Mass raptor poisoning in Wales: location revealed

In March 2016, we blogged (see here) about the mass poisoning of raptors in 2012/2013 at an unnamed location in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Powys, Wales.

Our suspicions had been aroused when looking at raptor poisoning data published in two RSPB reports (Birdcrime 2012; Birdcrime 2013). We were very interested in a cluster of incidents (24, to be precise) during this period, all listed as ‘Powys’ and all involving the poison Bendiocarb. Those 24 incidents included nine poisoned baits and 15 poisoning victims, as follows:

9 x poisoned pheasant baits

2 x poisoned ravens

5 x poisoned red kites

8 x poisoned buzzards

Poisoned RK Powys

An FoI was submitted to Dyfed-Powys Police to determine whether all these poisoning crimes had occurred at the same location (answer: yes) and whether any prosecution had been forthcoming (answer: no).

We were curious about why there had been no media coverage of this case, it being “the most significant wildlife poisoning incident in Wales and the second highest recovery of poisoned raptors in the UK in the last 40 years”, according to the RSPB (see here). We’d suggested that there had been a police ‘cover-up’, an accusation that Dyfed-Powys Police denied (see here). We still think there was some level of cover-up, not so much with the police investigation per se, but rather with the lack of any subsequent publicity about this case.

Naturally, we were interested in finding out the actual location of this mass raptor poisoning and we firmly believe it’s in the public interest that the location is named, but we didn’t have much to go on, other than it happened on a pheasant-shooting estate within the Brecon Beacons National Park. A number of blog readers from Powys did contact us privately and each named the same estate, but if we were to publish the estate name we needed much more conclusive evidence than that.

It’s taken us a while to get there, and we’re not going to reveal exactly how we got there because we know, from past experience, that as soon as we reveal information sources the authorities do their utmost to make access more difficult (e.g. by deliberately withholding data from official reports, see here) but after a series of FoIs and scrutiny of several indirect Government databases, we’re now in a position to name the location of the mass poisoning of raptors in 2012/2013 as the Glanusk Estate, Powys.

Glanusk logo

Glanusk Estate

Glanusk Estate is privately owned and run by Dame Elizabeth Shan Josephine Legge-Bourke, her son Harry Legge-Bourke and his wife Iona Legge-Bourke (see here).

Shan Legge-Bourke was appointed lady-in-waiting to Princess Anne in 1987, was High Sheriff of Powys in 1991, has been the Lord Lieutenant of Powys (the Queen’s personal representative) since 1998 and became Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the 2015 New Year Honours.

Shan Legge-Bourke’s daughter, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, was nanny to Princes William & Harry and worked as a personal assistant to Prince Charles between 1993-1999.

Shan Legge-Bourke’s son, Harry Legge-Bourke, is a partner in the management of Glanusk Estate and served on the Board of Natural Resources Wales (the Welsh statutory conservation agency) between 2012-2015 (the same time the mass poisoning of raptors was taking place on Glanusk Estate).

The Queen visited Glanusk Estate in 2012 as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations (see here).

Could these strong royal connections explain why Dyfed-Powys Police were so reluctant to publicise the criminal activities taking place on Glanusk Estate? Who knows? Interesting though, isn’t it?

Now, we’re not suggesting for one minute that the Legge-Bourke family was in any way involved with the mass poisoning of raptors on Glanusk Estate, although it’s more than likely that the family would have become aware of what was going on when the police raided the estate in 2013 armed with search warrants and arrested two people (see police statement here).

As far as we can tell, Glanusk Estate offers walked-up grouse shooting (only 3-4 brace at a time – see here) but, like many large, privately-owned estates, the more commercial pheasant shooting is not run by the estate but is managed by an independent company, in this case, Mark Coleman Sporting & Game.

Mark Coleman Sporting & Game

According to the Mark Coleman Sporting & Game website (here), which, incidentally, features the logos of GWCT, Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers Organisation, Mark Coleman operates two pheasant shoots: one at Glanusk Estate and the other at Stoke Edith Estate in nearby Herefordshire.

Mark Coleman Sporting

Stoke Edith is a close neighbour of the Sufton Estate. Some of you may recognise that name. In 2010, an under-gamekeeper from the Sufton Estate was convicted of 17 wildlife crime offences, including the use of Bendiocarb to poison raptors (see here). In the same year, the Sufton Estate Head gamekeeper was convicted of running a cannabis factory on the estate and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment (see here).

Amazingly, according to this article published in Fieldsports magazine: glanusk_fieldsport_article-1the Head gamekeeper now at Glanusk Estate, employed by Mark Coleman, is someone with the same name as that convicted Head gamekeeper from Sufton Estate. Imagine that! It surely can’t be the same person, because, as we’re so often told, criminal gamekeepers are not tolerated by the shooting industry, right?

