3 kestrels shot dead in West Yorkshire since New Year

Three kestrels have been shot dead in West Yorkshire during the first week of January 2021, according to an article in the Yorkshire Post.

Is this the start of another lockdown surge in raptor persecution? Come on, who doesn’t want to start their New Year by illegally blasting a kestrel to bits?

[Kestrel photo by Annette Cutts]

The article reports that two kestrels were shot in the Huddersfield area and one in Leeds. Unfortunately there isn’t any further information such as date, specific location or type of weapon etc, although a tweet from the Leeds Wildlife & Rural Crime Team reports the shooting of a kestrel on 2nd January 2021 ‘in the Hebden Bridge area’.

In autumn last year West Yorkshire Police also recorded the fatal shooting of another kestrel, in the Pudsey area of Leeds (see here).

8 thoughts on “3 kestrels shot dead in West Yorkshire since New Year”

  1. Ruth I run a osprey group but its more than that , I do post all your blogs in a file and have done for many years , so sad when the file on Raptor Persecution contains more comments than a lot of the other files , thank you for the wonderful work you do it must be so hard .

    [Ed: Thanks for sharing the information, Valerie. Continuing to raise awareness is key and everybody can play a part]

  2. “Three kestrels shot dead” ……………. how depraved is that ?

    The same common denominator is inescapable.
    Is it not dangerous to have people at large who must have a gun then lust to kill something. Basically any living thing is there to be killed to satisfy perverted minds.

  3. Why??? Why, why, why? Just looking at that stunning photo of a kestrel. I can’t grasp why anyone would choose to shoot such a glorious, beautiful creature. Nope. It’s beyond me.
    I don’t know what else to say. 😣

  4. Apart from the Twitter message and what was reported in the Yorkshire Post I can find little publicity or witness appeals about these crimes.
    How will such little publicity catch the culprits?
    Are the police taking these incidents seriously?
    Or is it just the case of another bird of prey has been shot- probably no witnesses – so why bother?

    Sect 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 makes it an offence to have a loaded firearm in a public place. –
    A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him) he has with him in a public place a loaded shot gun or loaded air weapon, or any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm.

    Surely, it can never be lawful or reasonable to possess that firearm if the intention is to commit a wildlife crime such as shooting a wild bird when there is no exemption- such as shooting a game bird or under the terms of the General Licence.

    A public place is defined in law as “any highway and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise ”
    Open access land is thus by definition a public place unless the access is on any of the days which public access is denied by the terms of the open access agreement, in which case the land would revert to a private place.

    So depending on where these kestrels were shot, the perpetrator may well have be committed a firearms offence in addition to the wildlife offence.

    Firearms offences are serious crimes, they are a matters the police should be taking very seriously.

    I should imagine most other incidents where a bird of prey is shot potentially include a potential breach of Sect 19 of the Firearms Act, as by carrying out the act of illegally shooting a bird of prey, the perpetrator must have had possession of a loaded firearm and by committing a wildlife crime they can not claim to have a lawful excuse or authority to be in possession of that loaded firearm at the time of firing.

    We then come onto the issue of those with firearms in their possession when travelling on public roads or bridleways.
    How many times have people witnessed those involved with game management riding on a country road with a shotgun fixed onto the quad bike? This then raises the question of whether that shotgun is loaded or not? What lawful excuse would there be for the gun to be loaded?

    It is an offence under the Highways Act to discharge a firearm within 50ft of a highway if the shooting of the gun injures, interrupts or endangers users.
    It is also an offence under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 Section 28 to discharge a firearm in a street if it annoys, obstructs or endangers residents or people travelling on that street. (The word street would usually include a highway)
    Sect 137 Highways Act 1980 states that “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence”
    So, firing across a road would likely constitute the offence of Obstruction of a Highway, as such an act would prevent users of the highway having free passage.

    So where does all this legislation lead?

    It is quite clear that the police don’t have much success in bringing the wildlife criminals to justice by simply using the offences outlined in the Countryside and Wildlife Act.

    Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority.

    So why aren’t the police using every tool in the box to bring offenders to justice?

    I am sure the public would be most disconcerted if they thought there might be people in public places, on public roads in possession of loaded firearms, or shooting across footpaths or in other public places.

    If this means using firearms legislation, identifying the risk that persons in possession of loaded firearms in public places present to the public, and then conducting some proactive policing to deter, disrupt and detect offenders, then surely such an approach might also help stop these appalling raptor persecution incidents.- something which is supposed to be a national priority!

    I am sure if a youth was seen in a town park or on a housing estate with what appeared to be a firearm, we could be sure the police response would be rapid, robust and conclusive.
    So if a person is seen up on the moors, or down in the woods with a firearm why isn’t consideration given to potential firearms offences, the potential risk to public safety and a conclusive policing policy adopted?

    Such an approach just might make it more difficult for the wildlife criminal to operate, as they might have to explain their presence and possession of a firearm to the police? It would certainly disrupt their activities.

    At the moment the sheer volume of raptor crimes being committed continuously right across the UK does not suggest there is a great deal of thought going into how to manipulate the current legislation to try and reduce these crimes.

    Simply putting out a witness appeal on twitter is not likely to be effective.

    1. Well said. Clearly firearms control is still too lax and too many cruel psychopaths have them intent on killing anything they want. If its illegal the more the thrill. We need to be much much tougher on firearms licencing and use. Maybe it will take another mass shooting to bring in much needed change

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