Feudalism Thriving in Powys

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before (as the actress said to the bishop), but this post is all about another post, on a faraway blog I was unaware of until a couple of days ago. To explain.

I received an e-mail from an anonymous source providing a link to a blog post said source thought might interest me. It certainly did, though I have to admit that the subject matter was beyond my normal interests.

Essentially, the story is about the deliberate poisoning of hawks and ravens on the Glanusk Estate using Bendiocarb, all done to protect the ‘game birds’ reared there. These have been ‘protected’ from their natural predators in order that they might be killed by Hoorays paying handsomely for the privilege.

Mark Coleman rates
killing birds don’t come cheap

Apart from the obvious wildlife crimes there are also safety concerns for those visiting the estate and, perhaps especially, those attending the Green Man Festival held there in August.

Before going any further I suggest you read the article I’m talking about. It’s to be found on the Raptor Persecution Scotland website and the post Mass Raptor Poisoning in Wales: Location Revealed.

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The facts, certainly those that jumped out at me, are as follows:

1/ The poisonings took place in 2012/13 and the birds killed were ravens, buzzards and red kites, the latter having become almost the national bird of Wales since its recovery from near extinction was engineered in central Wales.

2/ As stated, the killings were committed on the Glanusk Estate of the Legge-Bourke family near Crughywel. I quote from the Raptor Persecution Scotland website:

Shan Legge-Bourke was appointed lady-in-waiting to Princess Anne in 1987, was High Sheriff of Powys in 1991, has been the Lord Lieutenant of Powys (the Queen’s personal representative) since 1998 and became Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the 2015 New Year Honours.

Shan Legge-Bourke’s daughter, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, was nanny to Princes William & Harry and worked as a personal assistant to Prince Charles between 1993-1999.

Shan Legge-Bourke’s son, Harry Legge-Bourke, is a partner in the management of Glanusk Estate and served on the Board of Natural Resources Wales (the Welsh statutory conservation agency) between 2012-2015 (the same time the mass poisoning of raptors was taking place on Glanusk Estate).”

3/ The ‘sport shooting’ element of the estate’s business is run by Mark Coleman Sporting & Game which also has involvement with the Stoke Edith estate just over the border in Herefordshire.

Though it’s not clear exactly what the arrangement is between Coleman and the owners of either estate. Is he employed directly? Does he lease land at Glanusk? While his relationship with the estate may be opaque the article I’m using as my source says that the gamekeepers are employed by Mark Coleman. Again, I quote from the original piece:

“Stoke Edith is a close neighbour of the Sufton Estate. Some of you may recognise that name. In 2010, an under-gamekeeper from the Sufton Estate was convicted of 17 wildlife crime offences, including the use of Bendiocarb to poison raptors (see here, page 25). In the same year, the Sufton Estate Head gamekeeper was convicted of running a cannabis factory on the estate and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment (see here).

Amazingly, according to this article published in Fieldsports magazine: glanusk fieldsport article-1, the Head gamekeeper now at Glanusk Estate, employed by Mark Coleman, is someone with the same name as that convicted Head gamekeeper from Sufton Estate. Imagine that! It surely can’t be the same person, because, as we’re so often told, criminal gamekeepers are not tolerated by the shooting industry, right?

But Mark Coleman employs another gamekeeper who also has a familiar name. According to this Fieldsports magazine article: stoke edith fieldsport article-1, a gamekeeper employed by Mark Coleman on the Stoke Edith Estate shares the same name as a gamekeeper convicted of killing raptors and badgers on a shooting estate in Herefordshire in 2008. Imagine that! It surely can’t be the same person, because, as we’re so often told, criminal gamekeepers are not tolerated by the shooting industry, right?”

Mark Coleman

I think it’s important to know the relationships between the Glanusk Estate and Mark Coleman if we are to establish the chain of responsibility and culpability. According to the panel above, taken from the Glanusk website, the shoot has been “passed” to Mark Coleman, but what the hell does that mean? I guarantee he doesn’t own the land.

UPDATE 04.07.2016: I am indebted to ‘STaN’ at the Neath Ferret for drawing my attention to the fact that Mark Coleman’s company is not in the best of financial health. The company’s net worth is over three hundred thousand pounds the wrong side of zero. Read the latest accounts for yourself.

4/ There was a statement put out by Dyfed Powys Police in March which read:

“Dyfed Powys Police take allegations of wildlife crime very seriously and investigates all incidents reported to us. Following information received in 2012 and 2013, relating to the deaths of raptors in Powys, a full investigation was carried out in partnership with the RSPB, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Wildlife Management Team in the Welsh Government. During the investigation a number of search warrants under the Wildlife and Countryside Act were executed and two people were arrested in connection with the incidents. A file of evidence was subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service who advised that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.”

This statement claims that arrests were made but the Crown Prosecution Service decided against proceeding with a prosecution. We can only speculate as to why there was no prosecution.

5/ Irrespective of whether there were prosecutions there can be no doubt that crimes were committed, so why has the ‘Welsh’ media remained silent over “the most significant wildlife poisoning incident in Wales”, according to the RSPB? Would our hawk-eyed and diligent journos ignore a murder because there had not yet been a prosecution?

6/ And what of the ‘Welsh’ Government? Apart from doling out grants it doesn’t seem to take a great deal of interest in the Glanusk Estate. Grant funding in which Natural Resources Wales is involved, the same Natural Resources Wales of which Harry Legge-Bourke was a Board Member.

Otherwise, Harry seems to be involved in the world of intelligence and security, with the Chelsea GroupBox-It and something given on his LinkedIn profile as Seven Partners, a name under which I can find nothing other than this company in Lyon. He seems to be cashing in on the rise in global terrorism and concerns for security . . . for which shooting some of the stupidest creatures known to Nature may be ideal preparation. (Myself, I prefer fish in barrels.)

Dyfed Powys

Soon after the original post was published the Glanusk Estate made a statement that you can find here, accompanied by a pretty comprehensive demolition by Raptor Persecution UK.

The Estate obviously felt they hadn’t said enough because a further statement was issued on July 3rd. Here it is, again with a robust response from RPUK. In this statement blame for the poisonings is attributed to “a third party” and assures us that there was never any risk to public health.

