Should the Government ban Driven Grouse Shooting for this year due to the Virus?

May is here and for some reason large numbers of Grouse moor game keepers have been working all through the ‘Corona Shut Down’! Is this what the government meant by ‘essential work’? Well, of course, the reason is now clear – removal of Birds of Prey. Already a pair of Hen Harriers have gone missing from one such moor and we hear other harriers have disappeared from occupied nests on other grouse moors in northern England.

Consider the fact that this is a ‘VOLE’ year, resulting in the highest number of Short-eared Owls being observed on these moors for some years, and the figures of birds killed suddenly jumps to 100’s. The BTO have been doing some marvellous work with these owls which suggests that they may not be ‘ours’ after all, moving from upland Britain to Norway to breed twice in one season!

Historically Short eared Owls are shot in large numbers due to the fact that a majority of moorland gamekeepers think they kill grouse chicks. But even worse than that, when driving the grouse to the butts to be shot the very presence of a Short-eared owl can push the grouse away from the guns resulting in no grouse to shoot, and no ‘back hands’ for the keepers. One such incident had a gun man shooting owls in front of the butts only for the beaters to run in and save a bird from being shot!

There has also been a big movement of Buzzards this spring joining in on this feast of voles, but sadly large numbers of these now seem to have gone missing! This year we have witnessed several Kestrels with large clutches of eggs (7 eggs contained in a single nest), and even Barn and Long eared Owls will have enjoyed and benefited this bonanza.

Because of government corona virus guidelines access to England’s northern uplands by licenced raptor workers trying to establish the levels of raptor persecution being undertaken has been almost impossible. If governments guidelines on social gathering are still in force it will be difficult to justify grouse shoots beginning on the 12th August. The logistics of transporting dozens of beaters and flankers to the butts without close contact taking place, never mind the pairs of gunmen and their loaders standing in their butts just a few feet from one another. (See the top image where social guidelines are disrespected) Of course the gamekeeper would argue that shooting red grouse was a integral part of their management, claiming if birds were not shot many would die due to disease. Our advice to that would be if predators such as birds of prey were not illegally persecuted to the large extent they are being on grouse moors, there would be no need to shoot so may grouse in the first place because there would be a natural balance.

So, to ban grouse shooting during the corona pandemic may save the lives of those young Short eared Owls and Hen Harriers nesting away from the grouse moors, that will be attracted to move onto grouse moors along with their fledged young where they can then predate and eat these voles without the risk of being shot. Also, a ban now will tell the keepers they will not be getting their tax free ‘back hands’ for doing such a great job removing these specially protected birds!

Red grouse
Gamekeeper standing in grouse butt with loaded shot gun

In the meantime, where is Wild Justice and Operation Owl? Are they not the ones that should be asking for a grouse shooting ban right now? Operation Owl will have officers more concerned about the virus than Birds of Prey which asks the question – Why not an independent force to cover wildlife crime? And as for Wild Justice – Wait till they read this before they make a move!

We would like to thank Innocent Bystander for writing and submitting this article.

Raptor Killings, major breakthrough in Pakistan

We have learned today of what can only be described as a major breakthrough in bringing a raptor killer to justice in Pakistan. After Raptor Politics aided by local raptor enthusiasts  on the ground in Pakistan requested our assistance to exposure the widespread slaughter of  raptors taking place in the northern region of Pakistan, after just three days there has been a remarkable development. Following a written complaint sent by Raptor Politics to the Pakistani Prime Minister’s Office., together with a written complaint sent to BirdLife International, one person was subsequently arrested & more detentions are expected.

Continue reading Raptor Killings, major breakthrough in Pakistan

A red kite was found dead in a field in Wigmore, Herefordshire

RSPB Press Release.

Police and the RSPB are investigating the illegal killing of two protected wild birds of prey.

A red kite was found dead in a field in Wigmore, Herefordshire on New Years Eve 2019 by a member of the public. The RSPB and West Mercia Police were notified. When the police collected the bird, they noticed a large hole in the bird’s body.

Continue reading A red kite was found dead in a field in Wigmore, Herefordshire

Pakistan: Raptor slaughter that is so sickening its difficult to comprehend or watch.

My name is Azan Karam, I am 22-yrs old university undergraduate student studying for a degree in Bs. Zoology at Jahanzeb College Swat, Pakistan. At the moment I’m an active birdwatcher and deeply interested in regional wildlife exploration.

