United Utilities Forest of Bowland Estate: ‘Politics’ rather than ‘Protection’

In this latest video Terry Pickford recalls the way United Utilities responded to reported incidents of nest interference, where Peregrine chicks contained in two nests had disappeared suspiciously.



The first incident was reported after one keeper was interrupted by Terry and a colleague coming away from the first occupied territory after causing disturbance.

The second incident also reported to United Utilities, involved a visit by Terry to ring 4 large Peregrine chicks contained in a ground nesting site on the UU estate.

Peregrine Hatching

The ground nest showing 3 hatched chicks and one chick hatching three weeks prior to ringing in the company of estate gamekeeper

Approval to ring the chicks was provided by the company on the proviso that an estate gamekeeper would accompany the visit to the nest. On seeing the chicks in the nest, the gamekeeper was surprised, informing Terry that he had been unaware of the nests existence until that day. Two days later Terry returned with a second member of the North West Raptor Protection Group to make sure the chicks where still alive. However when the nest was examined each of the chicks had vanished from the nest. As the chicks could not fly and both adult falcons were also missing, it was obvious to Terry someone had removed the chicks and possibly killed both adult Peregrines.

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6 comments to United Utilities Forest of Bowland Estate: ‘Politics’ rather than ‘Protection’

  • David

    In the first case one assumes the keeper did not have a licence to disturb.

    Did you report him to the police for disturbance of a nest site?

    Editor’s Comment. Hi David, your first assumption is correct. Terry has now clarified the position regarding both incidents. After advising the Bowland estates office about the two incidents, he assumed they would notify the police in line with existing protocols. Unfortunately this did not happen and both incidents were conveniently pushed under the carpet. David if you read the article below (3009) you will begin to understand a little more about the politics at play in Bowland, and how the illegal activities of some gamekeepers were being ignored by serving police officers.

  • David

    So why do you not report it directly to the police?

    Editor’s Comment. We have been advised by Terry Pickford that under the United Utilities field protocol, any field worker authorised to monitor and ring raptors on the UU Bowland estate are obliged to report all illegal activities to the company manager in the first instance. It was then up to the company Bowland Estate Manager to report details of illegal activity/or not, as the company saw fitting. In the two instanced Terry Pickford referred to, plus one additional incident of armed trespass, together with the disturbance of a Peregrine at a nest in 2009, the Manager and one serving Wildlife Liaison Police officer took the decision not to take any further action against the gamekeeper in question. Its called politics David.

  • David

    OK if they are required to notify the Estate manager in the first instance, once that has been done then they could also notify the police direct.

    I appreciate the politics of it but if one persuade this directly with the police and perhaps local MP might it not be taken further?

    Editor’s Comment. David you don’t understand the politics here. United Utilities have a field protocol, signatories are prevented from contacting the police regarding incidents of illegal persecution undertaken on the companies Bowland estates. This is by no means an isolated arrangement. An RSPB employee working in the Pennines witnessed a gamekeeper interfering with Hen Harrier chicks at a nest. The keeper was reported by the staff member to the police which the RSPB were none too pleased about.

    We trust you are now beginning to understand a little about the Bowland politics at play?

  • David

    And if they do go against the signed form and report direct to the police what is the legal redress United Utilities have against them in line with the form they have signed?

    Surly it is better to ignore the form signed and report the incident direct to the police ?

  • Albert Ross

    Mr Editor. Let us all be clear on one thing. A wildlife crime has been committed and yet nobody has been brought to book.
    David is correct.
    Politics cannot override Law Breaking. By suppressing notification of a crime UU staff are accessories to crime. The decision whether or not to prosecute is NOT for them to make. That rests with CPS or the public in the case of a private prosecution.
    By accepting UUs inaction due to ‘politics’ the folks involved are condoning law breaking.
    Anybody, and I do mean anybody, has the right (and duty) to report crime where ever it occurs and not to do so is unacceptable behavior in our society.
    Shove the Protocol form where the sun does not shine. It was invalid as not all parties signed up to it.

  • Innocent Bystander

    From a UU press release in 2014:

    “The Hen Harrier, pushed to the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, is in the top ten in a poll to find Britain’s national bird.
    For the past three decades, United Utilities has worked in partnership with the RSPB, to monitor and protect this iconic bird of prey.” – http://corporate.unitedutilities.com/3261.aspx

    If you replace the words ‘monitor and protect’ with ‘eradicate’ you’ll have a good idea of how well this ‘partnership’ is doing…