Queen’s North Yorkshire grouse moor named at centre of police investigation

Further to last week’s news that North Yorkshire Police were appealing for information after the alleged killing of a goshawk that was caught inside a trap on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (see here), the location has now been revealed to be one of the Queen’s grouse moors, part of the Duchy of Lancaster, according to an article in The Times today.

It’s reported that ‘the Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British sovereign, under the title the Duke of Lancaster. It covers more than 44,000 acres of rural and urban holdings, including several thousand acres of moorland‘.

The video footage of the goshawk caught in the trap is described:

A man approaches a large cage trap set up by a brook on the moors. He fills the trap with live jackdaws, apparently as bait, and leaves. When a man is filmed opening the trap a day later, a goshawk has entered the trap.

He uses a pole or hook to hold the goshawk as he enters the trap. For a moment it struggles and flaps but after a few seconds falls still, apparently dead. The man puts the goshawk into a bag and leaves, throwing a carcass of one of the jackdaws into the brook as he goes. The goshawk killed five of the birds, Inspector Matt Hagen, head of North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force told The Times.’

North Yorkshire Police have searched part of the estate under warrant and interviewed three individuals under caution. The investigation is ongoing.

We understand there is a sporting agent on this estate and it’s a name we’ve heard many times before.

This isn’t the first time that a royal estate has been at the centre of a police investigation about goshawks – see here for a very mysterious story from the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk a couple of years ago.

37 thoughts on “Queen’s North Yorkshire grouse moor named at centre of police investigation”

  1. That the Duchy of Lancaster doesn’t have direct control over whomsoever set the trap and reportedly killed a Goshawk doesn’t let them off the hook. If the sporting tenant on this estate is a name Raptor Persecution UK has “heard many times before” then the Duchy itself cannot be unaware of the reasons for this familiarity.

  2. The second “Royal” incident (that we know about !) . Isn’t it now appropriate to remove the R from the RSPB ?

  3. A sporting agent well known to RPUK, We know who that is then. That this trap is decoyed with Jackdaws under or adjacent to conifers can only mean one thing, its not set for corvids, its a Goshawk trap. These traps must have setting regulations made such that they cannot be set in such situations and surely a single decoy is sufficient, that is if they are not banned altogether. No doubt this trap will be moved after this incident and placed somewhere else to catch our protected raptors.

    I cannot tell you what I think of XXXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX in decent language, arrogant scum of the earth will have to suffice. Time their awful “sports” and its archaic damaging management practices were caste down the rubbish chute of history, with them in the long term care of the prison service. How I hate these bastards for their casual cruel criminality.

    [Ed: Hi Paul – to be clear, there are a number of sporting agents whose names are heard regularly in our field. This is one of those, but probably not the one you’re thinking of]

  4. The perpetrator was masked so can’t be identified, the body will never be found and there will insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.

    Same old same old.

    It’s time all shooting was banned.

  5. Should be an easy case to crack, got him coming in, then coming back, easy peasey, what a good case.

    1. Sorry, I do not understand why my comment was potentially libellous? Could you please explain? It certainly was not intended to be.

      [Ed: Hi Jill, it’s clear that you didn’t intend it to be but it still was, potentially, libellous]

  6. The fact that this episode is carried in the Times newspaper gives me a very small piece of hope – publicity of such backward heinous acts against rare protected raptors such as Goshawks can only be a good thing regardless of the land ownership or location.

  7. Oh dear. Another nail in the Royal Patronage of wildlife charities. When will those charities learn, I wonder?

  8. great work by whoever took the video and hats off to north yorkshire police. I hope other forces are looking at the example set by their colleagues in north yorks and get their houses in order. We need to raise wildlife crime from summary offence only and push for more police powers, increased sentencing, removal of firearms licences and more powers to national park authorities and AONBs.

  9. Sickening.

    Were they just humouring Chris Packham with the CBE? Hopefully he was humouring them.

    Unless the Royals become more progressive the upper classes around them will think it’s ok to carry on killing our wildlife.

  10. Despite what appears to be such conclusive evidence, I suspect this investigation will come up against all the legal stumbling blocks that thwart so many police investigations- hopefully the criminal responsible is identified and prosecuted?
    Will this estate identify to the police whether the criminal was one of their employees?
    Will this estate identify the individual?
    Let’s wait and see.

    If not- all public funds paid to this estate in the way of stewardship grants or rural payments should be stopped!
    Regardless of who owns the land – public money should never be paid to those engaged in criminal activity.

    I suspect the Duchy of Lancaster will be furious that this has happened on their land, lets not forget many members of the Royal family work very hard to promote conservation issues, and I an sure that this sort of criminal behaviour on their land will not be something they condone.

    Hopefully the fact this has happened on land owned by the Duchy, and the link to royalty will make someone with some influence take notice of what really is happening as regards raptors in the UK, and a strong message will be sent out to those managing royal estates and grouse moors?? We can but hope!

