Poisoned sea eagle: poor response from Cairngorms National Park Authority

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Board of one of the world’s most famous national parks would have quite a lot to say if the headlines were full of the news of an illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle that had been found within the park’s boundary.

But apparently not.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), managed to tweet this on the day the news broke:

It appears that the ‘statement’ to which Grant refers is nothing more than the one-liner that appears in his tweet:

The death of this young sea #eagle by poison is totally unacceptable. If you have any info please report to @policescotland“.

That’s it.

There’s nothing about this appalling crime on the CNPA’s news website:

Why the silence? The CNPA has published statements on previous raptor persecution incidents that have been uncovered in the National Park (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here) so why is this one any different? If anything, it’s even more high profile than the crimes that have gone before, which makes the CNPA’s reluctance to say anything all the more disappointing.

Perhaps it’s the influence of some of the current Board members? There are some very interesting individuals who undoubtedly would condemn this poisoning but whose strong links to the grouse-shooting industry might make them feel less inclined to want the CNPA to be shouting about it: Doug McAdam, previous CEO of Scottish Land & Estates and well known to us as what we’d describe as a raptor persecution denier (see here), Deirdre Falconer, who we’re told has a son who works as a gamekeeper on Invercauld Estate, and Geva Blackett, SNP councillor and previous Parliamentary Officer for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and wife of the now retired Factor of Invercauld Estate. Although Geva seems to have her own problems at the moment and has reportedly been suspended from her role as the Board’s Deputy Convenor. But there are plenty of other Board members – why haven’t they been as motivated as ordinary members of the public have been to condemn this ongoing depravity?

The current silence is even more bizarre when you consider that a previous CNPA Convenor publicly acknowledged that illegal raptor persecution in the National Park was “a PR disaster” and asked the Scottish Government for help (here). Not that the CNPA has been helping itself that much, with its constant rounds of softly-softly so-called ‘partnership-working’ (see here).

How’s that working out for you, CNPA?

Here’s how well it’s working out. This map shows a number of raptor persecution incidents in and around the National Park between 2005-2018, including those recorded by the RSPB, incidents featured in the golden eagle satellite tag review, and other data in the public domain. The area of Strathdon, where the poisoned white-tailed eagle was found, is circled:



Feb: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Mar: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 rabbit baits. Cromdale (No prosecution)


Apr: 3 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 grey partridge baits. Kingussie (No prosecution)

Jun: Attempted shooting of a hen harrier. Crannoch (Successful prosecution)


May: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cuaich (No prosecution)

Nov: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)


Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale (No prosecution)

Mar: 3 x poisoned buzzards, 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Crathie (No prosecution)


Jan: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Dulnain Bridge (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven (Mevinphos). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Morven [corbett] (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned raven + 1 x poisoned common gull (Aldicarb) + egg bait. Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

May: egg bait (Aldicarb). Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenfeshie (No prosecution)


Jan: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Glenshee (No prosecution)

Apr: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: Pole trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

May: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Tomintoul (No prosecution)

May: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit & hare baits. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Jul: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Ballater (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Newtonmore (No prosecution)

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)


Jan: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)


May: 2 x poisoned ravens (Mevinphos). Delnabo (No prosecution)

Jun: rabbit bait (Mevinphos). nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x illegal crow trap. Nr Tomintoul (No prosecution)


Apr: Pole trap. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x pole-trapped goshawk. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring trap on tree stump. Nr Dalwhinnie (No prosecution)

Sep: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Oct: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Nr Boat of Garten (No prosecution)


Jan: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

Mar: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenbuchat (No prosecution)

Apr: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran & Aldicarb). Nr Bridge of Brown (No prosecution)

May:  1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot short-eared owl, found stuffed under rock. Glenbuchat, Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: 1 x shot peregrine. Pass of Ballater (No prosecution)

Aug: grouse bait (Aldicarb). Glenlochy (No prosecution)

Sep: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Nov: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon


Apr: 1 x shot short-eared owl. Nr Grantown-on-Spey (No prosecution)

Apr: Peregrine nest site burnt out. Glenshee (No prosecution)

May: Buzzard nest shot out. Nr Ballater (No prosecution)


Jan: White-tailed eagle nest tree felled. Invermark (No prosecution)

May: 1 x shot hen harrier. Glen Gairn (No prosecution)

May: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon


Apr: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon

May: Armed masked men shoot out a goshawk nest. Glen Nochty, Nr Strathdon (No prosecution)


Sep: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Lad’ found dead, suspected shot. Newtonmore (No prosecution)


May: 1 x shot goshawk. Strathdon (No prosecution)

Jun: Illegally set spring traps. Invercauld (No prosecution)

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Brian’ ‘disappears’. Kingussie


Mar: Satellite-tagged golden eagle #338 ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, Strathdon

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Calluna’ ‘disappears’. Ballater


May: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle Blue T ‘disappears’. Ballater

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Athena’ ‘disappears’. Nr Grantown on Spey

Aug: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Margot’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

Sept: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Stelmaria’ ‘disappears’. Ballater


April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Marci’ ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon

April: Four geese poisoned and Carbofuran bait found on an estate nr Kingussie (no prosecution)

August: Golden eagle photographed with a spring trap dangling from its foot, nr Crathie, Deeside

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 1 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal

September: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Wildland 2 ‘disappears’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld


April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Newtonmore

April: Satellite-tagged hen harrier Marlin ‘disappears’ on grouse moor nr Strathdon

April: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle found illegally poisoned on grouse moor in Strathdon.

In addition to the above list, two recent scientific publications have documented the long-term decline of breeding peregrines on grouse moors in the eastern side of the National Park (see here) and the catastrophic decline of breeding hen harriers, also on grouse moors in the eastern side of the Park (see here).

39 thoughts on “Poisoned sea eagle: poor response from Cairngorms National Park Authority”

  1. What a pathetic response from what is obviously a very weak leader he seems to think by putting a lot of hashtags in his statement that will make it ok .

      1. On the West side, conservation is ongoing. See, for instance, the Cairngorm Connect website. There is though one obvious gap in the line of estates. And one would hope the NT’s Mar Lodge estate might join.

  2. I forwarded my letter to the First Minister and Cab Sec to all the board members of CNPA. Two replies so far:

    “Due to sickness I am not currently able to attend any meetings however I am still doing casework from home so please don’t hesitate to email me. I hope to be back in full working order by the end of September. If your matter is urgent please contact the Marr Area Office: School Road Alford AB33 8TY Email: marr@aberdeenshire.gov.uk Telephone: 01975 520400 Thank you for understanding and I will reply as soon as I can Kind regards Geva Blackett Councillor, Ward 15 – Aboyne, Upper Deeside & Donside ”


    “Thank you for your email of 29th July. We are all shocked by the poisoning of this young sea eagle. The death of this eagle by poison is totally unacceptable. We will do everything we can to support Police Scotland in their work to ensure whoever is responsible for this crime feels the full force of the law.

    The Park Authority has always strongly condemned the illegal killing of birds in the National Park. This is an issue that has blighted Scotland for too long. As a Scottish Government NDPB we have to work within the current legislative framework and we do so vigorously working with estates and others across the Park to ensure that the species and habitats in the Park are conserved and protected. The CNPA does not own any land directly but on raptors we must do more and that is why we are waiting for the Scottish Government response to the Werrity Review and to consider how we can take this forward in the Cairngorms.

    There is great work happening in the Cairngorms on nature conservation but it is undermined by the illegal killing of birds of prey. We will continue to work with organisations across the Park to address this issue.

    CNPA Board Convenor”

    1. Another reply from CNPA:

      Thank you for copying me and my fellow CNPA Board Members into your email to the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary.
      I know that Xander McDade, the CNPA Convenor has written to you. I wanted to let you know that I deplore wildlife crime of any sort and along with all the Board Members, will be doing my best to ensure that all objectives in the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan, which includes one to eliminate raptor persecution, are achieved.

      Kind regards,

      Willie Munro

      William Munro
      Board Member, Cairngorms National Park Authority,

  3. I hadn’t seen this tweet from Grant Moir until your article. Pathetic indeed and I see he repeats the word he used when responding to your request for a statement about the 2 missing Hen Harriers earlier this year – that these crimes are ‘unacceptable’

    It seems to me that ‘unacceptable’ is the exact opposite of the current situation. Eagles in Scotland continue to be poisoned and shot. There are never any successful prosecutions. The Cairngorms National Park Authority issues statements of regret and waits for action by the Scottish Government. The SG does nothing to fundamentally change the status quo. How can Grant Moir say that raptor crime is ‘unacceptable’ when neither he, nor the CNPA, nor the SG takes any definitive action? By failing to do all within their power to address it seems to me they lose the right to say its ‘unacceptable’. They are literally just accepting it.

    I’ve written to all 19 trustees of the CNPA to make this point and a few others, but without much in the way of a positive response to date. What I assume is the official response via the convener, Xander McDade, points to all the good work they are doing for conservation and their lack of power in this area and repeats the line that they are waiting for the SG response to the Werritty Report. Which I think just underlines the point that this is not enough.

  4. Words fail me. Thankfully not you.
    Your persistence will pay, thanks for highlighting the sheer apathy…..

  5. Only direct action will help change things on the ground. Disruption of grouse moor shoots, physical interventions etc etc are the one direct way of getting publicity. This is a feudal system we’re fighting against.

    [Ed: Andrew, please don’t incite/promote unlawful activity on this site. Thanks]

    1. Dear Editor, Thanks for the reminder. Simply exasperated, fed up, torn to pieces by this ongoing saga of another raptor killed followed by outrage followed by more outrage followed by more emails followed by another raptor slaughtered followed by slightly more outrage followed by yet more emails followed by official outcry followed by official condemnation followed by officials meeting to finally sort things out followed by another raptor killed another eagle poisoned followed by forum fever (grateful for your good work) followed by….you get my gist? I advocate a public protest outside a public entrance to a certain estate at a certain time of year. That would be a start.

  6. Lets face it we do not have ‘National Parks’ just politically designated areas that create jobs for the boys and girls paid for by the tax payer. Time to abandon the scheme? Either do that or do it properly.

    1. Hi, that is the nub of it; its essentially a planning re buildings jurisdiction…..National Parks in UK do not fit with the UN definition of a National Park; I propose a debate as to whether a boycott to try and affect tourist revenue highlighting this might have an impact ?

  7. About as much passion as if he was tweeting about losing his keys.
    If he makes a more strong statement now it will be totally political.
    He showed his hand. Believe this not any future hype.

  8. If you read parkswatchscotland, another most effective commentary by critical writers (like Raptors Persecution) on matters relating to Scotland’s National Parks – Cairngorms and Loch Lomond/Trossachs, it comes as no surprise that Cairngorms is yet another of those useless bodies, wrapped up by membership “insiders” in their own interests. It seems that Scotland is not short of experienced and knowledgeable professionals who can make mincemeat of Scottish Ministers and clueless/useless executive appointments all in heft to landed gentry, but it would take the general public storming their self-entitled hauteur to get any reaction.

    1. http://parkswatchscotland.co.uk/

      That website is worthy of a read.

      The CNPA tweet is meritless, timeworn hogwash.

      It looks like the SG prefer to have people leading subservient organisations that will do no more than tread water. In the current circumstances, with rampant wildlife crime, perhaps the government is following a well known precautionary tactic :-
      When you are up to your chin in shit, don’t make waves.

      I suspect that the SG will attempt to sit out the current furore. They do not give the impression of having anything else in their armoury.
      They are attempting to sit on the fence whilst hoping that none of us notice that they have a leg on the landowner’s side.
      Decision time is approaching. Either publicly side with the wildlife killers or use legislation and law enforcement to render them impotent.

  9. I’ve always suspected that you don’t get a top job if you’re willing to rock the boat hard. Agitators are all very well as foot soldiers, but you don’t get promoted unless you’re willing to rein it back.

  10. If I had seen that tweet without his name and account on it, I would have attributed it to a BASC spokesman or similar. It doesn’t seem like his heart is exactly bleeding, and I would say that it even falls well below the level expected of someone in his official job role as a custodian of a special place of national importance. But as has been said above, the first reaction is the indicative one. Is that NP board / executive now just a proxy for the landowners? What a job they appear to have done worming their way in like woodworm in an old cabinet. NP status is evidently meaningless, but don’t please desert those areas with plenty of other birds of prey trying to cling on.

  11. Where is the source of this Carbofuran? I understood it was a banned poison. It’s the same one that was used with such devastating effect to poison Kenya’s world-famous Marsh Lions. Its’ banned there, too, but still finds its way into the hands of the villains who use it to such deadly effect.

    Brian J.

    1. Hi Brian, there will tonnes of this stuff hidden in dusty back sheds on farms and in keepers woods. In know their type, they will have hoarded it (Furadan) like crazy when the ban was in the pipeline. It is incredibly strong, I once read that 10kg would wipe out all the raptors in Britain. Half a kilo will no doubt last your average upland estate 20 yrs or more. No doubt it will change hands for a good few quid.

    2. It is/was manufactured by FMC Corporation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is sold under the trade name Furadan by FMC themselves, and as Curaterr 10 GR by Bayer of Leverkusen, Germany.

      It is banned in both Canada and the EU, with a de facto ban by the US Environment Protection Agency. However, it is offered for world-wide sale by the Chinese, and is easily found, very cheaply, on the net.

      I have just found 159 sources for it with plenty of five-star reviews. There is a rather secretive swish English language web site selling Carbofuran – and other chemicals – at $dollar prices, but based in China (no address given – not registered in the UK, and there is no national business registration scheme in the US, but based purely on area telephones codes)

      However, carbofuran is also openly available from a UK-based agricultural supplier based in Manchester for ‘export outside of the EU’.

      How difficult would it be for the landed gentry with international business interests to arrange an export license, even if you didn’t fancy just trying to import it from China directly?

