11
Oct
12

Is this what happened to the Langholm harriers?

Is this what happened to this year’s Langholm harrier chicks, Barry and Blae? (Blae confirmed dead, Barry now ‘missing’ – see this morning’s blog entry below).

These photos were taken on Moy Estate in 2010. Naturally, nobody was charged with these offences. Probably not enough “hard evidence”, eh? One gamekeeper (James Rolfe) was charged with possession of a dead red kite that was found in the back of his vehicle. The kite had two broken legs and its head had been caved in with a blunt instrument (see here and here for background info).

This first photograph shows a skinned rabbit that had been placed out on the moor. Can you see the hidden spring traps on either side of this bait? No? Any passing raptor would probably struggle to see them, too:

This next photo shows another bait found set on Moy with two spring traps. This time the moss has been removed so the traps could be photographed. These traps are illegal when used in this way:

This next photo shows a hen harrier caught in one of the illegal traps that had been laid out on Moy Estate. The picture is slightly blurred but we can forgive the photographer, given the circumstances:

Here’s the same harrier being carefully removed from the trap. This one was lucky – he survived:

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53 Responses to “Is this what happened to the Langholm harriers?”


  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    October 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    The gamekeepers who are responsible for this are the lowest of scum. Moy estate should be closed forthwith. They appear to be always at the helm of wildlife crime.

  2. 2 Connormead
    October 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    As a shooter I find this impossible to defend. Thank goodness it’s an increasing rarity these days. On my small farm shoot, where we have Goshawks, Buzzards and Hobby’s, we use diversionary feeding to keep the birds away from our poults and accept that we will lose a few birds throughout the early season. The good news though is that whilst this was a common occurrence several years ago, work behind the scenes between gamekeepers and various organisations, has now decreased the number to less than a handful.

    • October 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Connormead. Thanks for your input but are you able to provide any evidence to show that this illegal activity “has now decreased the number to less than a handful”? The problem for most people reading this is that we just can’t believe these statements anymore. With absolutely no disrespect to you, it’s virtually impossible for us to distinguish between the good and the bad. If we saw more effort from the ‘good’ shooters to publicly oust the ‘bad’ ones, it would be a start. Take Moy for example – was this estate kicked out of Scottish Land & Estates? Why did the majority of the Scottish shooting community not boycott the Moy Game Fair, held each year on Moy Estate?

      • 4 Connormead
        October 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        Hi, obviously it’s as difficult to provide evidence one way as the other. I live in the South West of England, a long way from you guys, and so I can only profer on anecdotal third party conversations that are going on between the various bodies. To the best of my knowledge, and let’s face it this type of illegal activity is always going to be ‘behind closed doors’, this doesn’t happen on shoots near to me. The problem now for all of us is one of trust and communication. If we applaud the drop in this type of activity we are rewarding those who choose not to support those who do this kind of thing. If we constantly down cry Scottish gamekeepers we encourage the good to turn a blind eye rather than Police themselves, as I understand is beginning to happen. No matter what happens conservation ultimately needs shooting as shooting needs conservation – we need to grow up and work together.

        • October 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm

          Well, when we see a drop in this type of activity (or better still, a complete end to it), we’ll certainly applaud the efforts. Unfortunately, the incidents still continue. There is an on-going case right now concerning the illegal use of these traps and we’ll be blogging about that very soon. We’ve also just heard of another one – the police are actually investigating this one – we’re waiting to see if they put out a timely press release and if they don’t, then we will.

          • 6 Connormead
            October 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

            So perhaps we ought to be asking why someone feels that they need to break the law in this way. If you’re correct in your acertions that the frequency and number of these incidents are not decreasing then this in an imbedded problem that won’t be cured by blogs or criminal prosecutions. In fact if it’s that imbedded I suspect it won’t be cured by shutting down this or any other shoot either.

            It is strange that the backbeat I hear to this is one of cooperation between the SGO, RSPB and the Police, all of whom I understand to acknowledge a decrease in this type of activity , and your good self who I don’t doubt for a moment.

            Perhaps the need for a truer assessment by ALL parties of the depth of this problem is needed before any medication can be administered. As I say we rarely if ever see this problem in the South.

            • October 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

              It’d be really interesting to see evidence of where the RSPB has acknowledged a decrease in this type of activity.

              Likewise, the police. How the hell would they know? They don’t even record these incidents so how could they possibly assess a change in the frequency?

