Dear Diary…

Here’s a rare opportunity to look into the world of  the ‘modern’ gamekeeper. These are extracts taken from a Scottish gamekeeper’s diary. We were shown these diaries by someone from within the keepering world who wishes to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. Worryingly, the diary-writer is still currently employed as a full-time gamekeeper. We’ve split the entries into different years – the following is from 2008. See how many wildlife crime offences you can spot:

Thurs 3rd January: set baits in Glen S & right hill

Sat 5th January: John P came for rabbits & Alpha

Weds 16th January: Gassed fox at Black Brae Lower

Fri 25th January: Eggs out on Top Moor + rabbit for crows by Big Wood

Fri 1st February: Lifted eggs Top M & set out at edge of Middle.

Tues 5th February: Shot dog Glen S.

Mon 11th February: Lifted eggs Top M. Shot kestrel.

Tues 19th February: Baits out at Harry’s, rabbits & hares

Thurs 21st February: Pick up gins from Glen side. Got female peregrine.

Fri 29th February: Done traps at S Corner and more eggs out. Saw pair peregrines at Millers.

Sat 1st March: baits out with Jim at Middle. Missed a cock harrier. Staked pigeon at Millers.

Sun 2nd March: Got peregrines at Millers. Eggs out on Broadfield.

Tues 4th March: Got 2 buzzards, 2 rooks + 9 crows. Rabbit out for others.

Fri 7th March: Got a vixen at T Moor. Put out birds by low fence.

Sun 9th March: Eggs at Glen side again.

Weds 12th March: Eggs up, tracks seen. Done baits at Gordon’s. Sheep shot for midden 3.

Thurs 13th March: Got buzzard at Becks. More rabbits out. Alpha.

Sat 15th March: Picked ups crows & eggs Langsmere. Saw 2 harriers.

Tues 18th March: Set eggs JB & baits southside.

Weds 19th March: Got a cat on Red moor.

Thurs 20th March: Got SE owl & set 59 eggs Lower bank.

Sat 22nd March: 1 harrier at Langsmere. Merlins at Merv’s.

Mon 24th March: Snares at Glen side. 26 foxes so far.

Tues 25th March: Missed harrier at Langsmere. Baited Broadfield again.

Thurs 27th March: Got a badger with John S. He heard gos behind Big Wood.

Fri 28th March: Lifted eggs Lower bank. More set at Harry’s.

Mon 31st March: Crow cages out Big Wood.

Wed 2nd April: Harrier trap empty.

Thurs 3rd April: Pair eagles seen southside.

Fri 4th April: Put eggs T Moor. Shot rabbits for baits.

Sun 6th April: Crow cages done. Eggs checked.

Weds 9th April: Baits out Glen side. Tom collected pigeons.

Fri 11th April: Got buzzards at JB.

Tues 15th April: Gos in crow cage. Gave it to PL.

Fri 18th April: Baited traps & re-did snares.

Tues 22nd April: Eggs & hares out in the Sloughs.

Sun 27th April: Eggs lifted Sloughs.

Fri 2nd May: Put out more baits.

Sat 3rd May: Pigeons staked upper side. Got tiercel.

Weds 7th May: Set eggs.

Thurs 15th May: Put baits out at Bothy.

Sat 17th May: 3 buzzards in crow cage. Re-set.

Thurs 22nd May: Two Peres at Glen side. Got one.

Weds 28th May: Eggs lifted more baits out. Rabbit gone at Bothy.

Mon 2nd June: Set pheasant eggs at Big Wood. Did crow traps.

Sun 8th June: Litter of foxes gassed behind GateBridge.

Fri 13th June: Partridges into pen.

Mon 23rd June: Put eggs out Broadfield.

Weds 2nd July: Gassed another litter with Paul at Stebb’s.

Fri 1st August: Got a short eared owl. Lifted eggs Broadfield.

Tues 5th August: Moved crow cages to RT.

Sun 10th August: Spar caught. Trap re-set.

Fri 12th Sept: 42 brace at Sam’s but harrier seen.

Fri 26th Sept: New snares out.

Thurs 2nd Oct: Two eagles seen Glen S. 1 buzzard in crow trap at T Moor.

Tues 7th Oct: Hare baits out Langsmere.

Thurs 16th Oct: Shot sheep for midden 3.

