Natural England’s response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen

Following the sentencing last week of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen in Dorset (here), I’ve been reviewing the responses from various organisations including the RSPB (here), the game-shooting industry (here) and Dorset Police (here).

Today I’m reviewing Natural England’s response.

Natural England (NE) published the following blog (reproduced below) on the day Allen was sentenced (16th Feb 2023):

By Stephanie Bird-Halton, National Delivery Director.

Today, Paul Allen, a gamekeeper working on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset, was sentenced for offences of possession of dead buzzards, keeping of banned pesticides and failing to comply with conditions of shotgun and firearms certificates.

Natural England is determined to tackle the scourge of raptor persecution. One of our roles involves investigating incidents where wildlife has been poisoned and we assisted Dorset Police in in this prosecution, gathering evidence and providing specialist technical advice. We are extremely pleased that he has been held to account for his appalling offences against wildlife.

This case, and the death in Dorset of one of the stunning White-tailed Eagles reintroduced to the Isle of Wight, are clear examples of a wider problem: the widespread misuse and abuse of poisons in the countryside which is killing birds of prey, and poses ongoing risks to the public.

During the coronavirus lockdown period, there was a spike in the number of poisoning cases reported with 230 accepted into the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) in 2020/21 as compared with 124 in 2019/20 and the problem has not gone away. In 2021/22, Natural England accepted 133 incidents of animal deaths suspected to be poisonings into WIIS. Cases remain unevenly spread throughout England with the highest number of incidents consistently being found in North Yorkshire (28 in 2019/20 and 54 in 2020/21).

When we investigate an incident and confirm it is a poisoning, we assess the evidence gathered, post-mortem results and tissue analysis to find out if the poisoning was as a result of a misuse or abuse of pesticides. Misuse is not following the legal requirements of use, whereas abuse is deliberate use in an illegal manner to poison animals. Where the evidence is unclear, cases are classified as “unspecified”. Not all cases accepted into investigation reach the assessment process, particularly where it becomes clear that pesticides have not been involved in the death of the animal.

In 2020/21, 37 cases of animal poisoning were assessed as being the result of abuse. There were six cases of misuse and 140 unspecified. 21 of the abuse cases related to the poisoning of raptors and these cases were passed on to the Police for further investigation.

The RSPB’s Bird crime 2021 report, published last November tells the same story of raptor persecution, with 80 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in England, mainly through shooting, trapping or poisoning.

Based on data from WIIS, from 2016 onward, Natural England has observed a particular increase in frequency of Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARS) being linked to the cause of death in animals or being found in relatively high concentrations in those animals.

Rodent control is essential to public health and users of rodenticides, including SGARS, span many industries including pest controllers, farmers and food producers. Other users of rodenticides include the game shooting industry. The use of anticoagulant rodenticides by professional users must follow the requirements of the industry led rodenticide stewardship regime Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK set up in 2016, as well as complying with the product label requirements.

It is imperative that anyone dealing with a rodent problem keeps within the law, follows the best practice guidelines, only using rodenticides after alternatives have been explored and doing so in a graduated, careful and responsible way, ensuring that rodent carcasses are disposed of promptly. However, cases of raptors dying with high levels of rodenticides in their system suggest there is a problem with the use of rodenticides – whether this be from deliberate abuse or misuse.

NE will continue to play its part, investigating poisoning incidents and working with the police and other partners to prosecute offences. Anyone can help – reports from the public can play an essential part in identifying cases of raptor persecution. However, without all landowners, land managers and gamekeepers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue.


It’s a bit all over the place to be honest, mostly focusing on the mis-use of rodenticides, which, whilst important in the wider scheme of things, had nothing whatsoever to do with gamekeeper Paul Allen’s conviction.

It’s interesting though that they mention the poisoned white-tailed eagle that was found dead on the same estate ten months after Allen’s crimes were discovered (and for which nobody has been held responsible because Dorset Police botched the investigation). Natural England had a role to play in the follow-up to that botched investigation, along with the Health & Safety Executive, and I’ll return to this once NE has responded to some pending Freedom of Information requests.

