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Police Scotland climbdown over ‘deliberately shot’ buzzard

Police Scotland have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown over a buzzard which they claimed had been “deliberately shot."


The bird was reported to police after being discovered in woodland near Ladybank in Fife in April. The discovery of the bird’s remains was accompanied by a press release from Police Scotland which claimed that the bird had been illegally killed and that it had died “a lingering death.” The press release then went on to ask for witnesses to come forward, saying: “We rely on the public to help us tackle wildlife crime and I urge anyone in the local and wider community to come forward if they have any information about who may have been responsible.”

The alleged offence was enthusiastically reported by a number of major media outlets including the BBC and pro-independence Scottish paper ‘The National’. Predictably, it was also promoted via major anti-shooting blogs where commenters were quick to blame “the country sports industry.”

However, after a post-mortem, officers were forced into an embarrassing climbdown and the force issued a terse statement via Facebook, which said: “Following the death of a buzzard in woodland near Ladybank in April, enquiries have established there were no suspicious circumstances. Initial examination suggested the bird had been shot, however police have since been able to establish that this was not the case.”

The change of mind by the force was met with extreme irritation. Rural issues campaigner and former gamekeeper Bert Burnett was scathing. Bert said: “The police in these cases, with no autopsies having been done prior to publishing, are asking for the public to come forward with any info on how these birds died. How can the public present information when no crimes have been committed and the bird has died of natural causes?”

Meanwhile in Derbyshire the case against a man who was filmed removing eggs from a peregrine falcon’s nest collapsed after much of the evidence was ruled inadmissible on procedural grounds. A district judge said that the arrest, search and photographing of the accused man were unlawful.