Press release from South Yorkshire Police & RSPB (4th March 2022)
Buzzard found shot dead in Peak District
South Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot dead in the Peak District National Park.
The body of the bird was discovered in woodland at Flouch, near the popular visitor hotspot of Langsett in the Peak District National Park, in March 2021. The finder, a volunteer for the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group, reported it to the police. Post-mortem examination revealed that the bird had been shot by a shotgun.
[The shot buzzard found on land owned by Yorkshire Water. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]
[RPUK map showing woodland areas around Langsett Reservoir in the Peak District National Park and its proximity to land managed for driven grouse shooting. The woodland where the corpse was found is believed to be owned by Yorkshire Water]
There have been several incidents of raptor persecution in this area, including a raven poisoned with the banned substance Aldicarb found on a nearby grouse moor in 2018. And recently, in February 2022, South Yorkshire Police, the RSPB and the National Wildlife Crime Unit conducted a search for a missing hen harrier in the Stocksbridge area. An investigation is ongoing.
Buzzards and all other birds of prey are legally protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.
Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer said: “Here is yet another bird of prey which has been found shot dead within the National Park. This area of the Peak District is a place where people come to enjoy nature, yet it is one of the UK’s number one raptor crime hotspots. This simply cannot continue. Bringing persecution to an end inside and outside these landscapes will require government action, and we echo the recommendations found in the recently published UN wildlife crime report including the implementation of licences for driven grouse shooting, which can then be revoked if raptor persecution is found to have occurred“.
The RSPB’s most recent Birdcrime report showed that 2020 was the worst year in 30 years for the illegal killing of birds of prey, and that two-thirds of confirmed incidents were in connection with land managed for gamebird shooting.
In 2018, a paper published in the scientific journal British Birds proved a statistically significant association with land burnt for driven grouse shooting and persecution of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park. This, along with police intelligence and population studies of key raptor species, shines a bright light on the systematic killing of birds of prey in the Dark Peak.
Police Wildlife Crime Officer Liz Wilson said: “Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority and we will endeavour to ensure that those responsible for such heinous crimes are brought before the courts.
“We are lucky to have beautiful areas to enjoy, but these areas are home to wildlife and animals, and must be respected.
“We are now appealing for information following the death of a buzzard near to Langsett Barn and urge anyone with information to come forward. If you can help please call 101“.
Steve Davies of the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group added: “Here is yet another case of illegal raptor persecution tainting the image of the Peak District National Park. Wildlife Crime enforcement needs more teeth to enable it to be a successful deterrent. Licencing of shooting estates and the introduction and effective implementation of vicarious liability legislation, including suspension and clawback of any associated agricultural subsidies, would directly impact on the shooting estate landowners or shooting tenants and estate managers who are ultimately responsible and benefit directly from game shooting.”
If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, phone the police on 101, email RSPB Investigations at email@example.com or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx
Alternatively, if you have sensitive information about raptor persecution which you wish to tell us about in confidence, please ring our confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101. This is for reporting information relating to birds of prey only.
Once again we have a very late appeal for information, this time one year after the discovery of the shot buzzard. On this occasion it appears the delay is not the fault of South Yorkshire Police, who submitted the corpse for a post mortem soon after the discovery was made. The delay appears to be the result of an over-stretched and under-resourced laboratory, snowed under by the number of raptor corpses that require examination.
Sharp-eyed blog readers will note that the location of this wildlife crime is not a million miles from where a satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances just a few weeks ago (see here).