£1,000 reward for information leading to conviction of masked gunmen seen attacking goshawk nest site in Cairngorms National Park

17 February 2015

RSPB Scotland is offering a £1,000 reward for information which leads to the conviction of masked gunmen who were secretly filmed shooting at a goshawk nest site in May last year. The video camera had been installed on Forestry Commission ground to monitor the progress of a goshawk nest in the Cairngorms National Park. Goshawks are one of the most heavily-persecuted raptors in the UK and their populations are severely constrained as a result. Full details of this crime here.

Fourth national golden eagle survey begins

12 February 2015

Members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group are participating in the fourth national golden eagle survey this year. Each year we regularly monitor approximately half of the Scottish golden eagle population, but every decade or so, we partner with other licensed raptor workers to try and cover the majority of eagle sites in a large, national survey. The results of these surveys allow us to assess long-term population trends and to identify particular problems or regional issues that may need closer monitoring. The results of the latest national survey are expected to be published after the breeding season and will be compared with the results of the last national survey which took place in 2003. Further details about this year’s national survey here.

‘Evicted’ sea eagle turns up in Dumfries & Galloway

6 February 2015

A young white-tailed eagle who was pushed from her nest by an intruding eagle last summer has turned up in Dumfries & Galloway. Her nest ‘eviction’ had been captured on a nest camera on the Isle of Mull last June and she had fallen 30ft to the ground. Climbers from the Forestry Commission managed to return her safely to her nest. She has recently been sighted in Wigtownshire and was identified by her leg rings. As young sea eagles wander widely during their first few years, she is not expected to stay in D&G. Full story here.

The eradication of mountain hares in eastern and southern Scotland is ‘disgraceful’, says SRSG member Roy Dennis

17 January 2015

Scottish Raptor Study Group member and noted ecologist Roy Dennis has joined the growing voices against the widespread culling of mountain hares. In an interview with the BBC’s Out of Doors team, he called the eradication of hares in eastern and southern Scotland “disgraceful” and called for a voluntary two-year moratorium on the culls, to allow time to assess the species’ conservation status. Further details here.

Fingerprints ‘breakthrough’ for wildlife crime investigators

14 January 2015

Scientists says they have made a forensic breakthrough in the fight againt wildlife crime. A team from the University of Abertay in Dundee has been able to recover fingerprints from the feathers of birds of prey. If a dead bird found in suspicious circumstances has been handled, the fingerprints could help to identify a potential suspect. The researchers have also developed a technique for recovering fingerprints from eggs, which could hep to identify egg collectors. Full story here.

Gamekeeper receives four-month custodial sentence for raptor crimes

12 January 2015

Gamekeeper George Mutch, 48, of Kildrummy Estate, Aberdeenshire, has been sentenced to a four month prison term for crimes he committed against raptors. He is believed to be the first gamekeeper in the UK to receive a custodial sentence for raptor persecution crimes. Mutch was convicted in December 2014 of four offences: the use of traps for the purpose of taking wild birds, the killing of a goshawk (which he had trapped and then clubbed to death with a stick), the taking of another goshawk, and the taking of a buzzard. The offences took place on the Kildrummy Estate in August and September 2012. Mutch had denied the allegations, leading to a trial where video evidence collected by RSPB Scotland proved central to his conviction. The Scottish Raptor Study Group welcomes the strong sentence and congratulates all those involved in the prosecution, particularly the RSPB Investigations Team, SSPCA, Police Scotland, and COPFS. News coverage herehere and here.

Call for voluntary restraint on large scale mountain hare culls

6 January 2015

Concerns over the unsustainability of the mass culling of mountain hares on grouse moors in recent years has led to a call for land managers to exercise ‘voluntary restraint’. SNH has also initiated further studies to trial several methods of assessing mountain hare population densities, in order to evaluate the conservation impact of the culls. Some have criticised this approach, arguing that SNH could do a lot more to protect this keystone species. A petition has been launched calling for SNH to confer immediate, full protected status on the mountain hare and formally end the widespread culls.

“Medical miracle” sea eagle found dead on Mull

5 January 2015

A four-year old white-tailed eagle called Kellan, described by experts as a “medical miracle”, has been found dead on the Isle of Mull. Kellan was rescued by RSPB Scotland 2010 after suffering a broken leg and wing. He was nursed back to health by the SSPCA and released back to the wild. The cause of death is not known but isn’t considered suspicious. Full story here.

Environment Minister provides clarity on Ross-shire Massacre

26 December 2014

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has issued a statement on the ilegal killing of 22 raptors in Ross-shire earlier this year. She emphasises that the poisoning of those birds was indeed a criminal act, despite Police Scotland’s claims that the birds were probably not deliberately targeted but died as a result of being accidental victims of pest control measures. Details here.