As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Is this why the rare hen harrier is facing 'extinction by persecution' in England?

Man let off with caution for setting 'barbaric' bird of prey traps on land owned by friends of the royal family
20 hours ago

Conservationists have expressed outrage after a man who set “barbaric” traps for birds of prey on land owned by close friends of the royal family was let off with a police caution.

RSPB wildlife crime investigators expected the 23-year-old to be taken to court and at the very least fined for an offence that can carry a six-month jail sentence – especially as he had set his traps near where a hen harrier, one of England’s rarest birds of prey, had recently been spotted.

Instead, they were “absolutely gobsmacked” to learn that North Yorkshire Police let him off with a caution.

The Independent understands that the man, who has not been named by police, had been doing gamekeeping work on the 4,500-acre Mossdale estate, owned by the Van Cutsem family. 

The Van Cutsems have been close friends of the royal family since the late Hugh van Cutsem met Prince Charles at Cambridge University in the 1960s. 

And in 2007 Prince Harry and the youngest Van Cutsem son, William, were both interviewed by police in connection with the fate of two hen harriers that allegedly disappeared from view at the same time as shotgun blasts were heard coming from the Queen’s estate at Sandringham, Norfolk.

Both men denied any knowledge of the incident, no hen harrier bodies were ever found, and the police took no action.

There is no suggestion that any member of the Van Cutsem family had any involvement in or knowledge of the attempt to trap birds of prey on the Mossdale estate. It was also not clear whether the 23-year-old man was directly employed by the estate.

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