Hen harrier chicks stamped to death in nest: how the shooting industry manipulated the narrative

I’ve written many times about how the shooting industry is intent on manipulating the narrative surrounding the illegal killing of birds of prey. Whether that be by publishing blatant propaganda about the extent of these crimes, so distorted the truth is barely recognisable (e.g. here, here, here, here), or by simply choosing not to mention, let alone condemn, the ongoing criminal attacks on raptors by gamekeepers (e.g. see here, here, here). Sometimes there will be a condemnation but often it is quickly overridden by a sneering attempt to undermine the integrity and credibility of the investigators, usually the RSPB (e.g. see here and here).

Recently, this manipulation of the narrative around raptor persecution has manifested in attacks by the shooting industry on the police forces issuing appeals for information about suspected crimes (e.g. see here and here for two very recent examples).

Less obvious is the behind-the-scenes manipulation; the conversations that go on behind closed doors that the public rarely gets to see, usually within the so-called ‘partnerships’ such as the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative (e.g. see here and here) or the national Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG – see here). This sly under-handedness only comes to light after freedom of information requests by those of us who are unwilling to believe a word the shooting industry says when it comes to illegal raptor persecution.

And this leads me to the latest example of how the narrative is being manipulated. This time it relates to the media put out by the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership (another sham group) about the brutal stamping to death of a nest of hen harrier chicks last summer on a grouse moor on Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To recap the details of that horrific story, which for some strange reason only emerged six months later in December 2022, please see here.

Hen harrier chicks in a nest (not the nest at Whernside where the chicks were stamped on). Photo: Ian Newton

North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about this crime on 14th December 2022 (see here). I want you to pay attention to the unequivocal words used by the police to describe this incident (underlined in red, below): that they suspected the nest of hen harrier chicks had been “deliberately destroyed by human activity“:

Prior to this appeal for information being published, the previous week North Yorkshire Police had sent a final draft to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) so they wouldn’t be unsighted by the news when it was published. We know this because a Yorkshire Dales resident, who also follows this blog, submitted a freedom of information request to the YDNPA in December to ask about internal comms within the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership about this crime. Everything that follows is a result of that FoI (thank you to the blog reader!).

On 14th December 2022, just after North Yorkshire Police had published its appeal for information, Mark Sadler, Communications Manager at the YDNPA sent around a draft press release to the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership’s communications sub-group and asked if all the partners would sign up to it. Here is his draft press release (please pay close attention to the words I’ve underlined in red):

It’s a strong statement, unequivocal in its condemnation, just as North Yorkshire Police’s statement was.

Here is the email Mark sent around to the ‘Partnership’ sub-group:

The first ‘partner’ to respond to Mark’s draft statement was the Moorland Association (the grouse moor owners’ lobby group in England). Here’s its response:

The next partner to respond, shortly afterwards, was BASC:

Right on cue, the next ‘partner’ to respond was the National Gamekeepers Organisation, as follows:

You’ll note that all three ‘partners’ from the shooting industry are intent on watering down North Yorkshire Police’s statement, moving the focus away from the police’s assertion that the stamping and killing of the hen harrier chicks in their nest was “deliberate“, and instead suggesting that it was “apparently deliberate“. They also want to big up the increase in the number of breeding hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales/Nidderdale area that has happened as a result of the ludicrous brood meddling trial, carefully omitting to mention the ongoing persecution of hen harriers (77 illegally killed or ‘missing’ since the brood meddling trial began in 2018, a number of them in the Yorkshire Dales/Nidderdale area – see here).

The fourth ‘partner’ to respond was the RSPB, as follows:

The RSPB’s response starts strongly but then caves in and accepts the ‘apparently deliberate‘ narrative because it thinks its more important that the Partnership issues a statement and it knows that without a conviction, the police’s assertion that it was a deliberate act is contestable, even though the police’s view is based on having full sight of all the evidence. The RSPB asks for ‘three further small amendments’ to the draft text but I don’t know what those entailed because they weren’t included in the FoI response.

Mark Sadler from the YDNP adjusts the draft statement to incorporate the manipulations requested by the shooting industry ‘partners’ and he sends the final version to North Yorkshire Police:

North Yorkshire Police responds to this with a very, very clear message, reinforcing the view that whoever disabled the nest camera and then inflicted horrific injuries to those young hen harriers by stamping them to death, did so deliberately:

Unfortunately there is no other plausible serious explanation for the injuries to all the 3 chicks and Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit were all in agreement“:

Here is the Partnership’s final statement, which was published on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s website on 15th December 2022. The parts I’ve underlined in red are the changes made between this final version and the original draft version:

As you can see, the changes are subtle, but are significant. The shooting industry representatives have introduced an element of doubt about the intention of whoever stamped on those chicks, despite North Yorkshire Police’s position (and that of Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit) that the stamping was deliberate with the intention of killing the hen harrier chicks.

