Raptor catastrophe taking place in the Forest of Bowland: ‘United Utilities’ fund 100k reward to catch those responsible?

The RSPB are to be congratulated for funding a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of those criminals responsible for the killing of the 3 male hen harriers which disappeared from moorland owned by United Utilities Plc in the Forest of Bowland. We trust this offer will also include information regarding the 2 satellite tagged hen harrier chicks which disappeared last season after fledging from two nests on the United Utilities estates in Bowland, presumed to have been shot?

Hen Harrier

In our view it is very doubtful that this financial incentive will be sufficient inducement to persuade anyone to come forward with information from the shooting fraternity. The Forest of Bowland is a very close knit community; although there will be individuals out there who know the identities of those who perpetrated these crimes, the reward currently on offer would not be sufficient to entice anyone to speak out, especially when it may involve identifying work colleagues and friends. It should be remembered that after the poisoning of the 20 plus birds of prey in Scotland last year, including many red kites and buzzards, even though a reward of £30,000 was offered, no one has so far been tempted to claim the reward.

Any worthwhile financial carrot must take into consideration a few important facts, if the aim is to induce someone brave enough from the shooting community to point the accusing finger. Any person who who may be tempted to come forward with incriminating information leading to a conviction would be a marked individual. He or she would almost certainly lose their job, having said that the person would have a case for wrongful dismissal depending how their dismissal was handled by their employer. There is also a possibility if a gamekeeper comes forward with information, that person would never get employment keepering anywhere in the country again. The individual and family would almost certainly have to up sticks and move lock stock and barrel to another part of the country. This is why any reward to have any chance of success must be substantial.

These are just a few reasons why Raptor Politics have launching a campaign asking United Utilities Plc, to consider as the landowner, putting up a substantial reward of £100,000 for information leading to the successful conviction of anyone associated with the killing of the 2 satellite tagged hen harriers that disappeared in September 2014, and the 3 male hen harriers that each vanished in April/May this season.

We would  point out to United Utilities should also consider very carefully the reasons for the recent loss and abandonment of virtually all historic peregrine territories, possibly as many as 6 active nests, previously established throughout their 24,000 acre estate in the Forest of Bowland. These losses occurring between 2010 and 2015. This season when the North West Raptor Group discovered the failures of two peregrine eyries this spring which had been occupied on the UU estate, wardens working on behalf of the company openly lied claiming both nests were still viable when they were not. There is now little doubt in our mind that the position regarding breeding raptors on the United Utilities estates has gone from bad to much worst. We are also advised by one voluntary warden working on the UU estate but who wishes to remain anonymous, that Chrissie harper was correct. The single pair of eagle owls that had attempted to breed on the UU estate this year also disappeared.

Urgent Appeal to the United Utilities Management.

We are asking all our followers not only re-tweet this story and add the detail on to their Facebook page, but also to contact The Chief Executive, Mr Steve Mogford, at United Utilities requesting him to recommend the company approve this reward to bring those criminal responsible for the losses on the estate in Bowland to justice. The reward by the way if approved, would be tax deductible? You can contact Mr Mogford by using anyone of the methods listed below.

Below we have attached a reply sent by the Company this week  to one of our followers, hardly reassuring, and it makes us wonder if the Chief Executive even knows of the extent of these raptor disappearances? United Utilities have a statutory duty to protect and care for all protected fauna and flora on the estates they manage, clearly raptors on their water catchments in the Forest of Bowland are not receiving the best possible protection.


Dear xxxxxxxxx

I am responding on Steve Mogford’s behalf to the email you sent regarding hen harriers at Bowland.

I would like to reassure you that we are very concerned about the disappearance of hen harriers from United Utilities’ Bowland estate and we are supporting the police and the RSPB in their investigations to find out what has happened.

This is an ecologically important estate and, recognising that our own area of expertise is  water and land management, not conservation,  for many years we have funded a partnership with the RSPB so that hen harriers and other rare species get the best possible protection. This partnership has resulted in Bowland becoming a stronghold for the hen harrier and this latest setback has saddened all of our team as well as our partners.

We share your concerns, but it is important that we deal with this issue in the correct way, by allowing the RSPB, as experts, to do what it believes needs to be done, and by responding to any requests it makes for our help. RSPB has the expertise to lead this investigation, and any decision about any reward is a matter for it to consider as part of its overall actions in this very upsetting incident.

Kind regards

Gaynor Kenyon

Gaynor Kenyon

Corporate Affairs Director

United Utilities

T:   01925 237025 (internal 37025)

M: 07753 622282 (mobex 55063)



Steve Mogford

Email steve.mogford@uuplc.co.uk
Telephone 01925 237000
Switchboard 01925 237000
Website http://www.unitedutilities.com
Social Media T@unitedutilities 
Postal Address Haweswater House Lingley Mere Business Park, Lingley Green Avenue Great Sankey, Warrington, WA5 3LP


6 comments to Raptor catastrophe taking place in the Forest of Bowland: ‘United Utilities’ fund 100k reward to catch those responsible?