              • 8 Connormead
                October 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

                Well maybe it’s easiest to look at the figures for the North. In 2011 there were 42 prosecutions for offences involving wild birds, of these only seven were part or full time keepers. In the past twenty years there have been a total of 96 prosecutions involving keepers, again full and part time. Taking into account that there are in excess of 6,000 keepers it would seem we have a problem with a rogue element. Perhaps I should make the point here that even one case is one case too many but it’s certainly not as wide spread as might be generally believed. In addition to this the RSPB report ‘Birdcrime’ categorically shows a substantial decline in report incidents since 2009, something that perhaps you will join me in welcoming.

                Of course there’s a huge difference between reports and convictions,as we all know, but the figures are certainly moving in the right direction, to suggest otherwise can be best described as unhelpful to those of us that are trying to pull Gamekeeping up by its boot straps.

    • October 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Connormead, if this sort of activity really is decreasing, in your part of the country, why is it that Hen Harriers are now all but extinct in England?

      • 10 Connormead
        October 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm

        Obviously I can only comment on Gloucestershire where to the best of my knowledge, and certainly during my time here , there has never been a population. We do have a healthy and growing population of all other raptor species though!

  3. 11 Clare Ward
    October 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    When this happened on the Moy Estate the members of the shooting community should of boycotted the place, anyone who did`nt has got blood on their hands aswell [Edited as potentially libellous xx xxx xxxxxxxxxx xxx xxx xx xxxxx xx xxx xxxxxxxxxx xxx xxx xxx xxxx]. I don`t know how people can sleep at night.

  4. October 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I had the pure pleasure of watching a male Hen Harrier like this, on Tuesday of this week, quartering the hillside near here, but sadly I only see them very rarely.
    I know that this Moor is shot over & as I see these gorgeous birds so infrequently, I despair at the thought that those shooting over this ground may well be persecuting these birds.

  5. 13 Stewart Love
    October 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Gamekeepers will never have a good reputation among other nature lovers unless they start to root out the “few rogue keepers” in their “profession” till they start to get rid of this, so called, rogue element, they will never be believed no matter how much they plead otherwise. To most of the public who know about this persecution gamekeepers are the lowest of the low. It’s up to them now to start proving that they are law abiding professionals that they say they are, by reporting the law breakers in their midst to the police. Until this happens nobody will listen to them.

    • 14 Connormead
      October 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Stewart are you suggesting all drivers are irresponsible because we all drink and drive? Of course not. For you to suggest that we should view ALL game keepers by the actions of the few is slightly harsh. In 2011 of the 42 convictions for wildlife crimes against birds only seven were for full or part time keepers. Set against the 6000 plus gamekeepers in the UK this is hardly a high number. Perhaps we should applaud those who are on the right side of the law whilst coming down hard on those who break it.

      • 15 Marco McGinty
        October 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm

        You have suggested that there are hardly any gamekeepers involved in illegal persecution, and the vast majority are law-abiding, so I would like to ask you this question; In the past 20 years, how many active gamekeepers have informed the police/RSPB/SSPCA/RSPCA on the illegal activities carried out by other gamekeepers? If it is, as you suggest, just a handful of rogue keepers carrying out these attrocities, then I would imagine that your majority of good keepers would have no hesitation in informing the authorities. So, could we have that figure please?

        • 16 Connormead
          October 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

          Marco, can you give me the figure? Please don’t think I’m fudging your question but the quick answer is I just don’t know. As with all other crimes it doesn’t appear to be good enough to say ‘I think he/she is doing this’ for the Police to take action. As an example I reported a local lad that I thought was taking birds eggs, the Police asked whether I had concrete evidence and when I said ‘No’ I was politely shown the door.

          However, talking to keeper friends north of the border it does seem that rogue keepers are being reported to the authorities, even if this doesn’t make the press or the grapevine.

          • 17 Marco McGinty
            October 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

            I don’t know the figure, but I thought as you were involved in the industry, you might have an answer. However, I would estimate that the figure is very close to zero. It’s all very well saying that these occurrences might not make the press, but they certainly don’t make the courts either, so I can’t believe that rogue keepers are being reported – if they were, I’m sure we would see more hard evidence and convictions. In fact, as the problems are so widespread, I don’t believe it is just a few rogue keepers but the industry as a whole. Perhaps Dave Dick will have an idea from his time in RSPB Investigations?