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To sum up . . .

First off, you mustn’t think there’s anything unusual – other than the scale – about the poisonings at Glanusk, they happen all the time. That’s because there’s serious money in shooting game birds, and wherever we find an area of human activity where there’s big money to be made we’ll find persons ready to cut corners and break the law.

The reason for my interest in this case is due to the status and connections of those involved and the responses, or rather, the total disinterest, of officialdom and others.

Now I am not for one minute suggesting that any member of the Legge-Bourke family laid poison to kill hawks and ravens. And I believe it’s perfectly possible for these crimes to have taken place on their land without their knowing. I suggest we need to start our search for the guilty parties lower down the food chain, with those who had both the motive and the opportunity.

But I am not suggesting that Mark Coleman himself laid poison to kill raptors or carrion feeders. I use the term ‘carrion feeders’ because a poisoned pheasant or raven could become food for badgers, foxes and smaller animals, perhaps even a domestic cat. Poisoning is indiscriminate.

pheasants

But what of those gamekeepers we are told already had police records over the border and, according to Raptor Persecution UK, were brought to Glanusk by Mark Coleman? Would it be reasonable to assume that these were the two arrested by Dyfed Powys Police? Though it may be significant that the police statement makes no mention of them actually being charged.

Do these gamekeepers still work on the Glanusk Estate?

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Even though the Legge-Bourkes didn’t lay any poison they are the indirect beneficiaries of that act because whoever did it acted to protect the shooting run by Mark Coleman who, we can be sure, pays the family a tidy sum to arrange his £11,000+ a day shooting parties.

The poisonings being first noticed in 2012 suggests they may have been done to ensure the successful launch of the venture after shooting re-started at Glanusk in 2010. Also significant may be that Glanusk offers mainly driven pheasant shooting, with limited ‘walk up’ grouse on offer; yet it is suggested that the hope is to expand the enterprise to a driven grouse venture (the only one in Wales). This would allow Mark Coleman to charge his punters even more. And as I said earlier, we are talking big bucks here.

So even though I am not for one minute suggesting that Mark Coleman laid down poison, he too would have benefited indirectly from greater numbers of birds surviving natural predators for him to offer to high-paying shooters.

Then there are other considerations, such as visitors who come and stay but not for the shooting. And how can we ignore the Green Man Festival, which must be another nice little earner for the Legge-Bourkes, and great publicity for Glanusk. Yet this is the kind of event attended by hippies and Greens. (My kind of people!) I can imagine some malodorous and dreadlocked shit-stirrer starting an online petition to move the Festival somewhere else if these killings of buzzards, ravens and red kites had received the publicity they deserved.

The simple and inescapable fact is that a prosecution, and the resultant publicity, could have cost the Glanusk Estate, and the well-connected Legge-Bourke family, a great deal of money. This is why there was no prosecution.

This case is a damning indictment of Wales in 2016. We have a Labour government down Cardiff docks telling us it’s fighting for ‘equality’ and practicing ‘openness’ and yet here we have an example of privilege, deference and feudalism straight out of the medieval period.

If a story about the killing of birds can be kept out of the public domain to protect persons with connections to the English royals what else is being kept from us?

P.S There’s more to come on this story so I suggest you keep up with developments on the website  https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

 

48 thoughts on “Feudalism Thriving in Powys

  1. Colin

    Fair do’s to you for gathering that information in just a couple of days.

    I haven’t had a chance to read the RPUK links yet but this just shows the attitudes of these people who think they are above the law and can ride roughshod over everyone and anything to get what they want. Whether the Legge Bourkes know or not it should be their responsibility to ensure that things like this do not happen on their grand estate with its and their families apparent good name.

    As for the police investigation, it make you wonder doesn’t it!

  2. dafis

    Someone on that estate has committed a series of crimes over a period of time. Dyfed Powys Police have failed, CPS have failed, and long shadows of vested interests and elite mischief hang over the entire episode. There are a number of bad smells drifting out of this pile and the sooner the whole shabby thing gets ventilated the better for the community in general. Law breakers and rule evaders/benders need to be confronted and held to account.

    Over to you CJ.

  3. Stan

    Thank you for posting this story, Jac. But it doesn’t say much for our mainstream media, press and TV news, that this sorry tale has been buried by them more efficiently than the carcasses of those poisoned birds. Agree with Dafis about the bad smells coming from this one. Hope that someone gets to the bottom of who is involved in the cover up.

    On a wider point, how often do we see our Wales media utterly failing in their duty to bring matters of importance to the public attention? The only time I recall seeing anything about the Mill Bay Homes and PHA story was when you were threatened with being carted off to the Tower. We could do with a good, investigative national paper that is not part of some vested interest or the Establishment, and certainly not one that thinks weeds never grow in Carwyn’s garden.

    1. Colin

      It would make a change for the wasting mule to take the story up in support, more like they will side with Glanusk and turn it into a story of how an ex central heating boss Welsh extremist pensioner is at taking the establishment with his band of racist followers.

      Come on Parry do some good for once in your life, don’t worry I won’t be disappointed that you do sod all again, please don’t let the truth get in the way it would be a crying shame to break the habit of a lifetime!!

  4. Brychan

    My investigations….

    May I give my full support to the owners and operators of GlanUsk estate, and complement them on the support they have given to Dyfed Powys Police. GlanUsk is a vital part of the local economy in that part of Wales and they should resist these attempts by ‘animal rights campaigners’ who flutter in from Bedfordshire wrongfully attributing wildlife crime by egg collectors or international raptor trophy hunters to local businesses.

    There are three important facts that need to be considered…

    (a) The employees that were arrested were not charged. The CPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. This must mean another person or other persons, unconnected with the estate, were charged.
    (b) The animal rights campaigners trespassed on the estate and found a ‘bag of poison baits’ and say this suggests involvement. This is not so. Any landowner who finds poison baits (particularly those suspected of being laced with insecticide, as in this case) are advised to collect and bag them up so they can be forensically analysed and provided to the police for investigation. It is a criminal offence not to, as decomposition of the carcass can result in contamination of micro-fauna in the water eco-system, and of course, poison fish and other wildlife further up the food chain.
    (c) All poisoned baits found were discovered outside the GlanUsk estate, although many victims were (they fly).