But Mark Coleman employs another gamekeeper who also has a familiar name. According to this Fieldsports magazine article: stoke_edith_fieldsport_article-1a gamekeeper employed by Mark Coleman on the Stoke Edith Estate shares the same name as a gamekeeper convicted of killing raptors and badgers on a shooting estate in Herefordshire in 2008. Imagine that! It surely can’t be the same person, because, as we’re so often told, criminal gamekeepers are not tolerated by the shooting industry, right?

We are, of course, in no way suggesting that Mark Coleman or any of his employees had any involvement or knowledge of the mass poisoning of raptors at Glanusk Estate, although, just like the Legge-Bourke family, it’s probably fair to assume that Mr Coleman was made aware of these crimes when the police raided Glanusk Estate in 2013 and found the 15 poisoning victims very close to some pheasant pens.

We’d love to know whether the Glanusk Estate and/or Mark Coleman Sporting & Game and/or Dyfed-Powys Police made any effort to warn the 20k guests who visit the annual Green Man Festival at Glanusk Estate about the discovery of poisoned baits and birds found strewn around the grounds.

According to the statement issued by Dyfed-Powys Police (here), the Crown Prosecution Service decided against charging anybody for the mass poisoning of raptors at Glanusk Estate in 2012/2013 because there was insufficient evidence to identify an individual culprit. Whoever did it has got away with it, like so many of these raptor killers do.

But this wasn’t just any old raptor poisoning. This was a mass raptor poisoning, the most significant ever uncovered in Wales, and the second biggest discovery of poisoned raptors in the UK in the last 40 years. And it happened on a prominent estate, within the Brecon Beacons National Park, over the period of a year. How can someone get away with that? And how can the authorities get away with keeping quiet about it?

And what about a subsidy penalty for the estate? These poisoning crimes were obviously in breach of cross-compliance regulations, in the same way that the mass poisoning of raptors at Stody Estate (Norfolk) was also a breach, which resulted in a huge financial penalty for the estate, imposed by the Rural Payments Agency (see here).

We’ve done some digging about a potential subsidy withdrawal at Glanusk and we’ll be blogging about that shortly.

Photo of one of the poisoned red kites found on Glanusk Estate, by Guy Shorrock (RSPB)

UPDATE 2 July 2016: Statement from Glanusk Estate here

UPDATE 3 July 2016: Further statement from Glanusk Estate here

UPDATE 4 July 2016: No subsidy withdrawal for mass poisoning of raptors on Glanusk Estate here

70 thoughts on “Mass raptor poisoning in Wales: location revealed”

  1. As usual, a massive thanks to RPUK for publishing this information. Clearly the shooting industry and authorities (too many to name, probably) did not want this revealed. It allows more investigations to proceed into the matter. Let’s hope that more can be gleaned, and it adds to the embarrassment of the criminals and their protectors.

  2. I suppose libel laws prevent you from being more direct, but the key point this brings out is the need for not just vicarious liability but full landowner liability: i.e. if it happens on your land, unless you can provide compelling evidence why you should not be held responsible, you should be deemed responsible for the unlawful activities taking place. Sod this “innocent until proven guilty” nonsense.

    Alternatively, perhaps the CPS should branch out into civil proceedings, where “the balance of probabilities” is the touchstone, not “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

  3. I’m a relatively new reader of the blog and wanted to add my thanks for the work you do. Your tenacity and commitment are an inspiration. Thank you.

  4. Well done chaps. Very impressive sleuthing. Agree we need vicarious liability in England & Wales. What I don’t understand is why the National Parks don’t take a firmer line..

  5. Mass poisoning of wildlife in the UK and not one national news paper or television news interested………………………..they are quick enough to join the hysteria that results when a lion or other protected species is killed overseas.

    Well done RPUK

    1. I doubt that, not when there is still Brexit, unBrexit, Gove, May, Corbyn, and Hillary vs Trump all to write about. Oh and a Tesla autopilot car just killed a guy. Nobody is caring which birds are getting shot right now apart from us. I wish they were, but unless Prince Harry is found having a threesome with Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson using a stuffed hen harrier as a dildo the royals and their hangers-on going shooting are firmly off the agenda.

        1. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. No criticism of RPUK, who undertake and deliver a tremendous output of work, but the missing link with the media appears to be the lack of proactive issuing of press releases. RSPB is an organisation which fulfills this role over a range of issues, but finds themselves compromised by their neutral policy regarding killing wildlife for pleasure. It might seem incredible in these days of growing awareness and enlightenment, but it is true. Personally I’m becoming weary that RSPB spokespersons, when commenting on raptor persecution, feel it necessary to include a grovelling reassurance that they don’t oppose shooting. Surely the majority of their members don’t fall in line with this approach? Until RSPB with its million members uses its potential strength to oppose recreational killing in principle, it will be nigh on impossible for us to make significant progress in consigning raptor persecution to the history books. Behind the scenes RPUK obviously has excellent investigators with journalistic skills, and scientific authority beyond that of the shooting community (and now apparently SNH), so is there a strategic reason why they don”t have someone to put the case across to the wider media? I’m firmly of the belief it could have a very significant impact.

