Wild golden eagles interacting with translocated eagles in southern Scotland

In 2017, Chris Packham and I, in collaboration with Dave Anderson and a number of eagle experts in the Scottish Raptor Study Group began satellite-tracking golden eagles in Scotland as part of a wider scientific research project to understand more about the ecology of young dispersing eagles and their conservation requirements.

We’ve tagged birds in various regions, including south Scotland. The first one we tagged in south Scotland was Fred, in 2017, named after the landowner’s grandson but who on his very first journey away from his parents, vanished in suspicious circumstances next to a grouse moor in the Pentland Hills, just seven miles from the Scottish Parliament. His tag’s last transmission came from the North Sea where we believe the tag, and quite possibly Fred, was dumped (see here).

Since then we’ve tagged a number of other young golden eagles in south Scotland and the timing of these has coincided with the release of translocated golden eagles in the region as part of another project (South Scotland Golden Eagle Project, SSGEP) to boost the tiny, remnant population of wild golden eagles in south Scotland.

[Translocated golden eagle Beaky, photos by John Wright]

So for example, an eagle we tagged in 2018, called Keith (named by one of the raptor fieldworkers) is the same age as three of the translocated golden eagles from the SSGEP – Beaky, Edward and Emily.

In a typical natural and healthy population, we might expect these eagles to reach maturity and try and settle in a territory to breed at around five years of age (although there is individual variation, of course). However, with the large number of vacant golden eagle breeding territories available in south Scotland (thanks to a history of rampant illegal persecution) and very little competition in the way of territorial adults, we might expect to see these young eagles pairing up and making breeding attempts from three year’s old (i.e. this year).

And that is apparently what we’re beginning to see. No actual breeding attempts yet but display flights and golden eagles Keith (wild male) and Beaky (translocated female) hanging out together in recent weeks, confirmed by satellite tag data from both eagles and sightings in the field by raptor workers.

Project Officer John Wright from the South Scotland Golden Eagle Project has just written a blog about it – here.

We are in contact with the project team and we’ll be keeping an eye out to see whether any of our other eagles are showing signs of pairing up.

Fingers crossed.

53 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018

For anyone who still wants to pretend that the grouse shooting industry isn’t responsible for the systematic extermination of hen harriers on grouse moors across the UK, here’s the latest catalogue of crime that suggests otherwise.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Just last month, this list totalled 52 hen harriers, all either confirmed to have been illegally killed or to have ‘disappeared’, most of them on or next to driven grouse moors.

They disappear in the same way political dissidents in authoritarian dictatorships have disappeared” (Stephen Barlow, 22 January 2021).

Today the list has been updated to include the latest victim, Yarrow, hatched in 2020, gone by 12th April 2021 (see here).

This disgraceful catalogue will continue to grow – I know of at least one more on-going police investigation which has yet to be publicised.

I’ve been compiling this list only since 2018 because that is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

2018 was also the year that Natural England issued itself with a licence to begin a hen harrier brood meddling trial on grouse moors in northern England. For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA as part of its ludicrous ‘Hen Harrier Action Plan‘ and carried out by Natural England (NE), in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.

Brood meddling has been described as a sort of ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by commentator Stephen Welch:

I don’t get it, I thought the idea of that scheme was some kind of trade off – a gentleman’s agreement that the birds would be left in peace if they were moved from grouse moors at a certain density. It seems that one party is not keeping their side of the bargain“.

With 53 hen harriers gone since 2018, I think it’s fair to say that the grouse shooting industry is simply taking the piss. Meanwhile, Natural England pretends that ‘partnership working’ is the way to go.

‘Partnership working’ appears to include authorising the removal of hen harrier chicks from a grouse moor already under investigation by the police for suspected raptor persecution (here) and accepting a £10K bung from representatives of the grouse shooting industry that prevents Natural England from criticising them (see here).

[Cartoon by Gill Lewis]

So here’s the latest gruesome list:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

24 September 2019: Hen harrier Bronwyn ‘disappeared’ near a grouse moor in North Wales (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

23 March 2020: Hen harrier Rosie ‘disappeared’ at an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

9 July 2020: Unnamed female hen harrier (#201118) ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed site in Northumberland (here).

