Buzzard caught in illegally-set trap near Moy

Once again, we’re having to report on the deliberate persecution of a protected bird of prey in the Moy area of Highland Scotland, a well-known raptor persecution hotspot.

RPUK map showing location of Moy:

Police Scotland has issued the following appeal for information this morning:

Appeal after buzzard reported trapped south of Inverness

Police Scotland can confirm that an investigation is ongoing following a report of a trapped buzzard near Moy south of Inverness.

The buzzard was discovered by a member of the public earlier in October. However, following a subsequent search of the area by police the bird has not been located.

The trap was close to a fence near to a rough, marshy grazing area close to the B9174 and the national cycle path between Moy and Craggie.

Inspector Mike Middlehurst said: “This unfortunately appears to be an example of deliberate unlawful use of a legal trap to cause suffering to a bird of prey.

A lot of good work has been done in the Highlands and this has been a good season for raptors locally, so any evidence of continued persecution is disappointing.

The location next to the national cycle network path will hopefully help us identify anyone seen acting in a suspicious manner in the area.

Anyone seen near the fence lines, walking up the fence lines, placing articles on the fence posts would be of great interest to us.

We are appealing for anybody who has information about this incident or any other wildlife persecution in the Highland area contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”


The road number cited in the police press release appears to be inaccurate. The police say it is the B9174 but it looks like this should read the B9154 as this is the road that runs between Moy and Craggie.

Interestingly, Police Scotland has not published the pictures of the trapped buzzard, photographed by the member of the public who found the bird in distress. However, from the police press release, especially the penultimate sentence, it seems reasonable to conclude that this buzzard was caught in a pole trap. A pole trap is a spring trap that has been fixed to the top of a post. When a bird lands on it, the jaws of the trap smash the birds legs, often breaking them. As the trap is fixed to the post, the bird cannot fly away and it is left to dangle upside down, held by its legs, until it dies or until the trap operator comes along and kills it.

Here’s a photo from our archives of another buzzard that had been caught in a illegal pole trap. It didn’t survive its horrific injuries.

These are barbaric devices that cause immeasurable suffering and as such have been banned from use since 1904. However, pole traps are still routinely used as a weapon of choice on game-shooting estates as we see all too often (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here). Anyone caught using these traps deserves a lengthy custodial sentence. There is simply no excuse for such savagery in 21st Century Scotland.

We’ve blogged about raptor persecution in the Moy area many many times, including the illegal use of traps and reports of armed masked gunmen visiting the nest sites of protected species. Here are a few examples: here, here, here, here, here and just last year there was a report of another buzzard that had been caught in an illegally-set trap in this area (here).

[RPUK map showing the B9154 road between Moy and Craggie. The red dots are confirmed raptor persecution incidents in this area]

And of course, this grouse moor dominated area has also been identified as one of the hotspot areas where satellite-tagged golden eagles ‘disappear’:

14 thoughts on “Buzzard caught in illegally-set trap near Moy”

  1. These barbaric traps had no place in the 20th Century, never mind the 21st.
    Luckily my petition to the Scottish Government was heard at the public petitions committee today. It was well received and the members seemed keen that it would be heard by the EECLRC meeting in January which will consider the Scottish Wildlife Crime report for 2017. If It succeeds in ensuring that a minor infringement of the access rights in the Land Reform Act does not permit unlawful acts by persons the owner permits to be in the land in a public place as it seems is the case at present and/or allows video evidence to reach court we will being better place. Perhaps the perpetrators of these acts will be instructed to desist, which I’m not convinced is the case at present.

    1. This is brilliant news Alex – with the ScotGov petitions you don’t need a huge number of signatures to make an impact, the more the better obviously, but certainly not mandatory to get attention. Your petition was brilliantly written and compelling and under the circumstances I can’t see how it could be sidelined. Hope you’re chuffed with your achievement!

