Hen harrier suffers savage brutality of an illegally-set trap on a Scottish grouse moor

Press release from Chris Packham CBE and Dr Ruth Tingay (RPUK):

An adult male hen harrier has suffered appalling injuries after being caught in a spring trap that had been illegally-set next to its nest on a Scottish grouse moor.

His lower leg was almost severed by the jaws of the trap and despite valiant attempts by a specialist veterinary surgeon to save him, his injuries were too severe and he was later euthanised.

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

The harrier had been found caught in the trap and in great distress by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group who were undertaking routine raptor monitoring on the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire on 11th May 2019. A second trap, also illegally-set, had been placed on the harrier’s nearby nest. The nest contained two eggs but there was no sign of the breeding female.

[The trapped hen harrier in distress. Photo by Scottish Raptor Study Group]

[The second illegally-set trap on the harrier’s nest, next to two eggs. Photo by Scottish Raptor Study Group]

The raptor workers rang the Scottish SPCA for help and the police were informed. The male hen harrier was collected immediately by the SSPCA and taken for veterinary attention. They also removed the traps and the eggs were transferred to an experienced falconer to see if they could be saved.

Specialist veterinary surgeon Romain Pizzi of the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre conducted an intricate operation to reconstruct the harrier’s shattered leg but it had been too badly damaged by the trap so a decision was made to end his suffering and he was put to sleep.

Unfortunately the eggs that had been rescued from the nest didn’t survive either.

[SSPCA veterinary surgeon Romain Pizzi reconstructed the harrier’s smashed leg. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

[Specialist vet Romain Pizzi explains to Chris that the force of the trap on this hen harrier’s leg would be similar to the force of a tractor running over a man’s leg. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Seven weeks later on 4th July Police Scotland led a multi-agency search of Leadhills Estate but found no evidence to connect anyone from the estate with this latest wildlife crime.

This area of South Lanarkshire has been identified as a wildlife crime hotspot for many years. Since 2003 the RSPB has recorded at least 50 confirmed raptor persecution crimes on and close to a number of grouse moors in the region but only two have ever resulted in a successful prosecution; one gamekeeper was convicted in 2004 for shooting an owl and one was convicted in 2009 for setting out poisoned baits.

In 2015 a satellite-tagged hen harrier called Annie was found shot dead on a grouse moor in the area. In 2016 a satellite-tagged hen harrier called Chance disappeared in suspicious circumstances in the area, as did another one called ‘Skylar’ earlier this year.

In 2017 witnesses reported seeing an armed masked man shoot a hen harrier on a grouse moor in this area but the suspect escaped on a quad bike before the police arrived. The bird wasn’t found but a few weeks later witnesses observed an unidentified man shooting a short-eared owl on a grouse moor in the area. The man escaped across the moor in a four-wheel drive vehicle but the owl’s corpse was later retrieved from the heather and a post-mortem confirmed it had been shot. There were no prosecutions.

[A shot short-eared owl being retrieved from the grouse moor in 2017. Photo RSPB Scotland]

Following ongoing concerns about the scale of raptor persecution on some driven grouse moors in Scotland, in 2017 the Government commissioned a review of grouse moor management with a view to bringing in a regulatory licensing scheme. The review’s author, Professor Alan Werritty, is due to report within the next few weeks.

Prominent campaigners Chris Packham CBE and Dr Ruth Tingay who writes the Raptor Persecution UK blog have joined forces with other leading experts to produce a video about the savage brutality of this latest incident.

Chris Packham CBE said: “This despicable crime marks a most depressing day for raptor conservation in the UK and undoubtedly the darkest day for the whole shooting industry. It’s out of control, obviously beyond any form of self-regulation, and is tolerant of an utter contempt for the laws which are meant to protect our wildlife. This woeful death zone in South Lanarkshire needs cleaning up and clearing out now. This is 2019, not 1860 and this sickening spectacle has to consign driven grouse shooting to the dustbin”.

Dr Ruth Tingay said: “To be perfectly frank, what has happened here transcends the need to wait for the Werritty Review to report. This is brazen criminality, in broad daylight, conducted by someone secure in the knowledge that a prosecution is highly unlikely. The Scottish Government cannot continue to prevaricate on this issue while our wildlife suffers such barbaric acts. We know what’s going on, we know where it’s going on and the Government has a duty to act. Now.”

Anyone with information about the illegally-set traps found on Leadhills Estate is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101, or the RSPB’s confidential raptor crime hotline 0300 999 0101.