The last sentence in NE’s statement is just laughable:

However, without all landowners, land managers and gamekeepers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue‘.

You don’t say!

But at least NE has explicitly laid the blame of raptor persecution at the door of the game-shooting industry. That is helpful from a campaigning perspective.

In addition to this blog, NE’s Chief Executive Marian Spain tweeted about the case:

She came in for some criticism from others on Twitter for failing to mention the other partners involved with this successful prosecution, notably the RSPB, just as Dorset Police had failed to acknowledge their involvement. Although in Marian’s case I doubt this was a deliberate, petty and vindictive move, unlike Dorset Police’s probable motivation.

But what struck me most about her tweet was her claim that one of the ways NE works to tackle raptor persecution is by ‘working with shooting bodies to change attitudes‘ and by ‘prosecuting offenders‘.

How’s that going then, Marian? How many attitudes has NE changed? Given that 2020 saw the highest level of reported raptor persecution crimes in 30 years (here) and the most recent report from 2021 had the second highest number on record (here), I’d argue that attitudes haven’t changed one bit.

She might point to DEFRA’s ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling sham as ‘evidence of changed attitudes’ (because a handful of grouse moor owners are now ‘allowing’ hen harriers to breed) but I’d point out that since hen harrier brood meddling began in 2018, at least 77 hen harriers are known to have been illegally killed or have gone ‘missing’, mostly on or close to grouse moors (here). That’s not a change in attitude. That’s evidence of on-going law breaking by an industry that NE has jumped into bed with, switched on the electric blanket and pulled up the duvet.

And as for ‘prosecuting offenders‘, I think Guy Shorrock’s tweet says it all (Guy, a now-retired RSPB Investigator, worked for 30 years in this field so I think he’s well placed to ask the question):

Dorset Police response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen

Well it’s taken them long enough, but finally Dorset Police has managed to issue a statement about the conviction and sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen, who pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences whilst working on the Shaftesbury Estate in March 2021.

You’ll recall I was surprised when Dorset Police failed to mention anything about Allen’s forthcoming court appearance and subsequent conviction back in January, despite the force publishing statements about a wide variety of other criminal cases at various stages of progression through the criminal justice system (see here), but at last, they’ve got around to saying something. Although what they’ve chosen to exclude from this press statement is far more revealing than what they’ve chosen to include.

The following statement was published on the Dorset Police website last Thursday:

A man has been sentenced at court for wildlife and firearms offences in East Dorset following a multi-agency investigation led by rural crime officers.

Paul Scott Allen, aged 54, was sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 16 February 2023 after admitting a total of seven offences at a previous hearing.

The defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a live or dead wild bird under schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and two charges of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearms certificate.

Allen also admitted the following offences:

Using a biocidal product in contravention of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Possessing an unlawful substance under the Plant Protection Products Regulations 2012

Possessing a regulated substance without a licence under the Poisons Act 1972.

Allen was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay fines and compensation totalling more than £2,900. 

The investigation was launched by Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team following reports of suspected bird poisonings on a rural estate in East Dorset.

Following work with partner agencies including Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, a warrant was executed on Thursday 18 March 2021. During searches a number of dead birds of prey were located.

Officers also searched the address of Allen, a gamekeeper at the estate, and found a shotgun and ammunition, which were not covered by the defendant’s firearms certificate. Further enquiries uncovered a number of prohibited toxins at the premises.

Allen was interviewed by officers and – following detailed enquiries and liaison with experts from the Crown Prosecution Service – was charged with the various offences.

Chief Inspector David Parr, of Dorset Police, said: “We take all reports of wildlife crime and rural criminality very seriously. This case has seen us work with partners including Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to compile evidence before liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service Specialist Wildlife Prosecutor who agreed to the charges against the defendant.