The insertion of a statement about increased breeding success for hen harriers and ‘focused efforts in the area to rebuild the population‘ leave the uninformed reader non the wiser about the ongoing illegal persecution of this species on grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale and beyond.

What does this charade tell us about the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership? Nothing we didn’t already know – despite a few earnest members, it’s another sham overrun by ‘partners’ with a vested interest in playing down the extent of raptor persecution in the area. It’s quite obvious that publicity about these crimes is bad news for the shooting industry – it damages their reputation and will, sooner rather than later, lead to statutory reform of game shooting as is now happening in Scotland, in large part because the public has been made aware of what’s going on and has demanded the Government takes action.

94 thoughts on “Hen harrier chicks stamped to death in nest: how the shooting industry manipulated the narrative”

  1. You mention manipulation of facts, you have a gold star in this . Are a lot of these “finds ” of dead birds of prey not manipulated?
    Gamekeepers have access to thousands of acres of mainly unaccessable remote land and yet they supposedly kill birds of prey and leave the carcasses to be found???????

    1. Trying to suggest gamekeepers are to clever to commit raptor crime is laughable.
      Gamekeepers are not victims of fit ups, the large numbers of convictions proves this.
      If the game shooting industry is serious about its future it must change and out the criminals and crimes that is endemic throughout the industry.

    2. Surtees is just a useless troll who has hijacked this thread into a completely pointless argument over his deliberate ‘diversion’ that raptors must be killed by bird lovers and dumped on shooting estates, because their carcasses are sometimes found!

      1. [Ed: comment deleted. Personal, offensive abuse isn’t tolerated. Do that again and you’ll be banned]

      2. You’re right, Keith, he has. And by doing so has given everyone a clear demonstration of the idiotic, evidence-free arguments regularly trotted out by the game shooting industry. It’s marvellously bad PR for them!

  2. One wonders what the police think of people who commit acts like this.
    Presumably this type of behaviour is typical of the individual who asks for a gun license.

    1. But doesn’t it appear that a lot of these “finds ” of dead birds of prey are dubious ?
      I do not condone the illegal killing of birds of prey, my opinion though is that there should be a legal license obtainable to allow the removal of troublesome birds.
      Gamekeepers usually work alone on huge areas of woodland,moorland, millions of acres involved , with
      huge opportunity to dispose of carcases, buried or burnt,
      How is it that they keep being found?
      Are they planted so that the propaganda can continue?

      1. You are absolutely right Colin.
        These gamekeepers are being fitted up because it is common knowledge that they would never harm a bird of prey, ever! Nor is there any such history, although RPUK could contest this…typical!
        In addition , the benefits of manipulation are very clear……
        Get some help buddy!

      2. It is somewhat amusing that in a post about the shooting lobby muddying the waters in a clear cut case of human destruction of a nest you are trying the exact same thing but with the added bonus of trying to smear others.

        The vast majority arent found but just “disappear” often with tags failing abruptly and unexpectedly. Especially when compared against the performance of the same tags elsewhere.
        For the ones that are I would go for arrogance based on the fact its routine behaviour for many.

      3. I think gamekeepers act like this because A: it’s what they’ve always done; B: they can do it with impunity because there’s little chance of evidence linking an individual to the crime; C: they love to show off to others their macho love of hurting animals; D: they get a kick out of their crimes being publicised with little chance of comeback. God knows what else they get up to that we never hear about

        1. Because they’ve always done it ,,,,,,doesn’t wash, nowadays everyone knows that victorian attitudes cannot continue,,,,that is why everyone must applaud the work of all concerned with 2022 totals of 320 harriers fledged on moorland ,,,,,,,,keepered in many cases,,,,,,,

          1. I’m really not sure what your agenda is here If your trying to defend the actions of the many people within the shooting industry who do abide by the law, then your not doing a very good job!

            Recent successful prosecutions, of which there are too few, have shown that there is a significant number of gamekeepers who commit criminal acts. The fact that the majority get away with it, illustrates that only the careless ones get caught. But the sheer number of raptor persecution incidents that occur on or near land managed for game shooting isn’t a coincidence, it illustrates that it is an easy crime to commit with no consequences, precisely because as you have pointed out, these actions take place in isolated areas away from any witnesses!

