Earlier this week I blogged about the discovery of a short-eared owl that had been found shot on a grouse moor on the Wemmergill Estate in the North Pennines AONB (see here).
This is the same estate where two short-eared owls were found shot and stuffed into a hole in 2015 (here) and where a satellite-tagged hen harrier called Marc had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in 2018 (here).
[Short-eared owl. Photographer unknown]
Those of us interested in stamping out illegal raptor persecution have made sure that Durham Constabulary’s appeal for information about this latest victim has been distributed far and wide (e.g. see blog here by Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB partnership, and blog here by the Northern England Raptor Forum).
Unfortunately, the leading game-shooting organisations, some of whose members have been and/or are currently under investigation for various raptor persecution crimes, have once again failed to publicise or condemn this crime. I’ve just looked at the websites of the National Gamekeepers Organisation, BASC, Countryside Alliance and the Moorland Association and not one of them has published the police appeal or issued their own appeal.
It’s worth remembering that these organisations also serve on the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), along with Government officials, police and NGOs. One of the roles of the RPPDG is apparently to raise awareness of ongoing raptor persecution crimes.
I’m not sure how staying silent meets this objective.
On the subject of the RPPDG, I’ve written to the Head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and asked whether the Countryside Alliance representative, former Police Inspector Phil Davies, will be removed from the RPPDG following his participation in a webinar where criminal information was disseminated about persecuting wildlife and avoiding prosecution (see here). I await a response with interest.
UPDATE 25th October 2021: Police boot off Countryside Alliance rep from all wildlife crime priority delivery groups after hunting webinar trial (here)