Grouse shooting industry silent on marsh harrier persecution

Last Thursday (10th August 2017) North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, who had been filmed trying to shoot a nesting Marsh harrier on a Yorkshire grouse moor in May. Some more armed men, still dressed as gamekeepers, were also filmed removing eggs from the Marsh harrier’s nest.

The Police appeal for information about the crimes, and an RSPB blog about the crimes, can be found here. The RSPB’s video footage of the crimes can be viewed here:

Four days on, we were interested to find out what the leading representatives of the grouse shooting industry have had to say about these crimes so we checked the following website news sections:

Moorland Association – nothing

National Gamekeepers Organisation – nothing

Countryside Alliance – nothing

British Association for Shooting & Conservation – nothing

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – nothing

No condemnation of these crimes. No appeals for information about these crimes from within their industry. Just a complete wall of silence. We even asked the Moorland Association whether this grouse moor was a member, and we asked the National Gamekeepers Organisation whether they had any members employed on this grouse moor. The responses? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It’s the same deafening silence that followed the discovery of a poisons cache buried on another North Yorkshire grouse moor (see here).

Isn’t it great to see these ‘partners’ in the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) speaking out and doing their utmost to fight against illegal raptor persecution? It’s yet more evidence that the whole ethos of ‘partnership working’ against raptor persecution is nothing more than a sham.

Actually, how does this collective silence meet with the requirements of being a PAW member?

Let’s look at the PAW mission statement first:

Working in partnership to reduce wildlife crime through prevention and awareness-raising, better regulation, and effective and targeted enforcement‘.

Now let’s look at the PAW objectives:

  • PAW will raise awareness of wildlife legislation and the impacts of wildlife crime
  • PAW will help and advise on wildlife crime and regulatory issues
  • PAW will ensure all wildlife crime is tackled effectively.
  • All PAW members of PAW UK should take action in support of these overarching objectives

How does refusing to comment about raptor persecution crimes meet with any of the PAW objectives?

Some of these PAW members (all of them except the GWCT) are also members of the England & Wales PAW subgroup, the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG). This is the group that DEFRA has identified as being integral to their highly controversial Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. Part of the RPPDG’s role is to provide publicity about raptor persecution, in order ‘to build trust and transparency’. Strange then, that we haven’t found any statement from the RPPDG about the persecution of Marsh harriers on this North Yorkshire grouse moor.

We were interested to read about a few hundred Hunt Saboteurs ‘sabbing’ (disrupting) a couple of grouse shoots this last weekend. As the shooting industry members of the PAW Partnership continue to deliver nothing at all, don’t be surprised to see more of this direct action approach in the months and years ahead.

25 thoughts on “Grouse shooting industry silent on marsh harrier persecution”

  1. I’ve been wondering where these organisations have been for the last few days, too, although I haven’t contacted any of them, nothing’s been published. The marsh harrier incident gave them the perfect opportunity to condemn this act and distance themselves. It’s in the mainstream media, after all. But nothing. Astonishing!

  2. It all speaks for itself, the law are not interested and not a single person will come forward. The law could have identified the people resposible from the film if they were so minded,

    1. It does not ‘all speak for itself’! If you knew a bit more about this case you would not make ridiculous, unfounded comments such as this one, and your similar one on the earlier blog, about the Police. Maybe you would like to give NY Police the benefit of your wisdom and tell them precisely how they could have identified two anonymous masked individuals from this relatively poor quality footage. Do you think that they haven’t been trying? You are doing them a massive disservice and the decent thing for you to do would be to withdraw your totally unjustified remarks.

      1. Sorry, that is rubbish. The number of people this could have been is extremely limited. The videos are good enough such that voice recognition could be used if they wanted. I have seen videos of worse quality used in criminal convictions. All they need is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Why not put it in front of a jury and let them decide? I think we know why

  3. If those guys in the video clip were people I had ever worked with, I would know who they were. If you know someone, especially in an outdoor environment, then you only need to watch them walk. It’s hard to believe that at least one person hasn’t looked at that and said “oh that’s **********. “

      1. If you care to research Duncan Thomas former Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer for Lancashire, including the Forest of Bowland, you will find an account of actions, public statements and behaviour that quite a few people have encountered from those in authority. I, myself, have encountered a few of them, though I have also met some dedicated and sincere individuals too. It is not a black and white area but I so believe that behind the scenes some very powerful people try to influence who is appointed to the roles in policing wildlife crime. I have no desire to argue with those who want to reach the same end as myself, namely, the end of raptor persecution and arguing about it does little to further the cause. There will always be sincere and insincere people employed in htis field and I judge them on a personal basis.

  4. its lucky there were no primary school children up there on a school trip funded by North Yorkshire Police granting money from the proceeds of crime funds to BASC, how ironic that would have been, kids on an outing funded by crime watching criminals at work

  5. One might be forgiven for thinking that these aforementioned organisations are keeping quiet on the incident simply because they may have concerns that someone known to them could be identified. It’s not beyond possibility that they don’t know whether to break rank and name the individuals if the identities are known, or circle the wagons, not necessarily to protect the individuals, but perhaps to avoid any embarrassment should the perpetrators be linked to any of them – It could be a situation where there is a reluctance to make any critical public statement, on the incident, until they can be absolutely certain that one of their own isn’t going to be identified.