  6. Gosh- but how can they be members of organisations that strive to maintain high standards? Unless of couurse these organisations have very low standards and they are lying about their commitments?????

    1. I think the first five paragraphs you wrote under the ‘Glanusk Estate’ heading tells us all we need to know.

  7. No doubt the RSPB will pursue this case with a vengeance. Or will they? Caro McAdam can’t understand why the National Parks don’t take a firmer line, but yet again I would ask the same question regarding RSPB. A significant problem is that we as conservationists are bitterly complaining among ourselves about it, and a few individuals, notably from RPUK, seek to investigate through Freedom of Information requests and other means, and list the appalling catalogue of crimes against raptors. However we don’t get the information disseminated widely enough to the general public, and neither does the RSPB despite its communication network of one million members. Why not? I don’t have an answer to that, although do have my suspicions that RSPB is compromised by trying too hard to keep in with the political and social establishment. The same cannot be said of RPUK! We need to get our respective acts together and make a harder effort to get the message into the popular media. If RPUK has sufficient human resources to cope, they could make a start by issuing press releases in the way that the SGA, GWCT and others seem to do so effectively. I still can’t decide whether or not to be surprised that a member of RSPB staff, to whom I spoke recently, claimed not to have heard of Mark Avery’s petition.

    1. In this particular case, the RSPB should not be the target. Indeed, if they hadn’t published these 24 crimes in their annual Birdcrime reports, we’d be none the wiser. They deserve full credit for their role in uncovering these crimes and for bringing them to the attention of the Police. Have a read of RSPB Investigator Guy Shorrock’s blog about this investigation – he makes it clear that the decision not to publicise the crimes was a police operational decision. The RSPB are not permitted to override that.

      1. You seem to have missed my point. I’m fully aware of the work carried out by their Investigations Team and applaud it. It is their lack of bringing the matters more forcibly to the attention of the general public that I was criticising, a general point using this case as a specific reference. You do a remarkable job, but with the right resources you could do so much more. I’d argue that the RSPB does have the resources but doesn’t apply them.

  8. I read yesterday’s blog about the miscarriage of justice with the Yorkshire pole trapping and thought, ‘ I wonder what happened about the Powys poisonings. Today I read the Powys poisoning back story ( brilliant and thorough coverage again) and all I can see is the similarity with Yorkshire pole trapping and the well placed and connected always seeming to be assisted in having unfortunate incidents played down, covered up and overlooked. The whole system in our society is based upon this same stance whereas the reality, as we know, is that these very well connected and their estates are a bunch of absolute Cowboys ridding roughshod through our wildlife for a jolly days ‘sport’
    It is also blindingly obvious that RSPB sits in the same frame, instead of exposing the reality and informing its membership! Membership, ah yes that’s what it’s about. The protection of birds bit comes a good bit further down the list!

  9. Great work RPUK.
    If we had real justice in this country, of course, wealth and Royal connections would count for nothing when the law is flouted so dreadfully.
    In such situations it is so important to penetrate the layers of secrecy that these people hind behind and many thanks for doing this. At least then we can all do our bit in helping to spread the word. Landowners should face consequences and if the law won’t do it the only sanction we can apply is the accountability to the public that we can all contribute to.

  10. This is extra ordinarily embarrassing for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the RSPB, the Brecon and Radnor newspaper, the NRW and err the police ; it really describes in micro cosm what a stitch up this country is…thanks very much guys. Respect.

    1. Why is it embarrassing for the RSPB?
      I am confused about why RPUK could release the name of the estate but not the RSPB since it the case seem to be closed and i would still like to know that but the RSPB has nothing to ashamed of.
      Until i know otherwise, the RSPB are the heroes here.

      1. It clearly is also an embarrassment for the RSPB, because they sit round the table with these parties, some of whom are guilty of allowing wildlife crime, and others who are complicit by doing next to nothing about it, apart from gathering at talking shops and putting out public disclaimers. Remember that the RSPB are signed up to the Defra Hen Harrier Recovery Plan, albeit with one or two reservations. As far as I’m concerned they’re bowing to pressure from the wildlife Mafia, rather than doing what the RSPB should be doing – fighting full force for the birds. Their unwillingness to rock the boat is covered by their excuse that they are a conservation organisation, not a bird protection society. Why don’t they change their name then to suit their brand? Not that I see anything inconsistent with conservation and bird protection, but the RSPB appears to think otherwise. At best their true philosophy is woolly.

