• Shot hen harrier found on North Yorkshire grouse moor

    By Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations, RSPB.

    Another satellite-tagged hen harrier, found dead on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire, has been confirmed as shot.

    River being tagged as a chick in 2018

    You may remember River, the young female hen harrier who suddenly disappeared in November 2018 in suspicious circumstances. We wrote about it here. Now, further information has emerged – and it’s not good news.…

    • 11 Jul 2019
  • Bird trappers feeling the heat in Cyprus

    Today four more bird trappers in Cyprus have received stiff sentences following further covert surveillance work by the Sovereign Base Area Police (SBA), supported by BirdLife Cyprus, RSPB Investigations, and CABS. Three of the men received 18 months jail sentences, suspended for three years, fines of 600 Euros plus hunting bans within the SBAs for ten years and an exclusion order preventing them entering the trapping…

    • 10 Jul 2019
  • Going the distance!

    Lots of people are really passionate about nature and the environment, whether they are wanting to enjoy it, study it or protect it. Raptor persecution remains a highly emotive issue and Yorkshireman and ultra marathon runner Henry Morris decided to go to the distance, quite literally, to demonstrate his concern about the illegal killing of hen harriers.

    Ultra marathon runner Henry Morris - going the distance for hen…

    • 9 Jul 2019
  • The weight of the law?

    Unfortunately, 2019 has seen more problems with the illegal use of rail traps posing a risk to birds and other non-target animals. The RSPB is increasingly concerned about the lack of consistent enforcement action in relation to these reports.

     Last year I wrote a couple of blogs here and here about our increasing concerns over the use of rail traps. These relate to two areas. Firstly, when rail traps are considered correctly…

    • 20 Jun 2019
  • Shining a light in dark places

    Yesterday (11 June 2019) a satellite tag training seminar was held in North Yorkshire to demonstrate the incredible value this technology can provide for both conservation and law enforcement.

    For many years, satellite tags have been used to monitor birds like hen harriers and golden eagles. These lightweight GPS tags are fitted to the birds as chicks, to help us follow their movements and identify the risks they come…

    • 12 Jun 2019
  • Raven poisoned in Wales - near where two hen harriers vanished

    This press release went out today:

    A dead raven found on Ruabon Moor, near World’s End, North Wales, has been confirmed as deliberately poisoned – triggering a police investigation.

    The bird was found dead on 28 August 2018 by a man who had been out photographing birds.

    He said: “I was coming home from Wrexham when I noticed the bird on the ground, away from the road in a little clearing of grass. It was…

    • 31 May 2019
  • Two shot buzzards found in Northumberland 'problem area'

    The RSPB is demanding that the problems in our uplands are urgently addressed as raptor persecution continues, seemingly unchecked.

    Today, Northumbria Police issued news of two illegally shot buzzards, found close together in Northumberland, both adjacent to grouse moors in an area with a string of historic persecution incidents to its name.

    The first bird was found alive but injured on 25 April 2019 in Steel, Hexham…

    • 22 May 2019
  • Raven found shot in Cheshire

    This press release has gone out today 16/05/2019:

    A protected raven has been found illegally shot near Delamere Forest, Cheshire, triggering a police investigation.

    The bird was found in a field by a man walking his dog along the edge of the forest. The bird had no head but had no other injuries. He contacted the RSPB’s Investigations unit for advice, and they arranged for the bird to be collected and x-rayed.

    • 16 May 2019
  • Poisoned raven found in Peak District National Park

    The countryside is somewhere everyone should be able to enjoy. Getting outdoors is good for our health and wellbeing, and connects us with nature – a connection we need to hang on to more than ever these days. National Parks should offer the perfect places to do just this.

    But in some areas, as you may know, our countryside is being undermined by criminal activity. Some wildlife is seen as a threat to commercial…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • Raptors killers – the arms race

    In the long and sorry history of raptor persecution those involved have used a wide range of methods to carry out their dark deeds. Traditionally, this has involved an array of firearms, traps and poisons.

    During my 27 years working with the RSPB there have been significant technological developments, such as covert cameras and satellite tagging, which have helped uncover evidence of criminal offences and located key areas…

    • 12 Mar 2019
  • Man seen with gun at hen harrier roost site

    When RSPB Investigations followed a satellite-tagged hen harrier’s movements, it led to the discovery of a new hen harrier roost site – plus another more concerning surprise. Assistant Investigations Officer Tom Grose was there that day.

    In the fight to protect hen harriers the satellite tag – a piece of kit smaller than a matchbox – has emerged as one of the major weapons in the conservationist’s arsenal…

    • 1 Mar 2019
  • Buzzard found shot and poisoned in East Yorkshire

    Some birds are devastatingly unlucky.

    Today (20/2/2019) Humberside Police issued a press release about a dead buzzard found poisoned in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The bird also had a nasty head wound, still fresh at the time it was picked up. What’s more, after the bird was examined, it was clear it had also survived being shot at an earlier point in its life.

    That’s pretty shocking for just one bird.

    • 20 Feb 2019
  • Ravens found poisoned on farmland

    This press release has just gone out regionally:

    West Mercia Police undertook an investigation after ten dead ravens, a dead crow and parts of a dead lamb were found close together on farmland near Vron Woods, Beguildy on the Wales/Shropshire border.