            • 18 Connormead
              October 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

              No Marco, I’m not involved in the ‘Industry’ to me it’s a way of life and certainly nothing as benign as an industry. I really don’t understand why you would think I’m privy to information that will most likely be protected by the current Information Acts. Does anyone have any data on Police informants for any crimes, leave alone wildlife crimes? Clearly if there was the amount of this going on that you seem to think is happening there would be sufficient evidence for either the CPS, the RSPCA or RSPB to take legal action. As you say the fact that none appear to make court suggests that this isn’t as wide spread as you might think, if so that’s great news, or there’s an almighty cover up between the estate owners, keepers, CPS, RSPCA and RSPB, I know which one I’d bet on.

              • 19 Marco McGinty
                October 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

                “On my small farm shoot” and “However, talking to keeper friends north of the border it does seem that rogue keepers are being reported to the authorities” would suggest to anyone that you are involved (to some degree) in the shooting industry. I wasn’t implying that you would have information on police informants but if we take that second quote into account, it would definitely suggest that you have received some information on the frequency of these reports.

                The fact that there are very few occurrences of gamekeepers informing on gamekeepers suggests that persecution is indeed widespread and accepted as the norm by gamekeepers and land owners. You are quite correct to suggest that there could be a cover up, however the SSPCA, the RSPB and the various WCOs are obviously not involved in anything so seedy, but I am quite sure that the gamekeepers, estate owners, the COPFS and the judicial system are deeply involved in these organised crimes, in my opinion.

                • 20 Connormead
                  October 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm

                  I state again my involvement is purely a life style choice,I don’t see shooting as an industry. The small shoot I run is solely funded by me. It is run over 1200 acres and I release 600 pheasant, hardly overstocking. The last two seasons we have shot only four days and all of the shot game is taken by the guns and beaters for food. I put over ten tons of wheat out and feed throughout the colder months way into March and long after the shooting has finished. In the harsh winter of two years ago we curtailed the shooting and used the wheat to feed the wildlife. I spend nigh on five thousand pounds each year on ground improvements, nest boxes and diversionary feed points for the raptors. If this was a business it would be a poor business indeed.

                  In honesty Marco you can’t make sweeping statements suggesting that there are only ‘few occurances’ of game keepers informing on illegal practices because as you’ve admitted no one has this data. Bird crime does however suggest that the number of cases of illegal activity is on the decline. This is due greatly to off piste meetings between the Scottish gamekeepers and other interested parties (perhaps you might get further information from the RSPB).

                  As for something seedy going on involving organised crime I’m baffled!

                  • 21 Marco McGinty
                    October 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

                    As I said, if gamekeepers were informing on each other, the RSPB/SSPCA/Police would benefit from good evidence, perhaps resulting in more convictions and most certainly some of it would eventually be reported in the press, either as a result of the grassing-up or as a result of subsequent retaliatory events. You have to remember that once journalists have a whiff of a good story, some of them will stop at nothing.

                    You have this perception that illegal activity is on the decline, but how and why you arrived at this conclusion I will never know. Has it ever occurred to you that the perpetrators of wildlife crime are getting better at hiding bodies? If we take your model and apply it to cannabis use, then this would indicate that illegal drug consumption has been drastically reduced in recent years. But the truth is that many cannabis users would have switched to other drugs. Cocaine, for example, is probably as popular now as cannabis was a few years ago.

                    And a quick read of the posts on this site will soon show that there is widespread criminal activity. Stashes of poisons that have been banned for many years, people in possession of dead birds, illegal gun possession, video evidence of illegal and criminal activity, etc, etc, etc., yet very few convictions. If that’s not evidence of the seedy underbelly of organised crime, then I don’t know what is. It might be different in your part of the world, but it’s certainly happening here.

                    • 22 Will Clarkson
                      August 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

                      Marco, gamekeepers are part of the information network that the RSPB runs, all of which is handed over to the police. I am told that most of this is ‘soft’ information, ie unsubstantiated or hearsay, but it is incredibly useful for starting/continuing investigations, and in some cases curtailing illegal activities. This network includes all sorts of people and keepers are a part of it. I found this out from my own investigations working as a photojournalist interviewing various parties involved.