  6. Moorland Association – nothing

    National Gamekeepers Organisation – nothing

    Countryside Alliance – nothing

    British Association for Shooting & Conservation – nothing

    Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – nothing

    What else can we expect from such a motley lot of scum?


  7. Crooks always close ranks. With all the recent unfavourable articles about DGS, the timing of this is pretty much perfect to try to drive a wedge into their solidarity. Ramp up the pressure as much as possible and demand the people in the video are “thrown to the wolves.”

    If there were reasonable penalties for such crimes and if you could get some of the paymasters to sacrifice their own workers, it would help to split gamekeepers and the moor owners/managers. If you could then nurture the mistrust between the two, then we may start to see changes in the conviction rates.

    A classic example must be the person filmed loading a poletrap in North Yorkshire this year. That must have been a perfect case, after they were supposedly dismissed, to get them to admit they were instructed to put the traps out in the first place. What you need is this basic distrust, so that during their initial questioning they point their finger to those who demand they work in this way, the moor owner/managers.

    Lots supposition here and a change in penalties, but it possibly points to how much we need to do in order to win this. A long uphill struggle.

    1. Whilst people may be dis missed, they may well be bought off with compromise (gagging) agreements, which if you have just lost your job etc.. then you would be financially bound to take.

  8. I was a bit confused as to their motives for only removing single eggs rather than destroy the whole nest. Were they later out of camera view waiting the return of the parents to the nest hoping to get a shot at them?

    1. I wonder how much those eggs would be worth on the ‘black market’? It would be nice to think a police search found one/two in someone’s possession, or maybe with fingerprints on?

      1. if you mean for falconry , the eggs are worthless, the Marsh harrier is a migratory species , but I too wondered why they were taking individual eggs – puzzling .I am pretty sure he stamps on the remaining eggs ,you can see him looking down and seems to place his feet carefully, that’s their usual ploy.

    2. Someone returned the next day and took what looked like another egg. But yes very odd. Maybe they were just totally confused by the species and they didn’t quite know what to do.
      We are talking about morons here.

  9. The only members of the PAW RPPDG to have condemned this appalling incident are NERF and RSPB . In relation to Hen harrier persecution NERF recently published this opinion and there is no reason why this should not apply to all raptor persecution on grouse moors.
    “In relation to Hen Harrier persecution it is clear that the greatest potential source of information
    is to be found from within the shooting industry. NERF expects the representatives of the
    industry to work tirelessly with their members to assist both local Police Forces and the NWCU
    to build the intelligence picture and assist with prosecuting offenders when they are put before
    the courts.
    NERF proposes that members of the RPPDG who cannot demonstrate compliance with this
    action should forfeit their position on the Group”

  10. If the map was correct the land with the nest was in Wharfedale and I believe this land is owned by Denton Hall Estate. There were lots of awkward questions asked on their twitter account to which they gave a non-committal standard reply but recently al those tweets have “disappeared” (like the harriers) and its just applause for their wedding businesses. They do run shooting days (for business groups) but not sure if it is just clays.

    1. The shooting is apparently leased to Tim Hare Vice Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire from MG Baileys who operate out of Denton Hall. They own Denton and Askwith Moors, it is not clear who own the Beamsley and Langbar parts of the moor, although the whole area is managed by the same two keepers.

  11. If you look at the news section of the NGO website, there is an article about two people caught hare coarsing in Wiltshire, so they are not adverse to helping the police to catch culprits (they may just check that it is the right sort of culprits).

    It makes interesting reading, apparently the culprits where challenged by the landowner and the police were called, guess what the police reponded immedatety and the culprits were chased and caught. If only this type of response would happen if someone saw someone acting in an illegal way with a covered face whilst armed with a shotgun .

    It’s also interesting that Community Protection Notices can be set up giving police extra powers in certain areas, these are aimed at preventing unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community’s quality of life. Can these not be set up on grouse moors where persecution incidences occur, to help everyone catch these perpetrators.

    Also there is a comment about the RSBP ‘failing hen harriers’ quoting from the recent report in their article they state “Today’s RSPB press statement concedes that a range of factors, other than illegal killing,…..” what they mean -if they have read the full report – is ‘as well as illegal killing’

  12. Their almost constant references to a range of factors in the failure of nests is a very poor smokescreen that needs to be exposed. Bird nesting attempts have always failed for a variety of reasons, including predation. But if natural causes were the main driver here then we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because Hen Harriers would have been driven to extinction thousands of years ago. What the Grouse industry are failing to address is that they are the one major factor that tips the natural balance. They like to use the word conservation, but won’t admit that they only mean conservation of a specific business model. Their actions have nothing to do with conservation in the wider sense of the word.

    1. I can think of one range of factors which can cause nest failure – gamekeepers repeatedly disturbing a harrier off its nest, trying to shoot it and taking its eggs. Not much chance of success there.That Marsh Harrier video must be giving them a worrying time as it leaves no doubt whatsoever what was going on. It isn’t hearsay etc. – it’s evidence based and cannot be dismissed as anti-shooting propaganda. It’s an own goal of monumental proportions.
      When will the dark side realise that, putting it in simple terms, they are the problem because they are trying to monopolise the natural surplus of grouse which, pre-industrialised grouse shooting, would have fed the various BOPS which they seek to eliminate.

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