        The fight against these wildlife criminals who persecute raptors has to be dealt with at different levels and in different stages. I’ve yet to hear anyone on this blog complain about the sterling work of the RSPB Investigations Team, and I have tremendous admiration and respect for the individuals concerned, but their organisation lets them down by being so feeble when it comes to engaging public opinion and getting the facts into the public domain. Only by developing a very substantial body of public support will there ever be any chance of making real progress. If only we had as many members of the public willing to fight for raptors the way they already do for foxes! I see no reason why not, and the RSPB would be the body to promote such caring, if they could only get their priorities sorted.

  11. Great research, thanks for undertaking it. It set me to looking up websites for some of these places, and a site that provides booking facilities. What struck me was that all the advertising for the shoots goes into raptures about how wonderful the scenery is, how marvellous to spend the day surrounded by such ‘natural’ beauty. To me, the surroundings, and the activities that go on there, are totally irreconcilable. Is it simply an arrogance; a need to feel ‘one-up’ on the ‘hoi polloi’ who can’t afford to partake? Do they feel they are part of a ‘Club’ and get a feeling of ‘belonging’? I really pity them. They will never be as happy as me, on a basic pension, enjoying the beauty and wonder of our wildlife, and helping it where I can.

  12. Well done. Brilliantly researched, well documented and so carefully nuanced. Your website is compelling – keep up your excellent work, please.

  13. Massive amount of sleuthing done on this issue guys – well done! Thanks for shining a light on these murky proceedings. The RSPB are not the problem but they are not part of the solution either. They could and should do much more. Working behind the scenes is not an option any more! It is not working!

  14. and how many of these people who belong too, or hob nob with, aristocracy, minor or otherwise, hold positions in the police, Judiciary, RSPB, NE, SNH etc., etc.,? Therein lies the problem and the solution.

  15. One thing I would add, but wanted to wait until later so as not to derail the important discussions:
    “In the same year, the Sufton Estate Head gamekeeper was convicted of running a cannabis factory on the estate and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment”

    I don’t think that should count as a crime. Of all the crimes on this page, this is the one which ought not to be a crime and should not carry the gaol term. Legalise it, void all related convictions, and move on. I wouldn’t hold a cannabis related conviction against anyone at all these days.

    It doesn’t excuse the raptor crimes, which are the ones that should carry the porridge time though.

    1. Whether or not you think it should be a crime is beside the point. The fact is an employee deliberately broke the law, presumably for financial gain. He also had access both to an illegal drug that can impact on your ability to make sound judgements and to firearms. This indicates a level of contempt for the law and public safety that surely disqualifies anyone from holding a firearm certificate or work in a field where people have to abide by easily broken laws.

      1. I’m afraid I have to disagree on this very specific instance. The law on cannabis is so out of date that pretty much any breach of it (with the exception of impaired driving) that it can be pretty much disregarded as regards employment status.

        1. crpticmirror

          Whether or not the law on cannabis is out of date in your opinion is not what johncantelo wrote about, might I respectfully suggest you read the rest of his paragraph above.

          It’s the disregard for the law that applies to ‘phlebs’ and are you suggesting a gamekeeper is ok to conduct his duties having taken cannabis? ok, we don’t know enough in so much he had or was or if it was a side-line to supplement his income, but it could have been for personal use, so again do you suggest that is acceptable? Take it further, hypothetically if he indulges the night before his work next day, is he ok to be in charge of a potentially lethal firearm?

  16. I have made a reference to this in my e mail to Rory Stewart today re the Raptor Persecution team on the Wildlife Crime unit and also to the pole-trapping incident in Yorkshire. I have copied you in and hope we will get some answer re the progress of that team!

  17. One law for . . .

    If someone lawfully breeds barn owls in captivity they need a licence (defra I think) to release them into the wild.

    If you want to release 40 million Chinese origin pheasants – just go ahead.

    1. I’ve suggested previously that road accidents caused by pheasants (or other reared and released game) should be claimed against those responsible be it landowner or company leasing land.

      Easy enough, all it requires is a ring on the birds legs …. then again, it needs parliament so ok back to pushing water up hill in a collander?

      The motor insurance industry ought to be a potential ally in this, wonder what the annual cost to us through increased premiums because they enjoy public subsidies on the land and no insurance cover required for accidents caused by ‘wild’ birds?

  18. As an enthusiastic anti blood sport supporter I witness complete indifference by the police on a regular basis. Fox hunting is as alive and well in England and Wales as it has ever been. The perpetrators of animal abuse consider themselves above the law, both the police forces and the CPS doff their caps to these cunning scheming zoo sadists. Education for the public, and custodial sentences for the criminals are the only ways forward.
    Top marks to RPUK for your remarkable efforts to achieve justice for our wildlife.

  19. I seem to remember when you first broke the news of the Powys poisoning that it all led to Glanusk and that reading around on that theme there was the walked up grouse shooting you refer to but also the aspiration to become a fully fledged driven grouse shoot with the novel attraction of being the only Welsh one. That said all we are witnessing is the DGS approach so common in Scotland and upland England being applied to a new, Welsh site. What better illustration that DGS and raptor persecution go hand in hand!

