‘More birds of prey illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’

The headline says it all: ‘Reward offered as more birds of prey are illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’. Amongst many press releases issued yesterday by Derbyshire Police, between a couple dealing with illegal off-roading in the Dales and romance fraud, Derbyshire Police and RSPB offered £1000 for information on yet more birds of prey being killed in the Peak District National Park. This time it’s an Osprey and a Buzzard which were found dead near Glossop in September.

The Osprey is obviously a bit more interesting than the Buzzard, being a rare visitor just passing through on migration. This Osprey was given a warm Peak District National Park welcome by having both of its legs broken in a spring trap, it is thought.  The Buzzard was shot. This Osprey, passing through the Peak District on its way to Africa for the winter, was killed in a national park set up to conserve and enhance natural beauty.  Not doing too well there, are we?

The Peak District has a terrible record for illegal raptor killing and even when it sets up a collaborative project amongst all stakeholders it fails.  People have even written reports about how bad things are here, and that was years ago – see here and here.  But now the deaths of birds of prey just count as ‘More birds of prey illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’.

As you enter the Peak District National Park you are entering a wildlife crime scene – a hotspot for bird of prey persecution, not a haven for our threatened wildlife.  If we were setting up National Parks today would we grant NP status to a wildlife crime hotspot?  An area notorious for its wildlife crime?

I’ll be driving past where these two birds were found dead next week on my way to talk to the High Peak group of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – my message to them will be that we should ban driven grouse shooting and that if we needed anywhere to start then it should be in our national parks. What place does this unsustainable sport have in conserving and enhancing natural beauty? I’d love to see you there but if you haven’t got a ticket already then I’m afraid I won’t – it sold out weeks ago, showing that people care about what is happening at least.


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27 Replies to “‘More birds of prey illegally killed in the Peak District National Park’”

    1. The grouse moor closest and adjoining to Hurst Reservoir is under the management control of a group known as the 'Hurst & Chunal Moor Syndicate'.

      The head keeper is a called Fred Mitchinson - see here:(http://www.thefield.co.uk/news/gamekeeprs-praised-conservation-merlin-24490)

      I can't tell you much about them other then they draw £81,007.98 in Environmental Stewardship payments. In 2014 they drew £27,448.84 in SPS payments and can, thanks to Owen Paterson, expect to receive a bit more for 2015.

      I think United Utilities may own the land - but I could be wrong.

      1. Thank you Ernest.
        I think if those figures were generally known (I would very much like to see them on bill boards in supermarket carparks) they would have more impact for change than any online petition.

  1. In general, and not specific to this case,large areas are owned by the National Trust I believe Hilary. Shooting syndicates then rent the shooting rights. Most, but not all of the recent Hen Harrier attempts have been on National Trust land for instance.

    1. United Utilities own the now defunct reservoir but not the land to the south and south-east (grouse moor). This land is not owned by the National Trust, according to their ownership maps - http://www.ntlandmap.org.uk
      The shoot is based at Lane Ends farm to the SW of the reservoir.

    1. I have hit the wrong like/dislike button on at least one occasion in the past. Shame it's not possible to un-dislike. (Is that a new word I've invented?)

    2. 'Who disliked that question?'
      Grouse lobby trolls who haven't got the arguments. It is a compliment really.

  2. This may be of interest?


    as it is from the general area.

  3. Thank you, C. No problems with website but if it is any use there is also twitter.

    I moved to the peak district more than 30 years ago. I was struck then by the 'old fashionedness' of the place. I don't think ideas and views change quickly here. For somewhere so central it is remarkably insular. (Also remarkably beautiful.) I think it needs help. It's all a bit feudal. I am out in the countryside almost every day. On a fairly frequent basis I meet kind, intelligent, humourous people who admire the lovely skies, the orchids on the verges, lament the loss of butterflies and tell me in all faith that the lack of songbirds is due to the local buzzards or that peregrines 'shouldn't really be here' or that the return of otters means trouble.

        1. Feudalism, and the patronage that oozes out from it, induces that complacency which is often tainted with fear.
          Despite its super wealth, Sussex continues to have areas of unusually high rural deprivation. Some of the worst spots are in around the great land owning estates.
          One of the great things we are learning in this Tory heartland is that when one person speaks out, lots and lots of people suddenly emerge from the woodwork. The added joy is the appearance of all the unexpected supporters.
          Good luck with your help.

        2. Complacency and an utter reluctance to join the dots. I don't see that the post war generation has the cynicism that mine does, there's a real tendency to respect authority and assume it is always acting for the greater good.