                      [Ed: Hi Will. You were probably told a lot of things during your research. Perhaps you were told that it was legal to trap and remove pine martens? It isn’t. It’s an offence to deliberately or recklessly trap pine martens:

                      http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/species-licensing/mammal-licensing/pine-martens/

                      Presume the trapped one you photographed and published on your blog and in your book was trapped under a special licence?!]

  6. 23 Jimmy
    October 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    At this stage there is more than enough evidence pointing to the estates where raptor persecution appears to be a daily occurence. Time therefore that interested groups start mounting pickets/protests at the entrances to these estates with pics/banners of dead raptors. We really need to get this issue into the mainstream media as it appears to be the only way the powers that be will start living up to their responsiblities in enforcing basic wildlife legislation on rogue shooting estates.

  7. 24 jack black
    October 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    A few bad apples do not reduce a population to near extinction, this requires a concerted effort.

    I fully accept that hen harriers may not be present in certain unsuitable areas but there are lots of perfectly suitable habitats where there are no birds. Look at the Langholm 1…………when left alone the population thrived .Where is this population now?

    The killing of raptors, wild cat, pine martin, and any other species thought to have an adverse effect on game birds is an industry problem which has been allowed to gone on for many years.

    Lets not go round in circles denying what’s happening and do something about it…..

    • 25 Grouseman
      October 12, 2012 at 6:24 am

      I think you will find after taking a large increase the harriers at Langholm 1 dropped back to 2/3 pairs (the same as before the study when the estate was still shooting sustainable grouse numbers) due to a lack of food! No grouse, no harriers, no waders? Can this be classed as conservation!?

    • 26 Connormead
      October 12, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Jack, is there ever a ‘good’ excuse for exterminating a species? It would seem by your post that you even view selective vermin control as a step too far, of course you have every right to your views.

      However, was it therefore equally as unacceptable that the RSPB and DEFRA ‘erased the fingerprint of man’ by poisoning the entire rat population, and I suspect several other mammals as well, on Henderson Island to protect s single avian species?

      The problem with species managed conservation is that there is always something that dies for something else to live, it’s a very fine knife edge we tread.

      • 27 Marco McGinty
        October 12, 2012 at 11:46 am

        There is a major difference in attempting to rid non-native species from any given area, especially if it is having a detrimental impact on the native species. In fact, many estates in Britain take the exact opposite view and will exterminate the native wildlife in favour of an introduced species, with this introduced species going on to have an impact on native wildlife once released. This is not conservation in my opinion.

        • 28 Connormead
          October 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          So let me get this right. It’s okay to cull non native species that are having an affect on native species (When is a species non native, what the UK residential requirement?). It’s okay for a raptor species or mammalian predator to decimate Grouse or native breeding waders because they are native and, I’m reading between the lines here, it’s unacceptable for estates to release non native game (pheasants were introduced by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago) despite millions being invested by small, medium and large shoots on habitat improvements that have a positive knock on benefit to all wildlife. Do you know I can really understand now why game keepers have a major problem in trusting ‘self made Wildlife pundits’

          • 29 Grouseman
            October 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

            Very well said I couldn’t agree more! You have my full respect and thanks for standing up for what you believe in and bringing some rationality to some of the people on this blog!

            • 30 Marco McGinty
              October 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm

              So, Connormead questions the importance of saving a globally-endangered species and at the same time questions my belief that raptors (and other predators) should be left to their own devices (I’m not sure if there is an implication that the killing of raptors should be permitted in an attempt to increase grouse stocks). Anyway, the fact that my belief has been questioned (and you agree with Connormead on that very point), suggests that you are indeed in favour of the illegal killing of our raptors. Once again, you are apologising for serious organised crime and you are bordering on proposing wildlife crime as an acceptable means.

              And to think you questioned my rationality!

          • 31 Chris Roberts
            October 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm

            Well Grouseman at least your not alone on this blog anymore! Connormead apart from the grouse that thrive on the heather being burnt, making for an ugly unatural patchwork in the uplands, what other wildlife benefits from this unatural landscape? I am sure there are some however, many do not but would survive and flourish if this heather desert were allowed to regenerate into the natural forest. Birds of prey and certain mammals could prosper but they are not welcome and are either shot, poisoned or trapped.

            The point is that this wildlife belongs to all of us, so why do the estates think it is their right to kill it. I myself keep pigeons and I do lose the odd one to our local sparrowhawk, but I would never ever consider harming said predator.

