Shhhhh! Don’t mention the poletraps…

Photo: RSPB
Photo: RSPB

It’s all very quiet isn’t it?

Considering how many organisations are falling over themselves to spout their enormous concern about wildlife crime against birds of prey on grouse moors when it comes to providing a solution for the grouse moor managers (poor things!) there is very little discussion of this admission of guilt by a man on a Yorkshire grouse moor.


Fake Hen Harrier (1) - CopyThe Moorland Association hasn’t said a thing as far as I can see – which is, to be fair, a great step forward from their nonsensical statement about a man taking his model Hen Harrier for a walk in the Peak District case. But this was on a grouse moor where driven grouse shooting occurs and so we might expect that the Moorland Association would have a view. One has to wonder whether their view is ‘Oh bugger – they’ve caught someone else at it! Let’s keep our heads down for while and then come out with some nonsense about all working together in a while.’.

tadpoleThe GWCT has said more about tadpoles recently than it has about poletraps on grouse moors. That’s funny isn’t it? It couldn’t be that it is a little embarrassing for the GWCT that the estate concerned is apparently owned by the van Cutsem family which have been strong supporters of the GWCT? No, it couldn’t be that.




Monday 11 May CopyThe Yorkshire Dales NP might be unlikely to splash over its website ‘Visit the Yorkshire Dales NP – growing in notoriety all the time as a wildlife crime scene‘ but then again, they might at least utter a few words of concern about what is happening in their area.  I spoke to their media team and was told, by a very nice man, that they hoped to make a statement next week so I’ll look forward to that.



NEhouseNatural England might be interested in these matters, having funded a long study of Hen Harriers which showed that the Yorkshire Dales NP is a place where Hen Harriers are rarely born but often die (see here and here) but they are silent on the matter too. They might claim that they are in purdah in the run up to the EU referendum and that any mention of Mossdale Estate might swing the vote critically or they might just not be allowed to speak. I phoned their media team too and left a message but haven’t heard back from them.

We wouldn’t expect Defra to say anything even though they are the custodians of the grouse moor owners’ plan masquerading as a Hen Harrier plan.  We do know that Rory Stewart has had discussions this year with Edward van Cutsem of the Mossdale Estate though, as this photo from the Heather Trust website shows them together in February this year.

160226 IUCN

Don’t be shy minister, the rest of us would like to hear what you think about poletraps on grouse moors.

hotoHawk and Owl Trust? Not a peep! I think Philip Merricks has taken a vow of silence, or maybe had one enforced on him, as he seems very quiet these days. The Hawk and Owl Trust still has a male Hen Harrier flying across its home page but must still be searching for the right words to say ‘We were wrong. You were right. We can’t trust grouse shooting interests not to commit wildlife crimes. We withdraw our support for brood meddling and we no longer wish to be paid to take part in it.’.

Even the RSPB itself was rather quiet about its own story, merely putting it out as a regional story rather than a national one. I wonder whether that is because rubbing shoulders with David Cameron was taking up all the media team resources this week. However it does seem odd that the RSPB Twitter account hardly gave this story, an RSPB story after all, any prominence yesterday.  But we await the RSPB statement on the Hen Harrier season so far, on Monday, with interest. I expect this case will get a mention there – after all, there may not be a long list of nesting Hen Harriers to talk about.

And so, you might easily have missed this story altogether if you were not fully plugged in to social media and read this blog and the excellent blog at the oh so aptly named Raptor Persecution UK. And all credit to the guys there for a cracking first blog on this subject yesterday and then a really, really good blog on police cautions yesterday evening. And to remind yourself of what everyone isn’t talking about, and about what you might otherwise have missed, see the original RSPB blog and this video of a pixellated 23-year old from Hawes setting illegal poletraps on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.


Even if almost everyone else is silent, we can raise our voices.

We can stop this wildlife crime and make the uplands a more sustainable environment, managed for the benefit of all and not just for the few, by banning driven grouse shooting. The first step is to support this e-petition that will get the subject debated in the Westminster parliament.


8 Replies to “Shhhhh! Don’t mention the poletraps…”

  1. I wrote a long email to the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner this morning asking, as politely as possible given the circumstances, for her response to the caution and asking for a more general clarification on what she is prepared to do to prevent wildlife crime on her patch, given the recent slaughter of Red Kites as well.

    I await her reply with interest – but not holding my breath

  2. I deplore what this young man has done. He has got off far too lightly. Yet this offence, that he admitted carrying out, will now be on his record. It will have some future consequences. I hope he will live to regret it.
    Let’s concentrate on who his superiors/employers were. I am assuming he was an employee of Mossdale Estate or the Police and/or the Estate would have said by now that he had no connection with them. Does Mossdale Estate receive any subsidies linked to environmental management? If so, we should request a reduction or preferably total cancellation of such subsidies. England hasn’t got the Vicarious Liability option but Stody Estate had their subsidies drastically cut so there are precedents. It took a lot of pressure from the public though to get this to happen. These crimes are usually all a question of greed – let’s try and hit the Estate in the pocket.
    As far as media coverage goes, surprisingly the Yorkshire Post had a good article on the crime. They usually have Amanda Anderson telling us all how wonderful grouse moors are for wildlife. Is she on holiday like the Police Commissioner, I wonder? Also the ITV news had an item in their area news, Calendar.
    Have we invited Rory Stewart to a Hen Harrier Day?

    1. Agree, with the Stody precedent, surely there is a compliance issue that could be investigated?

  3. Sadly I suspect the biggest investigation will be how they [the poletraps] were found which caused the very embarrassing ‘caution’?

    Equally if not more so will be the various organisations now wriggling because they are expected to [re]act?

    If I were a gambler then I wonder what the odds would be on similarly embarrassing items being located in other areas? As we all realise the evidence is out there, the issue is locating it.

    Inactivity or favourable treatment of criminals in such examples as this, is illustrative of the sincerity those in high office when wildlife crimes are committed?

    The media are quiet, but I suppose ‘Brexit’ is deemed a sexier topic to peddle? Having said that many people appear to have disengaged because of the failure to provide facts only opinion – might they [media] therefore see opportunity in warning people of the dangers out there on upland moors managed for grouse shooting? Perhaps they might offer a reward for anyone finding more such antiques (after first reporting to the Police &c.)?

  4. You expect comments from the game and wildlife comedy trust or the my-land association?

  5. With the Fake Hen Harrier & now this awful pole trap story you have to seriously question the HH action Plan. If Monday’s announcements from the RSPB, on this seasons breeding results, are poor, how can anyone honestly support it? Common sense would have told us that the DGS industry would have been on its best behaviour, this year of all years, but it has just shown is how disconnected and uninterested in the HH plan they really are. We can see it, when will RSPB, Wildlife Trust & other NGO’s do what needs doing and push for a ban. They’re letting us down, just as much as North Yorshire Police have done too.

  6. If nothing else this incident surely makes a very strong case for vicarious liability in England even stronger.

    In other news, not everyone has stayed silent – Grouse industry legend and Brexit campaigner Ian Botham has said something about cricket. In a no-holds barred interview he suggested that England captain Alistair Cook has scored quite a lot of runs in Test cricket, and may in fact score quite a lot more (or should that be ‘moor’ – geddit?)

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