Sporting estates with persistent record of raptor poisoning could face loss of shooting rights

The Daily Telegraph reports that MSP Peter Peacock is preparing to submit a new ammendment to the WANE Bill that will allow the Scottish government to issue ‘yellow cards’ to sporting estates that persistently poison birds of prey.

The issue of estate licensing has featured widely in the drafting of the forthcoming WANE Bill, but has so far been met with resistance from Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham. The new ammendment differs in that it will not automatically apply to ALL estates – instead, it suggests that it will be applicable only to those estates that persistently engage in the criminal activity of raptor poisoning.

Mr Peacock said he is changing the wording of his proposal to ensure there is an earlier right of appeal and stressed that action could not be taken on the basis of a single incident.

“Where there’s a recurrent problem, this would give ministers powers to intervene,” the Highlands and Islands MSP said.

“If the estate owner says ‘we share your concerns and this is what we propose to do about it’, it may go no further.

“If not, then ministers can say there’s reasonable case for intervention here and ask the estate to formally respond with an action plan. If this is not sorted, then the ultimate sanction can be imposed.”

He confirmed this would be a “restriction order”, the suspension of shooting rights for however long its takes for the estate to show its record has improved.

Asked what would be required for this procedure to be initiated, Mr Peacock listed a range of supporting evidence such as the carcases of dead birds, the presence of illegal poisons and local raptor populations being significantly lower than projected.

A spokesman for the Scottish Estates Business Group said: “We are very concerned by the indiscriminate approach being taken.”

He seems to be missing the point. The new ammendment would not be indiscriminate (unlike the original ammendment where ALL sporting estates would be licensed) – instead, it would only target those estates that refuse to abide by the laws of the land. Sounds like a promising compromise to me.

Daily Telegraph article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/scotland/8285873/Sporting-estate-yellow-cards-for-bird-poisoning.html

5 Responses to “Sporting estates with persistent record of raptor poisoning could face loss of shooting rights”

  1. 1 Stewart Love
    January 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Well it might work and I suppose if the Scottish Estates Business Group don’t like it then it could be a step in the right direction. Just wonder how many dead birds will have to be found to make it work. As for a lower population of birds then I suggest they start with estates on the Black Isle and the Red Kites or lack of them. Still think it will take Police and the courts to do there jobs correctly before any estate will get a “restriction order.” Maybe it’s just me but do think that things in this WANE Bill are starting to get watered down. Hope I’m wrong.

  2. 2 Joe Jarrell
    January 29, 2011 at 7:07 am

    That this approach is being considered is good news indeed. I read these pages with great interest. I have long been distressed by the problems in Scotland with raptor poisonings. In my native state of West Virginia (U.S.A.), these kinds of behaviors stopped, in large measure, between fifty and seventy five years ago. Our birds of prey are oft admired and more generally are tolerated alive and free; none-the-less we seem to have an abundance of game (both large and small, winged and four footed). I suspect that there is room in Scotland for game, gamekeepers, shooting estates, and even raptors on the wing.

  3. 3 Dave Dick
    January 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Im not at all sure about this…I can foresee this yellow card approach being used instead of proper prosecutions [as for any other blatant law breaking]…while everyone waits for the impossible legal target of “persistence”. That would be disastrous…the police are so obviously doing everything they can already to avoid getting involved, this is yet another get out….

    and Joe in Virginia…you must remember the court case in the 1980s, [in an adjoining part of Virginia]involving a billionaire [later, short term owner of Mar Estate in Scotland] who imported scottish, english and irish gamekeepers to run a “traditional pheasant shoot” – three years later the US Fish and Wildlife dug up a series of pits containing hundreds of dead raptors [and several dogs] – the keepers involved were fined several thousand dollars and deported.

    Thats how you deal with criminal gamekeepers!

    • 4 Joe Jarrell
      February 4, 2011 at 4:29 am

      Dave, I share your concerns. I do not remember the case in question in Virginia. West Virginia is a different state than Virginia. I do not doubt that the penalty for any such behavior might be harsh. Most birds, including all raptors, are protected by federal laws and cannot be harmed; some exceptions are game birds that may be hunted within a well defined set of rules. Both the federal and many state departments in charge of game laws in this country do respond to possible non-game and game law violations with (sometimes covert) investigations, often followed by arrests with a vigorous prosecution. I believe that a very high percentage of such prosecutions are won by the government; fines are steep and guns (and possibly vehicles) are confiscated (permanently). Other consequences can be imposed. Some states have a monthly glossy magazine that publish details of these successful enforcement actions carried out in their jurisdictions.

      • 5 Dave Dick
        February 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

        Joe…The case concerned the Albemarle Farm Estate near Charlotteville – 1988 – owned by billionaire John Kluge. I think one of the convicted keepers later went on to be the shoot manager for another american billionaire who owns/rents a grouse moor estate in the Scottish Borders. Another notorious killing field.I believe the keeper is a scot from that part of the world.

        By the way, Kluge got his hunting licence for the estate back the same year – no doubt money and influence speaks just as loud in the US….

        A police search of Raeshaw a few years back revealed a cache of american Oneida spring traps – often used as illegal pole traps in the US [look up internet for more on those]…

        Wonderful, interconnected, world isnt it!

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