Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on grouse moor in Strathbraan raven cull area

Earlier this month RSPB Scotland announced that four of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on Scottish grouse moors (see here).

We’ve blogged recently about the areas where hen harriers Margot and Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ in the Cairngorms National Park (see here and here).

Today we’re looking at the area where hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’.

[Photo of hen harrier Heather by Brian Etheridge]

According to the RSPB press release, hen harrier Heather, who had hatched from a Perthshire nest in 2017, was “last recorded on a grouse moor to the north of Glenalmond on 24 September 2018“.

It’s a bit of a vague description as Glenalmond is a glen which stretches for several miles to the west of the city of Perth:

And there’s a fair bit of grouse moor “to the north of Glenalmond” which, according to Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website, could be part of the Glenalmond Estate and/or the Scone Estate. It’s hard to say as we don’t know how far to the north of Glenalmond this hen harrier ‘disappeared’:

What we can say with certainty though, is that the grouse moor area to the north of Glenalmond just happens to be inside the Strathbraan raven cull area:

Imagine that! A satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappearing’ in suspicious circumstances in the very area where earlier this year SNH decided it was a great idea to licence a bunch of grouse moor managers to kill a load of ravens ‘just to see what happens’.

One of the many (many, many) reasons we objected to that raven cull was that the Strathbraan raven cull area is a well known wildlife crime hotspot, even identified as such on the official Scottish Government raptor persecution maps.

It was no surprise to us to learn that hen harrier Heather had ‘disappeared’ here. A further four satellite-tagged golden eagles have also vanished in suspicious circumstances here (five if you include another one just on the western boundary), a radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappeared’ here in 2012, an illegal clam trap was found here in 2012, a spring-trapped buzzard was found here in 2012, a poisoned red kite was found here in 2015, a poisoned raven was found here in 2017, and another satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappeared’ here in March this year.

Instead of issuing licences permitting the mass killing of protected ravens, SNH should be crawling all over this area, revoking permission to use the General Licences as a bare minimum. Six eagles, FFS! A poisoned red kite, FFS! A poisoned raven, FFS! Illegally-set traps, FFS! A hen harrier missing in suspicious circumstances, FFS!

What does it have to take to get some enforcement action???

14 thoughts on “Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on grouse moor in Strathbraan raven cull area”

  1. I live in Glenalmond. I know the ground and have been making sure locals are aware of this. If I can be of any help, please contact me. Mike

  2. I think these are legitimate questions:
    The Raven killing has been ‘voluntarily suspended.’ If I see a Raven being killed in the Srathbraan area, and have evidence including vehicle registration, identifiable photographs and video of the shooting, can the police do anything about it?
    The way the licence was handled, the area it was thought appropriate to set up the trial being a know crime hotspot, the strange group which was said to be concerned enough to request it, is that sufficient to go to the police and suggest that SNH, GWCT and other involved groups were and still are conspiring to pervert the course of justice? Perhaps not, but it’s not far off, is it?
    The public and politicians know, from reading RPUK and other sites, that senior people in all the UK bodies with Nature in their title are failing to protect our wildlife when it should be in their DNA. The police are powerless to act even in the face of the clear evidence that science is bringing to the public, due to the difficulty in finding evidence of the probable crimes we know are happening. Why are these senior people still in office, and why are the bodies not being reformed to prevent this happening in future?
    I find it surprising that many people who love wildlife, join and support charities, still don’t do anything about it, perhaps thinking that they are powerless. They can, from their armchairs, by doing one of these things

  3. Correct me if I am wrong.
    I understand the raven cull license in Strathbane had to be suspended because of deficiencies in the scientific justification.

  4. I’d be happy to crowd-fund an action to sue SNH for the Strathbraan scandal. Surely the director of operations should be made be made to resign? Are there grounds for litigation?

  5. The phrase “crawling all over” jumps out at me. The authorities should indeed be combing this area, knocking on doors at ungodly hours of the day, asking difficult questions of anybody who works in the area, continuoiusly and without reserve. But they are not. Just as they are not, just for example, doing something similar in any well-known centre of gangland activity in the inner cities. It would be very easy to conclude that the authorities have been paid off by the criminals in both cases. But we are not allowed to say that, because it would be slanderous. Nevertheless, the fact remains that speaking truth to this power makes not a blind bit of a difference. If I were a younger man, with more time, I would be out there, gathering likeminded souls together in order to keep a very very close eye on this bit of ground until actual evidence were found that specific organisations were responsible for specific acts of barbarism against raptors, or better to catch them in the act. Whether hereafter to take matters before the law would depend on how violent the conspiracy between authorities and landowners turns out to be.

    1. There has been evidence.
      You wouldn’t be safe if you were keeping a close eye on this area of land. Trust me on that.
      How many gamekeepers live within the zone? – it appears to be a very sparsely populated area –
      Revive need to begin their work here immediately.

  6. Whilst all of this is an utter scandal and the behaviour of SNH or some of SNH at least is tragically farcical it is also sadly entirely par for the course and almost predicable. Yes SNH and Police Scotland should have been regularly all over the estates in this area with general licence suspensions and very through searches of all premises, vehicles and persons each time a poisoned, illegally trapped or satellite wearing raptor disappeared. It would not only give us the hope that a culprit(s) for any crime committed might be found but it would also send a very strong message that these things are important and criminality, if all is as it seems, will not be tolerated.
    It really is time that the message came across to all and sundry within shooting that if you are straight and honest you have nothing to fear, whilst those other than that have hopefully everything to fear.

  7. Local gossip… and I stress this is not confirmed…. [Ed: Mike, you’ll understand why we can’t post the rest of this comment]

  8. Hello Ruth, have you any further details on the missing hen harrier Athena because this is an area I am familiar with so keen to know the nearest point you can provide.

  9. Some people are above the law and it is usually the law makers themselves. The whole process of law enforcement in this country has to change and one area of change could be a national law enforcement for wild life crimes as it is quite obvious that the local police are not capable of dealing with such crimes for whatever reason I wouldn’t want to speculate on?

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