Red kite poisoned on grouse moor -Police Scotland withhold information

A young satellite-tagged Red Kite has been found poisoned on a Scottish grouse moor, lying next to a poisoned bait, in this case, a Lapwing, whose corpse had been cut open to entice any passing predator and to allow for easy access to the poison.

This gruesome discovery was made by a member of the public on 20th May 2021 on Dava Moor, just beyond the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park.

The Red Kite had hatched in a nest near Grantown on Spey in 2020. This nest was only the second to be located in Badenoch & Strathspey; the first pair at nearby Cromdale disappeared after just one successful breeding season. That only two nests have been located in Badenoch & Strathspey, 32 years after the start of the re-introduction of red kites to the Black Isle, speaks volumes of the ongoing illegal persecution in this region, as noted in a scientific study published in 2016 (here).

Police Scotland attended the scene of the poisoning and collected the Red Kite and the Lapwing for toxicology analysis. They also conducted a search of the grouse moor the following week. Toxicology tests confirmed the presence of poison in both the Kite and the Lapwing.

Sixteen months later in September 2022, Police Scotland notified the member of the public that ‘enquiries are complete, nobody has been charged and the case is now closed‘.

So where was the Police Scotland press release about this serious wildlife crime?

Where was the appeal for information about this serious wildlife crime?

Why has the name of the poison been withheld? Given the proximity of the poisoned Red Kite to the poisoned bait, we can assume it was a fast-acting, highly toxic poison, dangerous to humans as well as to wildlife. Was it one of the eight poisons (Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide,  Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos and Sodium cyanide and Strychnine) banned under the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005, so dangerous it’s even an offence to be in possession of these chemicals, let alone to place them out on a bait in the open countryside?

Where was the warning to both locals and visitors to the area from Police Scotland about this serious threat to public safety?

Who benefits from this secrecy? Not the public, that’s for sure, and not wildlife.

Police Scotland has form for withholding information about raptor persecution crimes (e.g. see here, here, here, here). It’s noticeable that yet again, in the RSPB’s latest Birdcrime Report (2021), Police Scotland is the only force (with the exception of Dorset Police – on which more shortly) to withhold details of crimes that took place over a year ago.

I don’t know who’s making these decisions – I doubt very much it’s the wildlife crime officers on the ground, most of whom these days are undertaking prompt and rigorous investigations – but somewhere up the chain of command a decision appears to have been made to keep these serious crimes under wraps. Why is that?

I don’t understand the rationale at all. Certainly, in the early stages of an investigation it often pays for details to be withheld so as not to compromise searches etc. But sixteen months after the crime is discovered? It doesn’t make sense, and all it does is undermine public confidence.

I’d also like to know why a General Licence restriction hasn’t been imposed on Dava Moor. I understand from conversations with locals that somebody other than the landowner may be responsible for the ‘sporting management’ of Dava Moor. I’ve been told who that is by a number of people but have been unable to verify it so I’m not publishing it here. Nevertheless, at least two General Licence restrictions have previously been applied on landholdings that were ‘managed’ by someone other than the landowner so that shouldn’t be a barrier to imposing a restriction in this case.

And this isn’t the only illegal poisoning incident that Police Scotland are withholding from the public…more shortly.

UPDATE 6th December 2022: General Licence restriction to be considered on grouse moor where poisoned red kite and bait found (here)

UPDATE 2nd January 2023: Raven poisoned with banned chemicals – Police Scotland withhold information (here)

UPDATE 17th January 2023: Police Scotland confirm red kite found poisoned on grouse moor had been killed with banned pesticide (here)

22 thoughts on “Red kite poisoned on grouse moor -Police Scotland withhold information”

  1. Is there a case for Wild Justice to take up here on our behalf? Can Police Scotland decision making/withholding information be challenged legally? If so I would be happy to contribute.

    1. You might be able to ask for a judicial review, but they will hide behind ‘operational reasons’ which can be anything they want them to be – even partner law enforcement agencies come up against that on information sharing.

