Police statement on poisoned golden eagle found on Invercauld Estate, Cairngorms National Park

Further to yesterday’s news that Police Scotland had conducted a raid, under warrant, on Invercauld Estate following the discovery of a poisoned golden eagle (see here), the police have just issued the following statement:

Officers are continuing enquiries into the poisoning of a bird of prey found dead near to Crathie in Aberdeenshire

On Friday, 19 March, 2021, a Golden Eagle was found dead on a hillside on the Invercauld Estate.

Subsequent forensic examination confirmed the bird had been illegally and intentionally poisoned.

Extensive enquiries are being carried out and on Tuesday, 4 May, 2021, officers acting under warrant, searched a number of properties on the Invercauld Estate. No arrests were made and enquiries are ongoing.

[The poisoned golden eagle found lying in moorland heather next to a poisoned bait on Invercauld Estate. Photo by RSPB Scotland]

Detective Constable Daniel Crilley, wildlife crime unit said: “Poisoning a bird or animal is not only cruel and callous but it can also harm other wildlife. Illegal persecution of raptors will not be tolerated. It is one of the six priorities set by the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit and Raptor Persecution is the current focus of Police Scotland’s year-long campaign, Operation Wingspan.

We are determined to protect these magnificent birds and here in the North East, we work closely with a number of partners, such as the RSPB and NatureScot, to tackle wildlife crime, which can be particularly challenging to investigate.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, wildlife crime lead for Police Scotland, said: “Scotland’s rich, rare and diverse wildlife and landscapes are among its biggest attractions. We cannot allow the indiscriminate use of poisons and pesticides to threaten our natural heritage.

Police Scotland, working with our key partners, is committed to protecting our wildlife habitats and to bringing those who seek to destroy or harm it, to justice.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said: “Raptor persecution crimes on grouse moors in this area happen regularly. In 2019, a young eagle was photographed caught in a trap less than two miles from here, and in 2016, a line of illegal traps targeting birds of prey was found set across the hill less than three miles away. The perpetrators of these crimes don’t just threaten wildlife, but put at risk the reputation of the area and the jobs dependent on the associated tourist industry.”

Members of the public are police’s eyes and ears and anyone with information regarding this matter is asked to call Police Scotland via 101, quoting incident number 2757 of 19 March 2021.


I will be blogging further about this case and other raptor persecution incidents that have been reported on Invercauld Estate in previous years.

If you are commenting on this blog, please remember this is a live investigation and nobody has been arrested in connection with the poisoning of this eagle, yet alone charged or convicted. Libellous comments will not be published. Thanks.

UPDATE 6th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: statement from Cairngorms National Park Authority (here)

Golden eagle found poisoned – police raid Invercauld Estate in Cairngorms National Park

Today Police Scotland raided, under warrant, the Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park following the discovery of a poisoned golden eagle in March 2021.

[Invercauld Estate boundary. Map produced from data on Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website]

There are very few verifiable details around at the moment so I’ll probably wait for the police press release before saying much more.

But rest assured, there will be an awful lot more to say about this latest wildlife crime on an estate that has been at the centre of a number of investigations over many, many years.

UPDATE 5th May 2021: Police statement on poisoned golden eagle found on Invercauld Estate, Cairngorms National Park (here)

UPDATE 6th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: statement from Cairngorms National Park Authority (here)

UPDATE 6th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: examining the statement from Invercauld Estate (here)

UPDATE 6th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: confirmation it was found dead on a grouse moor on Invercauld Estate (here)

UPDATE 10th May 2021: Why the Invercauld golden eagle killer will evade prosecution (here)

UPDATE 12th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: statement from NatureScot (here)

UPDATE 13th May 2021: Invercauld Estate leaves ‘partnership’ following discovery of deliberately poisoned golden eagle (here)

UPDATE 13th May 2021: “Another poisoned golden eagle? If the SNP are serious about protecting wildlife we need an Environment Secretary who will act” – Jim Crumley (here)

UPDATE 18th May 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: will a General Licence restriction now be imposed on Invercauld Estate? (here)

UPDATE 30th May 2021: Game-shooting industry called out on raptor persecution by one of its own (here)

UPDATE 1st July 2021: Poisoned golden eagle: Cairngorms National Park Authority refuses to publish correspondence with Invercauld Estate (here)

UPDATE 9th February 2022: General Licence restriction imposed on Invercauld Estate in Cairngorms after poisoned golden eagle & baits found (here)

Grouse-shooting estate under investigation for alleged breach of hen harrier diversionary feeding licence

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how observers had filmed an estate employee, accompanied by a Natural England employee, placing out diversionary food for a nesting pair of hen harriers on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (see here).

Given that the female harrier was only in the early stages of incubation, the timing of this diversionary feeding looked to be in clear breach of the CL25 licence, a licence issued by Natural England to grouse moor managers to permit diversionary feeding ONLY after the eggs have hatched.

I wrote to Natural England to ask whether any enforcement action would take place and if so, what it would be.

Natural England responded to my enquiry last week, as follows:

I’ve written back to NE and asked when a decision might be expected.

I’ll keep you posted.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association sponsors adverts against Scottish Greens during election campaign

Ahead of the election on Thursday the polls are showing that the Scottish Greens are expected to do well again, which could lead to a further coalition with the SNP if the SNP fails to reach a majority, according to the Scotsman yesterday.

As you’d expect, the Scottish Greens are big on animal welfare, wildlife conservation and tackling driven grouse shooting and wildlife crime. Alison Johnstone MSP had an opinion piece published today in the Edinburgh Evening News and here is an excerpt:

However, nature reserves alone are not enough when so much of Scotland’s uplands are intensively managed so that a few people can shoot wildlife.

And it isn’t just the grouse that are killed. This year I won protection for mountain hares which are killed in huge numbers because landowners think it will boost grouse populations. There is no evidence this works.

And of course, there is the appalling legacy of raptor persecution, which sees birds of prey continue to disappear near these moors, or found killed. It is a stain on Scotland’s reputation.

NatureScot, the agency which is supposed to be protecting Scotland’s nature, is far too quick to hand out licences to kill.

Within a year of beavers being declared a protected species, a fifth of the population was killed under licence. It’s time to address the nature emergency and deliver real protections for Scotland’s native species, before it’s too late.

The Scottish Greens manifesto pledges to review the priorities of NatureScot and other agencies, strengthen licensing, end bloodsports, ban cruel traps like snares and deliver a fully-resourced Wildlife Crime Investigations Unit in Police Scotland’.

For the full article please click here

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) is terrified of the Scottish Greens. We saw this in March when the SGA refused to invite the Greens to its political hustings (see here) and in April when the SGA said, in a moment of hilarious irony, it was going to complain to the Electoral Commission about the Greens’ election campaign material which the SGA claimed was ‘misleading’. My analysis suggested it wasn’t the Greens who were the ones publishing misleading information (see here).

Interestingly, the SGA is now paying for sponsored adverts on social media, targeting the Scottish Greens. You might think, if they are paying to get their material under the noses of people who would otherwise be beyond their reach, the SGA might pay for a decent graphic designer as well as check the facts given in the ad, but apparently not. Here’s one of the dodgy ads doing the rounds on Facebook:

You’ll notice that the accompanying text doesn’t match the text in the ad – one says that 13,000 rural jobs will be lost, the other says 10,000+.

Whether the claim is 13,000 or 10,000 jobs, the number(s) appear to be unsubstantiated. Further, should the SGA chose to actually read the Scottish Greens’ manifesto instead of reverting to immediate hyperbole and hysteria, they’d see that the Greens focus on actually creating jobs in the countryside, promising ‘at least £895M over the next five years in restoring nature whilst investing in rural communities, creating over 6,000 green jobs’. The Greens are also committed to ensuring that the licencing of grouse moors ‘is properly resourced and well enforced’ – how does that equate to rural job losses if grouse moor managers are abiding by the law?

It has been pointed out to me by one blog reader that the SGA may be breaking the rules by actively campaigning against a political party during an election campaign. This sort of behaviour is not permitted by organisations holding charitable status. On its website, the SGA has been at pains to claim that its election material has been put out under its status as a Limited Company, rather than as its Charitable Trust status. I’m told that a complaint has been made to OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator with a request to investigate.

Osprey nest platform cut down with chainsaw as first egg is laid

The nest platform of a pair of breeding ospreys has been cut down overnight by someone with a chainsaw, just a day after the pair had laid their first egg.

A statement from the Brenig Osprey Project in North Wales:

Brenig Osprey Project partners woke up this morning to the worst possible news. Last night 30/4/21 , at 21.42, someone took a chainsaw to the osprey nest and felled it. This is a fast-moving situation and we’ll issue more news of the birds when we can – please, please be kind to staff this weekend as we work out how to respond to this horrific act of vandalism.

For a start – if you have any information that can help us identifying the individuals responsible, please let us know or contact the police with crime reference Z059734.

[Photograph of the felled platform tower]

North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team are attending and an investigation is underway.

The Brenig Osprey Project is hosted at Llyn Brenig, a North Wales Wildlife Trust nature reserve. In partnership with Welsh Water the project aims to connect locals and visitors with wildlife and has a live camera feed from the osprey nest to the visitor centre and a viewing point where rangers help visitors to watch the ospreys through telescopes and binoculars.

[Webcam footage from the Brenig nest during a previous breeding season]

If you have ANY information about this disgraceful criminal act, no matter how insignificant you might think it is, please contact North Wales Police on 101.

UPDATE 14.15hrs: North Wales Police Rural Crime Team has just tweeted this: