Peregrine nest raided in Peak District National Park

Press release from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (21 June 2021)

Peregrine nest raided in Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District

A nest with 3 young peregrines in it has been robbed in a remote part of the Peak District National Park on land owned by the Forestry Commission.

This is despite efforts by a number of organisations to step up their protection efforts at Peregrine nesting sites at risk across the Peak District this Spring.

Peregrines, along with their eggs and nests, are legally protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a peregrine.

Derbyshire Rural Crime Team are investigating this crime and are appealing to anyone who has any information to contact them on 101 or to use Crimestoppers.

[Photo from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust]

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and partners are shocked that one of our most iconic birds are still being targeted in this way by wildlife criminals.

Peregrines are an iconic part of the Peak District’s natural heritage and the theft of young peregrines jeopardises the recovery of this much persecuted species.

Tim Birch at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “It is very sad that a peregrine nest with 3 young peregrines have been robbed. We all lose when this happens. Thousands of people visit the Peak District National Park every year to walk in stunning scenery and have the opportunity to watch these magnificent birds in the wild. Robbing this nest deprives people from being able to have the chance to see such a wonderful bird. We need to see tougher sentences that reflect the seriousness of this crime and to act as a deterrent.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, said: “Scientific data and crime reports show that raptor persecution is endemic in the Peak District National Park, particularly impacting iconic species like peregrine and goshawk: this is despite both the species and landscape having the fullest legal protection in the UK. These crimes have been statistically linked to land managed for driven grouse shooting. Furthermore, the site in question has suffered repeat incidents of raptor persecution on many previous occasions and only recently an adult peregrine was found poisoned close by. More has to be done as it is clear the initiatives in place are failing.”

Shona Morton, Planning and Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission said: “Forestry England’s woods are home to a wealth of important birdlife, including many birds of prey. Our ecologists and operational teams work hard to create and restore wildlife habitats and ensure birds nesting on our land are safeguarded during forestry activities. We are very upset to learn that this Peregrine pair have been robbed of their young on our land. We work closely with local volunteer groups and conservationists to locate new nests each year and monitor breeding success- crimes like this undermine everything we’re trying to achieve together. Sadly the Peak District remains a hot spot for raptor persecution and we would encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity on the public forest estate to alert us and contact the police. We will be collaborating with the police and our partners to identify and prosecute those responsible. We will continue our work with partners and neighbouring landowners to ensure birds of prey like Peregrines, Goshawk and Hen Harriers can regain their rightful place in the Peak District’s skies.”

The loss of these young birds is a huge blow to the work that is currently being undertaken to try and protect peregrines and ensure that they are allowed to prosper in the Peak District. In 2020 an adult male peregrine was found dead very close to the site that was recently robbed. Tests later proved that the bird had been poisoned. In 2019 young peregrines also disappeared from this site. Other nests are still being monitored across the Peak District at the moment to assess how Peregrines have fared this breeding season but numbers of breeding pairs in line with other years are far lower than expected from information already gathered.


8 thoughts on “Peregrine nest raided in Peak District National Park”

  1. Good to see that the Forestry Commission statement is forthright in its condemnation and acknowledgement of the problems with criminals in the Peak District.

    1. No, I’d say it’s far more likely to have been taken and killed by gamekeepers linked to nearby grouse shooting activities around the Upper Derwent Valley. There’s a long history of raptor persecution in that part of the National Park.

      1. In which case, why take the young but leave the adults apparently unharmed?

        BBC World Service broadcast very recently that the market for Peregrines in the Middle East is very buoyant, with correspondents from the Middle East and Europe pointing out that a record price of $120,000 has been paid for a ‘top’ bird, while ‘run of the mill’ birds carry a $20,000 to $30,000 price tag. Peregrines are a species which are particularly sought after…

  2. One might ask why the landowners are not sponsoring or using a hidden video/camera to record the site as part of protection measures, especially at site with such a poor history. It is also easy to forget given how successful Peregrines are elsewhere that birds nesting on or close to areas of driven grouse shooting are subject to enormous persecution pressures with of course the added risk from others who don’t like bird predators. Long past time somebody was caught at one of these regularly persecuted sites using modern and covert methods.

  3. The continual threat posed to British raptors is an absolute disgrace to the rule of law applicable to this country. We are supposed to be a nation ruled by fair and democratic laws. Birds of prey are fully protected by the law, yet the way the law has been enacted means that it is virtually impossible to enforce and bring those committing crimes to justice. This is not an acceptable position. Yet the government fails to acknowledge this, and bring about the necessary changes to legislation to rid our countryside of those who only want to cause harm to wildlife.

    I am sick and tired of hearing politicians misleading the public regarding raptor persecution, politicians who unless they are completely stupid, know full well what is happening, and which activities are underpinning the continual attacks and persecution of birds of prey.

    I am also bored of listening to certain politicians trotting out the bullshit about how driven grouse shooting is so vital to rural economies. As studies have shown time and time again- it isn’t, and far more rural economic growth could be achieved if the shackles of DGS were removed.

    It is time all those activities which underpin the continual persecution of raptors were made illegal.

    Whether the disappearance of these 3 young Peregrines is associated with falconry in the Middle East and the illegal trade in wildlife, or grouse shooting and its embedded criminality who want to rid the moors of anything which interferes with artificial grouse numbers, or whether the crime was committed by a moron with a dislike for raptors, does not detract from the fact that whoever took these birds is nothing but a despicable individual who deserves no place in our society and should face justice.

    Why then does the government fail to bring about the changes in legislation to allow the legal system to bring about this justice?
    They have, through a democratic process of governance, been given the power to enact laws. So as far as I am concerned their inaction makes them complicit in the ongoing raptor persecution problem.
    By failing to acknowledge the problem and do nothing they are almost as guilty as those who go out and commit the actual crimes.
    (If you think this is a harsh criticism- then consider the position of social services and other authorities when it comes to child abuse scandals and the failure to protect vulnerable children. Those who could and should do something but don’t are vilified. The same is equally applicable when it comes to protection of vulnerable and endangered wildlife like our nations birds of prey!! )

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