  12. There does appear to be a bit of an old boys network going on for appointments to the CNPA board. According to their website:
    7 members are nominated by Scottish Ministers
    7 members are nominated by the 5 councils with a foot in the park
    leaving 5 (out of a total of 19) to be directly elected

    So by and large, if this is a gig you want, better stay on the side of the SG and Scottish Councils and not rock their boats too much.

    Prompted by what others were doing, I emailed the members of the CNPA board to express my sadness and hopes for action. Four (of the 19) replied. A reply from one board member appeared to question whether poison was responsible. To quote his email – ‘it is a worry if poison is still being used to kill any wildlife’. Note the use of the word ‘if’.

  13. The Scottish Government sees the national park as part of the Scottish Civil service and will expect the parks spokesman to follow the same line as the ministers…
    Grant Moir is a SG placeman using the NP en route to a senior civil service job in Edinburgh. It is becoming obvious that SG are trying to suppress/minimise the story.

    1. It seems incredible that such a “young” and idealistic institution as the scottish parliament is rotten already. It’s not yet even through it’s first generation of politicians. But this seems the case.

      1. There has always been a civil service career structure that involves posting “high flyers” in different outside roles to broaden their experience. This continues- but it means that you end up with “generalist administrators” in charge of specialist roles, SNH is a prime example just now. It ensures that the quangos always follow the government line (to ensure that the bosses career path is never blotted).

        On top of this career control, SG spin doctors now vet the ouput of all the organistions they are in charge of….to ensure that they are on message.

  14. This sickening crime only came to light due to its tag. You could probably fill trailer loads of poisoned, trapped and shot birds of prey plus other protected wildlife illegal killed here.
    What is the largest National Park in Britain doing about it? Effectively SFA.
    What is the Scottish Goverment doing about it? Effectively SFA. Their failure to act amounts to being complicit.
    A shameful attitude by the SNP Government.

  15. Emailed the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, copied to Grant Moir and all his Board Members.

    If nothing else it adds a Yorkshire voice to the critical mass of justified condemnation of their ongoing wilful blindness?

  16. This is the email i sent to Grant Moir re: Pathetic Tweet concerning the tragic death of the young Sea Eagle

    Good morning,

    I have read your comment re: the poisoning of the Sea Eagle on the land where you are CEO. I would be most interested in reading your job description just to check what your responsibilities are in that role.For example, are you responsible for maintaining the safety of all those who come to the Cairngorms? If so you must be very worried that somebody’s dog may be poisoned. Are you aware that Carbofuran is a banned poison that is being used in the national park where you are CEO. This makes your less than notable Tweet the more concerning. 

    Perhaps you have insufficient time to comment more fully due to your commitment to other roles.

    I would welcome your observations.

    Rob Bonner

  17. Ah! …and there was I thinking a national park was a place of natural beauty, where the environment was conserved and the wildlife protected. A place with strict rules and regulations to ensure that these issues were paramount.

    How mistaken I was, just reading through the list of raptor persecution incidents, it would appear the Cairngorms national park is nothing more than a war zone for wildlife.

    And now I realise my mistake.

    Of course its a park- a park for wealthy landowners to dress up in tweeds, play with their guns, get their minions to scatter death dust, or lay spring traps.
    A place where “conservation” – things like muirburn is just a great excuse to light a big bonfire, and release clouds of smoke into the atmosphere!

    Oh , how foolish of me to get what a national park should be so wrong!!

    And what could be better than duping the public to contribute to this, -by funding those in charge with tax payers money!!

    Maybe its time those in charge where held accountable???

  18. They have a lead article warning people about irresponsible camping, but not warning people of the danger that poisoned substances are around.

    If we look at the demographic that will go camping against the demographic that will benefit from the poisoned eagle, then it is clear where the CNPA’s real priorities lie.

  19. Somethings going on here..as a regular visitor and ex RSPB volunteer at Loch Garten..this is the first I am others have heard of this..knew Hen Harriers very under threat..what’s the RSPB doing about it.?
    Nothing much by the look of it.
    Looks like CNPA needs some new blood on the board.

    1. “his is the first I am others have heard of this…”

      “knew Hen Harriers very under threat..what’s the RSPB doing about it.?
      Nothing much by the look of it”

      First you acknowledge your ignorance, and then the next thing you think of is to attack the RSPB.

  20. I had tweeted Cairngorms Connect, to ask why I had not seen any mention of this death on the website or SM, and got a reply, on twitter, with this same tweet but from Peter Crane, something to do with CC. Somewhat late in the proceedings.

  21. What is the point ‘even if there is a prosecution they ay can get fined up to £50.000 this should be the lowest amount they should pay ‘these ar-eholes who do this are not worried about a small fine they get ‘there employees will pay this.this will never end .£100’000 fine or 5 years in jail.

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