            But there are people who knows that these crimes are taking place but it seems, like yourself, they choose either to ignore this fact, or even worse refuse to assist in stopping them happening.

            Rather than aggressively deny that there is an issue, why not accept that there is and urge your friends within the industry stamp it out?

            1. I’ve just sat and read through all the e mails and I mentioned in one of my previous e mails I’ve only sent 2 this being my third my 2nd didn’t even get published that Gamekeepers are the guilty party in all that goes on in the killing of raptors where I was told by a answer that no one has blamed Gamekeepers but clearly they are hated here on this blog and anyone who even attempts to half say different are shot down by who ever it is that answers all the e mails not one person has anything right I don’t expect this e mail to be shown as it will probably look like ime just sticking up for keepers in this day & age there are bad asses in every walk off life everything gets murdered not just raptors and all kinds of people kill anything just for the sake of it yes even hillwalkers just cause your a hillwalker from the general public doesn’t make you innocent just because you go shooting which I don’t shouldn’t make you the guilty one these harriers were stood on according to the police could’ve been a stick used by hillwalkers who knows yes the camera was moved but if I was going to do it I would move the cameras yes there are bad gamekeepers but Joe Public can also be bad not everyone loves birds of prey just cause you think they do I do I keep and fly them if I ever saw anyone hurt or kill them ime likely to respond by hurting them so can we please stop just blaming gamekeepers who I think are needed as they are at the top of the list in conservation remember everything needs balanced out

              1. Good grief! What an incoherent rant. Do you expect anyone to take anything you write seriously when you can’t even be bothered to form sentences?

                I suspect lead poisoning…

                1. No I don’t and I only eat steel that’s the problem with the likes of you, you wouldn’t know how to take anything seriously [full stop} 🙄

              2. Hill walkers want to see birds of prey and do not have access to poisons or guns. Some gamekeepers do not want any birds of prey and have access to snares, poisons, guns, traps and legal access 24/7 onto moors. By balancing out, I presume you mean killing everything which isn’t ‘game’.

              3. The original post does not actually speculate as to who committed the offence, Graeme, but rather points out how the National Gamekeepers Organisation and other representatives of the shooting community seek to play down the fact that an offence has happened at all. As the police made clear, there was no other remotely credible explanation other than deliberate destruction so what exactly do you think the motive of the shooting people was in seeking to downplay the incident by inserting that ‘apparently’?
                You are doing exactly the same thing by trying to muddy the waters with implausible suggestions that ‘joe public’ might have killed the chicks. Just to be clear, it is vastly more probable that it was a gamekeeper than a random hill walker though. They have motive and opportunity and most importantly, whenever there is good evidence identifying the perpetrator of a raptor persecution crime it is almost invariably a gamekeeper.

                1. Where an estate comes under a lot of scrutiny with monitors in hides and nest cameras and the like, and where that estate is determined beyond compromise (brood meddling) that it cannot allow a nest of “troublesome birds” to just do their thing, I wonder if we might in future find reason to suspect an outsourcing of “men with big boots”? A bit like the ‘county lines crime’ model i.e. a friend of a friend not easily connected to the estate or a simple minded youth wanting to earn his reputational spurs among some keepering clique, is tempted in to do “the business” on behalf of the usual estate employees who may well have all “gone to the theatre, with tickets to prove it” at the time the dirty deed was done.

                  1. Think you’ve been watching to much Vera so the police know which time the chicks were killed after being found in some deep moorland that only keepers creep about in the middle of the night at least you are swaying a bit saying it could be someone with no connection to the estate its like you know when they will be reported after being killed 🤷🏼‍♂️

                    1. Graeme you are at this rate going to topple your friend from his throne as “Lord of the Idiots”. And that would be quite a feat. Please reread my comment in your own time, make your own notes to help you understand it, perhaps get hold of a primary school textbook on how to read and understand written english…and then think some more, lots more.
                      Or alternatively shoot straight back from the hip and make yourself look even stupider. Either way, same as for your chum sitting wet eyed looking at his photos of yesteryears Presidents…I will see you again on another thread. Until then, it’s goodnight from me, etc

                2. Well all you did there with your reply is confirm that you do blame Gamekeepers and there is no possibility that it could be a hillwalker like you say the police report didn’t say it was a gamekeeper and my rant was about what you confirmed what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty

      4. So who stamped on the 4 harrier chicks at whernside?,a member of the public went up at night and blinded the camera and stamped on them,ye right oh,we all know who’s doing the mass slaughter on the grouse moors,gamekeepers!

        1. PERFECT,,,,When it was reported there was NO MENTION of the casualties being STAMPED ON, it’s a piece of string being added onto.

          1. Colin,

            From the police report:

            ‘There were no clear signs that the chicks had been killed by a predator’


            ‘There was no trace on the ground that a vehicle had driven over the nest, nor did the nest camera footage indicate that this had happened. There was, however, a footmark impression in the vegetation at the nest site, strongly indicating that a person had approached the nest. Natural England staff are careful to approach using known routes – the footprint observed was believed to be recent, and not made by Natural England staff’


            ‘Post-mortem examinations of the three chicks were subsequently conducted and showed that each suffered with multiple fractured bones including humerus in one chick, both femurs in the second chick, and in the third chick, the humerus and a crushed skull. The fractures were complete and showed a considerable trauma had taken place for each chick’.

            Perhaps you can enlighten us, if these chicks weren’t stamped to death, how you think they were killed?

            1. I did not say that this tragedy did not happen like that,,,,BUT it has to be right what is printed,,,,,l strongly agree that severe penalties should occur in these incidents but it cannot be conjecture,,,,,,,,,must be correct.

      5. Simply nothing is “planted” asa finder of some crime victims. You are talking tommyrot and under NO Circumstances should there be licences to remove “problem”birds Enough are being killed routinely and illegally as it is, for which the criminals should go to jail

          1. And that nails your colours firmly to the mast. Just like the criminals themselves and the apologists for the criminals, you arrogantly decide that you speak for all “countryfolk”. Let me assure you that the vast majority of countryfolk, of which I am one, with whom I associate: farmers, conservationists, even local small-scale shoot owners, despise the criminals in the shooting industry: both the landowners / managers who demand it and the gamekeepers / thugs who carry it out.

          2. Who, what and where are “country folk”? Are you suggesting they are a distinct homogeneous quasi ethnic group? Do they all have the same level of intelligence and the same life experience, do they all come to the same conclusions about everything, think the same, act the same, respond the same, vote the same? A worrying way of thinking, Colin! And above all, this issue is rightfully a matter of equal concern to every citizen in the country – the United Kingdom – regardless of your postcode or whether your closest Lidl is a two minute walk, a twenty minute drive or an hour’s drive away.

          3. What’s this ‘Countryfolk’ then? My father came home from his wartime service in the military after the main demob. He returned to the village he’d grown up in where there were no jobs which would pay him enough to marry and raise a family. He had gained marketable skills and experience in an admin role, rising to senior sergeant. So he moved to an industrial town.

            The tightfisted landowners and farmers built a land fit for poorly-paid thickos.

          4. Insult country folk? You might revel in killing animals – those of us who are normal, do not and would never hurt a wild bird or animal just to damage gamekeepers’ reputations – you do that perfectly well yourselves.

            1. Poor Colin gets a real hard time although I haven’t seen the e mail where he said he kills birds or animals but maybe you normal people just make up yer own mind I do agree that a normal person wouldn’t do that but there are a lot of not normal people going around and I think Colin is just trying to say that yes it could be anyone

              1. So far, on this thread alone, Mr Surtees has…

                falsely accused the admin of this site of “manipulation of facts”,
                and amatuerishly tried to obtain their email address…

                indulged in personal abuse (comment deleted)…

                suggested that the law be changed to permit the persecution of raptors
                (“troublesome birds”)…

                suggested that dead raptors are planted as “propaganda”…

                made several such unsubstantiated claims, and when given the opportunity to provide supporting evidence, has repeatedly failed to do so…

                indulged in the shameless pretence that he speaks for “countryfolk”…

                dishonestly tried to create a second, false identity, in a crass attempt to
                add weight to his baseless claims…

                attempted to muddy the waters, with an irrelevant reference to aviculture…

                tried to goad a poster into revealing their real name.

                And you think that he “gets a real hard time”?

                1. To the site administrator,,,could you please inform me of the procedure wherein l can LEGALLY challenge the comments of Coop

                  1. Legally?

                    On what basis? Everything mentioned happened. You haven’t substantiated a thing, but we can read what has been posted in this and other threads.

                    And we have to take it on trust that you really are someone called “Colin Surtees”.

                    PS There are many reasons why some of us have long-standing ‘nyms we use on the internet (the one I use here has been in use for quite a long time and started to hide my identity from my then employer in the NHS) and passive aggressive comments from a shooting industry apologist are not about to make us do anything different.

