Barn owl shot, red kite poisoned

Cheshire Consabulary logoCheshire Constabulary are appealing for information after a series of wildlife crimes, including the shooting of a barn owl, swan and heron, and the suspected poisoning of a red kite.

The crimes took place at Risley Moss Nature Reserve in Warrington, Cheshire, “in recent weeks”.

No further details available.

Article in the Warrington Guardian here.

North Yorks still worst place for raptor persecution in 2012

Bowland Betty2The RSPB has published its 2012 Birdcrime report documenting bird persecution throughout the UK.

North Yorkshire has once again come top of the league for the number of reported crimes against birds of prey (34), with Aberdeenshire a close second with 31 reported incidents. Both counties, of course, include large areas of land used for driven grouse shooting.

The 2012 report includes statistics that are all too familiar: confirmed shootings of short-eared owls, sparrowhawks, buzzards, barn owls, tawny owls, hen harriers, golden eagles, marsh harriers, and peregrines; confirmed nest destruction of peregrines, goshawks and barn owls; confirmed illegal spring-trapping of buzzards, golden eagle and peregrine; other types of illegal trapping (including crow cage traps) of sparrowhawks, tawny owls, buzzards and goshawks; and the confirmed illegal poisoning of ravens, red kites, buzzards, golden eagles, marsh harriers, peregrines, cats and dogs.

Remember, these are just the confirmed incidents. Plenty more ‘probable’ and ‘unconfirmed’ cases, and of course there are all the incidents that went undiscovered/unreported.

Does that sound to you like the game-shooting industry is cleaning up its act?

Well done to the RSPB for their meticulous work and especially for their willingness to share these data with the general public.

RSPB press release here

Download the RSPB’s 2012 Birdcrime report here

The photograph shows the shot hen harrier Bowland Betty, found on a North Yorkshire grouse moor in 2012. Nobody has been brought to justice for her death.

Persecution case dropped as alleged raptor killer dies

Barn Owl Miles HerbertLast month we blogged about Robert Simpson, a 66-year-old from Cleghorn in South Lanarkshire who was facing three charges of alleged wildlife crime, including the illegal trapping and killing of a barn owl. His case was continued without plea for four weeks as he was considered too unwell to attend court (see here).

His case was due to re-start at Lanark Sheriff Court yesterday (31st Oct). However, a local reporter has informed us the Fiscal did not call the case yesterday as Mr Simpson has died.

Barn owl photo by Miles Herbert.

Peregrine shot, barn owl chick stolen, hen harriers remembered

It’s been quite a day. The so-called ‘Glorious 12th’ has been taken back by the conservationists and re-named Hen Harrier Day, in an inspired move by Alan Tilmouth (read his blog entry here).

Although he only came up with the idea yesterday, Twitter has been alive today with hundreds of people using the #henharrier tag to celebrate these spectacular birds and to express their anger at the virtual extermination of the species on grouse moors across England. Unsurprisingly, the game-shooting organisations were conspicuously absent.

Mark Avery also came up with a plan to help hen harriers. He’s called it BanGS – see here.

Meanwhile, news came through that police in Bolton are appealing for information after an injured and distressed peregrine was found by the side of a road. It had been shot. Full details here.

Elsewhere, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust is appealing for information after a barn owl chick was stolen from the Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve last night. Information here.

In other news, we’ve been having a look at some VERY interesting literature – a copy of the Leadhills Estate gamebook (don’t ask how we got hold of it!!) – which very helpfully documents annual counts of killed ‘vermin’ over a considerable number of decades. ‘Vermin’ in Leadhills-speak includes hawks, badgers, otters, cats and ravens amongst others. It’s fascinating. We’ll be writing more on this in due course…

Leadhills game book vermin lists

news round-up: burned barn owls, shot buzzards & illegal trapping

Police in Merseyside are appealing for information after the charred bodies of six barn owls were discovered in a barn in Moss Lane, Formby. Police believe the owls had been deliberately set on fire. It is not known when they were burned, or whether these were wild or captive owls. Less than half a mile away, the body of a shot buzzard was found. News article in the Liverpool Echo here.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country a joint police/RSPB investigation has started in North Lincolnshire after the discovery of three dead buzzards in the area since October 2011. At least two of them are believed to have been shot. News article in the Grimsby Telegraph here.

In Leicestershire, a previously convicted farmer/part-time gamekeeper, Ivan Peter Crane, has been fined £2,500 (+ costs) after being convicted of using a Larsen trap without an appropriate licence. Crane already had wildlife crime convictions from April 2011, for trying to kill raptors with an illegal pole-trap and also for the illegal and unsafe storage of pesticides (see here). It was because of these earlier convictions that Crane could no longer trap birds on the farm without applying for an individual licence, which he failed to do. Press release from Natural England here.