As the red grouse shooting season approaches the RSPB are once more calling on the government to consider extra legislative measures to tackle raptor persecution. The following case continues to show just how difficult it is to investigate and prosecute for offences occurring in remote parts of our uplands.

Despite plenty of available habitat, food and nesting sites, peregrine falcons are not doing well in Lancashire’s uplands. The Forest of Bowland should be an ideal spot, but since 2011 there have only been a handful of successful nests – none of which have been on privately owned driven grouse moors. A scientific paper published that year, focused on Northern England including Bowland, concluded that breeding success was significantly lower around land managed for driven grouse shooting, and that illegal persecution was the main cause.

As the RSPB’s Investigations team, we look to uncover incidents of raptor persecution, pass this to the police and offer support for any investigation. In April 2016, we installed a covert camera at a peregrine nest on a driven grouse moor in Bowland, Lancashire. This nest had a history of very poor productivity and had failed in unexplained circumstances in 2015 with two eggs found in the nest. This time, once again, when we returned 10 days later to check the nest site and camera, there was no sign of the parent birds and the nest contained four cold eggs. Clearly something tragic had happened in the interim. When we played back the footage, all became clear.

This is what we saw: