SNP to act against wildlife crime on grouse moors



The SNP’s National Council has proposed the introduction of licensing for driven grouse shooting estates. This comes in the wake of repeated exposure of illegal killing of protected birds of prey, the massive and unjustified culling of mountain hares and the damage to vulnerable peatland habitats. See:

The RSPB in Scotland insists that self-regulation by the bird-gaming industry has clearly failed in the light of the above exposures and their representative said:

‘While we have welcomed steps taken by successive Scottish Governments to bear down on wildlife crime, it is evident that the increasingly intensive management of some areas, solely aimed at producing ever-larger grouse bags, flies in the face of public opinion and that better regulation of this industry, to ensure legal, sustainable management of our uplands, is long overdue.’

This news also follows the SNP administration’s moves to fairly tax shooting estates. See these earlier reports:

Blahdy good news from the Express? ‘Queen facing HUGE bill over Nicola Sturgeon’s dreaded shooting tax rules’

Daily Torygraph starts elite panic about land reform before a blow has been struck

As with the legislation to limit land-ownership and the application of VAT to fee-paying schools, many of us would, I’m sure, like to see more rigorous approaches to reducing inequality, but it is a start.


14 thoughts on “SNP to act against wildlife crime on grouse moors

  1. macgilleleabhar December 12, 2017 / 10:58 am

    Another sad tale of mismanagement of the country side by unbalancing the natural ecosystems. They slaughter the hares depriving raptors of a vital food supply then complain when the raptors take grouse instead.
    There is a report in today’s P&J of a buzzard being ” Mistakenly” shot as a pheasant on a corporate shoot on an estate near Aviemor.
    The “Sportsman” responsible was fined £500 by Sherrif Margaret Neilson at Inverness Sheriff Court.
    If he can’t tell the difference between a pheasant and a buzzard he should go to Spec Savers although no doubt he will be seen as a hero by some.
    I see no reason why sporting estates should not pay taxes as any other business does and be licensed and strictly regulated on all aspects of wildlife welfare.


    • Alasdair Macdonald December 12, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      MacGilleleabhar, they do not pay taxes on sporting estates because they are the people who manipulate the people who make the tax laws. I suspect that the £500 fine to which you refer might well have been ‘tax deductible’ or covered by the estate accident insurance.

      You make a very valid point about the upsetting of the eco-system, firstly to create these estates by manipulation of the flora and consequent loss of fauna and secondly by the disequilibrium of the food web created by the actual shooting and by the gamekeepers’ ‘managing’ of estates. It is they who are waging war on raptors.

      When the performer Bryan Ferry’s son, Otis, and some others actually intruded on a session of the house of Commons by getting into the actual chamber, it is clear that they had support from insiders to gain access. Even the IRA never managed to get in – not that I am regretting this fact! The media reportage was ‘mixed’. Some papers, with the Guardian/Observer, producing paeans about the reported formidableness of Otis’s aristocratic mammy, indeed, hinting that no-nonsense types like her should really be running the country! The huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ industry is a powerful one and it is inextricably tied to land ownership and power both legal, economic and, if they feel their power threatened, violence.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Alan Gordon December 12, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    Must check with my local MSP and make sure that’s not only grouse shoots, that pheasant shoots are included also. It would be another help for the Scottish wild cat.
    Not entirely off topic, some years ago (mid 1980s) I worked and lived on the Buccleuch estate, Duke John was in charge. He let all staff know that raptor persecution would not be tolerated, when found out all perks (house + vehicle) removed and instant dismissal. Within 18 months I started to see merlin, peregrine and eagle frequently as well as an increase in the number of buzzards. Not scientific, although convinced me of the level of persecution. A pity he decided to do it quietly some good data collection was missed but perhaps that was the aim.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. greig12 December 12, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    The raptors get the the lions share of the publicity but the stoat and weasel populations have suffered greatly also.

    It’s been multi species genocide for a very long time and it’s long past requiring supervision. The so called conservationist shooting fraternity just cannot be trusted to respect the eco system as a whole, having instead engineered a sub mono culture, favouring the species they enjoy killing.

    The obvious questions however are: How will it be enforced and how will it be funded?

    The industry (if that’s what it is) is currently staffed by people who like to hunt but cannot afford to shoot the game birds (that’s for the toffs and rich people) They currently exorcise their desires by hunting the offending predatory species whose death is justified because they have been labelled as vermin. This is yet another element along with the owners that will actively resist change.

    I’m not at all hopeful that this is a problem we can legislate our way out of. Education and encouragement to change existing practices that both respects and allows the food chain to exist and the business to thrive in my opinion has a greater chance of success.


    • Clydebuilt December 13, 2017 / 9:30 am

      “Conservationist shooting fraternity”. . . A hair breadth away from . . . . Conservative and Unionist shooting fraternity. The Colonel’s kinda folk.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ludo Thierry December 12, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    Noticed on beeb Jockland South of Scotland page – good news for Golden Eagles:

    A project to boost golden eagle numbers in the south of Scotland is ready for take-off.
    At present there are only between two and four pairs of the bird across Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
    The five-year South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has already secured £1.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
    Further support will now let it recruit four team members to help pave the way in southern Scotland for the release of chicks collected in the Highlands.
    A study has shown that the habitat in the area is suitable for up to 16 pairs of breeding birds.