          • 32 Marco McGinty
            October 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm

            In a word, yes, and to compare Henderson Island to a UK grouse moor is just crass. I have a feeling that attempting to preserve the sole-remaining nesting habitat of a globally-endangered species has far more importance than maintaining areas for one particular species (that are going to be shot anyway). By ridding Henderson Island of introduced rats, all ground nesting species will benefit. The same cannot be said of grouse moors. Yes, some waders might benefit locally due to the complete and illegal eradication of all known predators, but the wader situation is only a by-product of all the illegal killing and certainly not an intended conservation measure, despite what keepers and landowners claim. However, if you wipe out all known predatory birds or mammals, then that ecosystem is incomplete. And where do we stop with this attitude to predatory creatures? Should Butterfly Conservation or Buglife be able to apply for licenses to cull birds and mammals in locally or nationally important areas for invertebrate species? The answer to this is quite simple. No. Predators are a part of our natural heritage and they should not be killed simply because of the outdated attitudes of keepers and landowners.

            To answer your query about the definition of non-native, I will offer my own interpretation; if, in any given area, a species occurs outside of its natural range, either accidentally or deliberately by human actions, then I would deem it as non-native.

            In response to your Pheasant points, I will address this as I do have some problems with your statement. You have mentioned that Pheasant farms have “a positive knock on benefit to all wildlife”. This should have read as “a positive knock on benefit to SOME wildlife”. How can the benefit be to all wildlife the vast majority of Pheasant-rearing areas will cull foxes, corvids, mustelids and other creatures and illegally kill raptors? Surely if there was a knock on benefit for all wildlife, then there would be no need to kill these creatures and there would never have been calls to “manage” Buzzards earlier this year? You have mentioned that you use diversionary feeding at your shoot, and I am quite happy to accept that as fact, but if operators of such facilities accepted that the introducition of high numbers of potential prey species will attract predators, then we are one step forward, and instead of repeated calls for culling and managing certain species, perhaps more (better) preventative measures could be used.

            Finally, on your last point about gamekeepers. They have a major problem trusting anyone that is involved with wildlife, simply because of their involvement in so much criminal activity.

            • 33 Marco McGinty
              October 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

              I also forgot to mention that once Pheasants are released, they will go on to eat many native invertebrates with a few native vertebrates thrown in. This again negates the “beneficial for all wildlife” argument.

  8. 34 Stewart Love
    October 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Yes Connormead but the Romans introduced pheasants for food, not to release thousands in the one go to the detriment of the native birds in the immediate area. No wonder Buzzards like pheasant shoots, it’s like opening a walk in fridge to a glutton. Completely against nature.

  9. 35 Merlin
    October 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Good response Marco, even though these sentiments come from a closed minded bigot ;-) re pheasant shooting, funnily enough they have the same sport across the pond in the U.S. Over there they have many more raptors per square mile than over here and in the main they respect them too! do you know how they get over the problem of losing poults at release pens? they have an ingenious thing called netting which they use to put a roof over their massive pens. they then grow ground cover to suit. fancy that, no need to spend thousands of pounds of tax payers money upsetting nesting buzzards or wasting money on banned poisons

    • 36 Marco McGinty
      October 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      A roof, you say!? And this contraption covers the top of the pen? And it will keep out avian predators? Well, who would have thought. What are the chances such a device will catch on over here, though?

      • 37 Grouseman
        October 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

        As you might expect I have one or two points to make about this –

        1 – in the UK game birds tend to be kept in pens for a far shorter time than in the U.S (typically 1-3 weeks) what about the losses incurred when they are let out of the pen? Keeping them in pens for longer carries its own welfare issues.

        2 – Pens for pheasants and partridges in this country also tend to be a lot larger and the densities lower so huge nets would be required or should the birds be given less room and freedom inside a smaller pen? Also welfare issues involved.

        3 – None of this takes into consideration wild bird shoots or are we to drape nets of entire grouse moors, low ground grey partridge or wild pheasant shoots?

        • 38 Marco McGinty
          October 13, 2012 at 12:56 am

          1. and 2. So, you have concerns about a birds welfare, shortly before you are going to shoot it for sport? Please do not bring welfare into the mix. Is welfare ever considered when foxes, mustelids, corvids, raptors, etc are being killed to protect the pheasants? If welfare is to be used as a major argument, then larger pens would be built – no questions asked. This would enable the pheasants to thrive alongside the native wildlife.
          3. Now you’re being facile. And surely a wild pheasant shoot involves birds that have been reared (for the most part, if not all) in the wild.

