Goshawk found shot dead in notorious persecution hotspot in Scotland

Press release from Police Scotland (23 July 2021)

Appeal for information after protected bird of prey found shot in Loch Farr, Inverness-shire

Officers in Inverness are appealing for information after a bird of prey was found dead in the Loch Farr area of Inverness-shire.

A female goshawk was found in a tree in nearby Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) woodland on Saturday, 10 July. The bird was recovered with assistance from the FLS and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Following a post mortem, it was established that the bird had been shot.

[Goshawk photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink]

Wildlife Crime officer Constable Daniel Sutherland said: “This was a cruel and callous act against a protected bird of prey which will simply not be tolerated.

I am grateful to the member of public who came across the bird and reported it to us. Wildlife crime can be challenging to investigate and we work closely with a number of partners to investigate and bring those who seek to destroy or harm wildlife to justice.

I am therefore appealing to anyone with information about this incident or who may have seen anything suspicious in this area to please contact police on 101, quoting reference NM/3907/21. Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said: “It’s both depressing and worrying that in 21st century Scotland, rare and protected birds of prey are still being routinely killed. Goshawks are regularly targeted, even in publicly-owned forests, despite their role as predators of crows and pigeons, species that some people regard as pests.”

Graeme Prest, Regional Manager, North, Forestry and Land Scotland said: “We work hard to safeguard all protected species on our land so it is extremely disappointing to find an incident such as this has taken place on land managed by FLS. We carry out regular monitoring of sites in this area and will continues to work with local police officers, the Highland Partnership against Wildlife Crime and RSPB to ensure that all incidents of wildlife crime are reported and investigated.”


First of all, well done to Police Scotland for this relatively speedy appeal for information. There have been a number of cases recently (on which I’ll blog shortly) where there has been a deliberate attempt to withhold information from the public about raptor persecution crimes, in some cases for months and months. That’s not good enough, especially when raptor persecution is supposedly a wildlife crime priority, so I’m very pleased to see this timely press release.

But what about this latest crime? The goshawk was found shot dead on land managed by Forestry and Land Scotland (previously known as Forestry Commission Scotland) and as Ian Thomson says in the press release, this is not a new tactic in areas where goshawks are a perceived threat to gamebirds (e.g. see here, here and here).

Nobody will be at all surprised to learn that the land close to this latest location is managed for gamebird shooting (grouse and pheasants) and that this area of the northern Monadhliaths is recognised as a notorious raptor persecution hotspot, and has been for years and years.

That so-called ‘zero tolerance for raptor persecution’ is going well, then?

UPDATE 18th August 2021: Shot goshawk in notorious persecution black spot: police investigation reaches dead end (here)

10 thoughts on “Goshawk found shot dead in notorious persecution hotspot in Scotland”

  1. I wonder if this bird lodged in the tree after being shot and this prevented it from being stuffed down a hole or in a bag for later disposal. It would be a bit of a giveaway to be caught in possession of a gun, climbing a tree towards a freshly shot Goshawk so would have to be left in situ.

    At almost 60 years old I have never seen a Goshawk in real life! Maybe by the time I’m 70 they will be spreading as quickly as the new woods and forests we need to plant for Carbon Sequestration.

    The story has been picked up by local papers, The Inverness Courier and the Press & Journal .

  2. The only positive is that such publicity and revulsion by the voting public will bring forward the day when these out of date killing moors are consigned to history

    1. Unfortunately a large swathe of the public do not realise that the mob voted into power in Holyrood is the very one that endlessly talks about tackling raptor persecution, but then steadfastly avoids doing anything of the sort.

  3. Cue the grousers responses, “so typical on the run up to the glorious 12”, “it was a plant by some anti’s”, “aliens shot it”, insert your own paranoid denial here:

  4. Given the massive amount of food available for goshawk – corvids, wood pigeons and grey squirrels for starters – their persecution must be absolutely ferocious to keep their population at about 600 pairs when it should be at an estimated 10,000 for the full UK. Killing them on non shooting land must be routine, and if it takes place in woodland it may be even harder to observe than on an open moor. I believe young goshawk tend not to disperse that far from natal sites so would there be conservation value in translocating young birds to where there’s suitable habitat, but not much shooting? On their UK distribution map there seems to be a dearth of goshawk in Argyll which I thought wold be fantastic for them. Not a substitute or diversion from fighting persecution, but to run parallel to it and hopefully bear fruit in the short term – anything to get the population up. Similarly I think there’s still need for a couple of red kite translocations in Scotland’s central belt as far away as possible from shooting interests. Getting raptor increase anywhere is giving a big V sign to the shits that persecute them.

  5. These are one of the most beautiful birds of prey and I hope they catch whoever did this. I realise this is unlikely given the present reluctance to take action. I have had the privilege of seeing a goshawk as one was used for commercial purposes in Dorset. It was to keep down the pigeons and seagulls in Dorchester. I understand many of the councils in that area had this service as it was very effective. It is not ideal but at least this bird had a decent life without fear of persecution.

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