I have been studying diversity and distribution of birds of my district for the past few years. And currently working on birds of Pakistan as well as popularizing wildlife and raising wildlife welfare issues on social media on the edge. Apart from that, I collect insects for fun, which led me to accidental discovery of previously unrecorded genus of a particular insect from Pakistan which is going to publish very soon this year.

Continue reading Pakistan: Raptor slaughter that is so sickening its difficult to comprehend or watch.

An amazing turn around which can have an influence around Britain!

I have lived and worked in a remote part of Cumbria since 1981, and I love to watch wildlife of all kinds not just birds of prey which I am especially keen on. While travelling close to home on Monday I drove passed a banking which I knew held a verity of special plants, including Butterfly Orchid, Rest Harrow and Betony along with different sedges and grasses. With these plants come a mixed insect community, enjoying this rare habitat in an area dominated by commercial grass. The steepness of the banking means it is not suitable for cutting silage or planting crops and is lightly grazed after the summer cutting of silage on the flat ground above the banking. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the banking was being planted up with trees, which as they grew would shade out the plants as well as prevent grazing other than Roe Deer and Hares. I returned home and added remarks to a Facebook page related to Cumbria Botany. One of the readers asked me to return and photograph the planting which I did the following day. As the planting was still going on I spoke to the farmer who informed me that he was being paid by Nestle, the same company who he sold his milk to.

Continue reading An amazing turn around which can have an influence around Britain!

Buzzard poisoned in Peak District National Park

RSPB Press Release

A protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned in one of the UK’s worst raptor persecution blackspots.

In April 2019 a member of the public found a buzzard freshly dead in woodland near Tintwistle, just north of Valehouse Reservoir, in the Peak District National Park. Close by were the remains of a red-legged partridge.

Continue reading Buzzard poisoned in Peak District National Park

Independent Grouse Moor Review does not go far or fast enough to tackle raptor crimes

RSPB Press Release:

‘Werritty’ Review Group publishes findings

RSPB Scotland has given a cautious welcome to the publication today of the long-anticipated report by the Scottish Government’s Independent Grouse Moor Review Group, chaired by Professor Alan Werritty.

We support the recommendations relating to regulation of muirburn and better safeguards for mountain hare populations, however regret that panel behind the report has not been bold enough to recommend the immediate licensing of driven grouse moors

Continue reading Independent Grouse Moor Review does not go far or fast enough to tackle raptor crimes

Hen Harrier ‘Ada’ reported as disappered on Grouse Moor in the North Peninnes

Joint Press Release from Northumbria Police and RSPB (27 Nov 2019)

Ada being fitted with a satellite tag as a chick this summer

Ada hatched on a nest on the Scottish borders this summer (2019). She was fitted with a lightweight satellite tag as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project, to learn more about the journeys made by these rare birds of prey and the survival challenges they face.
Continue reading Hen Harrier ‘Ada’ reported as disappered on Grouse Moor in the North Peninnes

Rosie the missing Hen Harrier found alive, but not on Grouse Moor.

Great News, Rosie the missing Hen Harrier found alive and well, but looking at the map of the area where this last Hen Harrier went missing does not look like a Red Grouse moor.
Rosie being fitted with a satellite tag in Yorkshire earlier this year

Continue reading Rosie the missing Hen Harrier found alive, but not on Grouse Moor.

North Yorkshire Police appeal after injured marsh harrier found near Scarborough

Police are appealing for information after an injured marsh harrier was found near Scarborough. The bird was found at 4pm on Sunday 18 August 2019 by a member of the public in a stubble field close to the village of Hutton Buscel near Scarborough.It was taken to local wildlife rehabilitator Jean Thorpe for care, and was subsequently taken to a veterinary practice for examination. The marsh harrier was found to have a broken left wing with a shotgun pellet lodged next to the fracture, which shows the bird had been subjected to persecution.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “Sadly, North Yorkshire is the UK’s worst hotspot for confirmed cases of bird of prey persecution. This magnificent bird has been very fortunate to survive, largely thanks to the dedication and care given by Jean Thorpe, but is yet another example of a wildlife crime having taken place against our birds of prey.”

North Yorkshire Police have carried out extensive enquiries in the Hutton Buscel area. Officers are appealing for anyone with any information, or who may have witnessed anything taking place in relation to this bird, to contact PC Mark Atkinson at Malton Police Station by dialling 101, quoting reference number 12190155625.

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