25 July 2020: Hen harrier Harriet ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

14 August 2020: Hen harrier Solo ‘disappeared’ in confidential nest area in Lancashire (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

19 September 2020: Hen harrier Harold ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

24 February 2021: Hen harrier Tarras ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Northumberland (here)

12th April 2021: Hen harrier Yarrow ‘disappeared’ near Stockton, County Durham (here)

To be continued……..

Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Yarrow’ disappears in suspicious circumstances

Press release from RSPB (29th April 2021)

Another hen harrier disappears in suspicious circumstances

Yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier has disappeared in suspicious circumstances at a crucial time in the breeding season.

Yarrow, a female hen harrier, hatched in the Scottish Borders in summer 2020. She was fitted with a satellite tag, which provided scientists with regular updates on her whereabouts. But transmissions from her tag stopped suddenly and unexpectedly on 12 April 2021. Data showed her to be flying south-east that morning, from the North Pennines in the direction of the North York Moors. The tag’s final transmission came from Stockton-on-Tees, and Yarrow has not been heard from since. The matter has been reported to Cleveland Police.

[Hen harrier Yarrow being fitted with a satellite tag prior to fledging. Photo by RSPB]

Hen harriers are a red-listed species and their population in England is dangerously low. They are legally protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, yet these majestic birds remain one of the most persecuted birds of prey in the UK and continue to be illegally killed, or disappear in suspicious circumstances, particularly in connection with land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Illegal killing is the most significant threat to the English hen harrier population. Twenty-four hen harrier nests were recorded in summer 2020, of which 19 successfully produced chicks. Yet there is enough habitat and prey to support 12 times that number.

The news comes only seven weeks after another harrier, Tarras, disappeared in similarly suspicious circumstances. Tarras was another Scottish bird from 2020 who moved south to the North Pennines AONB. Her tag’s last fix showed her to be roosting just off a grouse moor near Haltwhistle.

And in September 2020, a hen harrier named Dryad also vanished. Dryad’s last transmission also came from a grouse moor in North Yorkshire. All birds were searched for, but no bodies or tags were found.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, said:

April is a crucial time for hen harriers as they pair up ready to nest and raise the next generation, and we had hoped for the same for Yarrow.

After her tag ‘checked in’ over Stockton-on-Tees, which turned out to be the last known location we received, we expected a further transmission the next day showing that Yarrow had reached the North Yorkshire Moors but that never came. Sadly, it is highly likely that Yarrow was killed and the tag destroyed in a matter of hours after its last fix was recorded, based on our extensive knowledge of these tags and the patterns of disappearance of hen harriers.

We are acutely aware of how difficult it is to come forward with information about a crime, especially in rural communities. If you know anything that may shed light on the disappearance of his young harrier, or know of anyone killing raptors in your area, you can call us in complete confidence on our Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101. You are in control. And your call could help prevent more birds being illegally killed.”

To contact Cleveland Police about this crime, please call 101 and quote crime reference CVP-21-061647.


Desperate & delusional: Scottish Land & Estates’ grand plan for tackling raptor persecution

Cast your mind back to August 2020 for a minute. We were still waiting for the Scottish Government’s response to the Werritty Review (would they licence grouse shooting or not?) and bad news linking raptor persecution and grouse shooting was all over the press in the run up to the Inglorious 12th, the opening of the grouse-shooting season.

[Grouse-shooting butts in Strathbraan. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

For example, Chris Packham pressing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take action after the discovery of a poisoned white-tailed eagle on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here), Hen Harrier Day going online and attracting an audience of around 150,000 (here), an e-action by the RSPB, Hen Harrier Action and Wild Justice mobilising over 120,000 people to put pressure on their politicians to take action on raptor persecution (here), police investigated more wildlife crime allegations at Leadhills Estate (here), the suspicious disappearance of yet another satellite-tagged golden eagle (‘Tom’) on a grouse moor in Strathbraan (here), Nicola Sturgeon having to discuss raptor persecution during First Minister’s Questions (here), Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham being forced to make a statement about the ongoing killing of raptors on grouse moors after thousands of letters pour in from the public (here), a parliamentary motion prompted by the suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Tom (here), a shocking new report by the League Against Cruel Sports suggesting that up to a quarter of a million animals may be killed (legally) on Scottish grouse moors every year to increase the number of red grouse available to be shot (here), a damning article in The Times reporting on the atrocities at Leadhills and the local community’s horror (here) etc etc.

You get the picture. The pressure was on, of that there’s no doubt.

So what do you think the grouse moor owners’ lobby group, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) was making of all this? New information, released in an FoI this week, is pretty revealing.

Here is a copy of an email sent to Mike Cantlay, Chair of NatureScot, on 18th August 2020. It was sent either by Tim Baynes (Moorland Director, SLE) or Mark Tennant (Chair, SLE). I know this because of the way my FoI was worded and even though NatureScot has redacted the sender’s name, my money would be on Mark Tennant.

Aside from the breath-taking arrogance, this letter reveals the desperation and delusion of SLE’s position.

The opening line is the standard position of denial we’ve come to expect from SLE whenever raptor persecution is raised – I’ve blogged about it time and time and time again. There hasn’t been any ‘real progress’ on the prevention of raptor persecution and no matter how many times SLE claims there has, it doesn’t change the fact that there hasn’t! That is precisely why the grouse shooting industry is under so much scrutiny and pressure – because it has been unable to self regulate and boot out the criminals that seem to be allowed to operate in plain sight.

The idea of removing one dysfunctional group (PAW Scotland Raptor Group) and replacing it with another dysfunctional one (COPBAN) is hilarious. I did laugh, a lot, when I read about those plans. And by the way, SLE, nobody has asked Wild Justice whether it’d be interested in participating and I guess nobody has asked the groups already serving on the (dysfunctional) PAW Raptor Group how they’d feel about being side-lined. I’m pretty sure BASC, GWCT, Scottish Raptor Study Group etc would all have something to say!

The idea that estates would fund raptor satellite tagging (presumably excluding all legitimate scientific researchers??) and that gamekeepers would fit the tags demonstrates the high level of ignorance about how satellite tagging is regulated in the UK. There is currently only a handful of expert taggers in the UK, probably less than 20, who are sufficiently qualified, licensed and experienced to fit satellite-tags to birds of prey. Quite rightly, it takes years and years and years to reach the high standards required by the licensing authority. That SLE still hasn’t grasped this very simple concept is jaw-dropping.

And as for having a public website showing the live positions, day and night, of highly-threatened species like golden eagles and hen harriers – yeah, what could possibly go wrong?!

Here is NatureScot’s response to this outlandish proposal from SLE:

I’ll be blogging about some more communications between these two organisations in due course, also uncovered via FoI and related to grouse moor management, the Werritty Review and raptor satellite tracking.

Vacancy: Investigative Support Officer, National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU)

Job Title: NWCU Investigative Support Officer

Salary Range: Scale 6, £26,865 – £28,725 Per Annum

Work Location: Stirling, Scotland or home based

Hours: 37 Hours Per Week Monday – Friday with flexible hours

Contact Type: Temporary (for 12 months, with the view to become permanent)  

Closing date:  Sunday 9th May 2021 at 23:59 Hours

About NWCU:

The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) is a national police unit, hosted by Hampshire Constabulary but based in Stirling, Scotland. We work on behalf of all forces to assist in the prevention and detection of wildlife crime and reducing the harm posed by organised crime.

The NWCU has three main strategic work-streams. The first is to collate, develop and disseminate intelligence within the UK and internationally in relation to wildlife crime. The second work-stream is to produce analytical products relating to emerging trends, identifying threat, harm and risk, and shining the operational spotlight on organised criminality. The third work-stream is to provide investigative support to police forces and partners, by supporting forces to pursue offenders and to protect the UK’s wildlife and endangered species.

The three work streams support the three operational objectives:

  • UK Priority Delivery Groups
  • UK wide specialist Policing operations
  • International Wildlife crime Policing

The successful applicant will support the team in providing investigative support to police forces and partners and supporting forces to purse offenders.

The role of Investigative Support Officer (ISO) will entail taking responsibility for supporting wildlife crime officers on the front line and enhancing the service they give. As an ISO you will impart your specialist knowledge around complexed areas of wildlife crime and support investigations varying around:

  • UK based priorities
  • National operations
  • International wildlife crime policing
  • As well as identifying and supporting emerging trends within our area of business.

ISO’s will support our operational objectives by gathering and submitting intelligence to support our strategic work streams and will be tasked to bridge intelligence gaps. 

ISO’s build and maintain effective and productive partnership relations that work towards achieving the NPCC strategy.

ISO’s will bring the services of the unit into the local policing arena. They will upskill and raise the knowledge of WCO’s across the UK and promote the work of the PDGs and raise awareness of the operational tool kits available to assist investigations.

ISO’s will influence investigations by providing specialist knowledge on wildlife crime. Assist in the planning and conducting of searches and enforcement, and also being prepared to assist Police and enforcement agencies with interviews, case file preparation and giving evidence at court.

Candidates should note that this role requires regular travel which may involve overnight stays. The role holder must be able to meet travel requirements so therefore possess a valid passport for travel outside of the UK and have access to a reliable system of transport where required. A valid driving licence is also required.

The post holder may need to work occasional unsocial hours to respond to operational demands.

Contact details for an informal discussion:

The ACRO HR Team can be contacted by email at acro.personnel@hampshire.pnn.police.uk or by phone on 01489 569843.

To apply for this position please click here

‘Skydancer Day’ – online event, May 9th 2021

Plans are evolving for this year’s Hen Harrier Day which will take place on the weekend of 7th-8th August 2021 but this year there’s going to be an additional event, taking place this spring.

Branded ‘Skydancer Day’, this will be an online event on Sunday 9th May 2021, organised by charity Hen Harrier Action and hosted by Megan McCubbin and Chris Packham.

The event will run from 10.15am to 12 noon and will focus on celebrating the uplands but will also feature the ongoing issue of illegal raptor persecution.

More details to follow in due course.

[Male hen harrier. Photo by Robin Newlin]

With straight faces, landowners’ lobby group asks tourists to ‘respect nature’

This made me laugh out loud.

Landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) posted this on their website two days ago:

This is the same Scottish Land & Estates whose membership includes the notorious Leadhills Estate, a grouse-shooting estate in South Lanarkshire where over 70 confirmed incidents of wildlife crime have been reported since 2000 and is currently serving a three-year general licence restriction based on “clear evidence” of ongoing raptor persecution (see here).

This is the same Scottish Land & Estates whose Moorland Group Chair, for years, was Lord Hopetoun of Leadhills Estate as illustrated by this screengrab from the SLE website:

This is also the same Scottish Land & Estates whose membership includes the notorious Longformacus Estate in the Scottish Borders, a grouse and pheasant-shooting estate where gamekeeper Alan Wilson was convicted of nine wildlife crime offences including the shooting of protected raptors, badgers and otters, the setting of illegal snares and the possession of banned poisons (see here). According to SLE’s CEO, Sarah-Jane Laing, responding to a question on this blog on 31 March 2021 (here) about why the Longformacus Estate hadn’t been expelled from SLE:

Yes, Longformacus is a member. As per our statements at the time membership was suspended during the police investigation in to the atrocious crimes but was reinstated when the police took no action against the estate owner“.

This is also the same Scottish Land & Estates who supports seven regional moorland groups; grouse moors in five of those seven regions have been in the last three years, or currently are, under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution crimes (grouse moors in the regions covered by the Angus Glens Moorland Group, Grampian Moorland Group, Tomatin Moorland Group, Tayside & Central Moorland Group and the Southern Uplands Moorland Group).

And SLE has the audacity to ask tourists to ‘respect nature’?!

