North Yorkshire Police have issued the following press release today:
Appeal for information after buzzards found shot in Bransdale
North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information after five dead buzzards were found hidden in a hole in the ground on land below Fox Hole Crag, on the edge of Bransdale in the North York Moors.
Following information reported to the police in April 2020, officers attended the location and discovered five dead buzzards. The buzzards were then x-rayed, with four found to contain pieces of shot.
[X-ray showing one of the shot buzzards, via North Yorkshire Police]
So far, eight individuals have been interviewed under caution in connection with the incident. Enquiries are ongoing and if you have any information which could help this investigation please call 101 quoting reference number 12200063953.
All birds are protected by law, and it is a crime to intentionally kill, injure, or take any wild bird. Persecution of birds of prey is one of the five national wildlife crime priorities.
Find out more about how to recognise the signs of bird of prey persecution here: www.northyorkshire.police.uk/opowl-getinvolved
Gosh, who might have been out shooting buzzards inside a National Park when everyone else was in lockdown? What a mystery.
The estate name hasn’t been given, but there aren’t that many estates in Bransdale.
[Bransdale (the dale, not the estate) according to Google maps]
[Fox Hole Crag, where the shot buzzards were found concealed in a hole]
[A view of one end of Fox Hole Crag, taken from near Fox Hole. Photo by Gavin Hatton, creative commons]
Looking at the site, North Yorkshire Police deserve some serious credit for locating hidden buzzards up there. They also deserve credit for bringing in eight individuals for questioning under caution. It’d be interesting to know whether any of those suspects gave anything more than a ‘no comment’ interview. Let’s hope the reported ‘ongoing enquiries’ include detailed forensic work on those corpses and anything else that might have been recovered from the site.
There have been a number of persecution incidents reported from this area in the past. In 2010 a shot goshawk was found at Bransdale (see here) and a post mortem reportedly revealed it had also been poisoned (see here). In 2012 a walker crossing the moorland in Bransdale found a dead sparrowhawk, also reported to have been shot (see here). In 2019 a buzzard was reportedly found shot on Bransdale Moor (see here).
There are many, many connections between Bransdale and figureheads in the grouse shooting industry and beyond; we’ll be examining some of those relationships in a series of forthcoming blogs. This incident may well provide the perfect platform for a demonstration of the grouse-shooting industry’s recent (but so far undemonstrated) claim of ‘zero tolerance’ for raptor persecution.
For now, if you have any information that could help the police’s criminal investigation please contact North Yorkshire Police on Tel: 101 and quote ref: 12200063953.
Don’t forget, tonight at 7pm Channel 4 News has a special investigation in to the wider issue of raptor persecution in North Yorkshire and Countryfile will also be covering it on Sunday evening.
UPDATE 30 May 2020: Channel 4 News highlights raptor persecution on North Yorkshire grouse moors (here)
UPDATE 31 May 2020: National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s pathetic response to Channel 4 programme on rampant raptor persecution (here)
UPDATE 1 June 2020: BBC Countryfile highlights raptor persecution on grouse moors (here)
UPDATE 2 June 2020: 4 shot buzzards on a Bransdale grouse moor: shooting industry’s response (here)
UPDATE 10 September 2021: No prosecution for 5 shot buzzards found hidden on Bransdale Estate, North York Moors National Park (here)