Buzzard shot dead in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire

shot bz nyorksAug16North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a buzzard that had been shot dead.

On 4th August 2016 a member of the public reported that a buzzard had been found dead near Manfield, North Yorkshire. The buzzard was recovered by the RSPB and taken to a vet in Leeds. An x-ray showed ten fragments inside the bird, consistent with being shot. It is not known how long the buzzard had been dead before it was found.

PC Rob Davies, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Buzzards are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it a criminal offence to kill or injure them. The extent to which raptors are persecuted is completely unacceptable, so I am urging anyone with any information about this incident to get in touch with me without delay.”

Anyone who is aware of suspicious activity in the area, or has any information that could assist the investigation, is asked to contact PC Rob Davies at North Yorkshire Police by dialing 101 and selecting option 2, or via email Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12160140036.

North Yorkshire maintains its status as one of the worst places in the UK for the illegal killing of birds of prey. It’s a county where much of the landscape is dominated by grouse moors, particularly in the two National Parks: the North York Moors NP and the Yorkshire Dales NP, as well as a large number of pheasant and partridge shoots.

This year, other raptor persecution crimes uncovered in North Yorkshire have included several illegally spring-trapped buzzards, several shot buzzards, at least ten shot red kites, and a gamekeeper filmed setting three illegal pole traps in the vicinity of a hen harrier.

There’s still time to sign the e-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. Over 116,000 people have had enough – have you? Please sign here.

26 thoughts on “Buzzard shot dead in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire”

    1. Note the distance between shot in the carcass. When shot are fired from a shotgun it spreads out so the further the shot have travelled the further away from each other the shot will be. Our ballistics experts at CA HQ calculate that the shot was taken from outside the UK.

  1. Alan Stewart (@Wildlifeblog) makes a couple of interesting observations (I suppose as an ex-wildlife crime officer) regarding this case on his latest blog. I wonder of @DuncanBASC would draw the same conclusions given his past history.

  2. I suppose now theres more buzzards and kites then there will be an increase in the mindless killings. The buzzard has done really well, increasing in numbers, despite all this illegal killing. Theres a lot of people that dont like them. They are so vulnerable, any idiot could shoot them. Appeal to the idiots, just back off and leave them alone.

  3. Yet again people are spreading the myth that Buzzards are increasing. In most of Scotland at least this is certainly not the case any more. In the past eight years they have declined by around 60%, and the increasing rate of death by shooting must be playing a significant part in that. They are currently palpably missing from or very scarce in many of the gaps previously filled, and could become amber listed.

    1. Thank you, Jack Snipe, for pointing this out, much appreciated.

      Keen Birder, referring to your last sentence: I think a myriad of appeals have been made to the killers of raptors and nothing is working.

      They have to be caught, prosecuted and punished – but given the large areas where they commit their crimes, this is obviously easier said than done.

      Banning driven grouse shooting would help.

    2. Yes I’ve definitely noticed that there are far fewer buzzards this past year especially. I’ve heard several tales, and of some evidence, that local buzzards are being killed. Still too many idiots with high powered airguns around, a buzzard is a nice easy target for them and if you want an excuse for that idiocy well go to the right forum and you’ll have some plonker make out buzzards are responsible for the decline of..well pretty much everything as they are the one predator that has made something of a very public recovery (compared to how ridiculously rare they were). Lapwings, curlews and yes even frogs and wildcats are being killed off by buzzards apparently. The recovery seemed too good to be true. Hoping the boys and gals in blue won’t be shy in collaring anyone walking around with an air rifle and seeing if they have a license for it – would help somewhat if not entirely.

  4. Well said Jack Snipe. I, too, have noticed a big reduction in numbers of buzzards over the past few years in the North Angus/South Mearns area. The only areas where numbers have been sustained are in public areas like parks, countryside walks etc. Lets hope long lens cameras which now abound can be brought into use should anyone happen to come across illegal activities taking place.

    1. I agree George, definitely less Buzzards in this area. Theres no shooting on the estate round me, but still less buzzards. probably only 50% of the nests occupied this year. I have found a few carcasses long dead in field corners. I don’t know if its anything to do with the huge increase in Kites, either competition or disease spread, but remember being in a debate a couple of years ago, where the same was being observed with the buzzards north of Inverness and the increase of kites. There is still probably a buzzards nest every 1000m in my region.