“Wildlife crime remains a key objective of the recently expanded Dorset Police Rural Crime Team and we will continue to work with our partners to investigate criminal offences and deal with offenders robustly.”

Stephanie Bird-Halton, National Delivery Director for Natural England, said following the hearing: “Natural England is determined to tackle the scourge of persecution of our birds of prey. We assisted Dorset Police in this prosecution, gathering evidence and providing specialist technical advice. We are pleased Allen has been held to account for his offences against our wildlife. 

“Without landowners and land managers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue.

“If members of the public spot birds of prey they suspect may have been poisoned, we would ask them to contact the police, but not to touch the bird.”

Angharad Thomas, the CPS Wessex Wildlife Lead, said: “We work closely with the police on all wildlife related cases to make sure there is sufficient evidence to meet our legal test for prosecution.

“In this case, the review of extensive and complex evidence made it clear that Allen’s offending posed a significant threat to human and animal life, as well as having a negative impact on the countryside.

“Anyone acting otherwise than in accordance with firearms licences or in contravention of laws intended to protect our wildlife and countryside will be prosecuted.”


To a casual observer, this press statement is straightforward, detailed and complimentary about a number of partners involved in the investigation that led to a successful conviction. Hooray! Tea and medals all round! But for those of us who’ve taken more than a passing interest in this case, what this statement actually is is petty and vindictive.

Why do I think that? Well, look closely and you’ll see that one of the significant partners in this multi-agency investigation, the RSPB, has been erased completely from the narrative by Dorset Police.

The statement mentions other partners including the NWCU, Natural England and the CPS, but there’s no mention whatsoever of the RSPB or the specialist role it brought to the case, from initial liaison with the (now former) Dorset Police wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale, to helping plan and then conduct the search under warrant of Allen’s premises, to providing expert guidance on what was found, organising the forensics testing on the exhibits, then having considerable input into the file preparation for submitting to the CPS and then considerable liaison with the CPS itself.

As you can see, the RSPB wasn’t just along for the ride, it made an important and weighty contribution to the case, so why has Dorset Police gone out of its way to exclude it? My guess would be that it’s because the RSPB has been extremely supportive of Claire Dinsdale as she continues to battle senior officers over the botched investigation into the poisoned white-tailed eagle (an on-going saga).

I was also amused to read in the press statement the quote from Chief Inspector David Parr of Dorset Police, who said: “We take all reports of wildlife crime and rural criminality very seriously….. Wildlife crime remains a key objective of the recently expanded Dorset Police Rural Crime Team and we will continue to work with our partners to investigate criminal offences and deal with offenders robustly.”

Yeah, right, as long as it doesn’t involve conducting a police search on a shooting estate to look for evidence about who might have poisoned a white-tailed eagle, especially if a gamekeeper on that estate just happens to already be under investigation for multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences, and especially if a local Conservative MP has been kicking off about ‘wasting police resources on investigating wildlife crime’. Yeah, apart from that, Dorset Police will ‘continue to work with our partners [apart from the RSPB] to investigate criminal offences and deal with offenders robustly‘.

Game-shooting industry’s response to sentencing of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen

Further to last week’s blog about criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen’s sentencing for committing multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset (here), here is a round-up of responses from the organisations within the game-shooting industry who also serve on the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), whose main objective is to raise awareness amongst the organisations’ members about illegal raptor persecution and prevent these crimes from happening:

Convicted gamekeeper Paul Allen. Photo: BNPS

National Gamekeepers Association: The previous statement published by the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO), after Allen had pleaded guilty at a hearing in January, was so cryptic that the casual visitor to the NGO website wouldn’t have known it related to Allen and his crimes (see here).

So it’s pleasing to see that this time the NGO has published a statement acknowledging that criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen is an NGO member and that he has now been expelled. The following statement has prominent billing on the NGO’s website:

Expulsion from membership is good, and I applaud the NGO for publicising this action, although in reality it has no bearing whatsoever on Allen’s ability to continue working as a gamekeeper. Although often described by the shooting industry as a ‘profession’, gamekeeping isn’t regulated in the same way as I what I understand to be an actual ‘profession’.