  20. Once again, with dread, I click on RPUK, and make myself miserable for the whole day! Miserable for two reasons; one feeling dispair over the wanton killing of Birds of Prey, and the other in anger over the compliance of parts of the “conservation” Establishment and in the component parts of our Justice system, not appearing to be effective in enforcing the law with respect to the killing of protected wildlife. Glad again to read apt comments from RPUK suppoerters. We realy need a “Brexit” of belief in the status quo, and try to divert member and financial support from those groups that have got too close to the enemy, but purport to be conservationist and being feeble in attack, at the same time. We should be isolating those politicians in all parties, who are anti-blood sports, and who refuse to be part of the herd of sheep-like creatures who seem inhabit the habitat of politics at present. People who will defy the nonsense trotted out for not making revolutionary change on how our landscape is managed, and who is being allowed to own it. How can Scotland claim to be a humane country, when it allows vested interests to practice vile and cruel methods, that involve birds and animals. For purely mercenary purposes powerful lobbies have distorted the application of law and order in various areas, where severe application should be being applied.

    How can humane people win, when the whole world is experiencing a free-for-all with regard to the killing of wildlife, through over-fishing the seas and in long drift nets; trophy fishing and killing Sharks for their fins; trophy shooting of endangered species; poaching for ivory and horn, along with the demand for the meat of exotic species; bull, bear and badger baiting along with dog fighting; the cruelty of the pet trade to provide a multiform of species of birds, reptiles and mammals; circus and zoo confinement of animals in vile conditions; the fur and skin trade; the nightmare preparation of dogs and cats for consumption in the Far East; the live transport of animals trade; ritual slaughter and other cruel treatment of animals in slaughterhouses; industrial farming with pigs, chickens, calves being held in small spaces; fish farms with their seal, otter and bird slaughter; restaurants and butchers providing the meat of up to 70 different wildlife species, e.g. Zebra, and more instances of indifference to suffering and survival of species, wild or domesticated?

    To challenge this disregard for other life forms, millions of people from all over the planet, raise funds for saving some habitat or species; sign petitions to governments and companies to put a stop to some form of animal cruelty, or the use of poisons, snares and traps. We have animal sanctuaries for the Big Cats and Elephants, along with animal hospitals to save injured birds and mammals. There are rangers risking their lives to protect Mountain Gorillas, Elephants and Rhinos from militarily armed poachers. Yet, there is an erroneous belief that sport/trophy shooting brings revenue for conservation, and that being supported by a well-known wildlife conservation organisation! The USA wildlife protection groups have a horrendous enemy facing them, the hunting and gun owning lobbies. To provide deer species for their lust to kill, whole Wolf packs, Bears, Wolverine and Cougars are hunted down, trapped in cruel tree/ground traps/snares and poisoned. This killing is on an industrial scale, and assisted by the USA Government Wildlife Services at the whim of any farmer and hunting group. Whole tribes have been moved in Africa to make way for safari hunting groups e.g. The Maasai, the Bushman and the Pygmy People, to where they do not want to be.

    I have adduced the above to prove that what we are experiencing, with regard to our Raptor persecution, is part of a world wide hecatomb of living creatures, and habitat destruction. How can we win, when so many in strategic places in governing our countries in the UK, are not just involved in blood sports here, but have interests in other activities involving the use of animals, and who enjoy a cosmopolitan provision of chances to exercise their lust to kill birds and mammals? When any voice is raised against some form of animal abuse, these well-connected people rally and try to stifle it, as they see any concern for the improvement of the treatment of animals, as a foot in the door, which they want kept shut, as it could lead to a mass revolt, and one that would cabin,crib and confine the blood sport mob. I am also appalled at the ignorance of people working for many of the various charities and groups that are raising funds to protect wildlife, or improve animal welfare. That ignorance shows in their lack of awareness of what is going elsewhere in their particular area of concern, and even of the threats from those jostling to kill some innocent creature. We need a “muscled” and cooperative front to confront the criminals to are wiping out our Birds of Prey and other creatures, for a negative and philistine purpose. Encouragement should be given to staff to research such information, and even simple and quick to read updates of the harm being done to Life on this planet. No one should feel embarrassed or timorous about approaching a political representative over a wildlife or animal welfare matter. There is a tendency to marginalise such concerns by “lazy” and indifferent politicians on such issues, and that reveals their lack of a broad and humane form of ethics. Nor should have faith in any political party in being entirely supportive of our beliefs, as a rcent communcation from an SNP Government representative informed me that it would not ban the killing of grouse on shooting estates, as such activity brought millions to the Scottish economy along with several thousands jobs. We have a huge task in front of us, so it is time to appraise our tactics and create a new organisation that will have greater public involvement in it.