      1. Aye, Alan, that might be however in the past two years I have only seen two red kites within my local area, both during the hairst, though I know there are quite a few more red kites just south of me. So, in this small part of the area I doubt much whether it would be kites and there are not many other who could compete with them. However, now that the issue has been raised I suspect more folk will be taking a closer interest and maybe some sort of reason can be identified and the problem laid to rest … though … like Jack .. I suspect increased persecution is playing a part, given that feelings are running high. Time will tell.

  5. Alan, the explanation is quite simple. Buzzards increased enormously during a remarkably widespread and mostly under-recorded vole plague between the late 1980s and 2006, then declined sharply following an unprecedented crash in the vole population. In my study area, extending from mid Argyll south into Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, Kestrels have also been affected, decreasing by close to 90% in the past eight years. Several cold winters compounded the effect, but in the case of Buzzards it seems highly probable that increased persecution played a significant part.

    1. The voles/ample food may well be a valid point Jack. We had plenty voles in some of the left wild fields until about 3 years ago. That was probably when the buzzards started to disappear, along with the barn owls. There has also been a severe lack of young rabbits for the last few years. 3 or 4 years ago there was 11 buzzards following the plough in the field behind my house. This year, just 2. I’ve no doubt persecution plays a significant part in some areas, but I’m quite comfortable that for a couple of miles round me that isn’t a factor. Though if you wanted to persecute buzzards, they would be ridiculously easy to do so.There is more than just a few kites a wee bit south of you in the winter George. The first kite nest I came across a few years ago when I looked at after they had fledged, was strewn with rat remains and just few other things. This year another nest was strewn almost exclusively with oyster catchers. Maybe the kites are more versatile than the buzzards.

  6. There are far fewer buzzards in the Aviemore area, 7 or 8 years ago I would often see them, but not any more. The only answer left is to BAN DRIVEN GROUSE SHOOTING.

  7. It should be borne in mind that a decrease in any given area can be the result of persecution draining the population elsewhere (the ‘sink’ effect). I believe Scottish harriers are affected in this way outside the breeding season by severe persecution on and around English grouse moors.

  8. I believe that the serious lack of Field Voles (and rabbits due to VHD) in recent years due to increasingly wet weather and floods in my area (West Cumbria), along with habitat loss (rough meadows being replaced by silaging and overgrazing by sheep), has resulted in a very obvious decline in Kestrels, Buzzards and Barn Owls’ Our once regular wintering Short-eared Owls too,are long gone. I don’t buy the Red Kite theory though. just go to the Elan Valley or the original reintroduction site in the Chilterns and you will see kites and buzzards getting along together without any hassle – and yes, I do realise that Gigrin Farm in Rhyader does a sensational daily kite feed which no doubt helps this scenario. However, despite the release of Red Kites in Grizedale Forest here in the Lakes, few if any are to be seen now, yet the three species mentioned above are still in trouble – and who sees Kestrels from a motorway these days? Natural causes are always a factor in such declines, and undoubtedly climate change has become a real problem. But persecution of virtually all raptors by the self-styled ‘sportsmen’ (aka the ,Pleasure Killers’) are just exacerbating the increasing decline in wildlife as a whole. Regarding the latest Buzzard victim – Manfield is just 9 miles from where the regular-breeding female Eagle Owl (23 young between 1997 -2006) was shot in 2006 following a crass remark made by a BOU representative in a BBC film). North Yorkshire should indeed be twinned to the Scottish Grouse Moors, and maybe the Peak District!

  9. Buzzards on this end of Mull are welll down in numbers over the last 15 years as are kestrels and am sure it is not down to persecution or red kites as we have none. The buzzard decline is a bit of a puzzle as we have a lot of rabbits. We also have no grouse moors…. We still have harriers in reasonable numbers which is helped by having no foxes though a lot of feral cats. Golden eagles seem OK but given the long lifespan it may take longer to notice any decline and at the moment we are heaving with sea eagles if anybody would like some. The point is the decline in raptor numbers is not down to just persecuton and the perception that all keepers are at it is clearly false as if they were all doing it here would be very little left. I know it is in the interests of sites like this to fire up the troops but a bit of balance and perspective on both sdes would help as at the end of the day a compromise will need to be reached.