                    1. I would suggest that the “threat” of legal action against those who challenge these nitwits is nothing more than a deluded attempt to scare them into silence. We’re all extremely aware that this site’s admin is always most careful to redact any possible libellous statements, so this kind of laughable bluster is doomed to failure.
                      Over the years, I think we’ve seen a marked reduction in the simple-minded trolling that used to infest this site (though others still seem to suffer). Which may be a result of the penny dropping with these fools that they’ll be met with an informed response that’ll expose their stupidity for all to see (and, of course, some receiving their marching orders). Some, however, still think that they can fool us with their posturing, while failing miserably to conceal their true agendas. Often, all it takes is a little gentle mockery, to reveal the “emperor’s new clothes”.

      6. As you quite rightly say, they have ‘huge opportunities to dispose of carcasses, buried or burnt’. That is why we know that the found birds are the tip of a very large iceberg.
        The fact that you are happy to call legally protected BoP ‘troublesome’ speaks volumes.
        Keep digging.

      7. Colin,
        I think you have hit the nail on the head.
        The vast majority of illegally killed birds of prey are never found, as the killing takes place in remote inaccessible places where the public do not venture, and where those responsible for the killing have every opportunity to burn or bury the carcasses.

        In order to commit a crime, the perpetrator has to have the means and motive to commit that crime, and a victim without adequate protection.

        Sect 19 of the Firearms Act makes it an offence to be is possession of a loaded shotgun in a public place without lawful authority.
        Sect 20 (2) of the Firearms Act makes it an offence to trespass on any land whilst in possession of a firearm.

        Are you really suggesting that hill walkers, ramblers, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts are going out into the hills and countryside in possession of a firearm (which would be criminal offence in itself) and then have the motivation to shoot birds of prey? The very birds that many of them visit the countryside to watch and observe?

        If you are suggesting that dead Buzzards, Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers are deliberately being placed on the moors for the authorities to find, then where have those dead birds come from?
        I can’t every remember visiting an urban conurbation and seeing Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles or the like. These birds populate the very locations where their dead bodies are so often found.

        No one is saying all those involved in game shooting are criminals, and I think it is only fair that we recognise the valuable conservation work undertaken by some estates.

        However, the problem facing the game shooting industry is that there are simply far too many involved in that industry who are prepared to commit criminal acts to reduce bird of prey numbers where the presence of those raptors has a negative impact on game bird shooting.

        I think we also have to recognise the fact that even those shooting estates which act fully within the law, and are not involved in any criminality whatsoever, also benefit from diminished bird of prey numbers.

        Therefore I would argue that it is not within the game shooting industries interest to actually recognise and tackle this criminal behaviour.
        To do so, could result in overall bird of prey populations increasing, which could result in there being less game birds to shoot, which in turn could reduce bag size and the number of shoot days an estate can offer.
        In an industry where the financial value of an estate can be based on its game birds numbers, and where the number of shoot days and bag size is what draws the fee paying clientele, it really isn’t in that industries interests to act in a way which potentially diminishes game bird numbers.

        As for suggesting that licences should be issued to remove “troublesome birds”. All the recent state of nature reports indicate the huge loss of wildlife the UK has suffered.
        It is not birds of prey which are troublesome but humans who think they have a right to treat the natural environment as something to be exploited and plundered as a commercial enterprise where artificially high densities of game birds are created through high intensity land management, and then not have the understanding to realise that the loss of so much natural habitat has resulted in wildlife having to compete to live in what little is left of what should be their natural home. Is it no wonder that these artificially dense populations of game birds attract predators? They have nowhere else to call home, and such a readily available food source makes such places attractive. They can’t wander into the supermarket when they are starving!

        Propaganda is misleading the public on the success of Hen Harrier nests, but then never going on to talk about the number of the birds which fail to make adulthood, form breeding pairs and why the Harrier remains on the Red List despite all the public money being spent on its rejuvenation.

        In the remote part of Whernside where these chicks were killed there was probably only one or two people who would have been present on the moor at dusk, with the knowledge of the presence of the camera monitoring the nest, and the motivation to disable the camera before killing the chicks. The circumstances are such that the probability of this not being a deliberate act are inconceivable. Which is the point the police were making and the shooting industry didn’t want to recognise.

