Above: PC Carr and PC Davis recover the first shot short-eared owl hidden by Timothy Cowin. Further items seized by the police included a rock covered in blood near where the first owl was found. Forensics confirmed the presence of short-eared owl DNA. Photo: Guy Shorrock/RSPB


VIDEO FOOTAGE SHOWING the chase for an owl killer has been released by the RSPB, following a successful court case.

In 2017, moorland gamekeeper Timothy Cowin, 44, had shot and then buried two short-eared owls on the Whernside Estate in Cumbria. He had been spotted carrying a gun on April 19, 2017, by RSPB officers investigating after a previous incident.

RSPB officers called the police, who apprehended Mr Cowin and recovered the corpses of two owls he had attempted to hide, together with an electronic sound luring device in his vehicle that was found to have the calls of birds of prey. 

On August 28, 2018, at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court, he was fined a total of £1,210 after pleading guilty to two charges concerning the  intentional killing of two protected owls.

While waiting for the police to arrive from 25 miles away, the RSPB officers gathered photographic evidence of what had occurred.

Guy Shorrock, RSPB senior investigations officer, who accompanied two colleagues on the day of the arrest, captured footage of Mr Cowin negotiating an access gate and then unexpectedly encountered him in the carpark. He gave chase before police arrested him.

Mr Shorrock said: “In my youth as a police officer I had chased plenty of criminals on foot, but never during 25 years with the RSPB!”

The recovery of the two owls, which Mr Cowin had hidden in a wall, was also filmed.

The short-eared owl is on the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern. Mr Shorrock added: “Over the years we have had a number of very disturbing reports from people within the shooting industry alleging widespread and systematic killing of short-eared owls on grouse moors in the north of England.

“The premeditated way these beautiful birds were flushed, shot and hidden was truly shocking. We are immensely grateful for the response of the police to this remote location.”

Watch the video in full at: https://youtu.be/0-bkVURvGkQ


For more news from Cage & Aviary Birds, click here.