Grouse moors 'to blame for Scotland's disappearing raptors'
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Aug 17 00:30:08 BST 2017
Grouse moors 'to blame for Scotland's disappearing raptors'
As estates gear up for Glorious Twelfth, wildlife
crime expert talks of direct link between grouse
moors and persecution of birds of prey
Carrell Scotland editor
Friday 11 August 2017 15.22
Grouse moors are to blame for persecuting
endangered birds of prey in the Scottish
Highlands and Uplands, according to a wildlife crime expert.
Ian Thomson, the head of investigations at the
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
said data from 77 birds of prey that had been
satellite-tagged showed a direct correlation
between dead and disappeared birds and grouse moors.
Moorland estates across Scotland and northern
England are gearing up for the start on Saturday
of the annual red grouse-shooting season, known
Twelfth, although wet weather and late snow have
led to some shoots being postponed in the Highlands.
The industry in Scotland is fighting to persuade
ministers to drop proposals to introduce
licensing for shooting estates, which can include
pheasant and partridge, in a further effort to
crack down on illegal persecution of birds of prey.
Thomson said a very stark pattern emerged when
tagging data for 44 golden eagles, eight hen
harriers and 25 red kites that had disappeared or
been deliberately killed since 2009 was displayed on a map of Scotland.
It showed hotspots in the Angus glens near
Dundee, the Highlands in Perthshire, the
Monadhliath mountains and Speyside south of
Inverness, around the Black Isle north of
Inverness, and in the Southern Uplands. Some were
poisoned, others shot or killed by blows to the
head, but a large majority of tagged birds
vanished without explanation, the records said.
In May an
report from Scottish Natural Heritage on golden
eagles said there was a direct correlation
between grouse moors and the deaths and
disappearances of tagged eagles, and the areas
where eagles were failing to breed or prosper.
SNH found a third of 131 young eagles tagged over
a 12-year period had disappeared in suspicious
circumstances or been killed, chiefly in the
Highlands, although several did so on Hebridean
islands or remote peninsulas with no shooting estates.
timed to coincide with the Glorious Twelfth,
Thomson said: It is clear from this map that,
like golden eagles, the distribution of illegally
killed or suspiciously disappeared
satellite-tagged red kites and hen harriers is
far from random, and shows clear clusters in some upland areas.
As with the hotspots for eagles, these clusters
are almost entirely coincident with land
dominated by driven grouse shooting management.
Landowners insist the rate of persecution has
fallen sharply in Scotland because a majority of
grouse moor managers and gamekeepers supported
government-led campaigns to protect birds of
prey. Arguing that Scotland already has among the
strictest wildlife crime legislation in the
world, they say official Scottish government data
shows a decline in recorded incidents.
The reality, corroborated by official
statistics, is that incidents of persecution of
birds of prey are at an all-time low and that
populations of birds such as eagles and red kites
are on the rise, said Tim Baynes, the director
Moorland Group, an industry alliance.
Many grouse moors host good populations of
breeding eagles, harriers, merlin, buzzard and
short-eared owls. [The] attitude of grouse moor
managers towards protected species is a world
away from attitudes held in generations gone by.
Timed to coincide with a march to support
shooting estates by gamekeepers and rural traders
last weekend in Edzell, a town in the Angus
glens, the moorland group published a survey of
45 grouse moors around Scotland.
It calculated these estates each generated
£515,000 on average for local businesses every
year before a shot had been fired. That figure
did not include wages to gamekeepers and other
staff, or the spending by clients in local hotels or restaurants.
But prompted by the golden eagle data released in
May, Roseanna Cunningham, Scotlands environment
secretary, announced she was setting up an expert
group to consider licensing of shooting estates,
among other reforms. She also increased police
resources to tackle wildlife crime.
The licensing system, which the RSPB has
campaigned for, would allow estates linked to
wildlife persecution to be barred from commercial
shooting. Scottish land owners are already at
risk of prosecution under vicarious liability
regulations if there are suspicions or evidence
they are failing to prevent wildlife crime on their estates.
Speaking in May about the golden eagle research,
Cunningham said: The findings of this research
are deeply concerning and will give rise to
legitimate concerns that high numbers of golden
eagles, and other birds of prey, continue to be killed in Scotland each year.
There is every reason to believe that similar
levels of persecution affect untagged golden
eagles, as well as those we are able to track via satellite tags.
Grouse shooting: half a million reasons why
times up for this appalling sport
Some 500,000 birds will have been shot by the end
of another inglorious season as a select few
continue to trample on the interests of the rest of us
First blood on the Glorious Twelfth at a grouse m
First blood on the Glorious Twelfth at a
grouse moor in Aviemore, Scotland, this year.
Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Saturday 12 August 2017 20.55 BSTLast modified on
Saturday 12 August 2017 22.01 BST
After 150 years of being treated as a quaint
rural pastime, grouse shooting is now
the microscope unless it reforms it is doomed,
and it may drag other country sports down with it.
