Buzzard found shot dead at Leadhills, south Scotland

From the Carluke Gazette (13/4/18):


Police Scotland officers at Lanark are seeking the public’s help as they investigate the shooting of a bird of prey.

A deceased buzzard was found near to Station Road in Leadhills. Examination of the bird showed that it had likely been shot, had managed to recover, before then being shot a second time and killed.

Officers are seeking witnesses to any shooting activity which is suspicious.

Those with information on the dead bird are urged to contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800-55511, quoting incident number 0571 of 03/04/18.


There is no information about when this buzzard was found dead although a local source advises it was earlier this year.

Here is a photo of Station Road, surrounded on either side by the grouse moors of Leadhills Estate:

Here is the position of Leadhills Estate (and the neighbouring Buccleuch Estate boundary in red dashes) in south Scotland. [Boundary details from Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website]. It’s in close proximity to the Moffat Hills, the proposed release site for the South Scotland Golden Eagle Project, due to begin later this year.

Leadhills is a notorious raptor persecution hotspot, with over 50 confirmed crimes recorded in the area since 2003. Only two of these have ever resulted in a successful prosecution (gamekeeper convicted in 2004 for shooting a short-eared owl; gamekeeper convicted in 2009 for laying out a poisoned bait).

Last year, witnesses reported the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Leadhills Estate (here) and the alleged shooting of a short-eared owl (here). We’re not aware of any pending prosecutions in relation to these incidents.

We have been waiting to see whether SNH would impose a General Licence restriction but so far SNH has refused to comment, saying it’s not in the public interest to explain these decisions.

18 thoughts on “Buzzard found shot dead at Leadhills, south Scotland”

  1. The ” locals ” know who it is, their just s××t scared of the scum thats doing it.Yeh you would think someone would hear a shotgun being discharged in the area,but would you Adam and Eve it, no one saw or heard anything.Aye right.

    1. If you or the ‘locals’ want to get information to the police anonymously you can use the new RSPB hotline – ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ (0300 999 0101). Better that you / they do something by letting others know who or what to investigate with all the information you have, past or present, than doing nothing and letting these criminals get away with it without hindrance again.

  2. I was just out walking my dogs and compared to 3 yrs ago when you could hear buzzards calling, it was silent. many shoots around where I live and Natural England, since Andrew Sells employment there, give out licences to shoot buzzards quite liberally. so the shooters appear to think they can just shoot them when they want. same with the badger cull. since the culls began in the county where I live, even when it stops and the badgers become , once again, a protected species,, they are shot, and the usual digging out and setting against dogs goes on.

  3. It really is absurd that you get these raptor persecution hotspots, indicating that raptor persecution is rampant, and northing is really done to investigate it by the authorities. The cases where clear evidence comes to light, dead raptors, poison baits found, traps, satellite tagged birds disappearing must be the tip of the iceberg. Because in most cases there will be no evidence lying around. It happens on private land, most of the birds are not satellite tagged and the dead birds are buried. If there has been 50 confirmed cases since 2003, I think there must have been well in excess of 10x this amount, which have never been detected. 1 in 10 cases leaving a case must be generous, because I’d have thought the perpetrators must slip up a lot less times than this.

  4. It just has to be thoroughly investigated, this is a hotspot for this, it is just sad that people want to do this, for whatever reason they chose to do it, if prosecuted they might think twice before being so cruel.

  5. After all these years of persistent persecution, after all the political promises, despite the disgust of the nation, there is still no meaniful deterrent. The criminals continue their evil work with impunity.

  6. “Not in the public interest”, eh?

    Odd definition of that phrase must be in use: this bit of the public would be very interested indeed in SNH’s reasoning for not imposing a licence restriction.

  7. The most shocking thing about this is that it was the second time the buzzard had been shot, it had survived the first(at least) attempt at killing it, succumbed to this last attempt and was only found because its body landed in a residential area.

  8. Well done to SSPCA for getting this bird x rayed otherwise it would likely that the cause of death may never have been uncovered.

    For those that may be unaware SSPCA are arranging for dead raptors to be xrayed to assist in identifying cause of death.

    1. Mike

      You would think this is the case but x rays cost money and police budgets most often don’t stretch to paying to have them done.

      SSPCA can help by facilitating this……this obviously depends on them being contacted by police in the first place which often doesn’t happen.

  9. Doesn’t anyone else have anything better to do with their time than blaming gamekeepers for every thing found dead, nobody ever hears anything about the cases that the keepers are blamed but then turns out the bird has died of natural causes, nothing lives forever. Have a good day to all you good for nothing bird watchers

    1. Oh the Leadhill Leprechaun. I have heard of him.

      His malicious pranks:

      2003 April: hen harrier shot [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

      2003 April: hen harrier eggs destroyed [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

      2004 May: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

      2004 May: short-eared owl shot [gamekeeper convicted]

      2004 June: buzzard poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2004 June: 4 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2004 June: crow poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2005 February: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2005 April: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 February: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 March: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 April: dead buzzard (persecution method unknown) [no prosecution]

      2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 May: poisoned egg baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 June: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 June: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 June: 6 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 June: poisoned egg bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 September: 5 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2007 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2007 April: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2007 May: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2008 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

      2008 October: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

      2008 November: 3 x poisoned ravens (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

      2009 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2009 March: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2009 April: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [gamekeeper convicted]

      2009 April: poisoned magpie (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2009 April: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

      2010 October: short-eared owl shot [no prosecution]

      2011 March: illegally-set clam trap [no prosecution]

      2011 December: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

      2012 October: golden eagle shot (just over boundary with Buccleuch Estate) [no prosecution]

      2013 May: shot otter found on estate [no prosecution]

      2013 June: significant cache of pre-prepared poisoned baits found on estate [no prosecution]

      2013 August: red kite found shot and critically-injured in Leadhills village [no prosecution]

      2014 February: poisoned peregrine (Carbofuran) [‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

      2015 April: hen harrier ‘Annie’ found shot [Leadhills/Buccluech] [no prosecution]

      2016 May: hen harrier ‘Chance’ ‘disappeared’ [Leadhills/Buccleuch] [no prosecution]

      4 May 2017: hen harrier was shot near Leadhills

      31 May 2017: shooting of a short-eared owl witnessed on the Leadhills

      1. People that try convicting gamekeepers are Fanny’s anyway, besides just because you type up raptor persecution and it says something has been doesn’t mean anything, I just mean so someone reported something which may not even be true, none of which were actually convicted i

          1. Yes I can read but 2 actual convictions our of numerous doesn’t make you lot look very good making things up to try catch gamekeepers, also why is it that poeople watching birds of prey can’t prevent them being shot, instead they would rather see their favorite animals being shot all in favor of trying to convict gamekeepers

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