News has emerged that a total of nine birds of prey (eight buzzards and a sparrowhawk) have been found shot dead and dumped in bags in the Angus Glens.
We already knew about three of those shot buzzards (see here and here). They were found in bags outside two gamekeeper’s residences during a joint Scottish SPCA/Police Scotland raid on Millden Estate in October 2019 as part of an investigation into the criminal activities of depraved gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies, who was convicted in May this year for vile animal abuse and received a custodial sentence in August 2022 (here).
Nobody was charged for the killing or possession of those three shot buzzards (although Police Scotland had identified a suspect, the Crown Office chose not to pursue a prosecution – see here) and the news about those three shot buzzards only emerged this year after I’d spent two and a half years asking Police Scotland for details. For unknown reasons, Police Scotland chose not to issue a public appeal for information about those three illegally-killed raptors.
I can now reveal that those three shot buzzards weren’t the only ones found dead in the Angus Glens that Police Scotland was keeping out of the news.
[An illegally shot buzzard. Not one of the ones found on Millden Estate]
Rumours have been circulating for a while that even more dead raptors had been found in connection to the raid on Millden Estate so last month I submitted another FoI to Police Scotland to request confirmation and this is the response I’ve just received:
So that’s a total of nine shot raptors, all found in bags. Note Police Scotland’s careful wording that the third bag containing six shot raptors was found at ‘a second location‘. I understand that this bag wasn’t found on Millden Estate but was discovered nearby on the bank of the River Esk, beyond the estate’s boundary.
This is a shocking story for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the number of dead raptors found shot and dumped in bags in this area of the Angus Glens, but secondly the decision of Police Scotland to keep quiet about them all for almost three years.
Whose interests are served by such silence? Not the public’s interest, that’s for sure, but the interests of the grouse-shooting industry, whose representatives are busily claiming that, “In Scotland, recorded [raptor persecution] crimes have effectively ceased on grouse moors” (Tim Baynes of Scottish Land & Estates writing in the August 2022 edition of The Field – I’ll publish his outrageous opinion piece shortly).
It’s just not good enough from Police Scotland. And this isn’t an isolated case either. More on another case shortly….