For example, in many other (actual) professions, you’d be disbarred/struck off from practicing if convicted of an offence, especially an offence commissioned whilst undertaking your ‘professional’ duties. Not so for gamekeeping – you can be chucked out of one of the membership clubs but you can still ‘practice’/be employed as a gamekeeper even with a criminal conviction. We’ve seen this happen on many occasions, where a convicted gamekeeper has simply moved to another estate and carried on as though nothing has happened.

I note that the NGO’s statement on Allen has not been publicised on the NGO’s Twitter or Facebook accounts, only on its website.

British Association for Shooting & Conservation: BASC didn’t bother to publish any statement after Allen’s criminal conviction back in January, but it has done now he’s been sentenced, which is progress. The following statement has prominent billing on the BASC website:

As with the NGO’s statement, it’s good to see that BASC also hasn’t tried to be cryptic as its statement is clearly linked to Paul Allen’s crimes, conviction and sentencing.

Predictably, there’s a considerable amount of damage limitation included in the statement, talking about the so-called ‘minority who engage in this criminal behaviour‘ and maintaining that the shooting industry ‘works hard to support sustainable shooting‘ (er, the importation & release of 60+ million non-native gamebirds every year cannot possibly be described as ‘sustainable’!) but at least it’s published something in recognition of Allen’s crimes. Although, as with the NGO, I note that BASC’s statement on Allen has not been publicised on the BASC Twitter or Facebook accounts, only on its website.

COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE: Remains silent on Allen’s crimes, conviction and sentencing. No surprise.

COUNTRY LAND & BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (CLA): Remains silent on Allen’s crimes, conviction and sentencing.

I’ll blog shortly about responses to Allen’s sentencing from Dorset Police and Natural England.

RSPB’s response to sentencing of criminal Dorset gamekeeper, Paul Allen

Further to yesterday’s news that criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen had escaped a custodial sentence despite committing multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences whilst employed on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset (here), the RSPB has issued the following press release:

Gamekeeper fined as dead birds of prey and poisons found on Dorset estate

Gamekeeper Paul Allen (54, of Baileys Hill, Wimborne St Giles) appeared at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court today (16 February 2023) following a guilty plea last month relating to multiple raptor persecution offences.

He was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months for the possession of the buzzards, a £674 fine for failing to comply with firearm regulations, £1,348 for the chemical storage and usage offences, and told to pay £884 compensation [Ed: to Wild Justice’s Raptor Forensics Fund] to cover the cost of the x-rays and post-mortems for the bird carcasses.

The bodies of six shot Buzzards and the remains of three more were discovered in Allen’s yard on the estate in 2021, after a poisoned Red Kite was reported to Dorset Police by a member of the public. The kite contained high levels of brodifacoum, the deadliest rat poison on the market, which also shockingly killed a White-tailed Eagle in the vicinity 10 months later.

The poisoned red kite that triggered a multi-agency search on the Shaftesbury Estate in March 2021, which uncovered gamekeeper Paul Allen’s widespread criminal activities. Photo: RSPB

The search of Allen’s land also uncovered stashes of deadly poisons, including the pesticide bendiocarb – which has been abused for deliberately killing of birds of prey for years – two bottles of the banned substance strychnine, two tins of the banned poison Cymag and the toxic rodenticide brodifacoum. There was also a loaded gun left propped behind a door in Allen’s home.

Allen pleaded guilty to the possession of the dead Buzzards and the poisons.

All birds of prey are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and killing them is against the law, punishable by an unlimited fine and/or jail. In November, the RSPB published the Birdcrime report 2021, which revealed 108 confirmed incidents of raptor persecution in the UK. 71% of these occurred in relation to land managed for gamebird shooting.

A satelite-tagged White-tailed Eagle, poisoned with seven times the lethal dose of brodifacoum, was found dead 10 months later on the same estate, although it is unknown exactly where it picked up the poison. However, in a disappointing turn of events, the investigation was unexpectedly and prematurely shut down by Dorset Police before a full follow-up search could take place, despite police knowledge that the same substance had been found on the same estate during the investigation at court today.

Mark Thomas, UK Head of Investigations at the RSPB, said: “It is clear that the use of the lethal rat poison brodifacoum needs much tighter regulation and controls over use, as it is clearly being both misused and abused to kill birds of prey. At the very least this product should be restricted to indoor use only, as it was before the Government relaxed its use in 2016. We also suggest that only accredited pest controllers should be able to use it in specific circumstances. If not, then the unnecessary increase in bird of prey deaths, including White-tailed Eagles and Red Kites, will continue.”


In addition to this press release, RSPB investigations officer Tom Grose has written an excellent blog about the investigation on Shaftesbury Estate into Allen’s criminal activities, and has also provided some information about the poisoned white-tailed eagle that was found on the same estate 10 months later, the investigation that was prematurely cancelled by Dorset Police, despite them knowing all about Allen’s crimes on the same estate. To read Tom’s blog click here.

The RSPB’s investigation team has also produced a short video about both cases, which can be watched via their Twitter account here:

Criminal Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen receives suspended custodial sentence, despite multiple wildlife, poisons & firearms offences


Further to this morning’s blog (here), criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen, 54, of Baileys Hill, in Brockington, near Wimborne, has been given a suspended custodial sentence and a small fine after he pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences whilst working on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset in March 2021.

For possessing the dead birds (nine buzzards, six confirmed to have been shot), Allen received a total of 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

He also received fines totalling £2,022 and compensation to the value of £844.70.

He avoided an immediate custodial sentence on the basis of ‘strong personal mitigation’, which basically means he was saved from jail because of the impact it would have on the care of his two teenagers.

More to follow….

UPDATE 10pm: There’s a really good article on the Dorset Live website about what happened in court this afternoon – well worth a read (here)

UPDATE 17th February 2023: RSPB’s response to sentencing of criminal Dorset gamekeeper, Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 20th February 2023: Game-shooting industry’s response to sentencing of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 20th February 2023: Dorset Police response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 24th February 2023: Natural England’s response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

Convicted Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen due to be sentenced today

Paul Allen, 54, the gamekeeper convicted last month of multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences committed on the Shaftesbury Estate, Dorset in March 2021 (here) is due to be sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates Court this afternoon.

Convicted gamekeeper Paul Allen leaving court in January 2023. Photo: BNPS

You may recall, following the discovery of a poisoned red kite on the estate in November 2020, a multi-agency raid led by Dorset Police’s (now former) wildlife crime officer Claire Dinsdale took place in March 2021 (see here) where the corpses of six dead buzzards were found by a pen behind his house (tests later showed they had all been shot, including one that was was estimated to have been shot in the last 24hrs). Officers also found the remains (bones) of at least three more buzzards on a bonfire.

A loaded shotgun was found propped up behind a kitchen door (!) and 55 rounds of ammunition were found in a shed. Both the gun and the ammunition should have been inside a locked, specifically-designed gun cabinet, by law. The ammunition was not covered by Allen’s firearms certificate.

Officers also found a number of dangerous, and banned, chemicals, including two bottles of Strychnine, two containers of Cymag and a packet of Ficam W (Bendiocarb) in various locations, including in a vehicle used by Allen.

Four of the nine dead buzzards found. Photo: RSPB

At a hearing on 4th January 2023, Allen pleaded guilty to seven charges including two counts of possessing a live or dead bird, or parts thereof, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun certificate, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearms certificate, one count of possessing a regulated substance without a license, one count of failing to comply with  regulations in accordance with the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 and one charge of contravening a health and safety regulations.

A number of other charges were dropped minutes before the start of the hearing after some discussion between the defence and the CPS. I’ve annotated this court listing to demonstrate the changes. The court listing was provided by a court clerk at last month’s hearing (thanks to the blog reader who sent it to me).

The court deferred sentencing until today to allow reports to be complied on Allen, to help inform sentencing. In my view these crimes pass the custody threshold but the court will need to consider any mitigating factors. For example, it has been reported elsewhere that Allen is recently widowed and has two teenage children. If he is the sole carer for these children then that will likely impact on the type of sentence he receives, although I would argue that having unsecure, highly dangerous poisons and an unsecure loaded shotgun propped up behind his kitchen door is questionable behaviour for an apparently responsible parent.

Sentencing takes place this afternoon and a large amount of media coverage is anticipated. I’ll report back later.

UPDATE 16.30hrs: Criminal Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen receives suspended custodial sentence despite committing multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences (here)

Scottish gamekeeper charged with killing Sparrowhawk on a grouse moor – new court hearing

A court hearing has been delayed once again in the case of a Scottish gamekeeper accused of the alleged killing of a sparrowhawk.

Sparrowhawk. Photo: Markus Varesvuo

The un-named 22-year-old gamekeeper was charged in September 2021 (see here) for the alleged killing on a grouse moor in Inverness-shire and he was due in court on 30th September 2022.

The case was delayed until 10th November 2022 (see here).

The case was delayed again until January 2023 (see here).

The case has now been further delayed until 31 March 2023.

As this is a live case no comments will be accepted on this blog post until criminal proceedings have ended. Thanks for your understanding.

National Gamekeepers Organisation is latest from shooting industry to attack police & RSPB for raptor crime reporting

Last week I blogged about how a major shooting industry organisation, BASC, had attacked Suffolk Police for what BASC perceived to be an ‘offensive’ police appeal for information about the shooting of five young goshawks found dead at the edge of woodland near Thetford (here).

BASC complained that the police’s appeal was “disparaging to the shooting community” simply because the police had asked the shooting community for help to identify the shot gun-wielding criminal(!). Astonishingly, BASC’s complaint resulted in the police’s tweet/appeal for information being deleted.

Later, Suffolk Police released a joint press release with the RSPB, which seemed to enrage BASC even further. Bizarrely, BASC wrote on a blog:

Can we assume the RSPB has more information on the matter than BASC as they were very quick yesterday to offer a £5,000 reward for information leading to conviction; shortly followed by a similar pledge from Wild Justice? It would be useful to know whether RSPB are complainants, victims, witnesses or have any other relationship with Suffolk Constabulary“.

I would argue that this is a cack-handed but sinister attempt by BASC to try and influence the narrative on raptor persecution crimes. If the police are too scared to publicise a raptor persecution incident or appeal for information about it, because they’re scared of a backlash from the industry who are, let’s not forget, responsible for 73% of convictions for raptor persecution crimes, then it’s job done for the shooting industry. No reports = no publicity = no bad press = no public pressure on politicians to tackle these relentless, systemic crimes.

And it’s not just BASC that appears to be at it. The National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) has recently written on its website its dissatisfaction with Lincolnshire Police and the RSPB about the reporting of raptor persecution offences in that county. It’s mostly about a recent incident where the remains of three barn owls, one tawny owl and one red kite were found dumped in a ditch (here), and the NGO incorrectly accuses RSPB Investigations Officer Howard Jones of ‘insinuating that a gamekeeper might be to blame for the Lincolnshire incident‘ in a BBC news article.

Actually, Howard Jones did no such thing, he was talking about raptor persecution crimes in general and he was simply stating facts – the “vast majority” of raptor persecution cases being dealt with by the courts involve gamekeepers. That is a factually accurate statement from Howard, however unpalatable/embarrassing that may be to the NGO. Neither the RSPB or Lincolnshire Police laid any blame on anybody after the discovery of those bird of prey remains in Lincolnshire – they simply said it was an ‘unusual’ case and were appealing for information (here).

The ridiculous NGO, though, has written on its website:

The NGO are in contact with DC Flint of Lincolnshire Police and are hoping to meet with him in the near future to discuss both this case and to highlight our concerns about the reporting surrounding this case“.   

Meanwhile, the NGO has failed (refused?) to publicise the recent conviction of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen, who pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences after the discovery of six shot buzzards, the burnt remains of three more buzzards, and three different types of banned poisons on his pheasant shoot and a loaded shotgun found propped up behind his kitchen door with rounds of unlicensed ammunition in an out-building.

The NGO has also remained silent about the discovery of the five shot goshawks found dumped in Suffolk last week.

Like BASC, you’ll know that the NGO is a member of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), a so-called partnership (it’s a sham) whose main objective is to help eradicate raptor persecution by highlighting these crimes and publicly condemning the criminals involved.

Long-term blog readers will know this attempted manipulation of the narrative by the game-shooting industry is nothing new and has been going on for years, mostly behind the scenes and only uncovered via Freedom of Information requests (e.g. see here and here).

I’ve just been sent yet another example of it, this time in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. More on that shortly…

“I honestly think that one day we are going to have a human fatality” – Lincolnshire Police warn of danger of bird of prey poisonings

A wildlife crime officer from Lincolnshire Police is warning of the risk to humans, dogs and cats from the dangerous substances used to illegally kill birds of prey.

Detective Constable Aaron Flint, from the Lincolnshire Police Rural Crime Action Team, is quoted in an article published two days ago on the BBC News website (here), where he says he is currently investigating four cases of bird poisonings (some examples here and here).

Detective Constable Aaron Flint from Lincolnshire Police’s Rural Crime Action Team

“It’s too many and it’s only a small proportion of the number of birds killed,” he said.

The wildlife officer said the substances used posed a real danger to dogs and cats, as well as people.

“I honestly think that one day we are going to have a human fatality.”

“Often the offenders will get a pigeon or a pheasant – cut it open and rip out the flesh so the meat is exposed and sprinkle on some poison.

“The poisons are often blue or green – or some other bright colour a child may be attracted to, and I really fear that one day a child is going to come across this, [touch it] and put their fingers in their mouth.”

He said those involved often used poison in an attempt to protect game birds, pigeons and chickens and wild fowl, with offending often fuelled by money.

The BBC article also quotes Howard Jones, an investigator from the RSPB, after the RSPB identified Lincolnshire as a ‘national hotspot’ for bird of prey persecution and reiterated that incidents are often linked to the raptors being targeted to protect pheasants and partridges raised for organised shoots.

“The danger with poisons is that they are completely indiscriminate,” said Howard.

The investigations officer said they had seen a record number of incidents across the UK in recent years, including in Norfolk, Dorset and Yorkshire, with a significant number of reports currently being investigated in Lincolnshire.

According to Mr Jones, the “vast majority” of cases being dealt with by the courts involved gamekeepers.

He said the motivation to kill birds of prey was driven by the fact they were viewed as a predator of game birds, but the sentences handed out were often too lenient to act as a deterrent.

Cases involving poisons or illegal shooting should result in a jail sentence, he said.

“If there is someone out there placing poison baits in the open countryside anything that can come into contact with the poison is at risk,” he said.

“It is highly dangerous – some of the substances being used would be fatal to humans,” he added.

Well done to DC Aaron Flint and his colleagues at Lincolnshire Police. This is exactly the sort of proactive police messaging, and strong partnership-working, that should be routine rather than the exception.

Scottish gamekeeper in court charged with taking a wild bird in an illegally-set trap

A court case relating to a Scottish gamekeeper continued at Banff Sheriff Court yesterday.

Terry Lindsay is charged with the alleged taking of a wild bird (raptor) in an illegally-set trap in August 2020.

The case was adjourned until a later date.

As this is a live prosecution, comments won’t be accepted on this blog until the case concludes. Thanks for your understanding.

UPDATE 20th April 2023: Gamekeeper acquitted after Police Scotland officers lied to estate owner during investigation (here)