    I find it of no surprise that Dyfed Powys Police prefer not to involve Mr Guy Shorrock, one of the trespassers involved as the ‘national investigations officer’ for RSPB. This is because, since he left Greater Manchester Police, Mr Shorrock has compromised previous investigations by properly warranted police officers and compromised prosecutions with ‘opportunities to contaminate evidence’. He has commited at least one instance of an illegal breaking and entering (Hampshire). This may have resulted in prosecutions failing, and this may also be the case in Powys.

    It’s a real shame that the good work of a respected charity (apart from it’s royal patronage) has been compromised by ‘animal rights warriors’ on a mission against local businesses, but I do find it rather amusing to see the English middle classes fly in to conduct a sneering campaign of jealousy against the squatting English aristocracy, and for this to be carried out in deepest Powys.

    I suggest that the third sector funding tit offered to the RSPB be withdrawn.

    1. You seem to know a great deal about this case, Brychan.

      To deal with your point a), my understanding is that no one was charged, and we don’t know who was arrested. Do you?

      1. Brychan

        While on fishing trips, I speak to farmers and vets, and have been known to share a roadside mug of tea with coppers. I would also like to point out that when canvassing in elections, it’s for Rhun ap Iorweth and not Iolo Williams. I respect both. They are not, however, as the village gossip who serves pints of Cwrw Mel had assumed, gay porn stars (as far as I know).

        My concern is over the antics of the animal rights protesters fluttering in from England some of whom have been convicted of very serious offences against the public who have now embarked on a campaign against shooting estates. I am surprised the RSPB are actively involved, perhaps unknowingly (but I doubt it, as Shorrock is a former police officer) with such individuals.

        The insecticide used in the Powys poisonings is very tightly regulated, and would normally only be licensed for use on large East Anglian grain farming with controlled water courses. It is restricted for use by time of year, and location, and held in inspected COSHH stores. Various brands available in Europe having ‘chemical markers’ which can identify the manufacturer and batch, and by definition, the licensed user. Unmarked and illegally held amounts are usually imported as they are destined for the African market where they are used to combat the tsetse fly, and areas prone to malaria. This is also manufactured on license in Tanzania. This is also where the international ‘trophy’ trade is centred (eggs and stuffed raptors).

        As regards arrests and suspects, I am a firm believer in restorative justice. For example, rather than imprisoning a car thief in the valleys, I support community service in local garages. Turning car thieves into qualified motor mechanics. The same principle, no doubt, can be applied in rural areas. In the case of a person employed by a contractor on GlanUsk estate who has previous convictions for rural crimes, this is not an indication of guilt or collusion, but a measure of the community responsibility and duties of a relatively large employer. Obviously, a person who has such a conviction and who is on licence or has a suspended sentence can be arrested and detained without magistrates warrant. This would be normal process during police investigations, and not a measure of guilt.

        I have two further concerns (a) the correspondence between the RSPB and the Welsh Government on the subject, part of a campaign to withdraw various CAP subsidies. It should be noted that while the landholder banks this, it is the innocent tenant farmers on the estate who find employment from this cash, employed specifically to comply with the agricultural schemes like Tir Gofal and (b) employees of RSPB who are using pseudonyms on social media who whip up hatred.

        It is also important that for the real perpetrators to be dealt with that ‘expert witness’ evidence is from those that are actually qualified to present such evidence, and, employees of RSPB present during searches must be named on the warrant for them to be present at the search, and, a balance need be struck between a poisoned bird as an exhibit (not having been handled by a person trespassing at a different crime scene elsewhere) and removing a dangerous contaminant from the environment.

        If assorted RSPB employees and volunteers have evidence to back up social media accusations of collusion by the rural crimes unit of Dyfed Powys Police then they should provide such evidence to the IPCC. Otherwise, fuck off back to Bedfordshire.

        1. Brychan, Brychan, do you really believe that your noble ideal of ‘restorative justice’ ever entered the head(s) of whoever employed convicted poisoners at Glanusk? No, it was ‘——– knows how to use poison, he’s the man for us’. Come on, we both know that.

          As for the tsetse fly and trophy hunters in Tanzania I think we’re drifting away from the topic a little. Or a lot.

          1. Brychan

            I think you’ll find that actually, the poacher turned gamekeeper, is common practice.

            The trophy trade is big business and global. Wales is very much the place to find Red Kites. It is also the case that an enhanced criminal disclosure is required for the gun licence and this would have been done by Dyfed Powys Police. They would have been aware, in advance of the appointment.

            My gut feeling is that the culprits were probably some financially hard-ups (usually in the valleys) commissioned by a wealthy outsider to poison Red Kites and deliver a series of intact carcasses into the trade.

          2. Brychan

            Another thought. Other birds of prey kill on the wing and consume at the kill site. A Red Kite, however, is also a carrion feeder and returns to the nest to consume. They also nest in difficult to find the tree tops in woodland. To find a nest, the poisoned bait would be taken to the nest. All you’d have to do is locate a dead bird, look skyward, and there be eggs.

            1. di-enw

              There are a lot of red kites nesting in wales now if someone wants to locate a nest all they need is binoculars. Poisoning is a high risk and low success way of locating a nest.

            2. Brychan

              Let’s look at the evidence. (a) All untaken baits found outside the estate, common land, (b) majority of victims found under trees in woodland inside the estate, (c) specifically red kites nest in the tops of tall trees, (d) the estate is not open to the public and risk of being caught in the act. This looks to be like a locate and snatch operation from the outside. For eggs, you need a breeding pair, in season, and the ability to get in and out quickly. Also, the poison was specific to kill the bird but not the hound used to locate the corpse.

            3. di-enw

              There are much easier and less risky ways of illegally obtaining a carrion eating bird of prey like a red kite. I’m not going to go into details. Of course that doesn’t rule out dopey criminals making it more difficult and more risky for themselves in their effort to acquire a fresh undamaged red kite body than it need be.

