Forest of Bowland Cover Up: Historic Peregrine Breeding & Persecution Data the public are not supposed to see!

Historic Breeding and Persecution date for the

Peregrine Falcon 1974 – 2008.

Forest of Bowland

Out of the 320 confirmed nesting attempts in this 34 year period, 161 clutches of eggs failed to hatch or disappeared from nests. An additional 48 broods also suffered a similar fate. At a further 32 nests which were examined containing 50 unfledged chicks, the outcome is unknown.

Importantly each of the 3  images below show different nests on one single estate.

peregrine dead embrio -1

A dead peregrine embryo possibly killed after ice crystals had been placed on eggs at the point of hatching. A method used to destroy raptor eggs and is virtually undetectable by science. 

Currently (April 2016) the Forest of Bowland is home to less than 2 pairs of Peregrines, with only a single productive territory in 2015. In the last 34 years 5 Bowland peregrine falcons have been shot. 2 falcons were shot after 2008 and were not recorded in the table below.

peregrine dead embrio 3-1

3 dead peregrine embryos at second ground nest all destroyed before they were able to hatch, same killing methodology used. This kind of persecution is what Natural England did not wish to make public.

Despite a great amount of dedication and hard work by unpaid and experienced members of the North West Raptor Group beginning in 1974,  only three individual have been brought before the courts for wildlife offences in the Forest of Bowland, if may surprise many people none were gamekeepers. Two members of the North West Raptor Group were each charged with a string of malicious and unfounded wildlife charges in 1992. Read here an account of the trial and acquittal. According to one police officer providing evidence to Clitheroe Magistrates, he was of the opinion the case was a political prosecution, taken against the two individuals to undermine their credibility. Following a four day trial magistrates dismissed all charges and awarded costs to the two men. Had the case succeeded, statistical records and persecution data collated over many years supplied within licence returns to Natural England’s predecessors and incorporated into the statistical data on this blog, would have been lost ordered destroyed by the court.

Measures to protect peregrine falcons, and to some extend the hen harrier as well in the Forest of Bowland have now completely collapsed because of persecution on an unprecedented level as seen in the last two seasons. In 2014 there was the loss of Sky and Hope, two satellite tagged hen harriers both of which disappeared from moorland less than 3 miles from where both harriers had fledged from their nests. Then last year there was the curious disappearance of the 5 male hen harriers, 4 disappearing from the United Utilities estate and one additional male which vanished from the RSPB Geltsdale Nature Reserve in the northern Pennines. Each of the 5 harriers are now presumed to have been shot.  Field work undertaken by the North West Raptor Group in the Forest of Bowland area are now being undermined by politics, lack of a level playing field, double standards and bias by Natural England, the body set up to advise Government on how best to conserve England’s wildlife. 

peregrine dead embrio 2-1

A third peregrine nest containing a single chick which managed to hatch, two siblings destroyed by same methodology. This kind of killing of a protected species is understandably very embarrassing to estates and gamekeepers when made public .

In 2010 Natural England revoked licenses which had previously been issued to members of the North West Raptor Group for over 35 years allowing the group to monitor raptors throughout the Forest of Bowland. Licenses issued for other regions in northern England, for example in Cumbria were not affected. This decision was taken after the group’s refused to work with a small number of licensed individuals who had blatantly breached their licence conditions and had demonstrated poor field ethics by keeping raptors from their nests for excessive lengths of time; in one reported incident keeping a pair of ground nesting peregrines off their nest for at least one hour twenty minutes. Additionally the publication of details highlighting wide scale persecution taking place in Bowland, including the destruction of nests, the disappearance of both chicks and eggs appeared to cause embarrassment, not only to estate owners and their gamekeepers, but also to Natural England and their partners. Because of Natural England’s discrimination and double standards peregrines in Bowland have now almost been eliminated as a breeding species throughout this region of Lancashire due to their lack of experienced protection. The hen harrier is not too far behind, if the current level of persecution against this endangered species continues at its current rate the species is likely to become extinct in this region almost at the same time as the peregrine. The only winners will be the shooting estates and their gamekeepers.

Table 1. Breeding performance of the Peregrine Falcon in the Forest of Bowland

1974-2008

Year

Breeding

Attempts

No of

Clutches

Produced

Eggs

Counted

No of

Chicks

No of

Successful

Broods

No of

Fledged

Chicks

1974

2

2

5

3

1

3

1975

1

1

3

3

0

0

1976

1

1

2

0

0

0

1977

1

1

4

0

0

0

1978

2

2

7

0

0

0

1979

2

1

3

0

0

0

1980

8

7

18

6

1

3

1981

7

7

22

5

1

3

1982

10

7

24

14

0

0

1983

6

6

17

0

0

0

1984

8

7

15

13

3

5

1985

6

6

13

2

1

2

1986

5

5

5

2

1

2

1987

6

5

16

0

0

0

1988

7

5

18

5

1

2

1989

6

4

6

5

2

2

1990

9

7

16

11

2

4

1991

11

7

18

13

4

9

1992

11

8

24

11

4

7

1993

9

9

23

8

2

3

1994

11

10

24

14

4

9

1995

12

12

34

29

8

23

1996

12

12

38

31

8

23

1997

12

12

35

16

3

6

1998

16

16

46

24

5

10

1999

10

9

28

15

3

6

2000

11

10

37

20

6

16

2001

9

6

7

3

2

3

2002

12

9

23

14

4

8

2003

11

10

32

13

4

5

2004

14

12

36

21

8

20

2005

16

13

27

11

5

7

2006

16

16

51

27

10

22

2007

20

15

46

17

8

14

2008

20

19

53

25

12

24

Totals

320

279

776

381

113

241

Peregrine-Falcon-Ground-Nes

A fourth peregrine ground nest containing 3 hatched chicks and a fourth on the way out of the shell.  At 3 weeks old all the chicks, two female and 2 male were each fitted with a BTO ring . The ringing was undertaken in front of estate gamekeepers who, although did not know about the nests existence, had insisted they witness the ringing or it could not proceed. Two days later when the nest was checked by Terry PIckford and Paul Marsden two members of the NWRG,  both larger chicks were found missing.

Table 2. Fledged Brood Sizes: Forest of Bowland

1974-2008

Year

1 Chick

Broods

2 Chick

Brood

3 Chick

Broods

4 Chick

Broods

Comments

1974

0

0

1

0

   2 adult falcons shot, 1 cold          egg found in nest second                    nest

1975

0

0

0

0

1976

0

0

0

0

1977

0

0

0

0

1978

0

0

0

0

1979

0

0

0

0

1980

0

0

1

0

1981

0

0

1

0

1982

0

0

0

0

1983

0

0

0

0

1984

2

0

1

0

1985

0

1

0

0

1986

0

1

0

0

1987

0

0

0

0

1988

0

1

0

0

1989

2

0

0

0

1990

0

2

0

0

1991

0

3

1

0

1992

2

1

1

0

1993

1

1

0

0

1994

2

0

1

1

1995

1

1

4

2

1996

1

2

2

3

1997

0

3

0

0

1998

2

1

2

0

1999

1

1

1

0

2000

1

1

3

1

Single fledgling shot

July 2001

2001

1

1

0

0

Single fledgling shot

July 2007

2002

1

2

1

0

2003

3

1

0

0

2004

1

3

3

1

2005

4

0

1

0

2006

1

7

1

1

2007

4

2

2

0

2008

5

3

3

1

Single fledgling shot

Autumn 2008

Totals

35

38

30

10

 

 

 

 

 

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