Peregrine found shot next to grouse moor in Peak District National Park

On Tuesday 6 September 2016, a critically-injured peregrine was found by walkers on a road in the Goyt Valley in Derbyshire. It was in shock and unable to fly.


The juvenile peregrine was collected by volunteers from Raptor Rescue and held overnight. The following day it was taken to a vets in Ashbourne where it died from its injuries. An x-ray revealed the bird’s wing bones had been smashed to pieces with lead shot. The extent of its injuries suggest this bird wouldn’t have been able to fly far from where it had been shot.

The Goyt Valley lies to the west of Buxton, within the Peak District National Park.


The Goyt Valley will be familiar to some blog readers as this was the venue for the Peak District’s 2015 Hen Harrier Day gathering, just half a mile to the south of where this peregrine was found near Errwood Reservoir. It’s interesting to note that the injured peregrine was found on the border of the Special Protection Area (SPA) boundary and also within the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) boundary. Oh, and look at the burnt strips of heather moorland to the south east of where the shot bird was found: Wild Moor is managed as a driven grouse moor. What an amazing coincidence.


So here we are again, yet another raptor illegally killed within a National Park. And this National Park, the Peak District National Park, has, since 2011, been hosting a long-running Bird of Prey Initiative where ‘partners’ are supposed to have been ‘collaborating’ to increase bird of prey numbers. Five years in to the project we learned that none of the project targets had been met (see here) but that the Initiative was going to continue and extend from the Dark Peak to the South West Peak (which is where this bird was shot).

As Mark Avery commented at the time (here), “The response of the consortium is to keep pretending that everyone is on the same side and that chatting about things will bring an end to crime. It won’t“.

He was right. Raptor persecution within the Peak District National Park has continued, including the recent discovery of a spring-trapped osprey and a shot buzzard (see here), an armed man filmed sitting next to a decoy hen harrier (see here) and a suspected shot goshawk (see here).

Ironic, isn’t it, that while we were all sitting in a conference room in Sheffield at the weekend, at the edge of the Peak District National Park, listening to various speakers bleating on about ‘consensus’, ‘partnership working’ and ‘cooperation’ being the way forward, a few miles down the road the corpse of the latest victim was being shoved in a freezer, shot to pieces.

It is pitiful that this charade of ‘conflict resolution’ is allowed to continue when it is quite clear that some of the so-called ‘partners’ have no intention whatsoever of changing their criminal behaviour. They are out of control and the authorities seem unwilling, or unable, to stop them. Meaningful action against these criminals is being delayed by keeping everyone tied to the table in endless rounds of pointless talks. Enough.

The e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting has now amassed over 121,000 signatures and will result in a Westminster evidence session followed by a parliamentary debate. The petition closes in one week – if you haven’t already signed, please do so now and let your MP know that this issue is important to you. PLEASE SIGN HERE

UPDATE 14 Sept: Derbyshire Constabulary issues appeal for information here

UPDATE 15 Sept: BBC News runs the story here

50 thoughts on “Peregrine found shot next to grouse moor in Peak District National Park”

  1. No prizes for naming the culprits ! Keep the pressure on these thugs, they will be brought to account before a judge eventually

  2. Another barbaric act by idiots allowed to use firearms. They think they are Rambo for blasting a Bird of Prey out of the skies. People power will increase the pressure more and more, or the skies will be emptied of these majestic birds.

    I look forward to the day that the authorities make an example of some gamekeeper, when they are caught in the act. Any such punishment should carry from the gamekeeper, through to the landowner and the estate he works for, who in turn should have their personal gun licenses removed and all shooting activities on their land should be stopped for a period of time, sufficient to worry the rest of the Rambo wannabee’s.

    Never before have so many (almost all) Raptors been slaughtered, for the sick enjoyment of so few.


  3. This is utterly appalling. It seems we’re now breeding peregrines in our towns and cities just for them to be shot shortly afterwards over our hills and moorlands. Any provenance information from the ring yet?

