Peregrine poisoning incidents not made public until 15 months later

An article published in the Scotsman last week reports on two peregrine poisoning incidents that took place in April and May 2010, that have only just been made public.

The birds were found dead at a quarry in the West Lothian town of Kirknewton, and both had been poisoned by the banned pesticide Aldicarb. The head of one of the peregrines had been severed and removed – possibly as a trophy.

The two incidents only came to light after the publication last week of the government’s 2010 poisoning report. Lothian & Borders police have not identified any suspects. Perhaps if they’d publicised the incidents at the time they occurred they may have got some leads.

Full story in the Scotsman here

Skibo Estate results

Dean Barr, a gamekeeper (and reported elsewhere as being the sporting manager) on the Skibo Castle Estate, has been convicted of having enough illegal poison “to wipe out the entire Scottish golden eagle and red kite populations several times over”. Barr, 44, of East Lodge, Clashmore, Dornoch, admitted possessing 10kg of the banned pesticide Carbofuran. He admitted carrying the poison from his previous job as head gamekeeper on the Raeshaw Estate to Skibo Castle Estate in 2008, because he had ‘not known how to safely dispose of it’.

The Carbofuran haul was discovered in a locked store on the Skibo Castle Estate, for which Barr had the keys. According to the Northern Times and Northern Constabulary, the poison was discovered within premises operated and solely accessed by Barr on Skibo Estate land.

Today he was fined £3,300 “to mark the court’s disapproval”. This was apparently reduced from a £5,000 fine for his early plea.

Despite this conviction, the Crown accepted he had ‘no part’ in the deaths of two poisoned golden eagles and a sparrowhawk (killed with Carbofuran) found on the estate in May 2010 (along with a dead buzzard and a third poisoned golden eagle killed by Aldicarb).

Barr’s defence lawyer said Barr was well regarded personally and professionally by his current and previous employers. “If it was thought that he was involved in the use of this material, they would not be so supportive”.

This is not the last we will write on this case.

The Scotsman news story

BBC news story

STV news story

Another poisoned buzzard discovered nr Grantown-on-Spey

When will this end? Yet another poisoned buzzard has been discovered in Scotland, and has tested positive for the banned pesticides Carbofuran and Aldicarb, according to government scientists at SASA.

Northern Constabulary have put out a carefully-worded press statement, saying the poisoned bird was retreived ‘from hill ground near Bridge of Brown”, which is on the A939 road between Grantown on Spey and Tomintoul, inside the Cairngorms National Park. They do not say when the buzzard was discovered, nor who owns the land where it was discovered. The culture of secrecy surrounding criminal raptor persecution continues.

You will not be surprised to learn that there is a prominent sporting estate that covers ‘hill ground near the Bridge of Brown’, although of course, their proximity to the incident does not imply they are responsible for this incident – no, no, no, its obviously an unhappy geographical coincidence. Northern Constabulary are investigating so no doubt the real criminals will soon be uncovered and brought to justice.

Thank goodness our government took such a tough line against the raptor persecutors during the last parliamentary session, eh? Otherwise we’d be seeing more of these incidents on a regular basis….

Northern Constabulary press statement:

BBC news:

Case against Skibo Castle gamekeeper opens at Inverness Sheriff Court

Following blog post 12 May 2010…

A year on from the discovery of THREE poisoned golden eagles, 1 buzzard and 1 sparrowhawk in or close to the grounds of Skibo Castle Estate, the case against one of the gamekeepers opened today at Inverness Sheriff Court.

The case against Dean Barr, originally from Northern Ireland, is to be continued on 26 May 2011. The charges against him are not yet being reported as he has not yet entered a plea. Last year, Mr Barr made a public statement in The Daily Record suggesting that the dead birds had been ‘planted’ by the RSPB – see blog post 22 June 2010 here: