Worth waiting for

Monday 11 May CopyThis is a press release from the Yorkshire Dales NP in response (a slightly slow response) to the pole trap incident of last week. A bit late thought it may be, it is well worth reading.


Birds of prey traps condemned by National Park Authority

Grassington, June 7, 2016.

Illegal persecution of birds of prey was today (June 7) condemned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority following news that a man had been caught setting banned traps.

North Yorkshire Police gave a caution to a 23-year-old junior gamekeeper on the Mossdale grouse-shooting estate near Hawes after he was secretly filmed by the RSPB resetting three spring-loaded pole traps, which are designed to catch birds by the legs.

National Park Authority Chairman Peter Charlesworth said:


Photo: RSPB
Photo: RSPB

‘We abhor the illegal persecution of birds of prey and we will continue to support the police and Natural England in any way we can to help bring the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes to justice.

The pole trap incident happened on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This land – like the vast majority of the National Park – is in private ownership.

At a time when the Yorkshire Dales is receiving such widespread recognition as a wonderful place to visit, it’s incredibly disappointing that the criminal persecution of birds of prey continues to damage the reputation of the area. 

We know that birds of prey are a big attraction to the millions of visitors that come here, so these acts are causing economic damage as well as appalling harm to wildlife.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently published a national plan to increase the English hen harrier population, which was developed in conjunction with Natural England, the RSPB, the Moorland Association and others, including National Park Authorities. We stand ready to assist those organisations, and work with our partners right along the Pennines to help deliver locally on the intent in that national plan. 

In the meantime, we will continue to support the police in any way we can to identify those responsible for any illegal killings and to bring them to justice.’.

There are two things that I think are well worth highlighting in this statement.

The first is the recognition that wildlife crime damages the reputation of the area – and this is the National Park speaking of course. Good for them to mention that.  The Yorkshire Dales is a wildlife crime hotspot and the Park authorities must realise that the chances of further embarrassing incidents are high as long as driven grouse shooting continues in the National Park boundaries.  This is the strongest statement to this effect I can recall seeing from a NP – good for them! Let’s hope that the North York Moors, Northumberland and Peak District NPs and Forest of Bowland and North Pennines AONBs follow suit.

Second, the Yorkshire Dales statement highlights the economic aspect of the damage to reputation. They are bigging themselves up a bit to say that many people go to their NP to see birds of prey but we would – if they had many! A Hen Harrier nest viewing scheme would bring the visitors rolling in, as would a Red Kite viewing scheme and a Short-eared Owl viewing scheme. The Malham Cove Peregrine site, one of rather few regularly successful sites in this National Park, does show the way forward.

As I said, worth waiting for!


16 Replies to “Worth waiting for”

  1. A caution is just not enough, both the estate and Gamekeeper should be fined heavily
    for this…..very poor response from the Police.

  2. A caution! Call that “justice”? Is that gamekeeper going to be sacked at least? Not to mention the fact that as such a young gamekeeper it’s hard to credit that he didn’t at a minimum believe that he had tacit support in setting the traps from those higher up.

    It would be good to see the Authority calling for more meaningful penalties and investigation of the wider institutional and corporate culture behind these actions.

    1. Look at the estate ownership and then do a bit of research, Fighting for Birds is a good starting point perhaps? See also https://markavery.info/2016/06/02/shhhhh-dont-mention-poletraps/ and others ….

      Authority can always be ‘influenced’, vicarious liability is the enforceable action – rather like banned pole traps attracting a caution? If it had been ‘Skint from Scunthorpe’ then what punishment and outcry in that instance?

    2. Do we know if the “rogue keeper” was a member of the NGO yet? Have they said anything at all?

  3. I fully agree about the economic contribution (potentially) made by birds of prey to the Yorkshire Dales and the fact that illegal killing of raptors undermines this. I have a slight concern though about possible Hen Harrier nest viewing schemes. I am sure that these could be appropriately managed but they could also easily provide an opportunity to the ill-intentioned to bump of a hunting male somewhere out of site and then blame the resulting failure of the nest on the ‘disturbance’ caused by the viewing arrangements. We have already seen how ready the apologists for raptor persecution to try and misdirect blame for nest failures onto the RSPB so this scenario is not fanciful.

