Coordinated hunt & shooting of a hen harrier in 2013 – location revealed

A couple of years ago (20 June 2014) we blogged about the alleged coordinated hunt and shooting of a male hen harrier on a grouse moor in Scotland (see here).


This alleged crime had actually taken place in May 2013 – it was reported to Police Scotland by the two members of the public who had witnessed the event, Police Scotland investigated but no further evidence was available to take the case forward.

For some reason, Police Scotland failed to publicise this incident or appeal for information, despite hen harrier persecution being a UK National Wildlife Crime Priority. Instead, it was left to the RSPB to issue a press release over a year later (see here) as part of a wider call for more sporting estates to take action to protect hen harriers.

At the time, the location of this incident was pretty sketchy. The RSPB press release said it took place ‘on a moor in the eastern Cairngorms, within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park’.

But then roll on to late 2015 and the publication of RSPB Scotland’s 20-year review of raptor persecution crimes. If you have a look at Table 3 in this report, which details confirmed incidents of persecution or attempted persecution (excluding poisoning) of birds of prey in Scotland 2013, the following information appears:

HH shot Glen Gairn

According to this table, a hen harrier was shot at ‘Glen Gairn’ in Aberdeenshire in May 2013. We presume, given the date and location, this is the same incident as referred to in that 2014 RSPB press release.

So, Glen Gairn. Where’s that then?

Well, would you believe, part of Glen Gairn appears to lie at the eastern boundary of Invercauld Estate, not a million miles from where those illegally-set spring traps were recently discovered at Gellaig Hill. (Map detail created from information provided on Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website).

Glen Gairn final - Copy

Now, we should urge caution here before anyone jumps to conclusions. This map is slightly misleading because it suggests that Glen Gairn lies entirely within the boundary of Invercauld Estate. It doesn’t. Glen Gairn extends east across the river, beyond the Invercauld Estate boundary, and on to the grouse moors of neighbouring Dinnet Estate.

We don’t know exactly where in Glen Gairn those two members of the public watched the alleged coordinated hunt and then shooting of that male hen harrier in 2013. It could have been on the Dinnet side of the Glen, or it could have been on the Invercauld side of the Glen, or it could have extended across both sides of the Glen. We don’t know, but presumably Police Scotland will know if those two members of the public were able to give accurate grid references.

As so often happens, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution so we have no idea who was responsible. It must have been the handiwork of those pesky moorland fairies. They do seem to be quite active in this part of the Cairngorms National Park, don’t they?

Photo of a male hen harrier by Robin Newlin

14 thoughts on “Coordinated hunt & shooting of a hen harrier in 2013 – location revealed”

    1. More and more evidence that shooting estates:

      1. Don’t give a damn about conservation.
      2. Have an insane hatred of any predator, curved beaks and talons included.
      3. Believe their own propaganda.
      4. Incredibly devious, protected by vast open spaces, in their criminal doings.
      5. Can speak fluent lies as well as any low life criminal.
      6. Think that money will get them out of gaol and so often prove it.

      They are part of our sick society.


      1. Perhaps the border of the area the Cairngorms NPA calls ‘Upper Deeside: Glen Gairn’?

        I like this description:
        ‘This name applies to the glen through which the Gairn flows. It extends from the Farm of Reinathon above Gairnsheil to the bridge crossing the Gairn on the Turnpike Road leading from Ballater to Braemar. The land on both sides of the river is cultivated for a considerable distance and produces very good Crops. The principal proprietor in the Glen is Col. Farquharson of Invercauld.’
        – Aberdeenshire OS Name Books, 1865-1871, volume 19

        1. Thanks Adam. Just seems odd to have a line around such a general area name. It almost looks like it is meant for some kind of purpose, a planning application or something? Never mind i was just curious.

          1. The map and associated text is from the 2009 Cairngorms National Park Landscape Character Assessment report ( The map is on page 235 of this report.

            As Adam has suggested it appears that the blue line is the boundary of the area having its landscape character assessed, in this case Upper Deeside: Glen Gairn. Though I must confess that I haven’t read all of the 401 page report!

  1. Oh the hegemonic power of wealth and how it corrupts most of those who come into contact with it. As I watch the convoys of tweed clad deviants and their lackeys enter their four wheel drives prior to setting off for their killing fields I think only of the death, blood and pain all are complicit in creating. How dare they claim to be representative of the Scottish People. They are as real as, and have as much in common with most Scots, as the population of Brigadoon. The biggest threat to them is an honest man. ,

    1. “They are as real as, and have as much in common with most Scots, as the population of Brigadoon.”

      A very true statement, George, however I would expand on that description, as they have very little in common with decent, civilised human beings.

  2. It really won’t be long before there is nothing left. Take a walk on the North York Moors it’s virtually silent. You will see hardly any wildlife apart from Grouse now they are doing magnificently.

  3. To those who have been deterred from signing Mark Avery’s petition “because it doesn’t apply to Scotland” (shame on you, RSPB), it’s worth pointing out that it is the UK Parliament that will be obliged to consider debating the subject (I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been devolution for England yet), and that the persecution of Hen Harriers in England DOES affect the Scottish population. Hen Harriers are partial migrants, and although we only really hear highlighted how few pairs are nesting in England, some Scottish harriers spend the winter on English moors, and probably lose their lives there. It is also known that some gamekeepers organise clandestine shoots of harriers at communal winter roosts in southern Scotland and England. Many Scottish birds winter on farmland, marshes and coastal saltmarsh in England and in France, but they also have to run the gauntlet of guns and pole traps, across the grouse moors of northern England as they migrate northwards again in springtime. For the avoidance of doubt, it should be made clear that Scottish Hen Harriers are also in serious trouble, not just home-grown but also due largely to the ‘sink’ effect caused by ruthless persecution in England.

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