    1. Dear Mr Greer,
      Thank you for your detailed comment. I completely agree with everything you say, I too despair on a daily basis – at the immense amount of cruelty and destruction meted out by humans, often with complete impunity.
      But there are at least 3 very simple things everyone of us can do, however, namely:
      1) to join and support some of those organisations that truly work for wildlife and against cruelty
      (such as the League against Cruel Sports, HuntSabs, various groups against the badger cull etc.)
      2) to go/be Vegan – i.e. no longer buy/consume any products derived from the suffering of animals
      (incl a greater awareness of consumption in general – i.e. asking each time you buy sth where it came
      from / how it was produced and who the money goes to)
      3) to speak out / tweet / post / publicise the findings of this and other websites, to challenge lazy /
      traditional uncaring attitudes whenever we encounter them and communicate the facts to everyone in
      power (MPs, councillors, companies, the police, mega-charities like the NT, EH etc etc.)
      I don’t think an entirely new organisation is necessary – there are already so many (smaller) charities worthy of support. But the task is clearly a daunting and gigantic one.
      But we must not give up!

      1. Susy

        I went to the Birdfair at Rutland Water this week and was prepared to join the LACS because of the robust stance they have taken recently.

        Two staff/volunteers far too busy with their own conversation despite my obvious presence so, I came out of their stand and walked away disappointed.

        Please don’t suggest I join on line, a conversation with someone face to face is good and I really wanted to thank them for their stance on Hen Harrier persecution etc. I may write but there’s too many other higher priorities after reading today’s post.

        RPUK, you do an excellent job, thank you.

  21. I’ve just written this to the Green Man festival. Perhaps worth others doing so as well?

    ‘Hello. I presume you are now aware of the risk of poisoning of your customers and their pets by Bendiocarb baits (intended to illegally kill birds of prey) on the Glanusk Estate? If not please read this;

    Will the organisers now be be issuing a warning to all festival goers, and will you now be considering a new location so as not to risk your customers lives, and to disassociate yourselves with criminal activity?’

    I’ll also endeavor to contact all the performers and make them aware over the weekend.

    Can anyone please give me some more details on the relative risks to animal/pet health of the various poisons currently being used to kill raptors? Should the organisers respond (and I have to assume they are going too), I want to give them accurate information on the health risks to festival goers.

      1. I’d be amazed, now knowing the risks to their customers, if they don’t have to cancel the event.

  22. This looks like great work. Given the interest and connections, could it not be offered to national print media. Private Eye like this sort of stuff, don’t they. That way the story reaches others who unlike this blog readers are uninformed.

  23. I’ve also written to Dyfed-Powys Police;

    ‘No doubt you are aware of the risk of poisoning to festival goers at the Green Man Festival, Glanusk Estate, due to the documented widespread use of Bendiocarb baits for the illegal poisoning of birds of prey. If not please see here; .
    Could you please confirm what advise, if any, you have given to festival organisers and guests regarding the risk to human and pet health?’

  24. And I’ve written to BBC News;

    ‘Hi. A severe risk to both human and pet health would appear to exist at the Green Man Festival through the widespread use of Bendiocarb baits to illegally kill birds of prey on the Glanusk Estate. Please see here;

    I have already written to the festival organisers, along with Dyfed-Powys Police, and feel this is a story BBC News really should be covering’.

  25. And i’ve written directly to the Glanusk Estate;

    ‘Hi. I just want to confirm that the organisers of the Green Man Festival have been advised on the risks of human and pet health through the documented use of Bendiocarb baits on the estate to illegally kill birds of prey?

    Though no doubt you are already familiar with its contents it may well be worth you reading this article;

      1. I’ve also written to them;

        ‘Hi. Just so you are fully aware of the potential risks to festival goers;

        Note Bendiocarb can be absorbed through the skin; any unaware person (say a child) who handles poisoned items is clearly at severe risk. Will Glanusk Estate be cancelling the event in the interests of public safety, or will you, in full knowledge of the risks involved, be allowing the event to go ahead?’

        1. Response from Debbie Murray at Glanusk; I would like to thank you for your email, we are aware of the facebook post and of course have responded with a statement on social media, the wording is given below:

          “Glanusk Statement 1st July 2016

          The Estate co-operated with the Police and Welsh Government during the investigation into the death of raptors in 2012. These incidents of wildlife crime are totally unacceptable. The CPS was unfortunately unable to take the case forward due to lack of evidence.

          Dyfed Powys Police Statement

          “Dyfed Powys Police take allegations of wildlife crime very seriously and investigates all incidents reported to us. Following information received in 2012 and 2013, relating to the deaths of raptors in Powys, a full investigation was carried out in partnership with the RSPB, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Wildlife Management Team in the Welsh Government. During the investigation a number of search warrants under the Wildlife and Countryside Act were executed and two people were arrested in connection with the incidents. A file of evidence was subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service who advised that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.” “

          I can assure you that we take any matter of animal welfare seriously and we have extensive health and safety measures in place for all of the activities, land and property that we engage with/own.

