Last Friday investigative journalist Rob Edwards published an article in The Ferret on two new police investigations into alleged raptor persecution on the Leadhills Estate, an infamous grouse moor in South Lanarkshire.
The first investigation centres on the suspicious disappearance of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier, this one named ‘Silver’, who was nesting on Leadhills Estate but whose tag suddenly stopped transmitting and she vanished without trace on 27th May 2020.
[Hen harrier ‘Silver’ was satellite tagged as a young bird and like so many others, has now vanished in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor. Photo by RSPB]
The second incident being investigated is the alleged shooting of a short-eared owl, witnessed by a local man and his eight-year-old son on the evening of 2nd July 2020.
They watched a man dressed in camouflage shoot the owl and collect the body before he drove off across the moorland on a quad bike. A blurry photo was taken and the police were called.
[Unidentified man on a quad bike driving off across the Leadhills Estate grouse moor. Photo by Anjo Abelaira]
Rob’s article in The Ferret has more details about both investigations and a response from the estate – read here.
Regular blog readers will be familiar with the name Leadhills Estate (also previously known as the Hopetoun Estate) as it’s been mentioned here many, many times before.
Here’s a video we made with Chris Packham just last year following the savage brutality inflicted on a hen harrier nesting in this area. Nobody was prosecuted for that barbaric crime:
Regular blog readers will also know that in November 2019, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) imposed a three-year General Licence restriction on Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire following ‘clear evidence from Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on this estate’ (see here, here, and here).
Those alleged offences included the ‘illegal killing of a short-eared owl, two buzzards and three hen harriers’ that were ‘shot or caught in traps’ on Leadhills Estate since 1 January 2014 (when SNH was first given powers to impose a General Licence restriction). SNH had also claimed that ‘wild birds’ nests had also been disturbed’, although there was no further detail on this. The estate consistently denied responsibility.
You might also remember the fascinating correspondence between the Leadhills Estate’s lawyer and SNH when the estate unsuccessfully appealed against the General Licence restriction (see here).
There’s a lot more that can be said about the current investigations at Leadhills Estate but time is short right now – it’s a subject that we’ll try to re-visit in the not-too-distant future.
If you’re sick to the back teeth of illegal raptor persecution on grouse moors, please consider participating in this quick and easy e-action to send a letter to your local Parliamentary representative (MSP/MP/MS) urging action. Launched on Saturday by Wild Justice, RSPB and Hen Harrier Action, approx 19,000 people have signed up so far. Please join in HERE
UPDATE 30th September 2021: Extension of General Licence restriction at Leadhills Estate confirmed as pitiful 8 months (here)