    • 39 Grouseman
      October 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Are you suggesting we all use the U.S. as a shining example of how shoots should be run over here? Considering in America it is still perfectly legal to use large leg hold traps set in the open, uncovered, to trap foxes, coyotes, bobcat and beaver? Can you imagine the response if the shooting lobby campaigned to do such a thing over here? Every country is different and should be judged as being so!

      • 40 Marco McGinty
        October 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm

        They might not be legal here, but they are still used.

        No-one is suggesting we follow the US example on everything, but you pick and choose the methods that you believe would be beneficial. Surely placing a roof over a pen should be seen as a simple deterrent to combat the alleged losses to raptors? You really have to ask yourself why the industry is reluctant to adopt such a simple approach. Is the overpowering need to kill all predators greater than the need to protect their stock?

    • 41 Grouseman
      October 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Just out of interest who do u suppose sells these banned poisons clearly at HUGE profit to sporting estates?! Hmm must make interesting reading their tax returns! What do estates put it through the books as?! Where do they source the tons of poison considering most have not been manufactured for decades?!

  10. 42 Merlin
    October 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    No Grouseman no one is suggesting that, as usuall your being too defensive, re read what was written, we said in the U.S. they use a new fandangled contraption called a roof, its similar to what keepers of free range chickens use over here, I can assure you its not witchcraft

    • 43 Grouseman
      October 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      What about for protecting wild bird shoots where this isn’t a possibility?

      • 44 Marco McGinty
        October 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        The thing about wild birds is just that – they are wild. They are not penned, they do not have houses – they live in the wild and should be left to their own devices. What are your suggestions for protecting wild birds?

  11. 45 Connormead
    October 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Guys it appears we’ve gone seriously off piste. I hadn’t recognised that this was an anti shooting at all cost blog site but had believed it to be a sane discussion forum.

    Can I restate, I can not under any circumstances support the poisoning or killing by any other means of raptors, either on or off the Grouse moor. However, no matter how unpalatable or unbelievable you might find it, these cases are few and far between and are decreasing, mainly, but not solely, because there is work going on behind the scenes to stamp these activities out…personally I rejoice in this and I hope you do to.

    I believe there is a place for shooting within the countryside. Those who shoot profit from a healthy environment and are happy to contribute vast amounts or time, energy, research and finances to assist in keeping it that way.

    As in every walk in life there is a fine balance to maintain. I see no place for massive commercial shoots but recognise there needs to be economy of scale to finance the work that goes on behind the scenes. I recognise that Grouse moors are a contentious issue. Some would like to see them as natural wildernesses, personally I’d rather they were managed to maintain the maximum benefits to as many species as possible. An unmanaged moor, like the ones we have on Exmoor and Dartmoor, no longer hold Grouse because there are no longer the new shoots that Grouse flourish on. In consequence we don’t have the luxury of Hen Harriers, we no longer have breeding waders…the list could go on.

    Shooting run in conjunction with balanced conservation gives a healthy balance to the countryside, remove one and the other fails.

    In honesty I am saddened and depressed by the blindness shown on here because I consider myself to be very pro wildlife.

    • 46 Marco McGinty
      October 13, 2012 at 1:10 am

      You make some valid points here, and you should be commended for your condemnation of raptor persecution, but you also have to realise that persecution does not seem to be falling in Scotland. So, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that subject. And you must also realise that some of the shooting industry’s proclamations are not based on science, but merely emotive drivel, recycled year on year to try and persuade the media and the wider general public that shooting brings masses of benefits to wildlife. Perhaps, small-scale operations such as yours might bring some benefits to some species, but to state that all wildlife benefits is propagandist nonsense.

      I have publicly stated on here that I do not mind people shooting for the pot, but this must be done within the law. And the shooting industry must stop calling for management trials and culls and just accept that by introducing or maintaining artificially high populations of certain species, this will attract predators. Sadly, until the shooting industry sorts itself out and its members and followers start operating within the law, then they will be treated with suspicion.