With the help of a number of colleagues at Scottish SPCA, RSPB Scotland, OneKind, Revive Coalition, Operation Owl and Andy Wightman MSP and we’ve produced a video about this barbaric crime:

In recent weeks we’ve blogged about the suspicious disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier (Marci) in the Cairngorms National Park (here), the suspicious disappearance of another satellite-tagged hen harrier (Skylar) in South Lanarkshire (here), the illegal poisoning of four geese with a banned pesticide in the Cairngorms National Park (here), the illegal poisoning of at least two red kites in Dumfries & Galloway (here), the discovery of an illegally- spring-trapped hen harrier on a grouse moor in the Strathbraan raven cull area (here), and the suspicious disappearance of two satellite-tagged golden eagles (Adam and Charlie) on the same morning on another grouse moor in the Strathbraan raven cull area (here).

In response to these incidents, the Scottish Government has remained silent.

And now another hen harrier, a species whose killing is supposed to be a national wildlife crime priority, has suffered at the hands of the untouchables.

Will the Scottish Government finally now act?

Please contact the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and let her know (politely, please) that enough is enough.

Emails to: firstminister@gov.scot

Thank you

79 thoughts on “Hen harrier suffers savage brutality of an illegally-set trap on a Scottish grouse moor”

  1. It’s difficult to put into words the emotions I feel on reading this and seeing the film, after all the fine words politicians have spouted over the years. Just let me say I am totally, totally ashamed to be a member of the same species as the people who do this, the ones that allow them ( even encourage them) to do it, and the law makers that do nothing to stop them. Homo Sapiens ( wise man)? Never.

    1. You do wonder why the governments, the authorities, have failed to use the tactic of handing out substantial prison sentences to those responsible for what are very culpable and planned acts. No one accidentally engages in this type of persecution on the spur of the moment, or in the heat of emotion. This is after all the standard remedy politicians have applied to all other types of persistent problem crime and anti-social behaviour society. They increase the punishments available to the courts, and implement a policy of exemplary sentences to deter others. If there is organization, the threat of serious punishments are used to induce lower minions involved in this crime into cooperating with the authorities to name and finger those orchestrating this crime. Witness protection programmes are offered to those willing to cooperate with the authorities. Yet despite these being the standard tools that governments and the authorities use to tackle all sorts of persistent crime problems, especially when the offenders are rarely caught, this is one field, where bizarrely governments and the authorities forget to use these tactics. Instead they use the same inadequate laws and powers implemented years ago, don’t provide the necessary resources for law enforcement, and just shrug their shoulders and say, it’s so difficult to catch them in the act.

      If the perpetrators of this sort of crime were likely to face substantial prison sentences, not necessarily ten years, just several years would be enough, it’s doubtful that they would keep quiet about their motivation or who encouraged them to do this. Anyone would think that our governments and the authorities positively don’t want those caught committing this sort of crime to name others involved in it – probably because of how scandalous it would be if they started talking about who put them up to it. As I say, this is a standard tool used in every other area of crime when it is persistent, the perpetrators evade detection, and there is strong evidence of organization and this crime being perpetrated in a methodical way, especially for financial gain.

  2. Absolutely sickened. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
    It’s getting harder and harder to contain the incandescent rage and frustration I feel as yet another of our beautiful harriers is butchered by these fucking bastards.
    When is something going to be done?
    There is a deep fucking rot in our country when this abject cruelty is allowed to play out year on year whilst these bastards carry on with business as usual.
    Away to write again to the useless bastards in government.

  3. “Police Scotland led a multi-agency search of Leadhills Estate but found no evidence to connect anyone from the estate with this latest wildlife crime”

    Are we seriously expected to believe that there are mysterious unknown people, in no way connected with the grouse shooting interests of these estates, going round committing these heinous acts, which only benefit same said grouse shooting interests? I’m well aware that the organizations and apologists for grouse shooting interests claim that they are being framed by activists motivated not by conservation, but by ideology and class hatred. However, conservationists and birders are absolutely furious at this bare-faced sophistry, because the very idea of them killing Hen Harriers and causing this type of suffering to smear grouse the shooting industry is absurd, repugnant, and would be risible if it was not so malignantly and knowingly slanderous. The recent paper on satellite tagged Hen Harriers and their repeated disappearance over grouse moors, made it crystal clear that there is widespread illegal persecution of Hen Harriers on grouse moors i.e. it is not just a few bad apples as the grouse shooting industry has disingenuously claimed for decades, but widespread enough to be fairly standard practise. Is anyone seriously trying to suggest that this widespread persecution is in fact entirely caused by mysterious unknown people trying to frame these grouse shooting estates?