  4. Drove through the northern area of the Yorkshire Dales this morning. Only one raptor and it was dead, short eared owl roadkill. I was on my way home from a few days on the Outer Hebrides, what a contrast.

    1. Back last week from Outer Hebrides too. Hen Harriers every day, Short-eared Owls ditto, Merlin, Peregrine, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle. Magic! No grouse-shooting of course. Many people go there to birdwatch and put their money into the local economy in doing so.

      1. Just returned from a weeks birding in the Czech Republic just as farmers were cutting their fields, incredible raptor week. In each field without exception raptors circling over and into the fields predating anything they can pick up, no shooting anywhere. Saw white-tailed,lesser-spotted and imperial eagles. Marsh and montague’s harriers in dozens. Honey and common buzzards. Red and black kites in dozens. Hobby seen each day. A pond containing 8 nests of black winged stilt. Three toed-woodpeckers in two locations. Nesting Saker Falcons missing this year moved across border into Austria. Pleased to say not one gamekeeper in sight

  5. I am presently working on a section of the new ‘Best birdwatching sites’ guide for Yorkshire and have been given several of the sites in the National Park. Many are poor for birds but is that the only reason not to use them? More people visiting the sites are eyes and ears which like the Red Grouse moor mentioned needs people to cover the workings of these estates and like Kath and Jim pointed out adds money into the local economy. Better still it gives the accommodation providers and general retailers the message that people are actually coming to the area to look for these birds and other wildlife that should be there. The important message is that this wildlife can create trade for 12 months of the year not a few weeks which mainly falls in peak holiday time any way.

  6. Having just returned from a week in the Yorkshire Dales I’d like my money back if I was there to watch birds of prey! We didn’t see a single buzzard or red kite. No kestrels either, one fleeting view of a Merlin was all we got.

  7. Very true about the local economy .Was in the dales last year four shooters arrived by helicopter blasted away for a few hours then left.The only money they spent was a pee!!

  8. This morning 8 June I was interviewed by Radio Lancashire about the current plight of the Hen Harrier and just how close to extinction this species is. I was asked to explain for the interest of the listeners, what was the cause for the reduction in numbers of Harriers on red grouse moorland in England. I was also asked how the Defra scheme supported by the RSPB could help restore the Hen Harrier back to favourable numbers of England’s uplands. My short reply to both questions was that continued persecution would ensure the Hen Harrier would receive no benefit from the proposed scheme. Any Harriers reintroduced onto grouse moors would continue to be persecuted, without first addressing the root cause of the problem i.e., persecution. I mentioned the licensing scheme as proposed by the RSPB and the current e-petition to ban all driven grouse shooting in England.

    It was disappaiting to hear the announcer tell his listeners the RSPB had refused to take part in the interview. What an opportunity missed to tell hundreds of thousands of people about the on-going plight of one of England’s most endangered birds of prey here in the north west.

  9. I wonder what would happen if there was a liking or a taste for a little grouse trapping poisoning etc as a management program to control the numbers of these invasive species to allow the natural populations of predatory birds etc a little protection from the need to trap them. (Of course a petition is the humane way to deal with this.)

  10. Whilst its good to hear about sentiment about the fatalities…. what have YDNPA done to address concerns about their role in the development, implementation and enforcement of raptor protection policy and strategy….nowt but elastoplast…there…there…there… springs to mind. I live in the Yorkshire Dales and we need to move fast and with proper action because over the space of the next two years all you’ll be looking at is garden birds, voles and rabbits. Lovely as they are you can’t escape the level of raptor and grouse predator genocide thats happening…the land is being sterilised permanently and swiftly

Comments are closed.