20/10/2018
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Goshawk shot and dumped in river

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Police have launched an investigation after a Northern Goshawk was shot before being dumped into a river in Scotland. The bird – a female hatched in Angus four years ago – is thought to have been trapped and shot at close range before being disposed of in the River Esk. The body was found near St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, by a member of the public in late March. The carcass was given to the Royal School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University, where an X-ray revealed the bird was peppered with lead shot.


Northern Goshawk, undisclosed site, Aragón (Natalino Fenech).

This news comes just days after the Scottish government's latest statistics claimed raptor persecution is at a record low, with suggestions that only nine recorded crimes against birds of prey took place last year. However, despite these figures, Scotland Police now have another case to investigate, and they're appealing to anyone who may have any information on the Northern Goshawk to come forward.

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Dr Ruth Tingay, from Raptor Persecution UK, said of the latest incident: "Given the large amount of lead shot in its body it would have died immediately, so it's possible it was killed on the shoreline and left to rot. Another explanation is that the Northern Goshawk had been shot and killed further inland and then tossed in the river for the water to carry away the corpse, and thus the evidence of the crime. The amount of lead shot is a clear indication it was shot at close range. Maybe it was caught in a trap then killed and dumped – it is quite hard to get up close to an adult Northern Goshawk unless it is trapped somewhere."

The corpse, found far away from any suitable habitat, was initially sent to Edinburgh University for tests, which revealed the lead shot in its body. It was then sent to Scotland's Rural College for a post-mortem, after which police were notified. Dr Tingay added: "Over the years we have seen a decrease in poisoning incidents but an increase in shooting. By shooting birds, the criminals have complete control of the crime scene. If they get a clean shot they kill the bird and remove it to get rid of the evidence.

"A lot of this killing is going on at night, using thermal-imaging and night-vision equipment. Not only is there a lack of witnesses, but if someone has put in a hidden camera, thermal imaging will pick up the heat from the battery and they can destroy the camera."