          The alleged poisoning has been said to have been located on land outside of the Glanusk Park where our events take place and there is no risk at all to animals or humans. We enlist an external consultant to provide risk assessments and health and safety advice and again to reiterate any risk to any of our visitors is reviewed and treated with the utmost severity.

          Do let me know if I can help further.


          D Murray

          To which I responded;

          ‘Hi Debbie. Can you confirm that the festival organisers were made aware of the potential risks and criminal activity in previous years? Can you also confirm that tests for Bendiocarb (and other poisons) have been made within the festival area? Can you name the ‘external consultant’ and state whether the results have been published/will be published? Can you also confirm whether or not the Head Keeper at Glanusk Estate, employed by Mark Coleman, is the same person previously convicted (for an unrelated offence) while working at Sufton Estate (please read the article), where 17 wildlife offences were confirmed to have been carried out (including the use of Bendiocarb) by a staff member he oversaw. If so, how would that tally with your statement ‘I can assure you that we take any matter of animal welfare seriously’?’.

  26. If only a TV company, the BBC perhaps, had a programme entirely devoted covering matters of importance in the countryside then I’m sure they’d leap at the chance at covering a story like this …..

  27. Raptor Persecution UK! Great work.
    I rather feel that estate owners need to take a good look at what goes on right under their noses it could end up with very bad publicity!

  28. So are the Police part of the solution or part of the problem. Like in Derbyshire and in Yorkshire they are clearly a large part of the problem. Tax payers funds should be withdrawn from these criminals.

  29. Most importantly, this Government wants to shut down Freedom of Information requests, which is the most dangerous thing of all for the future of our countryside.

    Crimes such as this don’t get into newspapers because the majority are Tory – even local ones. If they print your letters, vital pieces are censored out. Has anyone out there heard about the burning out of a large badger sett at Kent’s Green, Tibberton, Gloucestershire discovered this Spring? Probably not – no local news coverage. Interestingly, not much news out there for the hacks on polling day, so feeding of live fox cubs to hounds did get a little look in! So rare!

    Mass releasing of pheasants creates a huge burden on local wildlife and flora, which continues throughout the year with the large number of birds that remain unshot.

    The big landowners have the power balance especially with a Tory Government in place and are shutting down and leaning heavily on not only charities but other wildlife organisations if they speak out about anything that threatens their ‘way of life’.

    With great thanks to the friend who sent me the RPUK link.

  30. Green Man website:


    Yeah …..9 x poisoned pheasant baits; 2 x poisoned ravens; 5 x poisoned red kites; 8 x poisoned buzzards.

    Very magical! Bendiocarb smoothie anyone?

  31. And just for the benefit of armchair detectives and persecution deniers…..

    Once again we have a confirmed mass poisoning where a great many raptors were killed and two ravens.

    No gulls,carrion crows, fox, s have been recovered. This does not in anyway mean that the poisoning did not happen or something sinister is afoot.

  32. I emailed the GREEN MAN Festival and heard back remarkably quickly;
    here is the email correspondence in full + in chronological order:

    A1) my first email on 1 July 2016 at 19:51:
    For a long time I have been attracted by the reputation of this festival, its name and what it says on the Wikipedia site: “Renowned for its non-corporate, ethical approach, it has won several awards including ‘Best Medium Sized Festival 2010”.
    If you do care about ethics (?) can I ask why you are holding the festival on a vast privately-owned estate that boasts about its pheasant shooting and that has been identified as the location of mass-poisoning of birds of prey:

    A2) their first reply:
    From: The Green Man []
    Sent: 02 July 2016 00:48
    Subject: Re: CS -> GREEN MAN Festival on the Glanusk Estate
    Hi Susanna –
    These poisonings took place three years ago and we’ve only just learnt about them yesterday with the publication of the RSPB report.
    Not that we’re defending anyone.. But the estate have today claimed that the poisonings happened off site and the police found that the evidence pointed to non criminal activity.
    We love all creatures great and small and would never intentionally cause harm to anything. We are as shocked as everyone else is and are just trying to get some facts together from the estate. We can assure you, ethics is at the top of our priority list :)
    Let us know if you want any more information.
    GM x

    B1) my 2nd email on 2 July 2016 at 10:24:

    Dear GM,

    Thank you for your prompt reply.

    From what I have seen / read I understand that the poisoned birds were ALL found on the Glanusk estate.
    When you say ‘off site’ – do you (the estate) mean that the dead birds were found outside the area where the festival takes place (but clearly still on estate land)? Do you think that is an argument in the estate’s favour?