      1. Ernest,no,sadly it is the ordinary person who lives in the Peak District believing what is passed on hundreds of times from local landowners and gamekeepers.
        Doubt anyone not seeing the results would believe it but it is the most effective brainwashing of all.
        Leaves twitter and Facebook and everything else miles behind.
        Doubt you will never change the attitude of people in Peak District and similar areas.
        Ironically our niece in the Peak District showed us a photo for identification of a bird that had been in her greenhouse and it was a juvenile Peregrine.

        1. I think it's all too easy for people active in conservation to underestimate how many people (and how strongly) believe the tabloid garbage about otters eating all the fish, sparrow hawks eating all the pretty birds that come to the bird table, how ivy strangles trees, how dead wood creates disease in living wood, how beavers are bad for salmon etc. Nonsense, in fact counter to common sense given what we know of co evolution and co existence, but that doesn't stop people swallowing guff from the likes of Songbird Survival. Now that the otter is no longer regarded as the particularly rare animal it was it's becoming OK to call it a pest again and accuse it of killing off other wildlife such as kingfishers (sadly I'm not kidding). Google an outfit called the Predator Action Group to see what I mean. Yet another predator that's committed the cardinal sin of not being vanishingly rare. I do believe we have to start being very upfront, very vocal and yes - passionate, about why this is all utter, dangerous rubbish that only plays into the hands of vested huntin, fishin, shootin interests, or at least the backward members of it. Being patient, insipid and non assertive in response is just being taken as lack of belief and faith in the healthy ecosystems we want with a decent and varied range of predators - it doesn't counter the idiotic assertion people are really needed to 'manage' them in the form of our tweeded predator haters passing themselves off as the stewards of the land. Bad joke.

          1. I couldn't agree more, Les. Last year's lies from YFTB and the Torygraph, regarding HH breeding succes, have been repeated this week on Facebook. I ignored them at first, not wanting to get into that kind of arguement. But, after several days no-one had seen fit to correct them. So, I gave the poster both barrels (pun intended); with links to Mark's and the Guardian's reports. Those of us who give a damn must challenge this bullshit wherever we find it.

          2. As a keen angler I've been keeping a (fairly appalled) weather eye on the Predation Action Group. I'm heartened by the way they have appeared to have floundered (no pun intended). A cursory glance through many of the angling forums shows much of the tripe peddled by PAG and its numbskulled supporters being regularly torn to shreds by fellow anglers. Indeed it is fairly apparent that many of the high profile supporters that backed PAG when it was launched, now appear to have run for cover. I reckon it's 6/4 on that PAG will have folded within the next 3 years.

          3. Les - it's rare for me to read anything longer than a line or two when I can honestly say that I agree with every single word. Your comment is one of those rare examples.
            You've said it exactly right.

  4. Mark...this government wont even stop fracking under your National Parks..they are vanishingly unlikely to Ban Driven Grouse shooting...doesnt mean you should stop asking of course....

    Best bet is to attack the shooters, [verbally!!],at a local level..keep up the good work...

  5. If you want to read nonsense about the countryside, just try Robin Page's recent article in the Daily Telegraph, Sat 30th Jan. If such people as this who have the attention and ear of a large number of people write such nonsense, then its always a battle to get clear, scientific messages across.

  6. Like Coop I think that we should attack those who peddle the rubbish about wildlife, predators and balance. Over the years I've been told that sparrowhawks, Peregrines, goshawks and domestic cats are responsible for the declines in song birds, along with those the aforementioned don't get are taken by buzzards or believe it or not hen harriers.
    that fish stocks are being destroyed by seals in the sea, otters and a plague of cormorants in freshwater. Beavers apparently will flood the world by damming, destroy salmon and sea trout stocks with these impenetrable barriers. It was lunacy that led the RSPB to reintroduce White Tailed Eagles, Red Kites, Goshawks! and Eagle Owls! I'm afraid these days the promulgators of such views are always challenged often with the opening phrase " and you believe that bollocks" . I might then explain why.

  7. Okay, and do pay attention grouse trolls; as from this grouse shooting season any further raptor persecution in the Peak District will be responded to by mass protests on the land in question on shoot days. Is that clear? And if you nobble Goshawks on Severn Trent Land then the protests will take place on all the surrounding moors. I hope that is clear. Just got to choose a name now, Raptor Liberation Front? Raptor Liberation Organisation? We'll see come August.

  8. And our moto shall be 'Tha's a bastard thee, tha's killed us birds!



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