Mon 20th Oct: Pigeons 5pm

Weds 22nd Oct: Shot a kestrel at Sam’s.

Fri 31st Oct: Merlin pair done North Bothy.

Sat 8th Nov: 6 pigeons put out Big Wood.

Tues 25th Nov: Baits out with Paul.

Fri 19th Dec: Put grouse on T Moor.

21 Responses to “Dear Diary…”

  1. 1 Marco McGinty
    September 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Yes, these people are real scum. Whenever in the media, [gamekeepers](Edited xxx xxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx) always try and portray themselves as the guardians of the countryside, but this exposes the gamekeeping industry as willfully criminal in its practices and attitudes. But no doubt, (Edited xxxx) and his cronies will adopt the usual stance and claim that this is an isolated incident.

    This document should be forwarded to the police, RSPB, SSPCA, etc (if not done already) and hopefully a prosection will be forthcoming. It is obvious that this criminal is known and he has already provided written evidence of his crimes, so I’m sure handwriting experts would be able to pin it to the individual. If I remember correctly, eggers have been prosecuted for having similar diaries. It should also be forwarded to the press, which they would hopefully publish, proving to the general public that these crimes are happening on a daily basis on almost every game estate in the UK.

    • September 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      There have been several cases on both sides of the border over the years where diaries like these have been presented as evidence. Unfortunately, without the evidential link (i.e. the dead bodies or the poisoned bait, eggs etc) these diaries are not considered sufficient evidence to convict; it’s not an offence to write these words in a diary. With eggers, they can usually match the diary entries to the eggs found in the possession of the diary-writer.

  2. 3 Chris Roberts
    September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    If genuine, this confirms what many of us already suspect. Multiply this by dozens of estates and is it any wonder pedators, both feathered and fur, are absent from vast arears of our countryside.

  3. September 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    While skimming down diary list noticed a very strange entry ”Fri 31st Oct: Merlin pair done North Bothy”.

    Merlins wouldn’t be paired up at this time of the year. They leave their moorland breeeding territories and disperse late July/August and head to lowland/coastal areas. Some of our Scottish birds head down South and a few cross over to mainland Europe.

    They don’t return to their breeding grounds until late March/early April and are very much weather/prey (e.g. meadow pipits and wheatears, etc) dependent.

    • September 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Perhaps an indication of poor identification skills?

      • 7 Paul Risley
        September 20, 2012 at 11:49 pm

        Anthony Mc Elheron, author of Merlin’s of Wicklow Mountains believes that Male Merlin’s over winter on the best territories, Lancashire Moorlands regularly have migrating Merlin’s passing through in early November and like other falcons they benefit at times from hunting as a pair. Personally I have no problem doubting this. I spent 5 days in Scotland earlier this year hoping to see Raptors. I actually saw more Birds of Prey in the 4 hour Coach drive through Lancashire and Cumbria (8 hours both ways) than I did in all the time spent in Scotland. Very sad indeed to believe this is happening today

        • September 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

          Sorry Paul to hear about your disappointing trip to Scotland with regards to seeing raptors.

          I can only assume that you were very unfortunate with perhaps the weather as surely you’d agree that apart from Marsh Harrier, Hobbies and possibly Red Kites Scotland is the stronghold for most birds of prey.

          Very interesting comments on Merlins hunting on Lancashire moorland areas in pairs over Winter. I personally have never witnessed this in Angus and suspect that this is totally down to lack of suitable

  4. 9 sh23363
    September 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Having not been privileged to details about the source I have to admit to a degree of scepticism about the authenticity of this, not least because I find it hard to believe that anyone would be daft enough to record this stuff. However even if it is fake it exposes the range of offences that might be expected of gamekeepers. The ones that catch my eye are those relating to sheep – unlike wildlife, sheep belong to someone and shooting them directly affects that someone’s livelihood. Not only does this put into question the role of the gamekeeper as guardian of the countryside but it puts them in conflict with those other custodians of the countryside – the farmers. I wonder what farmers’ representatives make of this? Stories of gamekeepers shooting sheep are not new but I have never heard a farmer make the link between missing sheep and the gamekeeper.

    • September 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      We don’t have any doubts of the authenticity of these diaries – we’ve done some background research on this individual and we believe the diaries are genuine.