    • 47 Jimmy
      October 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

      I consider myself a resonable person and have no problem with hunting, including hunting with hounds, legal vermin control etc.. However I have a big problem with powerfull vested interests giving 2 fingers to the law and wiping out iconic moorland species like Golden Eagles, Hen harriers and deliberatly pumping out lies and misinformation about the role of native raptors in the British countryside to justify this type of wildlife crime

  12. 48 Connormead
    October 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

    You suggest some of shooting’s proclamations are not sciences based, you must realise you open up a ‘Can of worms’ here as a lot of the avian papers are at best sketchy and at worst purely fictions ‘Best guess’. Those reports that don’t si happily with the bigger organisations, like the RSPB, are dismissed out of hand – The report from The Song Bird for instance, hardly an opponent of the again world.

    My suggestions on crime figures come from two seperate sources, the first is crime figures for wildlife crimes against birds and is readily available online from the Criminal Justice Department, the second is the RSPB’s own figures from it’s report ‘Birdcrime’. If you feel these figures are incorrect perhaps you might want to take the matter up with them, personally I’m happy to take them at face value.

    As you say, and I can only speak from personal experience from over thirty fives years of shooting and anecdotal evidence from my peers, shooting contributes not just to the rural economy but to holistic conservation. Apart from small projects like my own and those on neighbouring farm shoots, shooting interests across the UK are the second largest contributor to new tree planting and presently manage conservation areas the size of Wales.

    Obviously a percentage of this work might or might not be in conjunction with others, such as the FC and Natural Trust. As the LACS found out on their reserves, and the RSPB have acted upon on their lands, conservation without shooting is not a viable option.

    I state again, unless we work together to stop illegal wildlife crimes and manage habitat in a holistic manner, balancing species populations to reflect the location and other fauna and flora, we are doing wildlife no favours. We all need to grow up.

    • 49 Marco McGinty
      October 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Are you seriously suggesting that every piece of information from the shooting lobby is 100% science based? And I’m quite sure that I did not state that all messages from conservation bodies were purely based on science. I stated a fact and you are now trying to twist those words and deviate from the initial point. I did not refer to any specific paper in my posts, but you mention one from The Song Bird. I am unsure of the report you mean, so would you please direct me to this report and I will be able to comment. However, if it has anything to do with predators, then I am quite sure it will be nonsense. Predator-prey relationships dictate that the predator NEEDS a healthy population of prey items in order to survive. But, as mentioned, please point me to the report and I will read it.

      If you are happy to take the RSPB Birdcrime report at face value, then I will point you to the following sections in the report, all of which are in the first few pages;

      “However, as this report illustrates, crimes against wild birds, most notably birds of prey, persist due largely to inadequate enforcement of existing laws.”

      “The UK is almost unique in Europe and North America in having no form of, or potential for, the regulation of game shooting by individuals or service providers. Given its potential to reduce populations of species of
      conservation priority, and the serious and organised nature of crimes committed against birds of prey”

      “Wildlife crime can be serious and organised, affecting not only wildlife itself, but communities that stand to benefit from the presence of charismatic species such as birds of prey and the consequent potential for tourism revenue.”

      “There is strong evidence of a link between raptor persecution and land managed for driven grouse shooting in the uplands of England and parts of Scotland. We believe the widespread and
      systematic nature of this activity classifies it as serious and organised crime. The current level of convictions and available penalties carry little deterrent value, partly because the law does not target those who encourage or require their employees to break the law by killing birds of prey.”

      “Some gamekeepers claim, in confidence to the RSPB, that single estates are killing more birds of prey than the total number of confirmed incidents recorded annually by the RSPB for the entire UK.”

      So, serious organised crime is mentioned many times and it is implied that there is a cover-up with these types of offences. Two things that you dismissed in an earlier post, but as they are in the report you take at face value, you must now agree with these points.

      Again, you have taken one of my issues and completely (deliberately?) misinterpreted it. When and where did I mention that there wasn’t an econmic benefit and when and where did I state that shooting did not provide some conservation benefits? I think if you re-read my post, I objected to the shooting lobby’s attitude (and you yourself mentioned it) that there is a benefit to all wildlife. Stating that all wildlife benefits
      from shooting activities is a downright lie. Further to this nonsensical benefit to all wildlife belief, here is an excerpt from an article on the Fieldsports website about pheasant shooting, in which the author suggests that six native species should not be tolerated;

      “And vermin must be kept down to a minimum. Most farmers who shoot do try and control the vermin but in most cases more could be done – the problem is that we have caught most of the easy carrion crows and there always seems to be the odd pair of magpies that managed to rear a family. Those that remain are getting more difficult to coax into a Larsen trap and they are also breeding hard. Foxes have always been very difficult to catch or shoot, are mainly nocturnal and what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over. However there is quite a lot of effort and activity in trying to reduce fox numbers by various ways and means but they are still around and no doubt do serious damage to the population of our wild game. If we could get rid of all of the above mentioned there are still sparrowhawks, marsh harriers, buzzards and of course badgers, all of which are out of our control.”
      (link to page http://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Shooting-Pheasants/wild-birds-in-the-fens.html)

      And finally, yes, we should be working together to stamp out wildlife crime, but you also have to consider that the vast majority of wildlife crimes mentioned on this site are all down to the illegal actions of the shooting community. It’s not birdwatchers, ornithologists or naturalists that are committing these crimes.
      Most people on here understand predator-prey relationships, most people on here live within the law and if the shooting community ceased committing such attrocities, there would be no need for this website.

      It’s the shooting community that needs to change its ways.

  13. 50 Connormead
    October 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Clearly Marco you have a closed mind, not someone perhaps best suited for innovative solution finding.

    Yes, the report by the independent Song Bird Trust is set against a backdrop of decline in our native song birds and yes, they found that predation together with habitat errotion was the major factors in the decline. As the Trust is an avian supporter I thought you’d have at least felt an emphany with their findings. Obviously like the RSPB it seems that anything outside of your narrative is not worth accepting as a possible ‘truth’.

    As for vermin control, is this is something you abhor may I respectfully suggest you lobby your regional RSPB director, I am sure he will be able to assure you that under no circumstance does the organisation use vermin control to protect their nesting sites….Or just maybe they actually tell you the truth.

    • 51 Marco McGinty
      October 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Are the facts getting too much for you? The facts are there for all to see – raptor persecution is an organised crime and there are serious definciencies in our corrupt legal system. Despite having some conservation benefits for some species, shooting does not benefit ALL wildlife. If you want, I will provide a list of species that definitely do not benefit from shooting. It is however, very interesting to learn that you have completely ignored my points above and have refused to answer the questions set to you. What was that about a closed mind?

      But instead of accepting these points, here we have the usual shooting lobby mantra of “you have a closed mind”. This approach is getting really tiresome. How can I have a closed mind when I have already stated that I accept people shooting for the pot, as long as it is done within the law? I have already mentioned in another post, that people would be more tolerant of grouse shooting, providing it is done within the law. Where is the closed mind in that respect? Could you please explain how you arrived at such a conclusion?

      If you are referring to Songbird Survival, then they are hardly an independent organisation. Originally set up by a group of anti-predator pigeon fanciers, they are now disguised as a “songbird” organisation and are now also a voice for the anti-predator shooting lobby. Persistent anti-Magpie, anti-corvid, anti-Sparrowhawk and anti-raptor propoganda is hardly the voice of a reasoned and independent charity. You just have to look at the trustees past and present to realise that this is nothing but a shooting lobby sham. Would this be the same organisation that has some trustees on whose land serious raptor persecution is known to have occurred? Would this be the same organisation that commissioned the British Trust for Ornithology for a study on the predator/songbird declines issue, got the results (which proved there was no connection between the two), and rejected them? As I have already mentioned, in order to survive, predators NEED, I repeat NEED, a healthy population of prey items and all these species have happily co-existed for millennia.

      Closed mind? It’s the shooting lobby that are guilty of having closed minds.

      And what does the RSPB have to do with any of this? To my knowledge, the RSPB have never tried to deny that they carry out control measures on some of their reserves, and as part of a land agreement in the north of Scotland they have grouse shooting, but considering I am not a member of the organisation, I really don’t see what it has to do with me. But I will add one final piece to this installment. When the RSPB do carry out their killing, it will most certainly be carried out within the law.

  14. 52 Marco McGinty
    August 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

    For some reason, I can’t reply directly to Will Clarkson’s comment, so this will have to suffice.

    Will, I wasn’t saying that all gamekeepers were averse to informing on the illegal activities of other gamekeepers, just not in the numbers that those involved in the shooting industry would have others believe. And as you say, much of it will be “soft” information, which will not only be useful for those carrying out investigative work, but it could also be a deliberate attempt to put the investigating team “off the scent”, so to speak.


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