    The thing is, if there were mysterious unknown individuals going around these private estates, committing serious wildlife crime act to smear these estates, you’d have thought these estates would be taking action to catch and establish who these people are. Yet this is the thing, despite them owning these estates, having the workforce, the resources, which enable them to quickly find, locate, and harass conservationists trying to monitor what is going on, they are unable to produce one iota of evidence to establish that these traps and poison baits are the acts of people not connected with these estates.

    The other thing is, I never remember one single instance of these estates ever finding, or reporting these traps, and poisoned baits supposedly planted by these supposed third parties, not connected with these estates and trying to frame them. These estates seem to be amazingly complacent that illegal traps and poisoned baits have been placed all round their estates, by what they imply are third parties not connected with the estates, and who are trying to frame them.

    Why was it raptor workers who found this trap, and the caught male Hen Harrier and not the estate – who you would think would be concerned about someone having planted these traps to frame the estate?

    1. Well said. Unfortunately, as we both know it’s a certainty that apologists will, even as I type, be claiming it was a set-up carried out either by CP himself or ‘conservationists’ and will renew their demand that CP should be sacked by the BBC. One can only hope that such nonsense will be recognised for what it is by the wider public.

  4. As somebody almost obsessed with Hen Harriers since I was a teenager and having worked trying to protect and study them over the many years since this leaves me feeling sick, horrified and very, very angry. Not especially at the criminals who did this but at government, who for ever since the Scottish parliament has existed has told us what a stain this was and that it needed to be changed, yet they have essentially done bugger all but talk about it. What is it going to take to actually get them of their superannuated arses and to actually do something positive and meaningful to stop this awful criminality associated with game shooting, its not necessary to the economy and surely a better way can be found to manage the uplands. I’m rarely lost for words but the beauty that was that male harrier so wilfully and painfully destroyed leaves me struggling for the right words of condemnation.

  5. Shouldn’t we at least be pushing for all traps used on an Estate to be registered to that Estate? Then they are directly linked to what they catch. XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX

    1. That’s an excellent and a rather obvious solution i.e. all traps used have to be registered with a serial number, and anyone caught with traps not registered and without serial numbers would be guilty of a serious crime. The only rather obvious problem is that it would be very inconvenient to lots of very wealthy people and senior members of the British establishment.

  6. I am absolutely disgusted. This is one of the most brazen acts that I can recall clearly they think they will get away with it, again. A question, why did it take the police seven weeks to conduct the raid?

  7. Until (if ever) change happens, we need to have a presence in the uplands all year round to protect these magnificent birds.
    XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX the people that protect could volunteer to live up there. I’d given up my annual leave to be up there monitoring and watching XXXXX XXXXX Surely the RSPB could call on its members to be a presence in the uplands?

    1. Again this is a rather obvious solution i.e. it be made a condition of an estate being run as a grouse moor, that the owners must give free access to those monitoring the illegal persecution of raptors, and be open for spot inspections. You know the sort of thing which already happens to thousands of businesses serving food with public health inspections, and licenced premises etc. This is just off the top of my head, because I’m sure there’s a whole array of businesses, where the condition of operation is that you have to make your business open to spot inspections without notice. Yet for some odd reason (not really odd, just that the owners of grouse moors include senior members of the establishment), these general principles which apply to all sorts of other business don’t apply to shooting estates, which are treated like private property and someone’s own private household. Anyone would think that the government didn’t actually want to find out what’s going on, maybe because of the influence of these people and that they are big donors to the Conservative Party etc. Who knows, it’s just a suggestion as to why such an inexplicable blind eye is turned to the persistent wildlife crime being perpetrated on grouse moors.

    2. I make an effort to be in those sort of areas when I can, unfortunately I’m limited by being on my own and because one lot of keepers locally are already suspicious of me. Means I need to be careful in how I go about it. The more people getting out there and searching for this stuff the better, they need to actively seek out the quiet and difficult to reach areas.

  8. I just wonder what evidence the police might have hoped to find to link someone to the traps. DNA from the traps? With the amount of previous crime on the estate xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx The law needs to change!