  2. The time for compromising with the self-indulgent sadists who kill for “kicks” is long gone – these barbarous bloodsports with their organised crime, tory subsidies, poisons, traps, snares & stinkpits much be completely BANNED for Good.

  3. So they’re killing waders as well now, to make raptor baits. It was only recently they were blathering on about how great the Grouse moors are for waders, they need to make their minds up. They haven’t got a lot of credibility as it is.

  4. Isn’t the lapwing a ‘ground nesting bird’, ferociously protected by gamekeepers and flagged up as a justification for eradicating predators. Oh the hypocrisy……

  5. The legal powers that be in the area will no doubt be in the same Masonic Lodge as the Moor owners/managers.

  6. I think you will find that the reason that the certain people higher up the chain of command that you refer to, are keeping information hidden as they are most probably involved in the grouse shooting themselves!!

  7. I wonder if the police x-rayed both birds during their investigation? It would make the police attitude to not publicising the case look even dodgier if it was found that the lapwing had been shot and/or that the kite was carrying a couple of shotgun pellets from a previous non-fatal shooting attempt.

  8. Corrupt authorities help wildlife persecution to continue. In this case the decision maker is as much to blame as the illegally-acting [xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Ed: poisoner]. The whole situation is pathetic. Only right-minded people can help to stop wildlife crime and I’m afraid there aren’t enough of that species of human involved in preventing such.

  9. I wonder if there are other reported raptor persecution incidents where the details are not being released to either the public or press? Is someone in Police Scotland deliberatively attempting to conceal the nature of these crimes in the misguided belief that by concealing the facts, then this may in some way influence the Scottish governments decision on licensing, so that any restrictions imposed by regulations are not as strict and rigid as perhaps they need to be? I hope someone in the Scottish government takes note of this incident and requires some answers from Police Scotland.
    Sadly, it would seem that some police forces seem to have forgotten the concept of openness, honesty and transparency, which are so vital to ensuring public confidence and trust.

  10. To mix with shite you have to be a shite and the further up the chain of command you go it becomes thicker and so it becomes that you can’t tell one shite from another.
    So much for giving prison sentences to those using banned substances.

  11. Every day, I am active donating, signing petitions and sharing information with interested parties, concerning the international abuse of wildlife, and praising the courageous rangers and others protecting, and sometimes being seriously injured or killed, endangered species. Who is behind this international slaughter of wildlife for sport and body parts as “medicines”? It is a sadistic hood of influential and well-off characters, who are bringing the biodiversity of Life on Earth. The UK has its own version who suppress actions against offenders of killing our threatened raptors and other creature, and who have blocked laws ending the import of body parts of trophy shot “big game”. I think that anyone who is of our persuasion working for the police or Government environmental protection groups, would have stories to tell of being told to back off over blatant breaches of the law, especially in this case under discussion, of very dangerous poisons being used in baits. It is tragic to witness online, on TV and in journals, the updates on the struggles to survive wildlife is having, and one recent one was the fact that only 91 Vietnamese Elephants exist to wander bewildered on the remains of what was a rich forest. When is this country, and indeed all the countries of this blighted planet, going to be governed by politicians who will nurture the Earth, and begin the healing processes?

  12. This has all the hallmarks of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The Brothers look after each other and weave a cloak of deceit around it all. I will try an FOIA request and see what that brings. It will be a refusal to provide information no doubt.

  13. It’s incredulous that 19 months after a crime a police force would surpress that it even occurred. It smacks of an authoritarian regime.
    One wonders if the police are either trying to cover up their incompetence or are they in collusion with the perpetrators!
    Its not just any crime but one with a deadly substance left in the open which poses a direct risk to humans. Isn’t the protection of the public the polices top priority?
    Another example of the Scottish Governments ineffective policies to combat raptor persecution.

  14. While not attempting to make light of this outrage, I must draw attention to this “countryman”, who thought it wise to share his “expertise” in a reply to Gill Lewis on twatter…

  15. It would be interesting to know the map ref for the finding of the dead kite and lapwing bait and I could then verify who the owner/land manager is.

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