Inadequate sentence for persistent egg thief

Back in February this year, 63-year-old Terence Potter from Huddersfield appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to a number of offences related to the theft of nearly 200 wild bird eggs, including eggs from the red-listed Curlew (see here).

The offences were:

  • Two counts of possessing items capable of being used to take and possess birds’ eggs;
  • Three counts of possession of a wild bird’s eggs (179 black-headed gull eggs, eight golden plover and seven curlew);
  • Three counts of taking wild bird eggs (179 black-headed gull eggs, four golden plover and three curlew)

Yesterday, Potter returned to Sheffield Magistrates Court for sentencing. He was given a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £120 costs and a £128 victim surcharge. The equipment he used to commit the offences was forfeited.

The RSPB’s Investigations team has written a blog about this case (here).

This isn’t the first time Potter has been convicted of stealing wild birds eggs and I daresay it won’t be the last, given this inadequate sentence.

Seven years before he was caught for his latest offences, Potter was convicted of nine related offences including six charges of taking birds’ eggs, two charges of possession of 587 eggs (including a number of Schedule 1 raptor eggs), and possessing articles to commit offences.

His sentence that time? A two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs (see here, page 9).

[Photo of HGV driver and convicted egg collector Terence Potter in 2013]

In the RSPB blog, Investigations Officer Tom Grose said, “We are pleased with today’s outcome….” (here). I disagree. Yesterday’s conviction is pleasing, of course, and all credit to everyone involved, including the gamekeepers who first reported Potter acting suspiciously, and to South Yorkshire Police, the RSPB Investigations team and the Crown Prosecution Service for their diligence in putting forward the case, but I’m not convinced that a suspended sentence is ‘pleasing’. It’s pathetic for someone who knew exactly what he was doing and the dire consequences of stealing eggs from birds of high conservation concern.

In my view he should have been jailed the first time he was convicted (and the court had the capacity to do that) and most certainly this second time.

Having said that, short custodial sentences aren’t always effective for these weirdly obsessive individuals (e.g. see here).

Political hustings on animal welfare in Scotland now available to view

Last week Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind hosted a political hustings to allow the public to quiz candidates from the five main political parties on their animal welfare policies ahead of the election on 6th May.

The hustings was organised by More for Scotland’s Animals (MFSA), a coalition of 11 leading animal welfare organisations (see here).

Grouse shooting featured quite prominently at this event and a journalist from The Herald wrote about his interpretation of events (see here).

The recording of the hustings is now available to watch so you can draw your own conclusions about which parties are taking note of animal welfare in their policies.

Don’t forget, the recording of the REVIVE hustings, focusing on party policies around grouse moor management, is also available to view here.

Red kite believed to have been shot & hung from a tree

There is a disturbing news report this afternoon that a red kite has been shot dead and was hung from a tree in a Norfolk village.

According to the Eastern Daily Press, ‘Norfolk police were called to Swaffham Road in Cockley Cley on Friday, April 9, after someone reported a dead bird hanging from a tree.

Police arrived on the scene to find a red kite, and an X-ray led to a vet finding shot dust around the right ulna and one of the legs being broken, police have said‘.

[A red kite. Photo by Natural World Photography]

Given the date, location, species and the x-ray that was published in this article (that appears to have been lifted from here), I believe this red kite is the same one that Norfolk Constabulary tweeted about and I blogged about last week (see here) although there was no mention of it being hung in a tree.

Presumably this new information has been provided to the press by Norfolk Constabulary, although I still can’t find a press release on the police website. It’s really not good enough. Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority and the bare minimum should be a press release from the police with what can be viewed as reliable detail for accurate reporting.

Other new information in the EDP article includes a named contact at Norfolk Constabulary – PC Chris Shelley.

If you have any information about this incident please contact PC Shelley on 101 quoting reference 36/25060/21 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

This is the second report of a dead raptor found hung in a tree in recent weeks. Earlier this month Police Scotland were investigating an incident where a dead buzzard had been strung up in a tree, reportedly after dying of natural causes (here).