The moors above Hebden, near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are popular with walkers and families visiting the open air lead mining museum east of Yarnbury.
On Saturday 1st October 2016 a juvenile Peregrine Falcon was found by a walker, injured having been apparently shot. Unsure what to do with the bird the finder used social media to seek advice from raptor workers and alert the wider public to the tragedy.
Later that evening details of the incident were brought to the attention of NERF members and arrangements were made for the area to be searched the following day. On Sunday morning a NERF raptor worker spent several hours searching the area where the injured falcon had been last seen. Unfortunately the search was unsuccessful. In fact the bird had been located by another visitor and handed to the Police. X-rays of the Peregrine revealed that it had indeed been shot.
The death of this young Peregrine is abhorrent and NERF would encourage anyone with information relating to this crime to contact Pc Crossley at Skipton Police Station quoting incident number 12160181442.
The persecution of Peregrines across the Pennines continues to have a negative impact on local populations. Despite being fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is now two decades since Peregrines successfully bred on grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales. This statistic would be deplorable anywhere but this is a National Park and should be a safe haven for Peregrines not a ‘black hole’.
Unfortunately this is not the only Peregrine to have been found shot in the NERF study area recently. On 6th September 2016 another injured juvenile Peregrine was found by walkers in the Goyt Valley, Derbyshire; the bird later died. In the opinion of the vet the x-rays revealed that the bird would not have had the ability to fly far after being shot.
The Goyt Valley lies to the west of Buxton, within the Peak District National Park.
Depressing as these two recent are they are far from unique in the NERF study area. The incident on the moors above Hebden is very similar to one reported in August 2015 when a dead Peregrine was found shot at the Stang Forest, County Durham very close to the border with North Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Research undertaken by NERF in collaboration with the RSPB revealed the true impact of Peregrine persecution on ground associated with grouse moor management. The following extract from the published paper is a clear indictment of some individuals connected with the grouse shooting industry.
“…….clutch size and brood size of successful [Peregrine] nests did not differ between habitat types, suggesting that food constraints were unlikely to explain this difference. Population models suggested source-sink dynamics, with populations on grouse moors unable to sustain themselves without immigration. Population data confirmed that growth rates were indeed lower on grouse moors than on non-grouse moor sites. Analysis of wildlife crime data confirmed that persecution of the species was more frequent on grouse moors than in other habitat types.”
Amar, A., et al. ‘Linking nest histories, remotely sensed land use data and wildlife crime records to explore the impact of grouse moor management on peregrine falcon populations. Biological. Conservation (2011)’.
In the event that members of the public come across wildlife crime the details should be reported to the local Police; telephone 999 for a crime in progress and 101.for a non-emergency. Please ask that the report be brought to the attention of the Wildlife Crime Officer and obtain an incident number.
Additionally incidents of bird of prey persecution should be reported to the RSPB Investigations Team; telephone 01767 680551.
22 October 2016