Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Gamekeeper From Bleasdale

Readers of Another Bird Blog will remember that I am a frequent summer visitor to the beautiful part of Lancashire known as Bowland.

The same readers may also know that the bird ringing site of Oakenclough mentioned frequently on this blog is bordered by the shooting estate of Bleasdale highlighted below.  As I turn into the track to our ringing site, immediately opposite is a gated track that heads alongside Harris End Fell and into the secret world of the Bleasdale estate. 

Bowland, Lancashire

I am grateful to http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/ for the following.

“28th September 2017 was a landmark day in Bowland’s dark history of ongoing raptor killing, when Mr James Hartley a 34 year old gamekeeper from the Bleasdale estate appeared in the dock at Preston Magistrates Court facing nine charges relating to the alleged killing of two Peregrine Falcons in April 2016 on the estate where he was employed. 

Each one the nine charges read out by the clerk are listed below: 

1) Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

2) Disturb the nesting site of a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally or recklessly disturbed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young, contrary to sections 1(5)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

3) Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

4) Set trap/gin/snare etc to cause injury to wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, set in position a trap which was of such a nature and so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming in to contact with it, contrary to sections 5(1)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. 

5) Take a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally took a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

6) Possess live / dead Schedule 1 wild bird or its parts. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, had in your possession or control a dead wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(2)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. 

7) Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a Peregrine Falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession a firearm which was capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

8) Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 12 April 2016 and 27 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a Peregrine Falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession hammer, trap and knife which were capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

9) Cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – Animal Welfare Act 2006. On 12 April 2016 and 15 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a Peregrine Falcon, by an act, namely trapping and leaving for a number of hours, and you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so. 

When Mr Hartley was asked how did he plead, guilty or not guilty, he stated "not guilty". 

The offences came to light after the RSPB had installed a camera within the boundary of the Bleasdale Estate overlooking an occupied Peregrine Falcons nest on the estate. Footage captured showed an individual in camouflage clothing, setting a spring trap near the nest containing eggs. The female Peregrine was shown leaving her nest followed by 4 gunshots, after which the female Peregrine did not return to the nest. The male Peregrine remained at the site all day, believed to have been trapped in the device set earlier near the nest. Later in the evening a person is seen returning to the nest site and removing something. 

The lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service explained that the defendant is the gamekeeper for this particular ‘beat’ on the Bleasdale Estate and during a police search of his property a bag was seized containing a number of tools. A forensic analysis showed that a wooden-handled hammer and an orange-handled knife both contained Peregrine DNA. 

The defendant gave a ‘no comment’ interview. 

The next court hearing is scheduled to take place on 11 January 2018 at Preston Magistrates Court and is expected to deal with legal arguments about the admissibility of video evidence. These legal arguments are likely to be crucial, for example did the estate provide approval to install the camera at an occupied Peregrine nest, and if so were any pre-conditions agreed between the RSPB and estate owner? Depending on the outcome of that hearing, a preliminary trial date was set to begin on 12 February 2018 and was expected to last for five days.” 

Peregrine Falcon

Readers, please ensure that the above account of this case reaches as many animal lovers as possible via Twitter, Facebook or whatever means possible. Just below this post you will see click-on buttons to Twitter, Facebook or email.

Linking this post to  Anni's Birding Blog.



20 comments:

David Gascoigne said...

My blood boils when I read this account. These gamekeepers and their wealthy employers seem to think that they are above the law. Sadly, the record of the penalties imposed (or not imposed) when similar incidences have been brought to trial does not give one a high level of expectation that suitable judgements will be rendered. It is sad that in the twenty-first century we have not moved beyond this barbarism. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Phil.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, oh my this is terrible! I will be happy to pass on this post.

Linda said...

Teary-eyed here, Phil. And I totally echo David's comment.

Linda said...

Hi Phil,

I just wanted to add that these people are sick and I hope the laws become much more strict in penalizing this behaviour! I cannot stand cruelty and I steer very clear and far away from individuals who wish to, and do, cause harm to ANY living being. It thoroughly disgusts me that this is still happening, and we really need tougher laws defending wildlife and animals. These people who hurt animals almost always end up hurting a human as well. Very sick. :(

A Colorful World said...

So so tragic!!! What is the matter with such people!

Mike Attwood said...

Peregrines are loved and cared for here in Sussex and I am pleased to say we have many succesful breeding pairs. I hope that this case is dealt with most severely.

Jean @sonotorganized.com said...

That's just terrible! One of those things that makes you say what's wrong with people?

♥ Anni ♥ said...

I hope he is found guilty!

I'm late visiting again. Busy with yard work - finally, tomorrow they are going
to start replacing our fence sorely damaged by the hurricane...so, I want to note I appreciate your linking in at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week!

Stuart Price said...

Assuming he was acting under orders of his employer. Hope the landowner gets a huge huge fine and is named and shamed.

Fun60 said...

I was appalled reading the account of this court case. I hope he doesn't get off on a technicality.

carol l mckenna said...

Beautiful photo of the peregrine ~ informative post ~ thanks, ^_^

A ShutterBug Explores aka (A Creative Harbor)

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Please follow up when court resumes with an update post.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh my god -- Phil this is terrible. It sounds like something out of a Dickens story -- something we'd like to think couldn't go on in this day and age. (But apparently we in the US aren't the only country where certain people are doing their best to move back to that century. Unbelievable.

Lowcarb team member said...

Goodness me - appalling.
Thanks for sharing this.

All the best Jan

Jo said...

Oh no, Phil. I haven't visited your blog for a while and now I come across this. I hope the landowner is fined heavily.

NC Sue said...

How vile and irresponsible. I'm hoping the fines levied are substantial, with some jail time thrown in.
Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/10/blacksmiths-at-work.html

Bill Nicholls said...

Sounds like said gamekeeper needs the hammer using on him Bas*ard

Kay L. Davies said...

A gamekeeper? A GAMEkeeper? The mind boggles, Phil. Has the man no understanding of the word?
Even though I'm a world away on the far side of Canada, I will happily share this because one never knows when some other yahoo will break all the rules, and maybe the said same yahoo is visiting in Canada right now.
Meanwhile, hugs to Sue and some to you.
KayKay
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Prunella Pepperpot said...

I hope the Judge hands out a really tough sentence in January.

Kay L. Davies said...

Phil — I sent the first paragraph about the criminal gamekeeper to Hancock Wildlife Foundation in British Columbia. My family has always admired the Hancock Foundation and, as a matter of fact, David Hancock published my father's final book. I don't publicize it a lot because of the title: "How to Catch Big Fish"!! You would have liked my dad.
Kay

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