A peregrine falcon was found shot dead on a grouse-shooting estate in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire in November 2020.
The discovery was made during a police-led multi-agency raid following reports of suspected wildlife crime taking place on the estate. I blogged about that raid in February this year (see here).
This is an estate that has previously been under investigation for alleged wildlife crime offences.
My understanding is that the Scottish SPCA are progressing a case for alleged snaring offences but that Police Scotland were dealing with the shot peregrine (because it was already dead and so was beyond the (current) remit of the SSPCA)
Strathbraan is an area that has received much attention on this blog. Dominated by grouse-shooting estates, it has a very well-earned reputation as a wildlife crime hotspot, and is particularly notorious for the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged eagles (one of whose tags turned up in a river, its harness cut and the tag wrapped in lead sheeting to prevent transmission – see here). It is also the area where SNH issued a (flawed) licence in 2018 permitting the mass killing of ravens on the basis of ‘seeing what happened’ – but which was later withdrawn after a legal challenge by the Scottish Raptor Study Group.
[Evidence of intensive grouse moor management in Strathbraan. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
Given the reputation of Strathbraan as a wildlife crime hotspot, and given that raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority, and given that Police Scotland has spent much of the last year with a dedicated campaign to try and raise public awareness of wildlife crime and encourage people to recognise and report suspected incidents, it’s difficult to understand why the police have deliberately withheld this crime from the public.
And it has been deliberately withheld. This wasn’t an oversight, or an admin error. It was a conscious decision not to say anything about it. How do I know that? Well, because I’ve been talking to Police Scotland about this crime since January 2021 and have asked, repeatedly, when they were planning on putting out the news / making an appeal for information because I believed it to be in the public interest to do so.
At first I was told that no press release was planned “until I have done a little bit more enquiry in to the circumstances“.
Three months later I asked again but got no response. I tried again at four months and then finally five months later I was told, “There was no need for us to put out anything in the press from our perspective“, and “As you say from the evidence we have, we will never know where and when it was shot“.
Where’s the x-ray of the shot bird? An examination of its injuries (e.g. broken wings) would provide a pretty good indication of whether it was shot close to where it had been found dead, or whether it might have had the capacity to fly several miles before succumbing to its injuries. In which case, an appeal for information would have been a logical next-step, surely?
And if the police decide to say nothing, as they have in this case, where is the public record of this offence? It’s been almost a year since it was found.
How many more raptor persecution crimes are Police Scotland keeping quiet about? Quite a few, as it happens. More to come….
UPDATE 21st September 2021: Long-eared owl illegally held in trap on same Strathbraan grouse moor where shot peregrine was found (here)