Raptor persecution is not only confined to the Forest of Bowland, it has been happening in Cumbria for the whole of the 20th century, but more particularly in the northern Pennines which is the main area for game (grouse) shooting activities. Peregrine falcons that try to establish a breeding territory in the area get very short shrift from the persecutors and disappear very quickly.
In 2005 there were no young birds raised at any of the five sites on or adjacent to these Northern Pennine grouse moors. Sadly an adult female Peregrine was also found poisoned in the area. In addition one of only two that hatched young in 2006 had all 4 chicks stolen.
It is not only the Peregrines that that face these persecution problems in the Pennines. The area is the only other place, as well as the Forest of Bowland, in England where Hen Harriers try to breed. The persecution they receive was highlighted in1980 when the nest of two pairs containing chicks,(one with 5 the other with 6), were destroyed by raptor persecutors*. The method used to kill them was to stand on the chick and pull it’s head and wings off. Only one chick that was hiding in the rank heather survived.
These days these people still destroy chicks in the same way, but tend to use more subtle methods of hiding their criminal work by burying the dead chicks down rabbit holes. This gets rid of the evidence.
It’s sad that in the 21st century that this sort of thing can happen and the perpetrators can still get away with it.
* Please note – the gamekeeper on the estate where this happened was cleared of any involvement.