              However the most important issue is not who committed the offences or why they did it.
              Nor is it about bloodsports/ farm payments/ local economy/ conservation.
              The most important issue is why Dyfed Powys Police chose to keep it under wraps.

            4. Brychan

              The ‘public at large’ have nothing to offer the investigation. It’s a niche crime. The only mug shot they would have had would be of a dead bird. Publicising the crime during the investigation would have just tipped off the suspects, and compromised the acquisition of further evidence. In the event, it was an employee of the RSPB who did this, via social media, and evidently allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution. The conspiracy theory that the Welsh Government, Dyfed Powys Police and the owners of a landed estate are in collusion to kill raptors, in just plain daft.

    2. di-enw

      Some questions
      Why would egg collectors put out poisoned bait?
      Why would egg collectors or trophy hunters put out poisoned bait on or near a managed pheasant shoot in an area regularly covered by gamekeepers?
      a) Where is the record for these other people being charged?
      b) Why would the staff of a pheasant shoot not inform the police at the earliest opportunity after finding baits or victims they suspected had been poisoned?
      Why were the suspected poisoned carcasses not stored in a secure place?
      c) Is it true that no poisoned baits were found on property owned or controlled by Glanusk?
      If the poisoned birds flew to where they were discovered then contacting the police asap is still the action that must happen. If this wasn’t done, why?
      Why would any action or method of Guy Shorrocks result in Dyfed Powys police not bringing the public’s attention to the largest poisoning of birds of prey in Wales was happening?

      This issue has been uncovered by conservationists and their main concern is naturally illegal indiscriminate poisoning targeting birds of prey. However the big issues that should concern everyone are why and how this poisoning “spree” was kept secret from us. Whether we think the conservationists involved are heroes or zeros is irrelevant.

      1. Brychan

        To answer some of your questions…

        The most effective illegal method to reduce the population of raptors is to shoot them, and of course, a hunting estate has ample supplies of guns. The second most effective way is ‘pole traps’, a kind of big baited mousetrap stuck on top of telegraph pole, or coppice stump. Almost all criminal destruction of raptors where the estate has directly engaged or solicited a third party in such a crime is by using this method.

        Poison baits are not that effective, and often miss the target bird. Bait can be moved by the prey bird (often to cliff ledges) leaving evidence. It is essential, however, for trophy hunters to use a poison as this method does not mangle the bird.

        Upon discovering the (suspected) poisoned birds, back in 2012, the estate and the gamekeeper followed the correct procedure, firstly to inform the Welsh Government, who then appointed the RSPB to visit the site under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme. It is a statutory requirement in Wales. The bagged exhibits were sent to be tested (paid for by the Welsh Government) and the results being positive provided to the police to start a criminal investigation. I would be interest to know if the RSPB have a problem with this procedure. Are they accusing the Welsh Government, Dyfed Powys Police or GlanUsk estate of not following the agreed process?

        Problems arose subsequently, with the GlanUsk estate being victims of armature sleuthing, a campaign of harassment by animal rights protesters and some instances of RSPB trespass which may well have compromised any prosecution. I have been told that when the police executed search warrants, a ‘clean up’ operation had been conducted by one of the suspects. He had become aware of the investigation due to the amateur dramatics. The result was that the residual evidence would not have stood up in court. This is what I was told, and I suggest that the RSPB confirm these events and ‘call-off’ the vigilantes.

        It does the police and the RSPB no favours.
        It’s just a political campaign by associated veggie-terrorists.

        1. di-enw

          you have only answered the first question of b)and the second question of c) and your answer to both seems to be at odds with what is being reported elsewhere by someone involved with the” investigation”.

          As I said it’s irrelevant What the Crown Prosection Service decided would hold up in court
          .The facts that no-one associated with dealing with crime is disputing is that this was the largest bird of prey poisoning incident that has been uncovered in Wales and the public were not informed. See my next post further down.

  5. dafis

    That Brecon Beacons press release reported that …….. “In due course a long-term land management partnership will be developed comprising an independent Chair and representations from Glanusk, Tregoyd, Bal Bach/Bal Mawr, The Duke of Beaufort, Michaelchurch, Ffawyddog and Evans-Bevans Estates, the Black Mountains Graziers Association, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Natural England and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. Brecon Beacons National Park Authority will also working with ADAS and the National Trust Wales to deliver elements of the Nature Fund grant……..”.
    Sounds all nice and clubby and collaborative, until…… you realise that they are all estates still owned in the 21st century by an elitist cluster of landowners. O.K the graziers association are involved, probably to do the heavy lifting and generally obey orders from Hooray Harry and the rest of his chums. Bunch of wankers ! and don’t let anyone come on here extolling the virtues of these anachronistic jerks as custodians of the countryside. They exploit it, and abuse it as the lead story above clearly describes.

  6. Tony Johnstone

    What an interesting read!. Hooray Hennery’s, Privileged few, Wealthy. All used to describe those that frequent Glanusk Estate and many others in the UK that provide top class driven bird shooting. I live in an end of terraced house and drive a 12 year old car and have walked every square inch of Glanusk Estate on at least 50+ occasions since Mark Coleman took over the shooting and can honestly say that I have never at any time seen any evidence of poisoned baits or the remains of any dead raptors. To the contrary, in all my years of country walking and I am over 65, I have witnessed the highest density of Buzzards and Ravens anywhere in the UK at the Glanusk Estate and I have covered ground on estates from Scotland to Devon and everywhere in between.

    Isn’t it interesting how gullible some people can be, giving their opinions on subjects that they know absolutely nothing about and at the same time dragging the good names of those that do more for the British countryside than most well into the mud without a thought for those concerned. Whatever happened to “Innocent until proven Guilty” Don’t misunderstand me as I for one do not hold with the indiscriminate killing of our precious wildlife, but if the authorities are not able to prosecute due to lack of evidence surly that should tell you something other than letting your imagination run wild by spreading conspiracy theory’s concerning Police collusion and members of the Aristocracy.