  11. It will be very easy for the powers that be to find out who did this, then they should lead by example and report them to the police but they won’t. XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX The person responsible is a callous heartless bastard and deserves putting in jail for a good while, I can’t say where I would put him but I can say he wouldn’t be committing the crime again. If there is any justice in the world shooting in all its forms will be outlawed sooner rather than later

  12. I think it’s time for the RSPB to poll its members on whether they would prefer to discontinue the ‘Royal’ part of their name.

  13. Duchy of lancaster website seems to state BH sporting is the agent, apparently specialists in grouse moor recovery

  14. I am afraid the royal Family have had many opportunities to distance themselves from the killing of raptors and do not seem to have done anything.

    xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx.

    Offering the moor in question to rewilders who will permit walk up shooting and develop sustainable tourism and appropriate nature based businesses that benefit local people. Even better would be to offer the land up to the nation as a National Park for the conservation of nature while ensuring that new economic options were designed for those local people who currently depend on shooting XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX

    It is time the Royals were at the forefront of moves to make land ownership and use more democratic. While they are at it they could stump up the money to secure the future of the Langholm buyout. It is shocking that with so much money swilling around saving polluters, financing HS2 and laying hundreds of thousands of hectares of concrete on the land there is none to finance the aforenamed exercise in progressive management that will benefit nature, biodiversity and also local people.

    1. Spot on about how the Royals should see this as an opportunity to change over to rewilding and ecotourism, however, they are blood sports people through and through. They refused to do a big enough humane red deer cull at Balmoral to allow forest regeneration without bird killing deer fencing which seriously compromised supposed aims to conserve capercaillie. Predator control was still on the books though even though caper have a predilection for sticking their heads through snares. A dam shame as currently there’s an absolute dearth in the north of England re former grouse moors changing or even diversifying away from driven grouse shooting. At least in Scotland a few sporting estates have made an effort and we even have a possible community buy out in southern Scotland. The grouse shooters were booted off Ilkley Moor and there are a few trial beaver translocations near rather than on grouse moors, but that’s it. There’s a desperate need for a Glenfeshie, Glen Tanar or Coignafearn in the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and Forest of Bowland.

      1. Well said Dave and Les. Arguably, the reason that we still have to put up with such hideous ‘sports’ as DGS is that the Royals are the top of our class-ridden tree and they call the shots (pun intended). If the Royals favoured badger baiting I’m pretty sure that would still be legal too. It stinks to high hell and we all pay for it through subsidies and Sovereign grants, tax breaks etc.. Until we have a) a Republic and b) subsequent, significant, land reform we will never be rid of DGS – and all that goes with it – in England. There is a glimmer of hope in Scotland but progress remains glacial in pace.

      2. There were Chough on Cadair Idris yesterday; I have put this into the Guardian with regard to rewilding..

        Knighton Rd

        Every year for the past 30 or so I have tried to make sure that I see Wales from the summit of Cadair Idris. I was astounded and delighted this year to hear the ringing calls of Chough near its summit and see their tumbling, dancing circus in the air. It was in the mid 1980’s that the last inland pairs of Chough became extinct and their recovery from their strongholds on Ramsay Island and the Llyn Peninsula to embrace much of the coastline recolonising Cornwall naturally and now suitable habitat inland in Wales is a great success story for this Celtic nation.

        The key here is a tight grazed rough or semi natural grass sward. Credit is due particularly to Tony Cross and Mick Green for their pioneering work in the late 1980’s that held the line on this species but it affirms the approach in Wales is “Frydd Forest” or Wood Pasture and that runs in parallel with an upland social history where the language is deeply linked to a pastoral small farm land use. “Re wilding” has some applications here but is most appropriate for Scotland where humanity was removed at the time of the Clearances and the scale is more appropriate within the context of the 1000’s of years of interplay between European agricultural and ecological history.


        Peter Hack

        1. Wonderful. Patron bird of Cornwall, but still very few there, unfortunately. Lovely that they are coming back to Cader Idris.

  15. Didn’t one of the Hen Harriers tagged by Wildland (see their website) suddenly disappear on a grouse moor rented to the Queen near Balmoral? Just asking!

  16. It is less than a year ago that a tourist took a photograph of a Golden Eagle with a Fenn trap hanging from its leg/s while on the wing above the Lecht road at Cockbridge in Aberdeenshire where there are Royal Grouse moor interests as well as others. This bird would not be able to hunt or feed properly and no doubt will have died, the photograph did make the Scottish front page in the National press but has queitened down since then!

  17. A pair of goshawks ‘mysteriously ‘ disappeared on the Abbeystead Estate in the trough of Bowland 3 years ago …

  18. If indeed the gos was killed, then the guy needs to be hammered for committing a callous crime. But it’s a fake – all smoke and mirrors. Watch the video again – we don’t see a single one of the critical moments involved, ie: hawk arriving on trap; hawk falling into trap; hawk being, beyond doubt, killed; dead hawk. Coincidence? No – it’s a put up job. So many inconsistencies, so much editing, it’s childish. So much can be done with video manipulation these days that we need to be a lot more cynical.

    1. The article in the Times includes the video and it does show those moments. No doubt the police will have the full unedited footage from the camera, the editing will simply be for media use.

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