  • Chrissie Harper

    Bowland is becoming the Bermuda Triangle for Raptors, they disappear and nobody seems to know a thing, not only the Hen Harriers but also Peregrines and the wonderful Eagle Owls that attempted to nest this year but then mysteriously disappeared from the United Utilities estates.

    The RSPB’s offer of a huge reward, members money, to anyone who comes forward with information, is a joke as they know full well that gamekeepers from one estate will not shop their cronies on another estate. Not only would they lose their job and home they would never get another job. The RSPB are fully aware of this so this reward is just window dressing to make them look as if they care and are doing something,a PR exercise.

    United Utilities are as much to blame as it is happening on their land and they promote the hen harrier in their corporate publicity to show the world how green the company is. I am now asking the Chief Executive, Steve Mogford to but this money where is mouth is if he really wants to catch those responsible. I really believe if he approved this reward as Raptor Politics has suggested, it would have a much better chance of getting a result.

    Editor’s Comment. Chrissie, sad to say this, but it appears the eagle owls on the United Utilities estate may, and we say that very cautiously, may have been purposely removed not shot, to protect and improve the breeding chances of the hen harrier on this estate?

    • nirofo

      I wonder who did the removing of the Eagle Owls, wait let me guess??? I bet I’m right again! I also wonder what gives them the right to disturb or remove any bird species at the extent of it’s breeding range, a bird which in any other circumstance would have automatically been given Schedule One protection status regardless of whether it’s original status was wild or escape. Reeks of double standards by anybody’s imagination.

      Editor’s Comment. We have more really disappointing news on the way. But first why would the same people you are referring to lie to a member of the North West Raptor Group, telling him a peregrine nest was occupied, when he already knew it had been abandoned for the second consecutive season? Just what else is being covered up in the Forest of Bowland? Watch this space.

  • Julie Wright

    I will be emailing him, so come on United Utilities this reward would be a drop in the ocean compared to the profit you make. Show the UK that you are serious about protecting these birds. We have had enough of people killing birds of prey to satisfy their greed. Birds of prey are doing what nature intended it’s the human race that isn’t, Just because we have evolved doesn’t give us the right to destroy the natural world.

  • Jethro Flutebind

    The various representative bodies for the shooting estates regularly inform us that raptor persecution is a criminal act to be rightly condemned, and is associated exclusively with a tiny minority of “bad apples”. This is, of course, a great comfort to us all.

    This being the case the majority of shooting estates and their gamekeepers will, of course, be justifiably furious that the reputation of their trade has, once again, been dragged down into the slurry by one or more of these bad apples. In consequence these law abiding and morally upstanding citizens will surely be falling over themselves to help ensure that the criminals responsible for this latest outrage are swiftly identified and brought to justice (reward or no reward).

    Or did I get that all wrong? Maybe one of the representative organisations would like to comment……

    Editor’s Comment. Hi Jethro, perhaps we shall now see one or two upstanding shooting organisations like for example BASC, The Moorland Gamekeepers Association, the Moorland Association and Game & Wildlife coming together and matching the reward already on offer by the RSPB, that is of course if their words of condemnation of these criminal acts are meaningful???

    • nirofo

      Surely at least one of these outstanding stalwarts of the countryside in the gamekeepers fraternity will want to show that they really mean what they say and they want everybody to believe it. They can prove that they mean what they say by coming forward and identifying the so-called bad apple gamekeepers who made the Forest of Bowland Hen Harriers disappear. I wont hold my breath waiting.

      Somebody in the United Utilities PLC must know more than they are actually saying, even if they are not prepared to divulge publicly who the culprits are. It would certainly help their cause if The Chief Executive, Mr Steve Mogford, at United Utilities came forward with more than money and stated that they are about to cancel the shooting contracts of those found to have harmed protected Raptors on United Utilities estates. Will he have the balls to do it, I doubt it !!!

      Editor’s Comment. Just heard a whisper that the RSPB invited a telegraph reported together with a photographer onto the United Utilities estate this afternoon to obtain material for a really good hen harrier article. Terry Pickford just rang to say that the reporter jumped out of the vehicle on the way up to the nesting site and carried out an impromptu interview with him on the road. Terry was asked what did the North West Raptor Group think was the real cause for the 3 hen harrier’s disappearance; Terry replied he could think of no other valid reason other than human persecution. Well said Terry, the truth always is the best way forward. We recall Dr Derek Ratcliffe giving the same opinion in early 1990’s during a BBC interview for the TV documentary ‘The Silence of The Hills’ shortly after the first hen harrier collapse occurred in the Forest of Bowland resulting in the loss of 39 breeding pairs.

  • john chapman

    Why can’t we find a nice and fast acting disease to rid the moors of grouse. Let’s face it if there’s no peregrines left up in that part of the country some nasty bastards took care of them and the harriers are going the same way. fight fire with fire and see if they come back to the table with a reasonable offer to protect our raptors? The pittance that the rspb offered is a non starter despite the millions they’ve raked in from members over the years, yet keepers walking about sabotaging peregrine and harrier nest sites without any real chance of prosecution because not enough time money and effort is being used to nip this problem in the bud.