    Like I said at the beginning I am just an ordinary guy that spent his whole life working for a living to support my wife and family. I was not born into a wealthy family nor did I inherit any additional wealth from relatives. Everything I have I have worked all my life for yet some of you have the audacity to call me a ‘Hooray Hennery’ or ‘The Privileged Wealthy’ just because I enjoy being out in the countryside and occasionally partake in certain country sports. Yes I have stood on the Gun Line and enjoyed all the wonders that a well run shoot can provide and yes I have worked on shooting estates providing service as a loader, beater and picker up working my retrievers, but I have never met any of the characters mentioned in your article. I have only met the other kind, you know the ordinary chap who works hard, cares for his family and friends and possesses a very high regard for the countryside and all those dedicated to its survival. Funny that!

    1. Truly heart-rending … and thoroughly unconvincing. My guess would be that you know the principals involved. I don’t doubt that you may be involved and enjoy the ‘sport’, but at the prices quoted very few people who visit this blog could afford it.

      But even if you’re right about no raptors poisoned at Glanusk you and all the other defenders miss a very important point that I feel strongly about, one that I should perhaps have mentioned. I’m talking now about people, human beings, who derive pleasure from killing animals.

      Don’t get me wrong, I understand and sympathise with the old-fashioned poacher taking a rabbit for the pot, to feed his family. I appreciate why the local hill farmers around here go out to kill foxes before lambing – to protect their livelihoods. But I am talking about people who enjoy killing for the fun of it, and are prepared to pay handsomely for the ‘pleasure’.

      This tradition you defend was developed, and the rules laid down, in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to ‘blood’ and ‘toughen up’ those who governed the empire where, when they weren’t keeping the natives in their place, they could have ‘fun’ reducing the populations of lions and tigers, elephants and rhino.

      I remember many years ago reading a Canadian study that concluded children who are cruel to animals should be watched, because they are far more likely to grow up and be violent and abusive to other human beings.

      Now fuck off with your simpering bollocks about how wonderful are the people who organise and charge heftily for some maladjusted fuckers to enjoy themselves killing defenceless animals.

      1. Tony Johnstone

        Well your response confirms that you have lost this debate, which is not at all surprising sInce your initial rant was all about your hatred for people you believe have gained more from life than you have and not about your dislike of Game Shooting.

        Best stick to trying to convince the poorly informed that you know what you are talking about because you would not stand a chance against those that do.

        1. The original story, which I merely relayed, was about the poisoning of raptors, and that was what I stuck to with a few personal observations.

          But fundamental to the whole issue, and the wider business of hunting, etc., is that we are dealing with an ‘industry’ that offers up defenceless creatures to be killed by human beings. Worse, there isn’t even the defence that these creatures – pheasants, grouse, whatever – take lambs or frighten the horses. How far do you go in your defence of such activities – do you support badger-baiting?

          In this particular case, and in shooting estates from Land’s End to John O’Groats, raptors and other natural predators are killed for no better reason than that they kill for food what man kills for fun. Which means that predators and ‘game birds’ must die unnecessarily.

          Obviously you have chosen to defend what goes on at Glanusk and similar estates, which you are perfectly entitled to do, but don’t come back here defending the killing of any creature for fun, or the killing of other creatures in defence of that ‘fun’.

          1. Myfanwy

            Well said Jack, the fact that one of our most noble and symbolic birds and other wildlife, are being destroyed in this apalling way, for the preservation of a very aristocratic and colonial pursuit, is in it self, symbolic of a fuedal system that still persists in the minds of the Aristocracy. The fact that others, who have aquired wealth, aspire to kill animals and birds in this way, for the pursuit of pleasure, keeps the whole rotten system going. These incidents of poisoning, could have been going on for years,with the perpetrators knowing full well, there would be no threat of prosecution, as some people, really are, above the law.

    2. Stan

      The people that fought for the emancipation of slaves didn’t have to spend time on cotton plantations to know that slavery was wrong. You don’t have to have lived in the countryside or ridden with hounds to have an opinion on the morality of fox hunting. Badger baiting is disgusting. I despise hare coursing. Any activity where an animal is injured or killed to provide “sport” for humans is anathema to me. We are similar in age and I live in a terrace too and drive an older vehicle. But we may as well live on different planets.

      You do not make it clear if you have personally encountered illegal poisoning or trapping of raptors etc in the many estates you claim to have spent time on. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. This article from the New Statesman may be helpful to open your eyes but you sound set in your ways to me. Note the words of the conservationist and writer Simon Barnes that those incidences of illegality that are uncovered are likely only the very, very tip of a much larger iceberg. What we need in England and Wales is clear to me. We need to introduce the concept of vicarious liability, as in Scotland, to make estate owners themselves responsible if poisoning/trapping etc takes place on their land. This would greatly help, in my opinion, to cut out the wriggle room for responsibility, where it is so difficult to secure convictions.

      http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2015/07/unfair-game-why-are-britain-s-birds-prey-being-killed

      Incidentally, how do you feel when you pick up a still warm, possibly still moving bird you have shot out of the sky just for kicks? 100 years ago people like you may have enjoyed a stint in the trenches at the Somme, but maybe not – it’s not so much fun when your prey can shoot back, is it? Funny that!

      1. Myfanwy

        Excellent post, estate owners should be held reponsible for any poisoning or trappings, that take place on their land, it is far too easy for cases to be dismissed and the criminal activity to continue. It’s about time the Welsh Government took more power back into it’s own hands, as they have done in Scotland, on this issue and many, many others!.

    3. di-enw

      I appreciate your point that the fact is that no-one has been charged.
      Another fact is that a large number of poisoned birds were found on the Glanusk estate, a number of them it is said, collected by staff of the business that runs the shoot.
      Another fact is that neither you, nor any other members of the public that walk the estate, were made aware of the situation and the attendant risks especially to their dogs.
      Do you feel this is acceptable and why?

      1. Brychan

        Do you think this acceptable? Yes.
        Why? To secure a prosecution of such crime is difficult. You have to prove whodunit beyond reasonable doubt, and this involves direct forensic evidence, and also, by the way, intent. Headlines in the County Times usually alerts the suspect. Unlike birds, most mammals, including dogs do not fly. They have big heavy digestive and liver function. An amount of insecticide fatal to a bird would not cause any problem to a dog. The insecticide discovered is actually available in shops in aerosol cans as fly killer. The main cause of concern is a concentrated amount of insecticide leaching into the watercourse via decomposition insects, and it’s effect on fish. This is why the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme has a set procedure to assess the risks and recommend appropriate action.