    After the Sheffield raptor conference I spent the Sunday talking individually to well over a hundred visitors in the Peak District’s Upper Derwent Valley about the need to have an 8,000 hectare shooting-free zone on nearby National Trust land. Not one visitor told me they had seen a bird of prey of any species the entire day. They all signed our petition. (See the RSPB’s Peak Malpractice report on this place) This sad event on a privately-owned grouse moor in the nearby Goyt Valley just reinforces how important it is to persuade all those moorland-owners (like the National Trust) who DO have a say in whether or not shooting and grouse farming continues on their land that there is good reason to change their approach to moorland management.

    The National Trust’s outdated mantra is: “where there is a history of sporting shooting on NT land we permit it, under agreement. Provided that there is no conflict with the Trust’s conservation and access responsibilities”

    There’s clearly conflict with grouse shooting and the survival of raptors across ALL the Dark Peak and South West Peak moorlands. So please sign and promote our Moorland Vision petition to influence one major land owner not to let out any more shooting tenants on their moors:

    1. I agree completely but one of the obstacles when dealing with major landowners like NT is significant conflict of interest as their senior staff and land agents who deal with tenancies and ‘sporting’ rights are often part of the shooting community themselves and unlikely to look sympathetically on any proposal to reduce the area that can be shot over and potentially lose income for their estate. It isn’t just NT obviously if you examine most major stakeholders you find the same e.g. Deputy Chair of NE Prof David Hill who is involved with upland conservation at high level and runs his own shoot.

      I’m not saying they are all bad, just that as a community even the ones with morals are unlikely to prioritise raptor conservation over maximising the number of gamebirds that can be shot due to personal bias and not wishing to be alienated from their peer group.

      If you don’t fully understand ‘conflict of interest’ have a look in the dictionary under Conservative Party e.g. Richard Benyon et al.

      Most of us have genuinely had enough now, Steve Redpath may mean well with his conflict resolution talk but after decades of trying to improve this situation and getting nowhere thanks to the dishonesty of the shooting community and their disregard for protection of native species other than Red Grouse he is wasting his breath. Time to ban it.

    2. I’ve been walking in the Upper Derwent Valley today and was very excited to see a raptor (sorry I am not good enough to identify it) as I turned off the Snake Pass to go down to Fairholmes. However as exciting as this was there is only one solution to this terrible persecution – ban driven grouse shooting! Alan Charles, former Derbyshire PCC

  4. The falcon was still alive when found so presumably somehow it had managed to get some distance away from where it was shot, otherwise it would have been found, dispatched and hidden by perpetrator and we would have known nothing about this bird – or maybe they just weren’t bothered if we did. Not that we didn’t know the answer but here is the evidence why the skies in many of our ‘protected’ areas are empty of birds of prey and too often haven’t much of anything else either.

  5. Ban grouse shooting on National parks, and impose very meaningful gaol sentences for raptor killers on private estates.
    There are currently no disincentives.

  6. Well hopefully the people that found the peregrine are now aware of the issues and will now be on our side. Bit by bit, more and more people are becoming aware, so although they may think they are being clever, they are making sure that the public pressure on them will increase. Very sad for the birds that are the victims of their callousness, but eventually there will be enough people appalled by their actions to force change. In the meantime I still think we need to look at ways of more imaginative action.

  7. Wonder if Mr Merricks has dashed across to talk to the head gamekeeper (as he did when the Mossdale incident was reported)?

  8. This is clearly another conflict species, just like the hen harrier is. How best to resolve this conflict? Well, the Hawk and Owl Trust’s hen harrier disposal service points the way forward. Pinpoint nesting peregrines, remove their broods and thereby displace the nesting pair, and transfer the eggs / young to the purpose-built falconry cell (sorry, facilities) at the International Centre for Birds of Prey. Simples.

  9. Yet another sad day for raptors on or near grouse moors. Licensing grouse moors as advocated by the RSPB requires monitoring and enforcement. Doesn’t happen now why should it change in the future irrespective of banning or licencing. Bring the uplands back to nature, stop subsidies for hobbies and in the process stop lining landowners pockets. Ensure our money is spent improving our natural world and reducing the tax burden. Wake up politicians. Get it sorted.

  10. These not native. These things killing all song birds. .
    Bring it to judge.
    Listen to you lot.
    This raptor is killing everythinh in sight..
    Come on charly whos the culprits??.