        1. I agree with a lot of your points,,,,,,,but on the point of licenses being issued for the use of birds of prey taken from the wild for falconry and aviculture,,,,,,this is being looked at NOW,

      8. The only thing of interest to me about the above comment from Colin (amusing “Flat Earth” conspiracy theory to one side) is the idea of legally “removing” “troublesome birds”.
        The industry has in effect already been gifted this via “brood meddling” but this is evidently not sufficient for them. And you still hear persistent demands here and there for control of “troublesome” Harriers, Kites, Buzzards on local ad hoc basis.
        I would seriously hope that a future licensing scheme in Scotland and England would demand accurate, auditable seasonal bag records be made public. This would lay open to the public the sheer scale of numbers or our cherished and very charming wild bird the Red Grouse (yes, it is Ours – they can only “kill or take” them in-season on their land, and they still remain just about wild) that are being shot these days. And I think the public would be disgusted to hear that raptors “must be culled” because “it is not sustainable” to bag much less than multiple thousands, quite often tens of thousands of grouse per estate per season (the target benchmark being of a brace i.e. 2 birds per acre per season). It is true that the “intensive moorland management model” is not sustainable or compatible with the medium and large raptors being left in peace. We all know that. But whose fault is that -the birds, how can it be their fault? No – the people who shrewdly and for much personal gain developed the modern moorland management system knew the law back when they started replicating their business model all over the uplands of the UK. They knew fine well that all raptors had been protected since they were themselves in short trousers or more often nowadays before they were even born. They just don’t give a shit, is the simple truth and they rely on “good men” (their carefully chosen keepers) to do the “necessary” discreetly, and also on sympathetic friends in the corridors of power to provide top-cover when the shit or blood and feathers hits the fan.

        1. AGAIN,,,,,,,TENS OF THOUSANDS OF GROUSE SHOT FROM ONE ESTATE,,,,,,,,,sorry that is B/S, NO ESTATE has so many birds to
          crop,,,……Why don’t you go to an estate and ask,,,,,,Also lose the pseudonyms and stand up for what you may or may not know to be correct..

          1. Grand, it sounds like you would wholeheartedly support my view that it should be enshrined into regulatory law that each Estate must declare audited public accounts of seasonal bags / birds shot? That would at least clear up any dispute between decent souls like ourselves. I think it is a case that your are valiantly defending the DGS shooting world that you either believe exists or perhaps the narrow one (small scale or local to you) that you have had experience of? Nothing wrong in that, fair enough The top end of the DGS world is maybe an unknown quantity to you. You can yourself write letters to them and ask them to put their bags records in the public domain, or you can do some spare time googling to open your eyes about numbers being shot (won’t put links up here myself). I already get a fairly decent indicative selection of figures myself from some of the big Estates unwittingly via their beaters, pickers up and sometimes inadvertently their keepers. I pass some of this on to potentially interested parties from time to time. I’m sure you can now appreciate my caution in using a pseudonym. p.s just checking – you do know that when they record ‘a brace’ – that this is actually two shit birds they are referring to ?

            1. That reply shows in full light that you have a VERY LIMITED knowledge of what or who you are talking about.
              EVERY estate that l know (and l know a few ) has always kept a game book, that is from victorian times.
              As for my own experience,,,,,l have a photograph with 2 ex presidents and 1 serving president in my vehicle on the SMALL
              Estate that l was involved with., all involved in the day.
              Learn about things before you spout off.
              Sorry to chastise you but you should be fully acquainted with matters before you get into print.
              Possibly that is why my government include me in several
              advisory groups.
              Use your real name, it gives a better presence, not a key board warrior hiding behind anonymity

              1. Hi Colin, clearly we are butting heads to no obvious purpose.
                I believe I know a good deal about the reality of intensive DGS and you believe you know more than me and that my knowledge is insufficient. Stalemate. Funnily enough, I too have seen some of the lovely old estate game books and a collection of the game cards that guests take away with them, that you refer to.
                And I have seen some interesting bits of keepers diaries. Whether the quality or quantity of the ones I have seen matches yours, is moot. But like you, I think it would be great if going forward all of these meticulously recorded details (i.e. the killing of our (the nation’s) wild birds and animals for whatever reason be it sport or pest and predator control) were presented openly for all to appreciate and admire i.e. legally audited and made a matter of public record. The public could then form an opinion about what numbers of grouse or any other species it is reasonable or unreasonable to shoot in any given location, and there would be no need for the likes of us to dispute each others wisdom, or to degenerate into “comparing our c–ks” about who has met the best VIP shooting guests and had the privilege of breathing in some of the hot air these people emit from their arses. Who cares? I’ve no more to indulge you with on this thread, hopefully we will meet again on the inevitable blog posts here that will crop up, as they routinely do – about some keeper or other getting caught pants down and convicted. You can then maybe bring forth the benefit of your superior wisdom to help us stop this happening, or maybe ring up an ex-President buddy of yours (because they are always good and wise people!) on our behalf for further advice.
                Yours in friendship, Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon or Andrew Jackson or pick any name that would make you feel better while replying to me on your, er keyboard…