  7. dafis

    Big difference between “killing to meet a need” and “killing for fun” but those who regard all life other than their own as cheap are not likely to give a moment’s thought to that difference. Given the description he gives of himself Mr Johnstone is most likely part of the fetchin’ and carryin’ crew at the range. The kind of numbers quoted for a day’s shooting don’t quite square with his humble self portrait, unless of course he’s winding us up !

    I was more intrigued by Brychan’s contribution of yesterday ( 04/07) afternoon as he seemed to have some quality inside info which could also implicate our old friends the fleecy jacketed eco fascists and/or their coarser cousins, those assorted eco warriors living in mud huts, trees and generally causing disruption and mayhem when an “issue” excites them. Now all these queer folk have agendas which have little or no regard for the well being of Welsh people, and in that respect they have a cause in common with the estate owning gentry. Glanusk may be “not guilty” of any offence relating to the dead raptors but the values they and other estates and corporate bodies propagate do not have any positive influence on advancing our nation’s collective welfare.

    1. Tony Johnstone

      No wind up I can assure you. My interest in replying was not to try and justify “killing for fun” as some see it but to provide a balanced view in that not all who follow field sports are the “Privileged Wealthy” as Jac puts it.

      As Jac was also quick to point out children that are cruel to animals are far more likely to grow up to be abusive to others. Perhaps he should rewrite his last paragraph as nothing I said warranted the use of foul language and insults.

      1. “My interest in replying was not to try and justify “killing for fun” as some see it but to provide a balanced view in that not all who follow field sports are the “Privileged Wealthy” as Jac puts it.” Yes, that’s exactly how I see it – killing for fun. How would you describe it? And in my book, whether it’s done by the wealthy or the poor, it makes no difference. But given the context, we are of course dealing with the wealthy and the privileged.

        If my forthright language offended you, I’m sorry. But I feel very strongly, and always have, about cruelty to animals.

      2. Brychan

        When you buy your chicken in a supermarket, you have a number of choices. (a) The cheapest, which is farmed in a cage. (b) The more expensive which is farmed in a barn. (c) The most expensive, farmed in a barn, with a bit of field, which is fenced in. All three types are captive animals, bred for the pot.

        A really good organic bird can be purchased, that has spent a life in the wild, and you can only get them from a good local butcher. Chickens are a domesticated bird that cannot survive in the wild so you have to choose ‘game’ bird, like pheasant, partridge, or grouse, and they are only available ‘in season’. These are true ‘organic free range’ but take a lot of expense to provide habitat, then shoot. I have an idea. Why don’t we get someone else to shoot them, and make them pay £1000 a day for the privilege?

        There’s a good local butcher in Cydweli, that sell them.
        Gwenllian Pie, Yum Yum.

        Far from objecting to the type of bird in the pot, I think it’s morally objectionable for people to eat caged birds, or even captive birds held in barns. It’s better to eat wild birds, shot on landed estates. The reason why there are so many raptors in the wild, above CrugHywel is BECAUSE of the existence of a game bird estate, with ample wild prey.

        I do get Jacs’ issue with the owners of the estate being supplanted English aristocracy. They must have paid their land and inheritance taxes back in the 1940s. The tax dodgers who didn’t gave their land away to the National Trust. Sterile estates, subsidised by the third sector funds, used for the weekend entertainment of tourists, who only employ the natives in summer on the minimum wage.

        I have an idea. As we pay for the English castles, circa Edward I, now owned by the Welsh Government, and the like of Penrhyn estate, now owned by the National Trust, why don’t we introduce a game bird operation, or even a wild dear park on such land that is no longer owned by the English aristocracy?

  8. Colin

    Personally I don’t have an issue with killing for fun as long as it is conducted humanely, fox hunting with a gun, fine, with hounds, I don’t like. If you have other beliefs that’s fine with me too and I won’t try and impose mine on you rest assured.

    If people want to pay £1000 a day to shoot half a dozen pheasants, let them, it’s their money, the birds are bred for that purpose in this case. What is wrong is where personal gain is put first; the law of the land that has been imposed on the Welsh by the English also applies to the “Hooray Henereys” (sic) that choose to live here irrespective of their nationality. They are not above the law, they cannot poison birds because they take a few bred birds, it is against the law and those that do it are common criminals, end of, no argument. If they have been baiting carcasses or there is evidence of it, the police should uphold the law to its full extent and bring charges to those involved and not let them off the hook because the Chief constable is a member of the same lodge as those involved or whatever connection may exist (in no way am I trying to point a finger at the CC there, just an example)

  9. di-enw

    Compare and Contrast
    Brychan perhaps the following will provide you with further material for thought

    Below are links to three websites including Dyfed Powys Police’s own showing how Dyfed Powys Police responded to the poisoning of one dog and one red Kite in Llangynog in May 2014

    http://www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/newsroom/press-releases/wildlife-poisoning/
    http://www.countytimes.co.uk/news/135316/poison-warning-after-pet-dog-dies.aspx
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-28091293

    They include the following plea from Dyfed Powys Police

    “Anyone who has information on any person who has access to this substance or where and how it is being used illegally is asked to contact Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask for the information to be passed on to Sergeant Howells or alternatively contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111”

    Dyfed Powys Police must explain why their responses to the the Llangynog and Glanusk poisoning incidents where so different.

    1. I was unaware of the Llangynog incident, but as you say, it does raise questions, especially as the same police force is involved.

      One of the statements put out by the Glanusk Estate tries to clear the Estate of culpability by saying that the poisoning took place outside of the Estate walls in “a forested area”, perhaps similar to the one in which that dog died.

