New report reveals abject failure to protect birds of prey in the Peak District National Park

The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative (BoPI) was launched in 2011, mainly in response to two damning reports from the RSPB about the continued illegal killing of raptors in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park (see here & here), as well as all the publicity from a criminal prosecution, and subsequent conviction, of a Derbyshire gamekeeper who had been caught illegally using a trap (see here and here).

The BoPI comprises five organisations (Peak District National Park Authority, National Trust, Moorland Association, RSPB and Natural England), with additional support from two local raptor study groups, who are supposed to be working in partnership to increase the populations of several raptor species within the Dark Peak area of the National Park.

It was initially launched as a five-year project (2011-2015), and at the end of that period a report revealed the BoPI had failed to meet every single target set (see here).

Photo of an osprey found in the Peak District National Park in September 2015. It had two broken legs and succumbed to these injuries soon after being found. The post-mortem stated its injuries were consistent with being caught in a spring trap (Photo by RSPB)

Nevertheless, despite missing each and every one of the five-year targets, the Peak District National Park Authority decided the project would continue and announced a ‘renewed commitment’ from the Project partners, which was derided by us and by Mark Avery (here), who said it was just an opportunity for the National Park authorities to hide behind a failing project for a few more years and avoid taking any real action, like, for example, banning driven grouse shooting within the National Park.

The latest report (read it here), just published, covers the years 2016 and 2017 and surprise surprise, aboslutely nothing has changed.

Interestingly, this latest report has just been slipped out without any fanfare or publicity, presumably because the Peak District National Park Authority doesn’t want to draw attention to this on-going fiasco. The only reason we knew it was available was because we’d asked for a copy via FoI last month and had been told it would appear on the PDNPA website ‘shortly’, so we’ve been checking for it every day.

So, to summarise. No progress, no increased raptor populations, no statements of “renewed commitment”, and absolutely no point continuing with this charade of partnership-working.

24 thoughts on “New report reveals abject failure to protect birds of prey in the Peak District National Park”

  1. This is no surprise to me. I wish it was. Having lived in Derbyshire for 50 years and having been born in Sheffield it has long been known that birds and other wildlife suffer badly in these areas. The hunting fraternity, in various forms are very powerful in Derbyshire. Huntsman, shooters and gamekeepers rule. No form of hunting, shooting etc whether illegal or not has ever decreased.

  2. I have just written to peak district park authority regarding the problem and told them who was responsible for it and told them I will not holiday in the area until they sort it out action required not words

  3. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that the state of raptors in the Peaks is pretty shocking, and that grouse moor management and illegal persecution is largely to blame; I’d be interested to know what you think the National Park could actually do about it in practice, under current law?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think PDNPA would have any power to ‘ban driven grouse shooting within the Park’ even if they wanted to, aside from on land which they own – which we previously learned they banned any shooting on in the early 1980s.

    If this is the case then it’s not really fair to say they are hiding behind a project to avoid doing so.

    1. Surely they could lay out clearly who is responsible for the continuing illegal persecution? They could bemoan their inability to do anything about it and shame NE and the police into acting against the criminals. There are lots of things they could do but, mainly, they could tell the public who is to blame.

      1. Hi Simon,

        I don’t think they could do that – I think that as a local authority they’re legally bound to be impartial. If they made a general statement as you suggest they would have legal action taken against them by the shooting community, and they would lose.

    2. The National Trust could do something. The charity owns a lot of land in the PDNP. Yet it allows game shooting by lease and even the dreaded Driven Grouse Shooting with its environmentally damaging land “management”. If they renew that shooting lease in the northern Peak to the DGS industry next April my (and my partner’s) 40+ year membership will be over. Fox (Trail???) hunting is bad enough but I think DGS is environmentally much much worse.

    3. The Peak Park Authority could start with a clear acknowledgement that illegal persecution is a widespread problem and they will not tolerate it. They could put their considerable resources into helping to detect these crimes and ensure that prosecutions were successful. I have been on training courses with rangers where we were shown how to spot wildlife crime. But when I see rangers in the field it’s clear they have no intention of getting involved. I don’t blame an individual’s here – it’s the whole culture of the national park.

      1. They could allow camera surveillance to be used for evidence within the national park, or even attempt it, if the “people with vested interests’ objected it would be another example of them being flushed out

  4. They, the PDNP should be deeply ashamed, and with the way that they announced that the Initiative would continue, ie very low key, it suggests that they are indeed ashamed, but not enough to start doing what is really required. They could start by removing all Shooting tights on land that they own or manage, blanket style, no ifs or buts! That would send out a very very strong signal that the plague that is raptor persecution has to end !! I will be writing to tell them quite simply, that they should be utterly ashamed of themselves, nothing more !!

