Back in February this year (2013) I was on the Solway with Cain and on our way to do a stake out for a winter Hen Harrier roost we got a phone call off Andrew Jake who was doing some fieldwork to the south in the Penrith area.
Andrew was disturbed having found a crow trap in an enclosed woodland containing three Common Buzzards trapped inside.
Cain and I altered our plans and headed down to the scene where immediate action was taken to alert the local wildlife crime unit to take over proceedings. It was an upsetting sight to see these beautiful birds of prey confined and suffering like this and it was a difficult decision to let the raptors go for their own welfare or leave them be and provide a potential chance to capture and prosecute an action of illegal persecution which is so intense in the region and country as a whole.
As a few months passed, in July it was made public that gamekeeper Colin Burne was captured on a camera trap killing these Buzzards like it was a routine operation. He pleaded guilty and received a 70 day jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, if not for the 64 year old's ill health the judge would of given him jail time. A very soft sentence again, I am sure the judge will have got some free shoot days out of it though.
Well done to Andrew for his field work discovery, he has written a brilliant piece about his experience which can be read on his blog here http://andrew-jake.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/persecution.html
Also great work by the RSPB investigation team for managing to capture the illegal actions and hopefully help bring to light what goes on in large areas of our countryside. How about showing the disturbing video below to every RSPB member to encourage over a million people to fight for our birds of prey and push for stricter laws in place...starting with putting a signature on this government petition...
e-petition for licencing of upland and grouse moors and gamekeepers ... http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46473
|One of the Buzzards captured on my camera phone...|
|What is sacrificed for the hobby of shooting?|
A criminal in action...
Different versions of the media report...
Raptor Politics - http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/07/09/seventy-day-prison-sentence-because-this-criminal-claimed-he-was-too-ill-to-go-to-prison-he-received-suspended-sentence-judge-for-yourself-after-viewing-the-video-was-the-sentence-appropriate/
RSPB - http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/349360-cumbria-gamekeeper-pleads-guilty-to-killing-buzzards-illegally
Wildlife Extra - http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/buzzard-trapped.html
News and Star - http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/cumbrian-gamekeeper-clubbed-trapped-birds-of-prey-to-death-1.1068598