    1. What a fantastic effort – that was so close to succeeding – by vet Romain Pizzi to rebuild that shattered leg. Compare the compassion, skill and advance in veterinary care that made that attempt so remarkable even though it was ultimately unsuccessful with the setting of the trap.

      An enormously cruel and illegal act that would almost certainly not kill the bird outright, a bird that is very rare and declining, and although morally and ecologically it doesn’t make any difference is an especially beautiful and dramatic species which should highlight the deficiencies of those who clearly think killing lots of grouse for fun is a better thing to do than truly appreciate our wildlife.

      xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx driven grouse shooting is evil through and through. It needs people to be cruel and arrogant and ignorant from bottom to its so called top. Hen harriers are maimed, we experience a reduced quality of life in a degraded environment ourselves, and local communities have fewer job opportunities. It could never have ‘just’ been about broken birds of prey.

      The Revive conference will be on the third of August and that means a chance for us all to see about pulling the rug from under the feet of DGS, killing off its phony prestige and political support ASAP. I’ll be pushing for targeted tree planting and eventual beaver translocations on parts of the grouse moors where it will be the best option to reduce downstream flooding of homes, businesses, better quality farmland, roads, railways, bridges….That means villages and towns including ones like Dumfries, Brechin and Perth ultimately being saved from millions of pounds of flood damage and associated human misery. When I’ve raised this issue on social media with the grouse slaughterers getting any response has been like getting blood out of a stone. But eventually some started trickling through and the line taken was that ‘you only get flooded if you’ve built on a floodplain’. There you go, it’s always your fault if your house gets flooded, because of course we can all avoid living where floods happen, and it would certainly be wrong of us to expect shooting the grice to be bally well compromised by planting some trees! Of course we know what a shower of arrogant and stupid c**** this lot have always been, we just need the rest of the public to know too.

      Dead raptor after dead raptor is maybe starting to push for change slowly, very slowly, but put it alongside homes and businesses being damaged by what was avoidable flooding thanks to lack of change in the inglorious uplands and then your scope for media and public support increases dramatically. How many of our spineless elected representatives are going to risk giving their tweed pals unconditional support if the owners of flooded homes and businesses could turn their anger on them? There’s a fair chance there might have been less of them if a big part of the uplands wasn’t run as a grouse factory, that’s nothing more than a very awkward truth. That chance is a hell of a lot more important than bigger grouse bags, and more birds of prey is a lovely bonus thrown in. Maimed harriers and flooded towns two sides of the same coin. We could set the question to each and every MSP ‘What do you think is more important, to reduce flooding or bigger grouse bags?’

      I live in Falkirk so not too far from Leadhills really, surprising how close many of us are to driven grouse shooting even in the central belt, there’s some in the Pentlands a few miles from the centre of Edinburgh. Any ideas how we can have safe and legal protest during a grouse shoot that will be a lot more difficult to ignore than yet another email to Nicola Sturgeon? There’s an enormous appetite to be able to give the two fingers back especially in comparison to the indifference of most of our craven elected representatives, the press would pick up on that too. Currently they’re taking the piss again and again and again. We need new strategies.

      1. I had on a previous blog suggested that a family protest event might be a good way of involving maximum numbers of people and creating a visual event. People could gather in one of the car parks near Arthur’s Seat and make their way up to the top of Arthur’s Seat. When they got to the top people could have a picnic and fly kites with images of raptors on or kites coloured red representing Red Kites and other raptors. Flying loads of kites from the top of Arthur’s seat would, hopefully, mean that a highly visual message could be sent both to Holyrood Parliament to do something and the Pentland Hills that the killing has to stop. It could look really great if lots of kites could be seen flying around the top of Arthur’s Seat. The group could then make their way to Holyrood Parliament where people could listen to speakers sending out a loud and clear message. The children’s pictures of raptors could be handed in to Holyrood Parliament just to emphasise the message again.

        The press like visual demos.

        Unfortunately no one responded to this suggestion last time I raised it.

        As for disrupting the Goriest 12th – well that would be a criminal offence – no matter how it was dressed up. Personally, I think the sabs do a great job simply by their presence near the shooters on the moors. Their peaceful presence is enough to ruin the day for the vile monsters who pay vast sums of money for a couple of sessions of live target practice. It’s obscene.

        I like the beaver idea.

        Personally I’d like to see a move away from the livestock industry and a move towards re-wooding and re-wilding with mixed, native trees. That would contribute to tackling climate change industries and countering the impacts of those industries. Land ownership reform is urgently needed to weaken the stranglehold of these disgraceful shooting estate owners.