    2. Brychan

      No need for Dyfed-Powys Police to explain. It’s bloody obvious. If a dog dies on-the-spot there is a clear indicator of a threat to humans. Different situation altogether. First suspect would be strychnine or other mammal poison. A dog is also a notifiable animal, even in a RTC. This poison did turn out to be an insecticide but of a different type, one that’s been banned since 2007. Possession of this substance in any form is a crime. Where the motive and the suspects at Llangynog may be the same, dealing with that incident is completely different from what’s gone on at GlanUsk

      1. di-enw

        Of course there are differences. Two significant ones are –
        The Aldicarb used in Llangynog can be fatal to mammals the Bendiocab used in Glanusk effect on mammals is temporary
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldicarb
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bendiocarb

        Victims found in the Llangynog were a Red Kite and a dog poisoned a year apart in Oct 2013 and Oct 2014. At Glanusk 24 birds (9 bait 2 ravens and 13 birds of prey) were found in Oct 2012 and Aug and Oct 2013.

        You suggest that the poisoning could have been carried out by those outside of Glanusk therefore why did Dyfed Powys Police not ask the public for assistance in this serious and significant wildlife crime.

        You suggest that the public need not be informed that a criminal is deliberately poisoning wildlife because the poison being used only kills birds. This is a quite nonchalant attitude towards public safety unless you think we and Dyfed Powys Police should trust the criminal poisoner involved to be “responsible” and only ever use a poison that won’t harm us or our pets.

        By the way the theory you suggest that it’s the work of egg collectors is clearly wrong in the Glanusk case as the poisoned birds were found in August and October, Red Kites young typically hatch in May or June.
        http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/r/redkite/nesting.aspx
        To correct your previous statement – there no be eggs.

        1. Brychan

          The known baits were found in August and October. This just indicates that at that time of year the estate is teaming with retrieval hounds used when the shooting season starts, end August for most game, start October for pheasant. The time for posting, mowing of clearings and range setting. Baits being found as a result.

          It does not indicate that baiting is only conducted at that time of year. Or if a nest mapping operation is being done. Also, a trophy carcass would be better in the autumn during the mating season when the tail is forked and the wings flashed white. It would be very embarrassing if the retrieval hound of the shooting party kept dashing into the woods and coming back with raptors instead of pheasant. Surely, if it was an attempt at culling as an inside job, a gamekeeper would poison in the late spring prior to the fledgling of young, at a time when parent birds feed more and the estate vacant of hounds and shooting parties.

          So whodunit?

          I am told that Mr Shorrock of the RSPB was present when the search warrants were executed, and that the premises had been tipped off and ‘cleaned’ resulting in insufficient evidence to prosecute. Perhaps the RSPB is too leaky, and should be eliminated from the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme. Too cushy with chopsy animal rights campaigners on weekend trips from Shropshire dressed as amateur fleece jacketed sherlocks?

          1. di-enw

            To me it seems you are motivated to show how and why these poisonings could have been carried out by someone unconnected with the pheasant shoot at Glanusk. Also you appear to have issues regarding those who you describe as “chopsy animal rights campaigners”.
            Perhaps, despite repeating myself a number of times, I need to make it clear.
            I don’t give a stuff about who did it or why they did it or what involvement ”amateur fleece jacketed sherlocks” had.

            More than two and a half years have elapsed since the last poisoning and Dyfed Powys police only coughed up some information on the incidents after a Freedom of Information request.
            Someone at Dyfed Powys Police made a decision not to tell us.
            You may feel it’s OK to remain in ignorance, fine that’s your choice. I feel differently but you are welcome to put forward an argument as to why we shouldn’t be informed of the uncovering wildlife poisoning crime of an unprecedented scale.

            1. Brychan

              There was no ‘uncovering’. Mr Guy Shorrock, a senior investigation officer at the RSPB was fully aware of the scale of the crime that is linked to incidents throughout Wales and England. Indeed, he was present at the search of the suspects premises and he, as well as the RSPB were kept fully informed by Dyfed Powys Police because he would have been required to provide evidence as an ‘expert witness’ should the case get to court. The FoI request was vexatious and contained no more information than what the RSPB already knew. It was just an attempt to publicise the RSPB ‘wildlife warriors’ from Bedfordshire to give them some kind of credibility, and mask the fact that it was their actions that compromised the prosecution. It’s important that the legislation in Wales is changed to ensure the RSPB are removed from their role as ‘experts’, so that prosecuting such crimes in Wales is done in a more professional manner.

  10. Big Gee

    Killing for sport or fun is immoral and wrong – regardless of how you dress it up. It is a psychopathic display, and encourages psychopathic responses to the suffering or death of others – be it human or animal at any level. It encourages a natural conscience and guilt over an act of cruelty to be stifled – as someone else pointed out on here with the barbaric ritual of ‘blooding’ young people, to desensitize them to the act. Killing to sustain yourself is a different matter.

    I believe the whole argument can be put in context when you compare the way the Natives of North America viewed the act of killing. The animal was shown respect, every tiny bit of it was put to practical use and it’s flesh only used to sustain the hunter’s family, to keep them alive. The bare minimum were killed, and the herds of bison, in their millions, and flocks of Passenger Pigeons – billions strong – that sometimes took days to fly over, were preserved by the native hunters, because they hunted for sustenance and not sport or for ‘fun’ killing.

    Early settlers who came from Europe to America put an end to that. The last Passenger Pigeon became extinct in 1914. Killed mostly for fun. One account tells of one shooter shooting into a tree in the dark to discover 18 dead birds on the ground – what fun! Bison nearly went the same way, because trains were put on across the country carrying so called ‘hunters’ (in reality cowardly slaughterers, heady with bloodlust). When a herd was passed the train would slow down and the windows opened so that the noble ‘hunters’ could take pot-shots at the bison herds. They were then left in their thousands to rot on the plains. Ironically the natives at that time were being rounded up and starved to death on reservations. Fun isn’t it? This was the grotesque sight of Europeans with psychopathic tendencies that had a tradition of wanton killing – many probably ‘blooded’ on similar estates to those mentioned earlier in these posts.

    So what has the Glanusk episode to do with the killing of animals in North America by colonisers? Simply the fact that the common denominator is the attitude of those involved towards other creatures that inhabit this earth. An attitude most prevalent amongst the Germanic tribes (especially Anglo Saxons) from Europe.