    You also say the estate claims “the police found that the evidence pointed to non criminal activity”.
    That is not correct – poisoning protected species is a crime.
    This is the police statement (as published on the estate’s own website!):
    “…During the investigation a number of search warrants under the Wildlife and Countryside Act were executed and two people were arrested in connection with the incidents. A file of evidence was subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service who advised that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution”

    Raptor persecution and the concerted killing of many other animals (by shooting, snaring, trapping, poisoning) is rife on shooting estates;
    please check out the League against Cruel Sports and the Raptor Persecution UK websites for more information on this + and on the huge suffering and environmental damage caused by commercial shooting:

    There are very few prosecutions – as the burden of proof seems insurmountable (i.e. impossible to identify named suspects to face charges) and the decision as to whether to proceed or not is taken by the CPS.
    Shooting / hunting estates are owned by a tiny minority of well-connected privileged individuals who have always exerted their influence in order to protect their own interests.

    Please take a few moments to research the reality of commercial shooting – and what it means:
    to the factory-farmed birds (40 million per year in the UK – intensively reared and transported to shooting
    estates); then released only to be used as target practice by the sort of individual who enjoys killing / injuring
    large numbers of sentient creatures
    to the 1.7 million animals (wild and domestic) caught in cruel wire snares every year
    to the birds of prey whose nests have been destroyed, who have been trapped, poisoned, shot and crushed by
    to all the other animals who are exterminated on shooting estates (hares, stoats, foxes, crows etc etc) as they
    might ‘interfere’ with the target species
    and then ask yourselves whether
    you would really want to hold your festival on the grounds of an estate that boasts about its commercial shooting
    expansion and having taken it ‘to another level’?

    Can I also ask how it happened that the GREEN MAN festival is held at Glanusk?
    What made / makes you think that a shooting estate would be a good location for an ‘ethical’ festival?

    I welcome your findings / comments.

    with best wishes,

    B2) their 2nd reply
    From: The Green Man []
    Sent: 02 July 2016 11:01
    Subject: Re: CS -> GREEN MAN Festival on the Glanusk Estate

    Hi Susanna –

    Thanks for your mail. The estate is about 20,00 acres in size, and we’ve been told by police and the estate that the birds were discovered quite a distance from the festival site.

    We’ve done a fair bit of research into this type of criminal activity over the last 48 hours. Thank you again for the points you’ve made to us here. We’re not trying to make any arguments in the estate’s favour, just pointing to facts we’ve been told.

    We are tied into a long term contract with the estate, it’s our eleventh year at this site. Sadly as you say, most large areas of land suitable for a festival of our size are owned by ‘privileged individuals’.

    We can only assure that we are an ethical festival. We’ve given the RSPB a free stall at the festival for many years, we have a talk this year about bird spotting and conservation. We work with the National Trust and the Canals and Rivers Trust to help protect many species of local animals. Our festival is one weekend of the year on an estate that we have no control over, we just rent a few fields for a couple of weeks. We are a charitable institution ourselves and have donated several hundreds of pounds to local conservation work and community projects.

    We’ll be looking at ways at this year’s festival to raise awareness of this kind of criminal activity.

    Hope that goes some way to answer your further questions.


    GM x

    C1) my 3rd email on 02 July 2016 15:24

    Dear GM,

    Thank you for another very quick response.

    So the poisoned birds were found on the estate but far from the festival site. And that’s a good thing because…
    …the criminals have taken care not to poison any potential festivalgoers – just rare wildlife?
    …or that there were cunning enough to dump the killed birds far enough away?

    It is regrettable that you cannot / do not want to find another festival site.
    I simply cannot understand the reasoning of holding a festival that promotes itself as ‘ethical’ on a shooting estate – and I note that you have not answered my question of how this came about.

    The National Trust (since you mention it by way of arguing your ethical credentials) is very much a typical large landowner in many ways; it leases land to commercial shooting estates, allows hunting to take place on its land and allows all its tenant farmers the use of snares for ‘vermin control’.

    With best regards,

    [no further replies received as of 2/7/2016 7pm]

  33. Great effort ChoosySusy, thanks for that. I’m intrigued as to what their next response will be, it’s not been great so far. Hopefully the magnitude of the situation will dawn on them over the next day or two.

  34. Waiting to see if local paper – Abergavenny Chronicle- covers the atrocity in this week’s edition. Living not a mile away from Glanusk, we are seeing far fewer buzzards than this time last year and no kites since late June when a pair were frequently soaring low over the Ffawyddog. Are these birds still being destroyed? The numbers of raptors poisoned will no doubt be well in excess of those discovered, together with foxes, stoats or any carrion eating creature. The rabbit population has soared , but, a myxomatosis outbreak has started now, Are rabbits becoming a problem for the estate too? The Glanusk Estate was well respected once, but no longer, it seems to have lost it’s way. XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX. The Estate owners cannot blithely ignore what takes place on their land and refuse to accept any responsibility. Local land owners are overrun with pheasants from the estate,and we will shortly be subjected to the sound of regular gunfire. Killing any creature for pleasure must require a strangely wired brain – are they more to be pitied than blamed?

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