        1. The point is doing something safe and legal that simultaneously ‘spoils the day’ for anyone who has spent several grand for their fun. I too love the idea of flying a kite, but on a grouse moor. However, if that was construed as being potentially disruptive re a grouse drive (shadow from kite keeping grouse down?) then believe you could be told to desist. Getting a lot of people on top of Arthur’s Seat to fly kites to represent what’s been lost, to ask public along on the day, get media involved and talk to punters there on the day about raptor persecution is certainly worth a try. Not too far from Holyrood to ask MSPs along. Maybe One kind could take the lead in organising it? Prize for best raptor kite? RSPB Scotland could actually be prepared to be involved?

          There’s definitely massive potential for reducing floods via targeted tree planting, peat bog restoration and eventual beaver translocations in the uplands. The fact we aren’t considerably further ahead with this than we are in Scotland absolutely reeks of vested interests being allowed to quietly sideline it. No less than four trials using beavers to reduce flooding in England. Not a single one in Scotland! My understanding is that watercourses flow out of rather than through peat bogs so essentially where you have rail traps you could and should have riparian tree planting, woody material in the water to form natural blockages that slow water down and in places where you can create an initial area of deeper water and where there’s enough forage for them (not necessarily that much wood) start thinking about putting in beavers. Trading rail traps for wildlife habitat and drier farms, homes and businesses. I’m not sure you’ll ever get a better bargain than that and I quite like the slogan ‘Beavers Not Muirburn!’. This is what we should be experimenting with in Scotland right now and there is absolutely nothing!! This is a totally different animal from whether or not muirburn exacerbates flooding – the estates have successfully swatted that issue aside again and again – it’s adding new elements that DEFINITELY reduce flooding, but seriously compromise DGS. Raise this point with gamies and it’s as popular as pointing out pine martens help red squirrels by eating grey ones.

  9. Absolutely Disgusting. The time has long come to put these vile people behind bars. So why hasn’t been done?

  10. Why did it take seven weeks for the police to attend the estate? If this had been a terrorist threat or a child pornography case they would have arrived with their gear, unexpectedly, within hours, no time to hide any evidence.

    1. Get a sense of perspective, the vast majority of the public might just want the police to give a wee bit more priority to a terrorist threat or child porn case…..
      However whether that justifies a seven week delay I’m not so sure. But we have to face it that the police(and government) have limited resources and while most of the public would like to see raptor persecution stopped it may not be among their top priorities for police and politicians to be spending time and money over. It may be frustrating but I think that is the reality. Meanwhile Too many people have an unrealistic expectation of what police can do with both limited resources and the type of evidence. They are often presented with.

  11. My letter to the First Minister.

    Dear First Minister,

    I have continued to follow the stories emerging over time on wildlife crime in Scotland. It has been a continuing theme of unabridged, unchallenged and unbridled barbarism, a crime against a natural heritage we all share and have a right to protect. The latest news, following closely on the disappearance of 2 satellite tagged Golden Eagles on grouse moors, on the barbaric murder of a male Hen Harrier on a grouse moor is nothing short of intolerable.

    The latest news shows such a blatant disregard for the law, such blatant barbarity, it shows a total disregard to a civilised world and what decent people believe in. How is it even imaginable, how is it even possible that at government level these murders are greeted with silence and a bending of the knee to the powerful and wealthy that control these wilful acts of criminality? It has to end, it must end.

    Please give this latest crime your urgent attention, at least acknowledge the criminality involved and issue a statement denouncing this and other crimes against ‘our’ natural heritage.

    Yours sincerely,

    1. Issue a statement? Aye that’ll sort it! Do you never get fed up of politicians issuing statements about stuff that is number 100 and something on their priority list?

  12. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx just think about who stands to gain the most from this barbaric deed. Forget licensing, my solution would be for the State to confiscate estate land taking it into public ownership.

    I can’t wait to see the responses from the shooting industry!

  13. If they ( Scottish Gov) had a mind to do something meaningful to address this disgraceful situation it could have been done years ago , they don’t and they won’t .
    Regarding the police , whilst I am the last person to defend them, even if they had carried out searches that day what could they have found to build a case on, given their present powers and the present legal status of owning these traps.
    Reference was made to Donald Dewar who was leader of the LABOUR party in Scotland.

    1. “If they ( Scottish Gov) had a mind to do something meaningful to address this disgraceful situation it could have been done years ago , they don’t and they won’t .” ……………. CORRECT – I would not trust them one little bit.

