The fiasco that is wildlife crime reporting in Scotland continues today with the release of the Scottish Government’s poisoning stats for the second quarter of this year (i.e. incidents from April, May and June).
These stats are published by SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture), a division of the Scottish Government. A few years ago they used to publish the figures in a timely way – these days they’ve introduced a delay of approximately six months. Here they are.
The stats are quite interesting. Take note of the number of buzzard deaths attributed to ‘probable starving’. These are the buzzards that are supposedly devouring gamebirds quicker than you can say, “Quick, pass the Carbofuran”. But, there’s something far more interesting in the report than that….or rather it’s not in the report…
For some reason, several known poisoning incidents are ‘missing’ from the data. We know that these incidents took place in March, April and May in Highland and Tayside. For one of them (a poisoned buzzard in March), this incident should have been reported in the stats for Q1 (Jan, Feb, March), but it wasn’t. We didn’t challenge that because it was reasonable to assume that a police investigation/raid may still be on-going and any publicity about the poisoning might have compromised a police operation.
But, now it’s October. These poisonings took place 7, 6 and 5 months ago, respectively. There hasn’t been a whisper of a police press statement about any of them. Why not?
And now the Scottish Government’s quarterly poisoning report has been sanitised to remove any mention of these incidents. Why is that?
Who stands to benefit from the concealment of these incidents? Certainly some organisations with a vested interest in wanting the public to believe that poisoning incidents are still on a downward trend, when actually they are not – they are on the increase from last year’s figures but of course nobody wants to admit that and if the figures aren’t in the public domain then they don’t have to admit to it!
Who told SASA to remove the data on these incidents? Was it Police Scotland?
Why don’t we ask them. Let’s ask Sgt Andrew Mavin, who is the Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Coordinator and who is quoted as saying, “Tackling crime, keeping people safe and building confidence is at the centre of everything the new service in Scotland stands for and this is exactly the approach we take to wildlife crime” (see here).
Is it really, Sgt Mavin? Then how do you justify the concealment of these poisoning incidents from public scrutiny? Why didn’t Police Scotland issue a press statement about them? Why didn’t Police Scotland shout it from the rooftops that highly toxic and illegal poisons are being left out in the countryside putting peoples’ lives at risk? Did Police Scotland ask SASA to remove these incidents from their public report? How can we have any confidence in Police Scotland when we find out that serious crimes are being kept hidden from the general public?
Here is his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
And while we’re on the subject of official cover-ups….we’ve been having a closer look at the Scottish Government’s Wildlife Crime Annual Report (2012) that was published last week (see here). We’re still not ready to write a detailed review on that report but we did notice something that’s relevant to today’s blog – the 2012 poisoning figures given in that report number three incidents. Conveniently, at least one other poisoning incident is ‘missing’. It involved the death of a raven and a crow and the discovery of poisoned meat bait and 2 rabbit baits, and it happened in the ‘Borders’ in May 2012. We blogged about it (here).
Why was this incident excluded from the Scottish Government’s so-called ‘official report’ on wildlife crime in 2012? Was it because no raptor species was reported as being poisoned? In which case, in the 2013 report are we going to see the exclusion of the 35+ poisoned meat baits found in gamebags on Leadhills Estate this year, because no poisoned raptor was actually found?
Let’s ask Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse: email@example.com
Dear Environment Minister,
Please can you explain why confirmed wildlife poisoning incidents are being concealed from the public and excluded from official government reports?