Buzzard with shotgun injuries found in localised persecution hotspot, East Yorkshire

In early December an injured buzzard was found struggling by a member of the public in Sproatley, East Yorkshire.

[All photos from Jean Thorpe]

An RSPCA tweet on 4th December said the buzzard had injuries ‘consistent with trapping’ and the bird was transferred to the expert care of Jean Thorpe at Ryedale for rehabilitation.

However, Jean examined the bird and didn’t believe its injuries were consistent with trapping, mainly because the scabbed injuries were restricted to the front of the bird’s shins and not the back of the legs. She also noticed a gangrenous talon and the rest of the foot was also badly infected.

Jean took the buzzard to a specialist avian vet and a decision was taken to euthanise the bird due to the extent of its injuries.

An x-ray revealed the bird had been shot with a shotgun but it’s not clear how old that injury was and whether it was connected to the foot injury.

The buzzard is being sent for a full post mortem and Humberside Police have been advised of the incident. If you have any information that could assist the investigation please contact the police on Tel 101 and ask for Police Wildlife Crime Officer Richard Fussey. It’s not known whether a crime reference number has been issued.

Interestingly, back in 2013 two buzzards were found shot and dumped in a ditch in Sproatley (see here). The RSPB offered a reward for information leading to a conviction but like most of these crimes, the perpetrator was never identified/prosecuted.

Buzzard shot & injured in County Kildare

Hot on the heels of a recent buzzard shooting reported in the Irish Republic just a couple of weeks ago (here), here’s another one.

The details are sketchy at the moment but this buzzard was found yesterday and is currently being cared for at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit.

It’s clear from the x-ray that someone shot this bird with a shotgun. The crime has been reported to the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

County Kildare sits in the middle of the league table for raptor persecution crimes recorded in the Irish Republic (see here).

Top ten most read RPUK blogs in 2020

Thanks for all your continued interest and support in 2020….it’s been another very busy year.

Here are the top ten most read RPUK blogs over the last 12 months:

  1. Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle found poisoned on grouse moor in Cairngorms National Park (here)
  2. Golden eagle Tom disappears in suspicious circumstances on Scottish grouse moor (here)
  3. Missing eagle’s satellite tag found cut and wrapped in lead, dumped in river at Strathbraan (here)
  4. 45 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed since 2018 (here)
  5. The five brood meddled hen harriers from 2019 are all ‘missing’ (here)
  6. Scottish Government commits to develop immediate licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting (here)
  7. The eagle’s satellite tag found in the river: poetic injustice (here)
  8. Licensing scheme for release of pheasants and red-legged partridge in England following Wild Justice legal challenge (here)
  9. Post mortem reveals Welsh golden eagle had suffered gunshot injury (here)
  10. RSPB announces its ‘new’ policy on gamebird shooting (here)

More pheasants shot & dumped in Suffolk

Here’s the latest pile of dumped gamebirds – pheasants that had been shot then chucked over a wall by the side of the road and left to rot. These were photographed by blog reader Lauren Francis on Boxing Day.

The location this time: Barking Road, Willisham, Suffolk.

There are some decent shooting folk on social media who are condemning this obscene behaviour, and not just because it exposes shooting to bad publicity, and who are offering solutions (like licensing schemes that limit the number of birds released and require accountability for the number shot for example, and a suggestion that if shoots are ‘gifting’ the birds then the birds should be oven-ready) but there are still many others from within the industry who are either (a) denying it’s a widespread problem, (b) accusing ‘antis’ of trying to ‘set up’ shooting, and/or (c) slagging off anyone who dares to criticise, presumably in a futile bid to stop further criticism.

Unfortunately for the game shooting industry, this is an ongoing, criminal and widespread problem, much like illegal raptor persecution, and it’s drawing the wrong sort of attention.

Previous examples include dumped gamebirds in Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here), Lincolnshire (here), Somerset (here), Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park (here) and Suffolk, again (here).

And it’ll keep getting attention on this blog for as long as the gamebird shooting industry demands licences to allow them to kill protected birds of prey for the purpose of ‘saving’ their gamebirds.

Hunting suspended for five years on Spanish estate after mass poisoning uncovered – prosecutions pending

Earlier this year the Spanish authorities raided a hunting estate in the province of Castilla y León after suspicions of illegal activity were raised.

The estate was being managed by a society of farmers and ranchers at the time, in an area designated as a Natura 2000 Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds.

The multi-agency search, which included the deployment of specialist poison-detection dogs, uncovered a pretty grim scene. This included the discovery of four Spanish imperial eagles, one Cinereous vulture, one buzzard, two red kites, one fox and one dog. Post mortems revealed they had been illegally poisoned and/or shot.

[Some of the victims found during the search]

It’s reported that almost all the victims had been hidden/buried, leading the authorities to state that they couldn’t be sure that all the victims had been found and that these ‘deliberate’ attempts to hide the corpses indicated that the poisoners/shooters were aware of the illegality.

The original news report can be read here (translated from Spanish) and there’s an easier translation to read via the Vulture Conservation Foundation website here.

What’s interesting in this case is the authorities’ decision to impose an immediate five-year hunting ban on the estate, before any prosecutions have taken place, ‘to facilitate the regeneration of the area’s wild fauna’.

We know, from a suite of prosecutions in recent years, that tackling the illegal poisoning of birds of prey is taken seriously in Spain with a multifaceted approach including the deployment of specialist poison detection dogs and investigators given the authority to conduct unannounced spot checks in areas of suspicion. In recent years successful prosecutions have resulted in massive fines, custodial sentences and extended hunting disqualifications for those convicted of laying poisoned baits (e.g. see hereherehereherehere and here).