      1. Thanks Les. I’m pleased how it has gone so far, but I’m aware of how we need to keep pressing. The Poustie report was issued in 2015, the government said it would be in the 2017 legislative session, but still no sign this session, as far as I can see. The delay means they can hopefully increase penalties so wildlife persecution is regarded as a serious crime, particularly if today’s meeting response was typical of what I can expect from MSPs. On the second arm of the petition, I liked it when I wrote it, but now wish to say at the end of the petition: “Or, alternatively in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 in section 3 on the Reciprocal obligations of owners to add a subsection 2(c)) The provisions of the Act shall not be presumed to permit an illegal act either by by the owner or by others he allows to be on the land where the illegal act is committed in a public place.” I don’t think the MSPs were aware of that today.
        I’m pretty sure that I don’t even need to mention video evidence if that goes through rather than my original wording. I will be pushing for that for the various reasons I’ll include in my submission. I won’t reveal that in full on my website until nearer the time. There may be delays as other stakeholders are being asked if they wish to make a submission.

  2. Another incident where public help is sought on the basis of information that, to say the least, leaves a lot to be desired.
    Why not show the pictures taken by the finder and date.
    The “wrong” road is the main road through Tain.
    The buzzard was allegedly in a trap near to a public route which does seem somewhat unusual. The criminals are not usually that blatant.
    Assuming that the finder was not physically able to render assistance to the bird at the time one has to wonder how long it was left to suffer.

    1. They have little to fear in Scotland at present, Dougie. The police are limited in their actions because it is not a serious crime. The Crown Office has made it clear that video evidence may well not be allowed in court. The perpetrators would have to be stupidly bold to end up in court. If they are gamekeepers, there is little incentive for their employer to instruct them to desist, and the location suggests the person setting the trap may or may not be employed at that spot, drawing attention away from “their” estate. Borders are a well used location.

  3. They will never learn until they are made to.

    On another note, are we going to see an RPUK response to the SGA’s latest nuttiness, which got prime time on the BBC yesterday (Surprise)

    [Ed: Yes, when we get time! Bit busy just now…..]

  4. I look forward to the day a judge has the you know whats to apply vicarious liability to the employers of wildlife criminals should the employer be an estate. However, I certainly won’t hold my breath as estate owners tend to have connections in the right places.

  5. Token gesture once again by police.

    No real land search
    No addresses searched on warrant
    No multi agency working

    Police paying lip service to a very serious crime.

    A press release is not an alternative to a proper investigation.

    Police are fooling the public with prees releases that give the impression they are actually doing something.

  6. An area of serial persecution. A clear case of for an outright ban on shooting there. The level of persecution there against raptors is shocking. But what’s more shocking is that the authorities from police to politicians have done absolutely nothing to tackle it.

  7. Compare and contrast the Scottish Governments responses.

    An American tourists legally shoots and kills a feral goat with a high powered rifle in much the same way as according to the BBC news 30,000 deer are shot on public land each year.

    First Minister “we will review the current situation and consider whether changes to the law are required”.
    Roseanna Cunningham recognised “is not illegal”, but went on to talk about “consideration for any clarification of or changes to the law”
    Mike Russel describes it as “horrific” and called for the hunting of goats on Islay to be stopped immediately.
    I wonder what Fergus thinks about it??
    Contrast their responses to the on going illegal persecution of endangered raptors by slow painful means over decades, by methods which include the use of horrible traps and harmful chemicals which pose a risk to people, pets and even any passing goats. I am just away to check the First Ministers twitter account to see how seriously she views the latest illegal persecution of a buzzard.

    1. A pertinent observation.
      Not just someone shooting a a goat, but to then indulge in a “look what I have done” type picture is going to invoke revulsion in many people who have never before had any interest in what goes on in the shooting world.
      That rings political alarm bells among those who depend on votes. Ignore this and votes may be lost so better do something or, at least make the right noises, or a drop in votes may occur.

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