      “Regarding the police , whilst I am the last person to defend them, even if they had carried out searches that day what could they have found to build a case on, given their present powers and the present legal status of owning these traps.” ……………. I don’t think that police performance is adequate, but I don’t know how much responsibility for that lies in their own backyard and to what extent they are being forced by government.

      [Ed: last paragraph deleted as potentially libellous]

      1. Training re wildlife crime has definitely been inconsistent and generally inadequate within the police force which in itself says something about the (non) priority it’s been given so far. The training is currently being reorganised which fingers crossed will make a difference and also is a statement in itself. Hopefully the days when an officer with a shooting background can successfully put themselves forward to be a WCO with little if any scrutiny are long gone. There have been utterly woeful examples of this we shouldn’t shy away from highlighting to the police and public, they are a terrible and embarrassing black mark on past competence and integrity acknowledgement of which would make it very unlikely they happen again.

        1. “Hopefully the days when an officer with a shooting background can successfully put themselves forward to be a WCO with little if any scrutiny are long gone.”
          Maybe, but some are still in place in Lancashire Constabulary!

          1. Can believe it!! Start pointing this out to the public and the track record of said WCOs with ones not involved in ‘fieldsports’ and one bloody great embarrassment for the hi heid yins, smacks far too much of old style police corruption that as far as I’m aware was alive and well well into the seventies at least. When you do have exemplary WCOs and someone like Nick Lyall heading things then people are going to have little less than outright contempt for dodgy placements. This issue has never got the media attention it deserves. It would be great if a journalist like Patrick Barkham gave it a write up.

    2. I should add, have a thought for the people who reported this , the level of intimidation and open violence aimed at raptor workers in this area is significant . Very brave people.

  14. Why did it take the police 7 weeks to investigate? Has a complaint been submitted? Just scandalous. The investigation should have been instantaneous upon discovering this atrocity.

  15. That it takes seven weeks to organise a multi-agency seach is beyond belief. Plenty time to dispose of any evidence!
    Surely it is not beyond the police to have a wildlife “Flying Squad” (forgive the unintended pun) which could be brought in at short notice (within a few days) able to carry out searches anywhere in Scotland. If this were a terrorist incident would it take seven weeks to search proprties linked to the incident. This team should include police dogs trained to search for traps,illegal poisons, raptor bodies and other evidence. It is time adequate resources were applied to wildlife crime; part time Wildlife Crime Officers (good as many of them are) and a few Special Constables as in the Cairngorms National Park are just not enough.

  16. No that’s not the answer at all, an outright ban on driven grouse shooting is the answer and has been for a long while
    My email has gone in to Nicola sturgeon

  17. This has been going on for years the police and government are reluctant to take on the estates because of the wealthy status and rank of the owners some of these people know each other socialy it all stinks its one law for the public another for the wealthy it could still be victorian britain for all the words and laws if no actions are takeing place law is useless big changes needed

  18. These traps were obviously repeatedly handled by the perpetrator, so I wonder what effort was made to do a full forensic work-up for trace DNA, etc.? If the police regard this sort of crime as being insufficiently heinous to merit the cost of proper forensic work then maybe a fund for just this purpose should be set up? I will happily contribute.

    1. DNA would be of little evidential value. The accused would say that he set the trap legally elsewhere and the actual perp took the trap and set it illegally. Reasonable doubt straight away.

      And as for the seven week delay in conducting the search, I’m not sure what incriminating evidence a search would find, even if carried out immediately.

      1. That’s like saying that finding DNA and/or fingerprints on a murder weapon “would be of little evidential value.” Really?

  19. The estate should be prosecuted for this,it is on their land and they should know whats happening on their doorstep.

    Ban the shooting on the estate and a culprit would soon be found.

    [Ed: There’s no provision in the current legislation for the estate to be prosecuted. For vicarious liability in these cases, the P Fiscal would need to show evidence of a relationship between the perpetrator and the estate owner AND show that the owner didn’t know the crime was being committed AND that the owner hadn’t taken all reasonable steps to prevent it AND hadn’t undertaken all due diligence to prevent it from happening in the first place. Clearly this case would fall at the first hurdle because the identity of the trap-setter isn’t even known.]