    1. Hi Philip, I agree with your sentiment – but just to point out that they already did that – over 30 years ago.

  5. I agree with Northern Diver that the single most obvious thing that could affect the immediate situation is for the NT not to renew shooting on its estate. Whatever it’s overall position on shooting, the appalling record in the Peak is exceptional and there really is no way the Trust can hold its head up as a conservation organisation if it does not do what it can to put things right. But I wouldn’t resign, Diver, I’d vote – in our silly win-or-lose approach to politics the closeness of the vote on trail hunting seems to have gone almost unremarked. If i were the Trust management I’d be very alarmed because the next vote could well go against them, bearing in mind that most who voted against did it out of conviction but many who voted for were probably following the party line.

  6. I was part of the team responsible for editing and promoting the original Peak Malpractice report. There was a real sense at the time that this might prove to be a game changer – sadly not so. The RSPB seems unwilling to support strong words with strong actions.

  7. As I’ve said before, it is very easy for National Parks to wring their hands & put out statements about their “Me too ” intolerance of raptor persecution.
    The fact is, they are Planning Authorities with little ability to effect change & should not get themselves involved in partnerships with criminally – based, unsustainable industries such as driven grouse shooting.
    To continue to do so just undermines their credibility further.

    As denuded upland landscape protectors they have a very blinkered attitudes to anything that has increasing scrub -Oh No !,native trees – even worse! fewer sheep OMG !!!!!

    However, they have to justify the employment of their ecologists, rangers & others, so just can’t help themselves from such involvement !

    Remember, they all know what’s been going on in grouse shooting over the last 150 years – some of their board / committee members are grouse moor owners after all.

    Now, if they were involved in the licensing & permissions of non – agricultural businesses such as shoots………???

    Then they would have reason to be involved in the debate.

    Until then, do us a favour, National Parks, & stop pretending that you have any clout.

    Where have your ecologists, rangers, advisors &others been all these years while the Harriers, Peregrines, Goshawks etc etc have disappeared ?

    I still stay well away from Yorkshire and other Grouse moor areas while the persecution continues & look forward to a diversified, biodiverse upland economy that will follow the industry’s demise, where we can spend our tourist money.

    Keep up the pressure !

  8. Our national parks appear to be nothing but paper exercises – an ongoing damming judgement on those who run them

  9. you know as a walker/mountaineer, living near liverpool, i have wondered why for 30 odd years all my walking/ winter mountainineering in this country has been in the lake district, northern Snowdonia, an the north west highlands (Sutherland is particularly astounding).

    It is only recently that i I realised that although I have given Bowland, the West Pennines and the Peaks a try (they are considerably nearer) there is something missing form this landscape.

    in Britain you cannot get away from managed landscape but landscape managed (and controlled) for grouse is particularly hostile not just to fauna preditors but to humans with money to spend, in cafes, pubs and shops that sell certain items that if sold in an urban setting would not command such a premium.

    1. yet the Lake District and Snowdonia are areas that are seriously ecologically impoverished by hundreds if not thousands of years of overgrazing by sheep. Not as obvious I know but just as insidious.

  10. How right you are Paul. Living as I do just inside the Lake District N.P. I can confirm that overgrazing by sheep certainly is obvious and endemic in Lakeland, and when I moved here from Manchester in 1963 I was astounded by the lack of upland bird species I saw on my upland walks. Prior to moving to the Lakes I had kept sane by walking in the Kinder Scout hills and was always struck by the numbers of Red Grouse in the ubiquitous heather. However I don’t think I need to remind readers of this marvellous blog about the warm welcome the Kinder gamekeepers once gave walkers like me – until the famous ‘march’ took place! . And before the Grouse killers start to claim the heather was only there because oft them, I’m pretty sure the moors were heather clad long before the gun was invented! Very quickly I realised that our Lakeland uplands were largely dominated by unpalatable Nardus grass and not heather, due to the heavy grazing by many thousands of sheep, their numbers supported by the lunatic ‘Headage’ Payment Scheme. The best purple hills I have seen since 1963 came along in 2002- the year following the horrendous Foot & Mouth outbreak which wiped out virtually all our Sheep in 2001, including our unique hardy Herdwicks. We conservationists always describe the LDNP hills as ‘sheep-wrecked’! Sorry RPUK, you will probably now get lambasted by irate sheep farmers who claim our bare impoverished hills are natural and that they are the guardians of the countryside. Don’t worry about me -I’m used to it! Perhaps it might be a good idea to arrange another ‘march’ in the Peak District again? Perhaps on the next Inglorious 12th!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s