              2. Yes estates keep gamebooks but in my experience they are anything but public documents that could prove or otherwise how many grouse have been shot or other birds in my

                1. Totally agree Paul, highly interesting documents they maybe to us they are no use – in this day age of prudent mistrust – for the purpose of accurate measurement of impacts of management activity in an ecological or a legal setting. What I am advocating really is that a good licensing system should make provision from day one in its remit to record everything killed by the “sporting business”, and have “salmon fishing bailiff” type officers that spot-check along with trained ecologists to survey (unannounced no invitation required) and report on the ecological impact of what the “sporting business” is doing regards it’s pest and predator killing policy, levels of so-called harvesting of game and it’s management of vegetation. Costs of course to be borne quite rightly fully within the licencing fee levied on each “sporting business”. Academically qualified brains far greater than mine will have to create some sort of detailed ecological / biomass template for our different upland landscapes as a measurement tool. That stuff is way beyond me but I am confident that the basic principle is both compelling and morally right. All eyes on Scotland to see how their system pans out I suppose.

      9. “Troublesome birds.”

        And… I don’t like people breaking the law, so let’s just change it to suit the criminals.

        The arrogance of the plastic countryside lobby writ large.

      10. Your second paragraph put simply says you do not agree with killing birds of prey but that their killing should be made legal. And how do you define ‘troublesome’ – rather differently to most people I would suggest.

        1. Apologies for any ambiguity, Peter. I was simply paraphrasing the idiotic statements from Colin Surtees (AKA Worldtraveller13).

          1. I THANK THE MEMBER FOR HIGHLIGHTING,,,WORLDTRAVELLER13″ I DO NOT HAVE ANY OTHER ACCOUNT OTHER THAN,,sutsurtees@btinternet.com,,,is your site security compromised? I will ask for Internet security to look into this .

              1. What “MEMBER”? Where does this clown think he is?

                “is your site security compromised?” after including his own email address. Priceless!

                And,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Does,,,,, “Worldtraveller13”,,,,,,refer to pigeons,,,,,,,,,,, by any chance?

              2. To the site administrator ,,could you please inform me of the details of a member Coop ,
                Also how did you use my password ” Worldtraveller13″ as
                a supposed pseudonym.

  3. Time for the RSPB to leave groups like this if they are having to compromise themselves to fit in with the shooters’ agenda. They should be an independent organisation fighting for raptors, not cheerleaders for these sham partnerships which, I think, have achieved little progress in reducing the persecution of birds of prey

    1. If they do it will be used against them by the criminals and their apologists: as happened when they distanced themselves from the brood-meddling nonsense

      1. The harrier scheme is a great success and shows what can be achieved,,,,,,,hugely better than the White tailed Sea eagles thrown into the wild resulting in OVER 83% DEAD IN THE FIRST FEW MONTHS ( There is an available government report on this )

          1. Now you’ve given me a job, that file is in hard copy so l will have to look for it,,,,,,.,but l will do it,,,…give me your e-mail and l will sort it,,,,,,l never say anything that l cannot deliver,,,,,,Colin

            [Ed: Just provide the report’s title, name of the author(s), name of the publisher, and the date of publication. If it exists, I’ll source my own copy, thanks]

      1. Wow – well done. … MA, SLE, Gift of Grouse, Ardnamurchan Estates, Northumberland Estates, Buccleuch, Cayman Islands Government etc.

  4. The real issue here is that the RSPB agreed to the deliberate watering down of the response statement from the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership. The shooting industry said ‘JUMP’ and the RSPB said ‘How high?’:-(

    What a spineless lot, that they ‘think’ it is better for this ‘Partnership’ to manipulate the news, rather than say absolutely nothing and reveal the ‘Partnership’ as worthless.

  5. Colin Surtees says that licences to remove raptors from the wild for falconry and aviculture purposes are being ‘looked at’. I am sure he is aware that hen harriers ( the topic under discussion) are not and never have been used in falconry so the only reason they would be taken is for breed and release ie for conservation. I wish people would stay on topic in these debates.

  6. And therein lies the danger for the RSPB in trying to work in partnerships with shooting organisations. The shooting organisations demonstrate time and time again that they have no interest in ending crime within shooting, only in acting to preserve the status quo.

    It appears that the shooting organisations believe that most shooting cannot take place without crime or unsustainable and damaging land management practices. The shooting organisations seem only to act to downplay the levels of crime committed by those that pay their wages and to try to bring in measures that remove problem species.