    Mark Oddy, who chairs the scheme, said: “This venture is not just about birds, but is also about people, and in the coming months we will be working closely with people living and working in the south of Scotland, so everyone can get behind our endeavour.
    “In the years ahead, many hundreds of people will have the opportunity, through trails, events and CCTV, to learn more about the golden eagle and its role in Scotland’s biodiversity.
    “I hope it will inspire and empower them to safeguard its existence for future generations.”


  5. bigjon999 December 12, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    Here are some figures for animal killings – read it and weep for the deaths and rage against the continuation of the system that perpetrates this outrage.
    In The High Grampians, by Richard Perry, First Edition 1948

    Page 54-55
    List of animals killed by one Highland Estate
    “Consider these figures! In the three years between Whitsunday 1837 and Whitsunday 1840 the lesee of a single estate south of the Forests of Gaick and Glen Feshie caused his keepers to destroy, among other vermin, and solely in the ‘interests’ of grouse preservation, the following:
    246 Martens
    198 Wild Cats
    106 Polecats
    67 Badgers
    48 Otters
    475 Ravens
    462 Kestrels
    371 Rough-legged Buzzards
    285 Common Buzzards
    275 Kites
    98 Peregrine Falcons
    92 Hen-Harriers
    78 Merlins
    71 Short-eared Owls
    63 Goshawks
    35 Long-eared Owls
    27 Sea Eagles
    18 Ospreys
    15 Golden Eagles
    11 Hobbys
    6 Gyrfalcons
    5 Marsh Harriers
    3 Honey Buzzards

    footnote: other vermin destroyed:
    11 Foxes
    301 Stoats & Weasels
    78 House Cats
    1431 Hooded or Carrion Crows
    3 Barn Owls
    8 Magpies
    7 ‘Orange-legged Falcons’

    My first reaction to this dreadful black-list was that of amazed incredulity. I still find the details incredible. However, they were supplied by the lesee himself [to A. E. Knox (see Game Birds and Wild Fowls, London, 1850).] and must be considered correct or approximately so. But in this year of 1946 there are on the 100,000 acres of my beat only 2 pairs of golden eagles, 1 of buzzards, 3 of peregrines, 3 of ravens, not more than 6 of kestrels, and possibly 1 of merlins. Yet in those three black years, little more than a century ago, there were destroyed on this single estate 1,484 individuals of these six species. Rough-legged buzzard, sea eagle, kite, goshawk, osprey, hobby, gyrfalcon, marsh harrier, honey buzzard and, I believe. Short-eared and long-eared owls are totally extinct or immigrate no longer, (I have seen one male hen-harrier on autumn passage), as are also marten and pole cat. Of these fourteen extinct species 1,810 individuals were destroyed in this same period. Or, to consider these statistics from another angle, there were destroyed in each of the three years more than 1,000 individuals of a fauna of which to-day I do not see as many as 50 individuals during a twelvemonth.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. johnrobertson834 December 12, 2017 / 10:09 pm

    My god, that’s horrible. I didn’t know. Thanks for sharing this with us/


  7. greig12 December 13, 2017 / 1:42 am

    I was talking to a young guy who hangs around an estate in West Lothian a while back. He told me that him and his pal were out shooting crows and he had got 19. I asked him why he shot them and he told me they were vermin and had to be killed. The land Owner had given him permission but he paid for the cartridges himself. Ie the ‘vermin’ control was at his own expense

    I don’t know how many his pal killed.

    Carrion Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws, also Hoodies and Ravens depending on where you are, come under the generic term of crows and are killed on the quiet and en masse because these beautiful birds have been classed as vermin by a bunch of widden bastards.

    This needs to stop.


    • Alan Gordon December 13, 2017 / 11:20 pm

      I’m with you on the act of mindless killing, of anything. Here’s the but, we need to understand the needs of crofters and farmers. There are times when certain animals, because of their build up in numbers become a nuisance. Hoodies and jackdaws, especially in a dry spring, when instance of “hung” lambs can increase, if you’re lucky just the lamb will have the eyes pecked out. You can easily loose an acre or so of cereal to wood pigeon, it is the intelligent crow family that leads the way for the pidgeon. Only on one place I worked was fox a problem, just due to the numbers in the area. Not quite true I forgot about the time when two vixens were working together, killing and burying lambs. Then there was the time that the fox problem was eclipsed by the badgers, they were the worst. No finesse when they kill, they maraud in a family gang (I’ve seen nine in a group) and kill like drunken louts. Ravens, I’ve never had a problem with but crofter friends have lost calves, in the same way I have lost lambs to hoodies. Only became a problem when the numbers really built up. Sea eagles have been taking lambs on Skye, probably elsewhere also, for a few years. Now, 2017, the crofters are finally getting some help to devise methods to discourage them. I have only worked in rural areas, I understand how it works and recognise mindless acts. We must recognise food production and sport provision and be careful in the legislation that loop holes are not left to be expoited.


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