    I was brought up on a hill farm, on Mynydd Bach in Ceredigion. We hunted animals, either for the pot or to protect our lambs. Our knowledge – as children – of wild animals, their habits and habitat was second to none. However it was drummed into us that killing for the sake of killing was very wrong. The bare minimum of predators were killed. We would NEVER kill more than was needed for a meal – mostly rabbits,sometimes a hare, snipe, wild duck and goose, the odd wild pheasant (not the hand reared half tame ones they release on ‘shoots’). No animal was ever hunted out of season when it had young or was nesting. We NEVER killed birds of prey or any other bird we couldn’t eat.

    So for those who wish to tart up the need to poison birds and animals or shoot them for fun, DON’T defend the indefensible. Making up excuses about the employment offered, or the need to preserve the countryside is froth. True country people do not behave like that, neither do they wear Tweed jackets and Plus Fours or own a pair of Purdey shotguns.

    1. Stan

      Really thought provoking and knowledgeable post on this polarising subject, Big Gee. Isn’t it ironic that white colonisers considered the Native Americans to be savages and the same attitude prevailed towards the Aborigines, both of whom lived about as close to that modern buzzword “sustainably” as you could get?

      1. Big Gee

        Yes truly ironic, when you consider that the white skinned colonisers believed they were ‘civilizing’ savages. Arrogant/ ignorant bastards – things haven’t changed a lot have they Stan?

  11. Stan

    There has already been reference to the fact that one of the gamekeeping staff employed at Glanusk happens to share the same name as a gamekeeper convicted of wildlife crime elsewhere in the country eight years ago. It may be pure coincidence that there are two gamekeepers in the country associated with pheasant shoots who share quite an unusual name. The comments and link below expand a little on what has already featured in Jac’s article and some of the comments.

    The convicted gamekeeper was working at the Kempton Estate in Aston on Clun, Shropshire and received a six months suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the systematic killing of birds of prey and badgers on the shooting estate where he worked. He was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and pay £200 costs.

    A coded diary featured in the prosecution and had entries relating to 102 buzzards, 40 ravens and 37 badgers, though he actually pleaded guilty to killing two buzzards, attempting to kill two more and to possessing a shotgun, which he used to carry out the offences. He also admitted killing two badgers and to illegally setting eight spring traps on the estate, which it is believed were intended to trap birds of prey.

    In addition, he asked for the killing of six more badgers and another count of setting spring traps to be taken into account in passing sentence.
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/media/releases/details.aspx?id=199217

    This coded diary illustrates the massive impact just one “rogue” gamekeeper can have on local wildlife and as I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, the ones we find out about are likely to be just the tip of a much larger iceberg. I’m encouraged by the fact that these earlier crimes were uncovered thanks to other gamekeepers apparently dobbing him in. But I don’t buy into the argument I have sometimes seen in articles that gamekeepers are guardians of our environment.

  12. di-enw

    Brychan
    you said at 7/7/16 15:32- “The ‘public at large’ have nothing to offer the investigation. It’s a niche crime. The only mug shot they would have had would be of a dead bird.”
    Poisoning cats is a niche crime nevertheless in February 2015 the Dyfed Powys Police chose seek the assistance of the public even though presumably the only mug shot they had was that of a dead moggie.
    “If this has happened deliberately we need to know, so anyone with information or anyone who saw anything suspicious should get in touch.”
    http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2015/02/07/welshpool-police-on-alert-as-cats-die-after-being-targeted/#Cr5yCRL4br8wLusJ.99

    you also said – “The conspiracy theory that the Welsh Government, Dyfed Powys Police and the owners of a landed estate are in collusion to kill raptors, in just plain daft.”

    The poisoning at Glanusk happened on three occasions over a period of thirteen months. If we are to accept your explanation for the silence by the police since October 2013 the police have either been waiting patiently for the perpetrators to strike again and hopefully incriminate themselves in the process of a fourth poisoning activity or the police are sure for some reason that the poisoning will not happen again at Glanusk. Whichever it is as of March 2016, nearly two and a half years after the third incident Dyfed Powys Police it seems had not informed the public of the record breaking wildlife poisoning activities perpetrated at/near Glanusk.

    I haven’t suggested a conspiracy theory I have stated the obvious – someone at Dyfed Powys Police made the decision not to inform the public. I think we should know how and why that decision was made. You appear to imply that we shouldn’t be concerned with something like that.

    1. Brychan

      I think the twitter feed and press releases from Dyfed Powys Police fall into two categories. (a) Plea for help from the public, like ‘serious assault, have you seen this man’ and (b) public relations like ‘officers help pussy cats ’. I do not think for one moment that DCI Tom Mathias has sent in papa units to comb the streets of Welshpool for the pussy poisoner, although a public beware message is apt.

      What I do think is that the spate of raptor poisoning is organised crime, is happening across Wales and England (and maybe internationally) is not restricted to hunting estates, and is not orchestrated by nasty toffs in green wellies. I also think that apprehending the culprits will take detailed forensic examination of the providence of carcass baits, the source of the poison, and also tracking suspects by triangulation of mobile phone usage, vehicle use between crime scenes, where the latex gloves were purchased in the GlanUsk case, and who’s dogs were used. This will take time. It will not be solved by outraged middle class warriors descending on Wales and climbing trees shouting ‘meat is murder’ or former police officers gallivanting out of mega-sheds in Bedfordshire with a car full of vegans.

      What this case has identified is that the ‘wildlife and environment legislative orders’ from the Welsh Government that rely on amateur enforcement by third sector charities to be completely dysfunctional. What is needed is proper primary legislation relevant to Wales and a professional forensic investigations team set up, drawing on properly qualified scientific expertise that is able to offer expert witness evidence to the CPS and in the courtroom.

      1. Big Gee

        That sounds very reasonable to me Brychan. It’s a result that’s needed wherever the blame lies. I think that the source of outrage here is based on two things:
        1. Nobody trusts or respects the police anymore – for very good historical reasons.
        2. We are all suspicious of shady, privileged circles of secretive and powerful networks – for the same reasons as I’ve alluded to in 1.

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