On Saturday, the start of the grouse shooting
season, the social media hashtag
was trending, and a social media message, I want
to see an end to raptor persecution in the
uplands. Criminal activity needs to be stopped,
set up by 15-year-old birdwatcher and
Wilde, was sent to more than
Thousands marched in London protesting at the
badger cull, calling for foxhunting to remain
banned and calling for an end to grouse shooting.
Recently, Sir Ian Botham was given a rough time
on BBC Radio 5 Live when he couldnt answer
questions about gamebird shooting, and on Friday
the RSPB released a video of armed men, who might
have been gamekeepers, meddling with a nest of a
rare bird of prey on a North Yorkshire moor. Whats going on?
Driven grouse shooting consists of a line of
beaters, blowing whistles and waving flags to
chase wild red grouse towards a distant line of
guns, waiting to shoot at them as they fly past.
By 10 December, when the season ends, around
500,000 grouse will be killed. There is big money
involved. Eating a roast grouse costs around £25
in a London restaurant, but shooting that grouse
costs £75, so a days shooting may cost several thousand pounds.
Red grouse live in the hills of
and northern England. To increase red grouse
numbers, heather is burned and to provide a
mixed-age profile of heather plants for the birds
to eat, wet areas are drained to encourage
heather growth. Natural predators such as foxes,
stoats and crows are trapped or shot (in very
large numbers) because they eat grouse (and dont
pay £75 a bird for the privilege). Grouse are
given medication because their unnaturally high
densities allow diseases to spread. Mountain
hares carry ticks that affect grouse, so are
killed. Grouse moors are as intensively managed as East Anglian wheatfields.
The growing opposition to grouse shooting stems
from three overlapping communities: animal
welfare activists, environmental campaigners and
nature conservationists. Many, when they realise
the scale of the killing, not just of grouse but
also predators, are appalled that this Victorian
sport is still allowed. Environmentalists
highlight the intensive moorland management and a
body of science demonstrating that this causes
increased flood risk, higher water-treatment
costs, greater carbon emissions, damage to
moorland habitats and reduced insect life in the
streams running off grouse moors. Its a classic
case of a niche activity of a few, hitting the
pockets of the many through higher home insurance
costs, higher water bills and a damaged environment.
Labour, a fundamentally urban party, hasnt yet
woken up to the fact that imposing a ban is the right thing to do
Nature conservationists poster-bird is the hen
harrier, just one protected species illegally
killed on grouse moors. There should be over 300
pairs of hen harriers nesting in the English
uplands, (2,600 pairs in the UK as a whole) and
this year there were just seven pairs ( around
550 pairs in the UK). The police struggle to
catch the perpetrators of these wildlife crimes
understandably, since they operate covertly on
private shooting estates in the least populated parts of the UK.
There are many reasons for calling the start of
the grouse shooting season inglorious and the
industry is under extreme pressure. But rather
than mend its ways, reform its management and
throw out its bad apples it has copied the
tobacco, pesticides and fossil fuels industries
and poured money into vilifying its opponents and
a campaign of denial. TV presenter, author and
photographer Chris Packham has been
the Countryside Alliance called on the BBC to
sack Packham for his off-camera campaigning, and
less famous campaigners have been threatened and
vilified. The grouse industry funded a campaign targeted at the RSPB.
Grouse shooting has friends in high places even
the Balmoral Estate visitor centre sings its
praises and the Conservative government has
done nothing to push the case for reform. In
Scotland there is more progress and a strong
chance that the SNP government will introduce
licensing of shooting estates in 2018.
On this day last year, an
petition I organised which called for an outright
ban on intensive grouse shooting reached 123,000
signatures when it closed in September (a rival
pro-shooting petition raised only 25,000) and
secured a Westminster Hall parliamentary debate.
The Conservative MPs packing that debate
represented a large proportion of the House of
Commonss old Etonians, and they spent as much
time denigrating Chris Packham and me as supporting grouse-shooting.
The Green party supports a ban of all bloodsports
but Labour, a fundamentally urban party, hasnt
yet woken up to the fact that a policy of banning
grouse-shooting is the right thing to do and is also an electoral asset.
Intensive grouse shooting will cease in my
lifetime. The industry has been nasty and
intransigent and is dragging down the reputation
of less disreputable country sports. The pressure
on grouse shooting will not go away.
The question for the rest of the shooting
community is: do they want to be dragged into a
mire from which they may never emerge or should
they cut the grouse shooters loose and distance
themselves as quickly as possible?
Dr Mark Avery is a former conservation director
of the RSPB; now a, blogger, campaigner and
author and author of
Conflict in the Uplands.
So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish
participation in Bormann companies that when
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires.
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen
again because a repetition would permanently
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin
America, as well as with the Bormann
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most
efficient German infrastructure in history as
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Diggers350