  20. Can Raptor Persecution please tell us why it takes so long for the police to instigate a search?
    Was the Police notified immediately upon the discovery as the traps were set illegally, even if nothing was in them?
    There’s undoubtedly persecution going on but I personally feel that the pattern of recent alleged persecution falls outwith the ‘normal’ pattern practiced within the industry, raising the suspicion that this is not being carried out from within.
    This perhaps then explains the reason why the Scottish government has stay silent on the recent incidents.
    On a different note, I think licensing should be introduced. I do not want to see driven grouse banned completely.
    I think a species survey should accompany every license.
    Depending on the size of the moor, each moor should consist of x amount of breeding pairs of raptors (hen harriers, golden eagles, sea eagles merlins, kites etc) per x amount of square kilometres or Per x amount of hectares to gain their license. This could be regulated by SNH.
    Nests should be camera monitored at the landowners expense, or by SNH and this would then be covered by the license fee.
    No reason why this can’t be possible and still have driven grouse.
    The onus has to placed on the grouse moor to produce breeding raptors for them to continue driven grouse.
    It would just mean the sporting agents and land owners must accept a reduced bag.
    Just my thoughts.

  21. So angry to see all this it is disgusting and we have to stop this. There is the biggest mass species extinction going on at the moment world wide. Yet something such as this is still happening. It just shouldn’t be.

  22. If I lived near one of these places I think I would have taken the law into my own hands at this stage

  23. The Scottish government needs to act simple as that.

    One step that need to be in place is instead of police having to find individuals to prosecute the owners need to brought to account if the crime is committed on there land they are responsible and then make sure the penalties are tough

    [Ed: Unless you’re a supporter of strict liability (which I haven’t been, but it seems to be working in Spain) you can’t prosecute the owners without having evidence that someone associated with the estate committed the crime. There is no such evidence in this case, as with so many others]

  24. Absolutely barbaric . These people need jail or massive fines . xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx Big changes needed

  25. Scottish government and Cab Sec have, as others have pointed out talked a good game for years and done nowt. They’re focused on Indy2 and don’t want to do anything to upset the applecart.
    Is it time to focus minds by calling for a Cabinet Secretary that will carry out some action rather than commissioning review after review.
    Write to the First Minister calling for a new Cabinet Secretary. This one has overseen an awful lot of the crime listed in this blog.
    Run out of patience!

    1. They’re focused on Indy2 and don’t want to do anything to upset the applecart.

      Yes, “focused” as in obsessed to the exclusion of common sense and the desire to address the criminality continually reported on this forum.
      IF the Sc. Gov. are not prepared to take action because of an influence being exerted by certain vested interests then it (the Sc. Gov) are unfit for the position that it holds.

  26. As part of the licencing regime, traceability of lead shot must become a priority. I am sure there would be a way to make every single lead shot traceable to who bought it, expensive yes, but given the rampant criminality, a necessary step getting these people to use it only on legal targets. Make them keep detailed accounts of every single cartridge too. I reckon you could add traces of other metals to lead shot to give them X-ray spectroscopy fingerprints, for example.

  27. How many more harriers and other ground-nesting species have suffered the same fate as this bird? I would be very surprised if the perpetrator of this offence was the only one using this means of trapping them. We saw the same method used in the Peregrine Falcon case so graphically illustrated in the video at:

    The same devices are legally used in so-called tunnel traps with the indiscriminate effect of catching anything the same size or smaller than the target species. How much longer is the use of these barbaric (can you think of a better word?) contraptions going to remain legal?

    The video accompanying this blog is excellent. Telling points made strongly and clearly by a range of authorities on conservation and persecution issues. It is worthy of a much wider distribution. It could even be the tipping point which will convince the relevant authorities that urgent and draconian action is long overdue.

    I have forwarded a link to this blog to the First Minister: FirstMinister@gov.scot I hope that others will do the same.

  28. I am so distressed about this. I personally will xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  29. Why are no photos shown of the bird in the trap? The injuries to the bird’s leg are not consistent with the type of trap illustrated. The whole thing is staged. Chris Packham is clearly prepared to sacrifice the life of a rare bird of prey to further his private class war against anyone who owns more land than he does.

    1. Thanks, Tim. A libellous comment but so ridiculous we’ll publish it, if only to demonstrate to those who haven’t yet worked out why the game shooting industry is so incapable of self-regulation. Thanks for demonstrating this point so well.

    2. On every single occasion when someone is caught red handed illegally killing birds of prey it’s a gamekeeper or an estate worker. Occasionally a pigeon fancier, but never a conservationist. Yet according to the shooting lobby, only they understand the countryside, and conservationists are just a bunch of townies and urbanites who don’t understand the countryside. Even more mysteriously shooting interests actually own the land and work on it.

