Goshawk nest attacked in Peak District National Park – Derbyshire Police appeal for information

An appeal for information by Derbyshire Police’s Rural Crime Team (21st August 2022):

‘Back in June this year a larch tree at Westend in the Upper Derwent Valley which was home to a pair of goshawks was found to have been interfered with. Sadly, the birds abandoned the site and it was discovered that the tree had drilled holes and bolts all the way up it which we believe to be evidence of how the nest had been accessed. A local ornithologist had confirmed the presence of eggs in the nest prior to all this but had then found the be no longer there.

[A goshawk nest, photo by Archant]

With help from Forestry England staff a forensic examination was carried out on the tree and items were submitted to the lab.

We are appealing to anyone who may be able to provide information to help with this enquiry.

Thank you‘.


[Photo of the forensic examination of the goshawk’s nest tree. Photo by Derbyshire Police]

Goshawks in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park have been the target of relentless illegal persecution for decades, along with a number of other raptor species including peregrine and hen harrier (the most recent incident reported earlier this summer – here).

The majority of these crimes have been linked to driven grouse shooting. For new blog readers, the following reports and scientific papers provide good background evidence:

5 thoughts on “Goshawk nest attacked in Peak District National Park – Derbyshire Police appeal for information”

  1. Breeders of Falcons should have their birds tagged and the DNA logged, it’s to easy for wild eggs and birds to enter the trade of these birds .
    Seeing that various birds that can be bought mail order etc . Profit unregulated is wrong.

  2. Of course this is just another one of those unfortunate coincidences which seem to befall grouse shooting estates and their immediate environs on such a regular basis. Such unlucky folk! And so often…

    To suggest that this could be in any way linked to those noble grouse shootists and the estimable game keepers would be a huge calumny!

  3. The reports make grim reading. However they do consolidate a lot of information, which makes it perfectly clear that organised and systematic illegal persecution of raptors is taking place in areas of the Peak District where the moors are used for grouse shooting.
    The Wildlife and Countryside Act make it an offence to persecute raptors – it’s clearly written in the legislation.
    Sect 19 of the WCA also gives police constables the power to stop and search any person who they suspect is committing or has committed offences under this legislation.

    This illegal persecution of raptors by criminals is undermining a lot of the conservation work which is taking place. Much of this conservation work is funded from tax payers money or through charity donations.

    Raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority.
    The word “priority” suggests that where offences are being committed, police resources should be targeted in those areas, with a proactive style of policing adopted and directed towards those suspected of committing the offences or enticing others to commit those offences.
    ( In their discussion of Wildlife offences, the CPS mention causing and permitting offences so that those who have delegated responsibilities to another can also be prosecuted).

    Whilst it is acknowledged that wildlife crimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute due to evidential issues. The fact that very few, if any criminals responsible for this relentless persecution of raptors are ever brought to justice, and that the crimes are being committed with such consistency, suggests that the policing methods being used are clearly not working.

    If an urban area was suffering a high burglary rate or was subjected to high amounts of drug crime, I think it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the police to carry out high visibility patrols, covert work, the development of informers (CHIS- covert human intelligence sources) etc.

    So why isn’t the Dark Peak being managed in the same way?
    Why aren’t quad riders on the moors, those carrying guns or entering/exiting the moors in 4X4 vehicles being stopped and asked to explain their presence, and where grounds exists searched?

    Are walking groups, mountain bike riders, casual visitors to the Peak etc being encouraged by the police to report anything suspicious?

    Are intelligences sources being encouraged from residents who are sick to death of the killing of the wildlife?

    We are talking about a national wildlife crime priority – in an area where a priority crime is rife- so it should be perfectly acceptable to see a high police presence and notice the effects of their activities in tackling the crime.

    It is no excuse to suggest that such policing tactics will antagonise landowners or those managing the grouse moors.
    Aren’t these the very people who have publicly stated that there is zero tolerance for raptor persecution?
    Surely they would welcome such robust policing, and not mind in the least if they are mildly inconvenienced as they go about their daily activities, if that is what it takes to catch the criminals? The criminals they assure us are not part of their group, so must be outsiders coming in to deliberately undermine all the conservation work and proper land management which they claim is taking place?
    It also isn’t fair that those landowners and estates who do take their conservation responsibilities very seriously and will not tolerate criminal behaviour are being tarred with the same brush as those estates where criminal behaviour is being committed.

    I suspect the failure to really tackle the problems, lies not with the individual police officers, but with a risk adverse culture where the risk of ruffling a few feathers ensures that what is needed to be done isn’t done!!
    If it was – the criminals would be caught, or the policing methods would be so disruptive that it would be almost impossible to commit wildlife crimes.

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