Isn’t it time to speak out about the killing of raptors in the Forest of Bowland?

It was distressing to read about the illegal killing of raptors in East Anglia and the claim made by the RSPB that the North East of England is one of the worst areas for shooting and attacking birds of prey  in our country. Well done to the RSPB for exposing these ongoing atrocities.  But this begs the question why has no one, including the RSPB, spoken out about the wide scale killing of ‘protected’ raptors taking place throughout the Forest of Bowland? The collapse of an entire regional Peregrine population from this relatively small moorland region in in West Lancashire is unprecedented.

Forest-of-BowlandWEBLast year Hen Harriers made several nesting attempts in Bowland, however not suprisingly none of these attempts were successful. The year before in 2015 four Bowland adult male Hen harriers disappeared from their territories, most likely having been shot after leaving their respective mate to forage for food. In 2014 two recently fledged Hen Harriers Sky and Hope also went missing on adjoining shooting estates after leaving their natal territories on the United Utilities estate, almost certainly having been shot and their satellite tags destroyed.

In spring of 2009 seventeen Peregrine Falcon territories were found occupied in the Forest of Bowland, 6 nests failed following the disappearance of eggs, chicks and adult birds. A total of eleven territories were productive producing twenty four fledged young. Last year (2016) 99% of all Peregrine territories throughout the Forest of Bowland had been abandoned, resulting in the disappearance of  at least sixteen pairs of Peregrines from these sites; it’s not difficult to understand what happened to these missing pairs. And yet disappointingly, no one other that the North West Raptor Group has had the courage to speak out informing the public about this appalling situation, why?




5 comments to Isn’t it time to speak out about the killing of raptors in the Forest of Bowland?

  • Trapit

    You are banging your head against a brick wall Terry.
    From being encouraged by the RSPB to obtain information,by whatever means,you are now a rogue agent, an embarrassment, they want you gone.

  • Dales Dale

    I’m sad to say it but I believe what Trapit says sounds accurate. Why, oh why would they not want more well meaning and knowledgeable field workers out there? Something stinks if you ask me. For your continual work to expose those who illegally kill raptors, you deserve an award, not ignoring. That’s how it looks though and I doubt there is any single person as knowledgeable on the Bowland raptors over the last half century. I know it won’t put you off, but it must be disheartening when Bowland is constantly overlooked, especially by the RSPB.

  • Albert Ross

    Sorry Trapit, I disagree. It is everyone else’s responsibility to back Terry to the hilt. That way he will eventually succeed in getting the RSPB to respond properly to what is going on in Bowland (and elsewhere)and do their job properly. i.e. To protect birds from being illegally killed.

    Their motto “Giving Nature a home” makes me laugh (as well as grieve) when you see what they don’t. There is no home for nature on Bowland or any other Grouse moor.

    So folks do it today. Write to RSPB and remind them what their Royal Charter is really about. Don’t leave to others to do it for you!

    Carry on the work Terry. Make life uncomfortable for the blighters until they do what they are supposed to do.

    Editor’s Comment. Albert, what concerns us is why the RSPB and Natural England appear to be in denial about the loss of so many protected raptors from the Forest of Bowland in just the last six years. Never before have we heard about an entire regional Peregrine population wiped out by persecution, and not a whimper from either organisation. What makes the situation worse, Natural England have no valid reasons not to reinstate Terry Pickfords peregrine licenses for use in Bowland. The current position in Bowland supports more licenses being issued to experienced field workers like Terry not less if they wish to see nesting raptors return into the region.

    Natural England are quite happy to provide Terry with licenses for much rarer species outside the Forest of Bowland, but then illogically are unwilling to issue a licence for a use on moorland where 99% of all breeding peregrines have been wiped out. Lets not forget the 7 breeding attempts made last year in Bowland by hen Harriers which all failed.

    There can now only be three reasons behind Natural Englands illogical reasoning. Its a personal vendetta by someone working at Natural England. Natural England’s strings are being pulled by powerful shooting interests who would not wish to see Terry’s license reinstated because of estate embarrassment at what is being recorded by Terry. Last, if Terry’s license was reinstated this would allow him to monitor nests before they had been destroyed along with their content, possibly resulting in successful nesting attempts.

  • Trapit

    Albert, considering the Forest of Bowland, until comparatively recently, held viable populations of both Peregrine and Hen Harrier, that have been systematically removed, one could be forgiven for thinking more could have been made of this in bringing the matter to the nature loving public.

    The authorities don’t care, neither do politicians, at least not the ones likely to form a government. Maybe it is time for another television production,such as the one featuring the late Dr Derek Ratcliffe some years ago.

    However,regarding actions on the ground, in common with other remote areas, I am afraid there is little more that the RSPB can accomplish under present circumstances. Apart from cooperation by all landowners(unlikely), a large and very expensive force of people would be needed, armed with very expensive technology. Even this fanciful army could only hope to watch known nest sites ,assuming of course things ever got that far.

    The fact that there are so few recorded nesting attempts, proves that the damage is being done before this stage in many cases, and if any young are miraculously fledged, they also are beyond protection due to their mobility.

    Regarding Bowland, I think it is now time that United Utilities stepped up to the plate. I believe their estate in that area amounts to some 25,000 acres, some of which is currently leased to Abbeystead. When that lease expires, if legally possible it should be revoked. United Utilities should then take total control of shooting on their land. They should employ their own keepering staff, make crystally clear what is expected, on pain of dismissal, and then let the shooting out themselves ,no middle men.

    This of course would not protect birds once they had left UU property, nor would it prevent trespass around the edges of their ground, but at least there should be no cooperation from their own keepers. It may not be successful, but it would be a start, and maybe prove to their doubters that the company is serious about its commitment to protecting wildlife on its estate. Something which I believe it is statutorily committed to under the Water act following privatisation.

  • Albert Ross

    Trapit. I could not agree more with most of your sentiments. United Utilities are long overdue in stepping up to the plate as you put it. And, again, it is up to each and everyone of us to take all measures to get them to do that.
    Just as it is up to us to stand behind Terry’s efforts too.
    There is something rotten with the whole set up and in my world the way to remove a stink is to air it.
    It is no good at all just shutting the problem away. Get it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with.
    Let me be clear (in case you are wondering) I have never met Terry Pickford and carry no torch for him. Indeed I do take exception to some of the things he says and am not afraid to say so. But everyone one of us that cares about the awful and illegal activities around Bowland should be standing four square behind him and not sniping. Of course RSPB and NE wish him gone but while he is there we should be letting them know that he is not alone!
    Mr.Ed. So RSPB are in denial? Well then it is up to us all to help them come to terms with their problem and DEAL with it!