    1. William, If you honestly believe that the peregrine falcon is not a native bird species in England, you are sadly very misinformed.
      If you honestly believe that peregrine falcons and other birds of prey are responsible for the incredible declines in songbirds across our intensively over-managed and farmed English countryside, you are sadly very, very misinformed.
      If you think that these now incredibly rare raptors in the Peak District moorlands are killing everything in sight, you are, sadly very stupid.

      1. Aye, there is, John. Go into Google translate, and choose the Dumbfuck language so often used by criminal apologists (i.e. the shooting industry), and you might get there.

        Another imbecilic, misinformed, brainwashed spokesclown for the shooting industry, that just doesn’t realise the damage he is doing to his industry.

        William is probably one of those that are force-fed a diet of lies and nonsense from the likes of the Daily Mail and Songbird Survival, and he is too stupid to challenge any of it. There is also a good chance that he is a UKIP supporter, and has a zero tolerance approach to all immigrants.

    2. Re non native killers you’d be better thinking about the invasive cherry laurel and rhoddie amongst others that are choking out the natural fauna and flora in our woods and driving down bird populations and practically everything else. I have only found two old birds’ nests in all the considerable quantity of rhoddie and cherry laurel I’ve cut down, but when we made habitat piles with the brashings and ground flora and insect life came back plenty of dunnocks, wrens, robins and even occasional song thrush hopping about. Our native predators never managed to kill off their prey and exist without it before we came along and aren’t doing so now. Since some of the invasives are there because they were planted as game cover by shooting estates – and some of that fraternity still think it’s a good thing to do – bit of their guilty secret and gets in the way of the the anti raptor propaganda to get rid of birds of prey because they think it will help them kill more pheasant, partridge and grouse for fun.

    3. William – I’m afraid you illustrate perfectly why the Hawk & Owl Trust has it so wrong. For as long as people continue to think and express such views as you do, there is but one solution – an all out ban of driven red grouse shooting. Your lot will just carry on your war against our wildlife.

  11. 10 years from now lots of staving raptures and no song birds left including Lapwings ect, then you will see what is really happening out there .Open your eyes there are hundreds of the evil killers out there but you have to look they dont just fly over the road in front of you but look high enough just below the clouds you might then see them .Put your food out on your bird table then you will see the Sparrow hawk flash through and grab the birds you are feeding .Walk over the park near the bushes see the little piles of feathers where the local Blackbird met its end .The gamekeeper is doing what he is paid for and to protect his job as well .If you had a shop and everyday people came in and just took things a will what would you do just sit and watch no call the police .If the game keeper went and told the Police that Falcons had eaten his birds they would say tough .Last tell me when you last had baby Black birds and thrushes in your garden bet you cant they have gone down the throats of the local Sparrow hawk or Goshawk

    1. ROFL! Do you really believe all that or is it a wind-up?! I have been recording the birds in my sub-urban garden for many years, including Sparrowhawks that visit. Yes, I have seen a very occasional successful catch of a bird, or found feathers that have been left. However, if you read Charles Darwin and understand about ‘survival of the fittest’ you will know that it is the weaker/slower birds that are taken, the overall numbers are totally unaffected. There are far more occasions when the bird leaves empty-talloned. I have seen/trail-camed far more cats taking far more wildlife than Sparrowhawks, and I think you’ll find that is also very true in the park you mention. As for a Goshawk in the garden…… yes, please!

    2. Good comedy piece Geogg.
      It’s good that only a relative few people have your view on raptors otherwise the whole bird world would collapse without its natural balance.
      Do not forget that it is us humans that upset the balance of nature – not the raptors.

    3. Another illustration of why a ban is needed and the only option. You can’t reason with these people. And Merricks and his Hawk & Owl Trust really thinks removing hen harriers will cause these people to stop killing protected species?

    4. If that was the case then all birds apart from birds of prey would have become extinct 1000’s of years ago. Same could be said of all predators, big cats, wolves etc. As prey numbers drop predator numbers drop too, then prey numbers recover and so on. That’s providing man doesn’t get involved & alter the balance of course. Get a grip man.

    5. So, by saying ” The gamekeeper is doing what he is paid for and to protect his job as well ” you admit that all gamekeepers are criminals ?

      They should all be jailed, that goes for the land managers and land owners instructing them as well.