    The birds were reported to the RSPB and collected by Natural England in April 2018, who sent the birds to be tested. Government toxicology tests on five of the ravens, the…

    • 19 Feb 2019
  • Marsh harrier found illegally shot

    Locals and conservationists are raising the alarm after a rare and protected bird of prey was found shot near Barton-Upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire.

    The bird – a marsh harrier – was discovered by a woman walking her dog along the bank of the River Humber on 9 September 2018. She reported it to the RSPCA and the police were alerted. An RSPCA officer collected the bird and took it to the East Winch Wildlife Centre near…

    • 8 Jan 2019
  • An Investigations review of the year

    Police arresting gamekeeper Tim Cowin on Whernside Moor

    Yesterday we blogged about a buzzard that was shot in Northamptonshire – a sad end to another rollercoaster year in the fight against raptor persecution. We never know what each year will bring; what crimes might be suddenly uncovered or what events may occur. Here, we reflect on 2018, including the losses but also the determination and the action being taken by…

    • 20 Dec 2018
  • Buzzard shot in Northamptonshire

    A buzzard found shot in Northamptonshire is the latest victim on this year’s list of birds that won’t see in the New Year.

    The bird was found injured but alive in Sywell Country Park, Northamptonshire. A Park Ranger reported it to the police and the RSPB, and the bird was examined by a vet. An X-ray revealed that the buzzard had been shot with lead gun shot – you can see the pellet embedded next to the birds…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • The Illegal Killing of Birds of Prey in Scotland 2015-17

    Scotland’s laws are failing to adequately protect birds of prey, as a new report highlights. Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, explains why those in power must act now to end illegal persecution.

    Scotland’s birds of prey are an integral part of our national heritage. Our country is a key stronghold for many species like hen harriers, ospreys and golden eagles, attracting tourism and bringing…

    • 14 Dec 2018
  • The 30th Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference

    A reflection on this year's conference, held in North Yorkshire

    Building on the work of Chief Superintendent Terry Rands of Essex Police in setting up the Wildlife Crime Officers’ (WCO) network, back in 1989 the RSPB organised the first Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference with support from RSNC, Wildlife Trusts, WWF and the NCC (Nature Conservancy Council – now Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural…

    • 11 Dec 2018
  • Two owls found shot in Peak District

    This is the latest in a catalogue of crimes against birds of prey, which is blackening the National Park’s reputation

    Police are on the trail after two owls were found shot within the Peak District National Park this autumn.

    On 11 September 2018 a local runner witnessed a short-eared owl flying overhead, followed by what sounded like gunshots. The following morning she returned to the spot, near Wessenden Head…

    • 6 Dec 2018
  • Hobby and buzzard found with spring trap injuries

      

    Buzzard with severed foot

    The police and the RSPB are investigating the illegal killing of two protected birds of prey on the Isle of Wight. The birds, a hobby and a buzzard, were found with horrific injuries in woodland near Littletown. Both had lost a foot as a result of becoming caught in a spring trap.

    The buzzard was found dead in March 2018 with a missing foot. The hobby – a small falcon similar to a kestrel –…

    • 4 Dec 2018
  • Rail traps - kryptonite for super-ouzels?

    In August I wrote a blog following the illegal killing of a merlin in a spring trap set on a driven grouse moor in Northumberland. I also raised some wider concerns about the use of spring traps and whether they were actually legal when set as a ‘rail trap’; furthermore about possible impacts on ring ouzels, a declining 'red-listed' species, following several reports of birds being killed in these…

    • 5 Nov 2018
  • Egg collecting: a dangerous obsession

    This summer police made the biggest seizure of eggs in a decade. Jenny Shelton of RSPB Investigations explains more about this deadly obsession which puts declining species at risk.

    Nature is in trouble and needs all the help it can get, which is why any efforts to harm wildlife or prevent it flourishing are particularly worrying.

    Until recently, egg collecting was one of the biggest wildlife crimes the RSPB's Investigations…

    • 16 Oct 2018
  • Goodbye, Bob

    Today we wave goodbye to our fantastic Head of Investigations, Bob Elliot, who on 15 October takes up the post of Director at animal welfare charity OneKind, based in Edinburgh. A passionate conservationist and natural, personable leader, he’s been a key driving force in many of the teams’ successes.

    Bob joined the RSPB Scotland Investigations unit as head of the team in 2007 and quickly established himself…

    • 5 Oct 2018
  • Shot red kite sadly euthanised

    The stark contrast between the terrible actions of one human being and the kindness of another can sometimes knock you sideways. We see this a lot when dealing with incidents involving birds of prey that have been deliberately (and illegally) killed or injured.

    Earlier this month, a red kite which was shot and injured, and cared for by vets and raptor workers, sadly had to be euthanised.

    The bird, a female, was found…

    • 18 Sep 2018
  • Short-eared owl shooting - A tale of the unexpected


    The one thing I really like about my job is the unexpected. It can be a bit inconvenient at times – but when certain jobs come in, you’ve got to drop everything if you’re to have a chance of securing that all-essential piece of evidence to bring a wildlife case to court. During my career, this has involved some really memorable moments and some long adrenaline-fuelled days. But few can top one particularly unexpected…

    • 28 Aug 2018