    1. I know I’ve been harping on about this for some time, but the explanation for the overall crash in Kestrel and Buzzard numbers relates to a largely unrecognised and under-recorded dramatic change in field vole populations. Personally, I have evidence of this extending throughout a large area of central and southern Scotland, but my casual observations elsewhere in the country, and evidence now starting to come through from BBS and anecdotal reports suggests that the phenomenon has occurred much more widely. The Kestrel has been affected more so than the Buzzard, again simply because Kestrel relies more heavily on voles as a prey item; Buzzards are more generalist, but it does appear to be availability of field voles which most affects breeding productivity.
      I would suggest that Field Voles underwent what amounts to a widespread population increase over a period of two decades, beginning in the 1980s. This increase was far greater than the usual four-year population cycle, almost like a nationwide vole “plague” of considerable proportions. During the period it was commonplace to hear moorland raptor workers and others remarking about the immense numbers of voles they were encountering in the course of survey work. Even given that some anecdotal accounts seemed somewhat exaggerated, it was clear that something significant and long lasting was taking place. Not unsurprisingly, indices for Buzzards and Kestrels went exponential, and Short-eared Owls also increased during the same period.
      Then around 2006 a change took place, and throughout my study areas and others the voles began to vanish, and since then the decline of Buzzard and Kestrel has amounted to 57% and 92% respectively. My attempts to establish the extent of scientific knowledge of the vole crash have shown just how remarkably under-studied this important small mammal appears to be in this country. For example, I’ve yet to find a satisfactory definition of what qualifies as “a vole plague,” or its cause. Disease has been identified in some isolated studies as the cause of declines. Unless anyone can inform me otherwise, there appear to be just a few theories about what brings about a vole plague – e.g. sheep removal for tree planting, an association with wetland habitats where “plagues” have been shown to originate, and some obscure references to a possible genetic control mechanism. Studies tend to be of relatively isolated populations, and I can find nothing about any possible phenomenon of a mega-boost in the wider population.
      It’s probably too early to speculate, but could it be possible that a longer term population cycle also occurs, which so far has not been properly recorded or researched? I suppose time will tell. In the meantime it would be foolish to assume that persecution is not the main anthropogenic cause of raptor decline, particularly in the case of Hen Harriers on English and Scottish grouse moors.

      1. Well that was long and I don’t disagree with a fair bit of it but my point was persecution is not the cause of the raptor decline in this parish so may not be the cause in other areas. I can’t comment on harrier declines on English and Scottish grouse moors as I like you I suspect do not live on one. I can only comment on my own ” study area ” .

        1. Hector I wasn’t disagreeing with you, and not quite sure why you give the impression of taking issue with me. However.. there is a well-known biological phenomenon called “the sink effect” which perhaps you’re not taking into consideration. A decline in one area can be caused by persecution in a nearby or even distant area, if the other area is attractive to a species which moves into the sink area and disappears, as if down a plug hole. My comments made it clear (or should have) that in some areas, perhaps like your own, natural causes alone can be the reason for a decline in Buzzards.

  10. Sink effect does happen and would be a factor in harriers but not so sure how much wandering if any buzzards and kestrels do. I take issue with you over the raven stooshie where a few on here and you in particular seem to be in denial about the fact that ravens cause a lot of problems. It is not too far fetched that in a few years time sea eagles are going to become a pest similar to ravens given their breedng success and after the reaction to a ” legal ” license to cull 10 buzzards god knows what will happen. Has any thought or planning gone into what happens when the sea eagle populaton gets too big for our country. The natural solution will not happen as a starving sea eagle will get taken in given B and B and then sent back out to starve for a second time. This is where this re- wildng crap falls down. It may be great in a few centuries if nothing changes and the population does not increase but it will not work now. Wildlife on these islands has to be managed and if the powers that be want lots of crows getting eaten by starving eagles as in Donegal fair enough but at least be honest about it.

    1. Hector, sorry but you’re not fully understanding how the sink effect works at different levels, but judging from your other ill-informed comments, and in the interests of other readers of this blog, I don’t think there’s any point in going into a detailed explanation. I will however say that the sink effect can operate without individual birds from nearby being “sucked in” to the black hole. Your ideas about White-tailed Eagles and Ravens are frankly ridiculous, and not worthy of response. I feel I’d be wasting my time. I could be wrong, but you seem to have fallen under the influence of the self-appointed who call themselves “the guardians of the countryside.” Science is not on your side. “Sea eagles are going to become a pest similar to ravens”? That’s just nonsense. You couldn’t be more wrong on both counts.

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