    6. Dearie me, with such a detailed and scientific understanding of natural history, Geogg Clare (or should that be Geoff Clare, the pigeon fancier from Boston?) has clearly displayed fuckwittery of extraordinary proportions.

      Indeed, so bad was it, that he couldn’t even type his name correctly.

      1. I wasn’t going to post, but your right, it did say that. It certainly didn’t say any pellets found on the body or describe any other wounds like you would expect. Only a smashed wing. The run over is be bullshit, but was there any actual evidence of lead shot?

    1. Yeah you just can’t drive anywhere without hen harriers, peregrines, buzzards and sea eagles jumping out in front of your motor. The RSPB should be teaching them the bloody Green Cross Code!

  12. Old jimmy the gamekeeper shoots or traps just about everything that interferes with his gamebirds, some of the bodies of his victims he throws into a stink pit to rot, he surrounds this pit with snares to trap any other poor creature drawn in by the smell, other victims of his efforts are incinerated so no trace is left. All this is done so his boss has more gamebirds to kill, desperate to improve his public image he goes to a PR consultant, the consultant listens to all this and finally says “hey, despite all the creatures you kill just so you can kill more creatures, a few other creatures actually benefit from what you’re doing, I know we will call you a conservationist, just remember to tell everyone at every opportunity that some creatures benefit. Old Jimmy goes down to the pub that evening telling everyone he’s a conservationist, young Tommy the local hooligan is listening and decides to visit the same PR consultant, Tommy goes home drunk every weekend in the late hours after being thrown out of the clubs, on his way home he gets a kebab or a pizza generally eating half of it before vomiting and throwing the rest into the road, Rats pigeons foxes and gulls all benefit from Tommy’s waste, Tommy is now going around calling himself a night club conservationist, bullshit is bullshit however you describe it. Nice to see a few plastic conservationists on here proving the point

  13. Put in the post code of where the bird was shot and look at your dater base to see who held a gun license in that area. Take those licenses away until one of them confesses. If they don’t well that’s a lot of folk off the suspect list for the future! Given that most of the wildlife officers are into shooting sadly this will not happen!

  14. Well I was playing devil’s advocate on another page when this story broke so held back. I was going to point out that although this was found just off a grouse moor, it’s not just gamekeepers that dislike raptors. Peregrine in particular are targeted by another bunch of ‘sportsmen’, pigeon racers.
    Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that one of the incoherent rambling comments on here has a name just a typo away from a famous pigeon keeper. G being next to F on a keyboard. Perhaps SoS (or similar ignorant body) have linked to this story to encourage anti-peregrine comment?

  15. Isn’t it obvious? The poor old Peregrine was obviously suffering from depression owing to the number of its kin who had been shot by conservationists trying to blacken the lily-white souls of those wondrous habitat and wildlife conservationists the gamekeepers and their masters. Therefore he had decided to commit suicide by shooting himself (oh sorry – or throwing himself in front of a car as Peregrines habitually hunt by skimming low along roads) but was so agitated that he missed the fatal shot and only wounded himself. There is however, one good thing coming out of this item – we have some wonderful exhibits of the moronic ignorance and limited spelling ability of our foes. And Marco M. is quite right. When it comes to Peregrine persecution don’t just think gamekeepers, think pigeon men too. Many moons ago when there were only 6 pairs of breeding Peregrines in the Lake District, I organised 24 -hour watches on two of my local nests which were very close to pigeon lofts. (We don’t have Grouse moors here, we have sheep!). I also worked with pigeon racing men who made their views very clear. For my sins I even wrote articles for ‘Cumbria’ magazine and took part in both radio and TV discussion programmes discussing the problem between raptor conservationists and pigeon men. It was here that I learned the futility of discussions and hopes of sensible dialogue with most of these people – and also learned that their camouflage was Songbird Survival. However, there can be little doubt that in the case of this bird it would be our usual culprit – the gamekeeper.

    Please continue to let the morons have their say RPUK, they give me hope that one day they will realise how stupid they make themselves appear. They are the UK’s answer to Donald Trump!

    Finally, I propose my old mate John Miles as the next Environment Secretary. Great suggestion John.

  16. I was in Buxton on Sunday and saw a female peregrine flying towards the town. I did worry about its longevity with so much hatred on the moors where it feeds.
    A sad world until we can be rid of the criminals.

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