In previous cases the hunting disqualifications appear to have been applied to the individuals convicted of placing poisoned baits, rather than to the land where the offences took place, but this may be because those convicted were the actual landowners. This current case may differ in that the estate is reported to be managed by a society as opposed to an individual.

Whatever the circumstances, the five-year hunting ban is a very welcome move and hopefully criminal prosecutions of the individuals involved will also follow.

Compare and contrast to the illegal poisoning of birds of prey over here, which continues mostly without consequence.

These are some of the cases of illegal raptor poisoning reported this year alone, many during lockdown, and none of them are heading towards a prosecution:

The illegal killing of a white-tailed eagle found on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland (here), the mass poisoning of 23 buzzards in a field in Co Cork, Ireland (here), the poisoning of four peregrines on Guernsey in the Channel Islands (here), the poisoning of a family’s pet dog, believed to have consumed a poisoned bait intended for birds of prey in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here), the poisoning of a buzzard in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard and a kestrel in Derbyshire (here), the poisoning of three peregrines and a buzzard in Staffordshire (here), the poisoning of a peregrine in South Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of two peregrines in North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a red kite in North Yorkshire (here) and the poisoning of a red kite found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland (here).

There may well be further poisoning cases that haven’t yet been publicised.

Let’s hope Scottish Ministers are paying attention to the Spanish model as they prepare to draw up the details of the new licensing regime for driven grouse shooting (here).

Gamebirds shot & dumped in Suffolk

More shot pheasants dumped in the countryside, this time in Suffolk.

These were photographed by @pjcantwell76 on 28th December 2020.

That’s Suffolk added to the growing list of areas where this disgusting behaviour has been reported, including  Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here), Lincolnshire (here), Somerset (here) and Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park (here).

More to follow…..

Third buzzard found shot in Essex this year

Essex Police are investigating yet another shooting of a buzzard.

Details are sketchy at the moment but the buzzard is believed to have been shot overnight between 1st and 2nd December with ‘what is believed to be a shotgun’. There isn’t any information about whether the buzzard is alive or dead.

[Common buzzard, photographer unknown]

The offence is believed to have taken place on farmland near Blind Lane, Billericay, Essex CM12 9SN.

The police crime reference number is 42/1995748/20. Please contact the police on Tel 101 if you have information that can assist this criminal investigation. Thanks to Police Wildlife Crime Officer Jed Raven for the details.

This is the third buzzard to be reported shot in Essex this year – one was found in June (see here) and another in September (see here and here). A hobby was also shot in Essex in August this year (see here).

Shot gamebirds dumped in carpark in Peak District National Park

Further to the blog post on Xmas Eve documenting a binbag full of shot gamebirds that had been dumped by the roadside in Somerset (see here), here’s another load that have dumped, this time in a car park in the Peak District National Park. Nice, eh?

This bag containing pheasants and mallard was photographed by Dan Abrahams (@DanAbrahams3 on Twitter) on 22nd December 2020 at Monyash (Lathkill) car park inside the National Park.

So now Derbyshire can be added to the growing list of counties where shot gamebirds have been dumped, including Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here), Lincolnshire (here) and Somerset (here).

Wherever next? Standby, ladies and gentlemen, more to follow….

Scotland’s beavers need your help

A short diversion from this blog’s theme, but an important one.

Scottish charity Trees for Life is making a legal challenge against NatureScot (formerly known as SNH), with the intention of taking the Government’s nature conservation agency to court for allowing too many beavers to be killed.

Legal challenges are not for the faint-hearted nor for the lazy. They are hard work and time-consuming. They also cost money.

Trees for Life has a crowdfunder which is open for another 7 days. They’ve raised over £25K so far, with a target of £40K. The crowdfunder also provides details about why this legal challenge is necessary.

If you can help them, please support it here.

For those interested in more detail about the beaver saga in Scotland, the links in this piece from The Ferret are illuminating.

Shot gamebirds dumped by roadside in Somerset

Here we go again….

Matt Collis (@Mattcollis9) has posted photographs on Twitter of a bagful of shot gamebirds that he found today, dumped on Withyditch Lane, Peasedown St John, Somerset:

Matt wrote:

I’m not against hunting. But there is no honour in sport shooting. No respect for the life taken. No honourable harvest. Certainly not from this person. Rest assured I will restore that respect, always grateful for what nature provides‘.

His next tweet:

Keep an eye out for piles of dumped shot gamebirds along hedgerows, roads, laybys, local woodland, fields etc. It happens every year, despite the desperate claims of the shooting industry reps who pretend that, “Every bird shot in Britain goes in to the food chain” (Tim Bonner, Countryside Alliance).

The annual photographs of dumped gamebirds suggest otherwise, e.g. see previous reports of shot dumped birds in Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here) and Lincolnshire (here).

It seems to be a widespread problem, doesn’t it? That’s hardly a surprise when the game shooting industry is permitted to release as many non-native pheasants and red-legged partridge as it likes (estimated to be nearly 60 million EVERY YEAR), with minimal regulation, and no requirement to report on what happens to those birds once they’ve been shot for a bit of a laugh.

And let’s not forget this is the same game shooting industry that is responsible for the vast majority of illegal raptor persecution, done, it says, to protect gamebirds. That’ll be the gamebirds that are shot and then dumped, with no respect for the quarry and no respect for the local residents who’ll have to foot the bill to have the carcasses removed, unless decent, public-spirited individuals like Matt Collis find them first.