There’s an article in today’s Courier (see here) which is reproduced below:
MORE THAN 100 DEAD BIRDS FOUND IN PERTHSHIRE LOCH IN SUSPECTED ILLEGAL CULL
The grim discovery was made less than five miles from Strathbraan where licences to shoot 300 ravens were suspended last year due to public anger over culling.
The disturbing scene was discovered by a dog walker who spotted dozens of carcasses, believed to be young ravens or crows, floating on Loch Freuchie.
[Photo from The Courier]
[RPUK map highlighting Loch Freuchie within the Strathbraan raven cull area]
Brenda Henderson, from Crieff, said she was “shocked” to see the dead birds dumped in the popular fishing spot.
Ms Henderson said: “We went for a walk up past Amulree with the dogs and came across them (the birds) in the water. They all looked like young crows, there must have been close to 100. It was quite alarming. We looked over the wee bridge you walk over and saw them all. There were more that went right out and round the corner (of the loch). It had to be a definite cull off some sort. I was very shocked to see this.”
[Photo from The Courier]
Scottish Natural Heritage, which licenses the culling of crows and ravens in the area, has reported the incident to Police Scotland.
A SNH spokesperson said: “These are disturbing photographs and while it is difficult to ascertain the circumstances from these pictures alone, we have reported this incident to Police Scotland for further investigation.
“We strongly encourage anyone who believes they have witnessed wildlife crime to contact the police as soon as possible.
“In cases such as these we advise that carcasses should not be handled and pets be kept away. We will assist the police with any inquiries they make.”
SNH sparked outrage last year when it issued a licence to shoot 300 ravens in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire.
The Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW) wanted to control raven numbers in an effort to safeguard the dwindling population of nesting waders.
The move prompted a 170,000-signature petition and crowd-funded legal campaign, leading to the waders’ group voluntarily suspending the cull.
The find at Loch Freuchie is the latest in a string of incidents in Highland Perthshire in which birds have died or gone missing in suspected foul play.
Last month the remains of a hen harrier, named Rannoch, were found in an illegal trap on a Perthshire grouse moor between Crieff and Aberfeldy. [RPUK: Rannoch’s corpse was discovered on a grouse moor within the Strathbraan raven cull area, just a few miles from Loch Freuchie].
In April two young golden eagles disappeared near a Highland Perthshire moor in what were described as “suspicious circumstances”. [RPUK: actually they disappeared on the same grouse moor, on the same morning, just a few miles from Loch Freuchie and within the Strathbraan raven cull area and yes, in highly suspicious circumstances].
It’s a bit of a muddled article, mainly because it’s not yet known which species were found dead.
If these are all species that gamekeepers are permitted to kill under the General Licence (e.g. Carrion crow, Hooded crow, rooks, jackdaws) then this isn’t an ‘illegal cull’ as such, although the dumping of carcasses in the loch, if that is what has happened, is likely to be a breach of environmental legislation.
If any of these are ravens that have been killed (either trapped and bludgeoned to death, or shot) then depending on the number killed yes, this could be an illegal cull. We are aware that SNH has issued several individual licences to kill ravens in the Strathbraan area, not as part of its ridiculous and flawed experiment last year, but supposedly to protect ‘livestock’ in the area. So we know that some ravens may be killed in the area but again, dumping those carcasses in the loch is likely to be a breach of environmental legislation.
Let’s hope the police manage to secure the evidence and can get the birds identified and establish the cause of death.
UPDATE 12 July 2019: More on the ~100 dumped birds in Loch Freuchie (here)