all involved, once again shame on the heads of the shooting organisations whose only response of late is to gloat over the fact a gamekeeper got off on a technicality, no action taken against that keeper or the estate that would at least show its honest members and the rest of us that they were even remotely concerned about putting their house in order

  13. Look like terrorists, act like terrorists, should be delt with like terrorists. Obviously there’s not been enough resources assigned to deal with these cowardly thugs. It’s not surprising that so many of our birds of prey are rare in Scotland, which proves just how widespread persecution by scum like them really is.

  14. I think it will become the norm to wear a balaclava when committing wildlife crimes and should have been expected after the jailing of George Mutch after he was caught on film. Making people aware there is a nest of a species such as a Goshawk which could attract unwanted attention could help. If people know its there and are walking nearby their vigilance could help

  15. You don’t need to know there’s a goshawk there; if you see thugs with balaclavas on & carry firearms you would know immediately they were criminals!

    1. Somebody expected trouble at this tree, hence the camera, sadly this film will prove nothing except some nasty bastards exist, there had to be a vehicle nearby and the men have a good knowledge of the area, Goshawks are elusive. This will be the first of many where balaclavas are worn the criminals have already learnt from Mutches mistake.

  16. More proof why you don’t see many birds of prey in the Cairngorms National Park anymore, a total disgrace. I note that the RSPB have offered £1000.00 reward to catch these criminals, lets hope that they do get caught.

  17. If you look at an OS map of Glen Nochty, there are 11 squares (buildings) in this area at least 4 have names Fris Cottage, Aldachuie, Rhinstock and Torrancroy. So although this is a fairly remote area it’s not entirely unpopulated. So did the police ask questions at these cottages/buildings, were they occupied at the time. Did anybody in them hear gunshots or see vehicles or people around or is everybody in this area deaf / blind or in fear of losing their job. Somebody must know something but as usual their is a total silence. Or it maybe that Police Scotland can’t be arsed or are being paid to look the other way. Mind you £1000.00 could jog a few memories.

    1. Stewart I don’t know the area, but you are spot on, the occupants of these buildings, should now have been made aware balaclava wearing gunmen are out and about near their homes

      1. Perhaps no one wearing the cammo kit and balaclavas was seen from the properties mentioned. Perhaps the culprits only wore that clothing when they were at risk of being recorded, I.E. close to camera range.

  18. Interestingly on the CA site the unfortunate victims of these alleged assaults are only identified as ‘a man coming to the aid of his girlfriend’, ‘a farmer’ and ‘another man from Derbyshire’.
    I think if I had been treated in that fashion I’d be screaming blue murder from the rooftops, and want to identify myself but these characters are probably as real aa Mrs Shollocks from Birmingham who won the £30,000 cash prize in the free prize draw that drops through your door.
    Apparently ‘ the assaults were committed by masked self-styled ‘hunt saboteurs” but if ‘no-one has ever been identified and charged in relation to any of the attacks’ how the hell do we know they were sabs? They may have been a bunch of local rugger-buggers out to rough up some country types and then claim they were sabs hoping to discredit them.
    Either way, the CA piece will have those more used to slaughtering defenceless animals from a distance with projectiles rather than getting a bit of their own medicine quaking in their Hunters and looking over their shoulders when they board their Range Rovers in a dark carpark outside the Horse and Hounds, so hopefully it might make them think twice before poncing around the country with a gun in future.
    The CA could be doing our job for us!

  19. I wonder if any spent cartridges were found at the scene of the crime? If they were, ballistic experts can tell from the striker pin indentations on the base of the cartridges and the extractor marks on the side of the metal part of the cartridges which gun has actually fired them because the wear and tear on the striker pins and extractors on each shotgun is uniquely different.

    These unique markings on cartridges have been used to identify guns used in homicides in the past. I once requested the police to do this on cartridges I found under several buzzard nests that had been shot out but they refused to check the guns of firearm certificate holders in the surrounding area which would have been sure to discover the gun or guns used if they had.

    The refusal by the police may have been due to the fact that wildlife crime was not top priority at the time like it is at present in Scotland according to the Scottish Government.

    1. Does it occur to the majority of posters here that the surrounding houses that have been named are unoccupied and in some instances derelict. It is not standard practice for a gamekeeper to tell people in the surrounding area that they will be shooting, they are expected as responsible owners of a firearms certificate to ensure that no one is in the line of fire. It’s a normal part of living in an area such as this.

      I know that last year or the year before a reported 9 police squad cars desended on Glenbuchat when a tagged Eagle disappeared. I know what the answer will be on a forum like this but does no one agree that this is a shocking waste of police time?

      Finally, what is a gamekeeper supposed to do with a goshawk or other raptor that is decimating their stock? It is of course a crime to kill them, that much I do agree with, I merely disagree with how serious a crime it is portrayed as.

      1. Was it really decimating his ‘stock’ or was it just a bird of prey? The crime here was serious in relation to the fact that a rare wild bird was beaten to death with a stick because some believe that it will affect the number of other birds they can shoot. That’s ignorance and arrogance which shouldn’t be tolerated in any walk of life, it deprives wildlife of its existence and us of a fantastic piece of our genuine heritage. Ironically a lot of the game birds shot end up in holes in the ground – field sports people tend not to be pheasant pluckers.

      2. ASavage, how fitting is that?

        I’m delighted to hear that 9 police cars descended on Glenbuchat and I wish all cases of raptor persecution were taken as seriously. How is investigating a crime ‘a shocking waste of police time’? Isn’t that why we have police? It’s not up to you to decide how seriously the police take investigating a crime.

        As for what is a gamekeeper supposed to do with a goshawk, it’s simple really, leave them alone as they’re a protected species. If stock is being decimated by a goshawk, which I seriously doubt, they should take better care of their stock or just give up and do something which is viable.

  20. Asavage are you thick or having some kind of sick joke at the expense of an animal that can’t protect itself against mindless morons who are only thinking of the money.The Goshawk,and most Raptors is the country ,are trying to survive,there are decent people who want them to survive so they don’t become extinct in this country because they are an endangered species,are you an endangered species,are grouse,pheasant,partridge etc an endangered species,are those who think they can do illegal acts against animals when they like or where they like endangered species,do the people who are making money from a so called sport endangered,are the people who give out vast amounts of tax payers money to these Estastes endangered.
    Would it make you happy to see all animals that are a threat to “game birds” become extinct in this country ?
    Or don’t you really care one way or another as long as the morons in our society can make a bit of money out of doing not very much work at all on the “land” they own.

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