    • 12 nirofo
      September 21, 2012 at 1:27 am

      I’ve seen first hand similar or worse keepers diaries dating from the 1980’s going back to the late 1800’s from what was or still is one of the most productive grouse moors in the country. Some of the entries make your hair stand on end with the shear brutality displayed to extremely rare Raptor species and predators of all kinds, poisons such as strychnine were commonly used all over the estate and appear to have accounted for more than one dog. These were not just random entries in a diary to show a keepers egotistic self gratification or his prowess, but were used daily as part of his job to show his boss that he was earning his keep. Many entries had remarks written at the side saying things like well done today, that’s one less to worry about, these were presumably from the estate manager or the owner. So to put it into a nutshell, I don’t doubt the authenticity for one minute, it’s more than believeable and is more than likely happening on the majority of the shooting estates throughout the country. I wouldn’t trust a keeper where Raptors are concerned any further than I could see him and my eyes are not as sharp as they used to be.

    • 13 Marco McGinty
      September 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      The sheep could belong to the same estate and it is possible the sheep are put out as a tick-control measure in an attempt to reduce the effects of ticks on the grouse. With the exception of the grouse, the estates obviously don’t care about any other living creature, so shooting a few sheep (even if they don’t belong to the estate) won’t matter. Furthermore, if any sheep do go missing, the devious, lying keepers will pin the blame on certain species and the farmer will fall for the story.

      On the subject of farmers, the other guardians of the countryside, I can state that the majority I have spoken to in the past don’t know very much about wildlife. And there are many that don’t care much about their own livestock, never mind the wildlife on their land. I know there are some that actively encourage wildlife, but these are few and far between.

    • 14 Circus maxima
      September 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      I can well remember being told by an old well kent keeper about his hatred for sheep. His boast (they always boast) was that if he had is gone and the farmer was not around he would take one or two out with a “belly shot”. This slow painful death allowed the sheep to stagger off into a ditch and “disapear”.
      Keepers love their traditions and keeping a vermin diary is a firm tradition.

  5. September 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    You have to appreciate we only have ‘raptorpersecutionscotland’ word that all this is genuine and from someone’s diary. If its for real then perhaps we should all be more concerned than ever, this guys whole life – almost on a daily basis – is immersed in the slaughter of wildlife and farm animals for Gods sake, hes obviously as passionate about this as I am about birds.

  6. 16 GS
    September 21, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I suspect it will be obvious to anyone who may have worked on this particular estate where the diary accounts relate to. I am concerned as to whether this may cause problems for the source of the information. Before you publish any further yearly accounts I would pass the information to RSPB Investigations Scotland who are best placed to make an assessment of this information and compare with existing intelligence. There is nothing stopping these accounts, or a more santised version, being published at a later day. Please email me direct if you want to discuss further.

  7. 18 Grouseman
    September 22, 2012 at 6:30 am

    If these enties are indeed genuine and this keeper is still regained in full time employment it can only be hoped its not for long as the damage he will do to the profession and industry in his career is unimaginable. It is staggering to be honest that someone this stupid is allowed firearms the only possible reason for these diaries is for self gratification and to inflate the writers ego. I am also sure the other people mentioned in the entries will be delighted to have been involved in them!

  8. 19 paul v irving
    September 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I would agree with grouse man that this person is an egotistical fool but I suspect that apart from the diary he is typical of many upland keepers in Scotland and here in England. Its time the whole edifice of driven grouse shooting was confined to the scrap heap.
    If it was bank robbery he was writing about or fraud the police would be eager top investigate whats so different about wildlife crime, surely thes entries consitute admission of guilt?

    • 20 Robin Edwards
      September 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      This also seems to be a practice that Egg Collectors seem to follow – to keep diaried records of the crimes they carry out. Maybe the collector gets gratification from pawing over the deeds he has carried out in a similar way to that we see here from gamekeepers traditionally recording their diaried killings. In another vein the keen birdwatcher likes to keep concise field notes that remind him/her of past pleasures.

  9. 21 Jimmy
    September 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    If anyone ever doubted the reasons behind the disapperance of Hen Harriers etc. from our uplands – there you have it in black and white. This evidence should now be used to tackle the usual suspects behind ongoing campaigns to further weaken protections of raptors in the UK

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