      How can this be if it’s conservationists sneaking around the countryside, killing raptors to smear and frame shooting interests? Why despite owning the land and working on it, can’t the shooting interests catch these mysterious conservationists at it, why every time someone is caught red-handed illegally killing raptors is it a gamekeeper, or estate worker?

      You see I can think of one rather obvious explanation, which doesn’t even require the careful application of Occam’s razor, although it is entirely consistent with it, as it requires only one assumption. That assumption being that these raptors are being systematically trapped and shot by shooting interests, as they have a rather obvious motive for doing this. It also suggests that the shooting lobby making these baseless claims that conservationists are responsible for this wildlife crime, a rather obvious knowing lie, because said shooting interests must know that they are deliberately targeting and killing raptors – so they know very well what they claim isn’t true. It’s a rather cynical attempt to shift blame from their despicable illegal actions.

    3. Tim. No doubt you will be able to enlighten us all as to how and where you gained such expertise in these mattes!

    4. The depressing thing is that this bellend and his degenerate friends believe this shit. The presenter on Countryfile suggested dialogue ,(as if we have not tried for years) how can you even begin to talk to these delusional bastards?

      1. I think your rhetoric also indicates why dialogue is a little far fetched at this stage.
        There is a balance to be found, same with beavers, deer etc.
        But this would invoice keeping numbers at sustainable levels, for all parties concerned and for the longevity and success of the animal or bird species involved.
        But when you have two parties entrenched in complete polar opposite views, it ain’t going to happen!!
        Both sides of the argument can’t stand each other – a shooting agent or gamekeeper who doesn’t lose one iota of sleep about a missing raptor/alleged persecuted bird on their estate and on the other side, the anti grouse shooting groups and individuals who detest grouse shooting, or any other type of shooting and land ownership.
        It’s now a deep deep rooted conflict.
        The sad thing is, there is a compromise to be found but involves both sides moving and I for one, cannot see it.
        Hopefully the soon to be released review attempts to take the middle ground.

        1. Another vacuous appeal for ‘balance’ and ‘the middle ground’ suggesting there is some equivalence between the criminals and the law. In any case the middle ground in any issue is never static. With raptor persecution the middle ground has been shifted so far by the outrageous behaviour and the intransigence of the grouse industry that the reasonable solution is now to eliminate the industry. That is where extremism takes you.

    5. Oh I do so hope that Chris decides to pursue this libellous statement; your IP address will be available from the server logs, your ISP can match your IP address with your account, and from that they will know who you are. I’d happily help fund a private prosecution here.

      1. I’d happily join a crowdfund.

        Also it would be interesting to find what experience of traps Tim has.

  30. The media are full of this atrocity today. Even the unabashed Tory supporting Daily Mail have a full colour article on this despicable crime! Yet the SNP Government say and do nothing! Nicola could you please tell us which side of the fucking law you are on?

  31. As a shooter who deplores raptor persecution I will not pay for shooting and would not accept free shooting in an area where raptor persecution has occurred as shown by the RSPB raptor persecution map or where evidence raises a high index of suspicion. If raptors are persecuted to improve profits then a shooter boycott should ensure the opposite. A criminal conviction of a raptor persecutor will be difficult to achieve in such remote areas. Ideally the RSPB map should be more specific in narrowing down locations of persecution. Refinement of my suggestion should make boycotting more specific and avoid boycotting innocent parties. Worth encouraging?

  32. I agree that shooting fraternity has itself to blame.
    But to suggest that because the pendulum has swung too much one way, the answer is to exterminate the industry.
    Is that the stance we should take in all conflicts around the world, because this is a deep rooted conflict, eliminate the wrong doer?
    What happened to diplomacy, finding a solution?
    I truly believe a solution can be found in the way of licensing as I said earlier in the post.
    It’s never been tried before in this country so why not get behind that?
    If a license can only be issued on The basis that various different raptors successfully breed on the moor, then surely that’s a win win for all – raptors on moor and land owners still allow to shoot grouse on their land, albeit reduced bags.

    1. 1. DGS is not an industry; It produces absolutely nothing.

      2. Conservation NGOs have compromised with these criminals for 65 years. What, exactly, has been achieved?

      3. DGS interests will never accept “reduced bags”. That’s why they persecute raptors (and other native predators) in the first place.

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