    The RSPB is tarnished virtually every time it tries to work with shooting organisations. It is long-past time for the RSPB to stop being scared of shadows, call out the shooting organisations and not take part in sham partnerships with them until strict licensing of gamebird shooting is in place and being properly enforced.

    1. The larger an organisation is the more links it has, that have to be considered.
      Imagine the RSPB is now a large landlord/ land manager and grants, tax concessions etc have to be considered before making any stance.
      The public might be outraged but as an organisation there will be restraints that could tarnish or legal precedents that stop individuals in an organisation from pursuing what sometimes the rest of us see as common sense.

      1. Yes, this is part of the iceberg that remains below the waterline but is heavily weaponised. However few combatants ever win a war where they allow their opponents to set the rules.
        Sometimes when supporters of organisations see them as under unfair attack they rally to their aid and get even further behind them… thus helping rather than hurting them. Currents flow backwards and forwards. Money should not be the deciding factor in any calculations that might demand to be made.

      2. “the RSPB is now a large landlord/ land manager and grants, tax concessions etc have to be considered before making any stance.”

        But that would contravene its Royal Charter.

    2. I agree up to a point but you can bet your bottom dollar that the shooting lobby groups would want the YDNP et al without the input of RSPB or NERF and some would be spineless enough to do that.

      1. Good point Paul.
        In addition, no mention is made of Natural England. They are the lead organisation in the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership. None of their 3 invited attendees bothered to turn up to the last meeting which was held a month after the 4 hen harriers were stamped to death. It was Natural England who were monitoring the nest site at the time!

          1. Indeed, but the National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership are two different bodies. I do not think it would matter a damn if the RSPB withdrew from the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership. It would end the PR sham that all the members of the Yorkshire Dales BoPP are actively opposed to wildlife crimes against raptors, primarily because the RSPB are signed up to it.

            As it is, the RSPB have now lowered themselves to align with the undermining of the North Yorkshire Police statement that the destruction of the Hen Harrier’s nest was deliberate. What evidence does the RSPB have which indicates that the destruction might not have been deliberate after all? So why would they even want to disagree with the Police statement?

            It is called “Stockholm syndrome”: the ‘capture/corruption’ of a conservation body’s ethos by its nemeses, in order to preserve some sort of ‘working relationship’ on a body which is delivering quite the opposite of its stated aims: a shared commitment to bird of prey conservation.

        1. The Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership is a group with a shared commitment
          to bird of prey conservation (oh really!) and is comprised of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
          Authority, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Moorland
          Association, Natural England, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Northern
          England Raptor Forum, and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

          In addition NE are the lead agency to this group. Unlike NE the RSPB did attend the last meeting

  7. We are in the 21st century, the shooting class have not evolved still shooting defensive game birds bred for killing as a sport.
    Disgusting people.

  8. A Fragment of Hope: Last summer a friend of mine who works for the HCT was invited out to a shooting estate near Basingstoke, to ring four goshawk nestlings. The gamekeeper there was proud to have a breeding pair on site.
    What a powerful message this sends out!
    Absolutely awesome

  9. Neither the Police nor the RSPB should ever falter in their initial considered response to this heinous, yep, heinous crime. The whole matter is a charade-this heinous crime was very likely committed by the grouse shooting shower and whereas I am not against partnerships in National Parks or elsewhere, these people in particular have no right whatsoever to request that the Yorkshire Police or any other police force should change their language-they are the police for goodness sake and are there to uphold the law and the RSPB who I know do an excellent job with their raptor persecution work should not mince their words. I am sick of hearing about these gun toting grouse shooters who think we are being too hard on them-killing birds of prey is illegal and it stinks-it is a cowardly crime and we need to call it out at every opportunity-I for one will not tone down my language-we owe it to our lovely raptors to catch the disgusting criminals that commit these atrocities

  10. I’m sure the RSPB Investigation Team would have been keen for a tougher response on this disgusting episode but they have to hand findings on to the public facing team. Those people who are part of the PR that are partnered with YDNP etc and the shooting groups. These groups are a complete waste of time, they have been complicit in changing the wording of what actually happened on a moor into a diluted statement of it may have happened. Four hen harrier chicks were stamped on, simple as that, cameras were disabled, simple as that. Now who has the capability to do that on an ankle breaking moorland location in the dark. Simple as that isn’t it! Just don’t trust any of these partnerships, talking shops and PR bullsh1t. p.s. RSPB and YDNP no longer running Malham Peregrine Watchpoint, not enough membership gains for RSPB, they need a drastic reset on their mission, engaging families should be enough really.

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