The following letter has appeared in The Scotsman in the continuing ‘debate’ on grouse moor management (see here to read the earlier articles).
“Logan Steele’s letter (14 Jan) which alleges that driven grouse shooting is only viable with the persecution of birds of prey, particularly the hen harrier, is misleading.
First, official statistics demonstrate a clear decline in the number of incidents of raptor persecution.
Second land management for driven grouse shooting delivers a huge benefit for other protected wildlife, especially waders, and sustains employment and communities in remote rural areas. This is something the suggested alternative of walked-up grouse-shooting would not do.
Of particular significance is clear evidence that where grouse and hen habitat and vermin management have declined in some hen harrier “special protection areas”, this has actually resulted in lower harrier populations, as well as declines in other species such as waders.
This is a more complex situation than some make out.
The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, set up in partnership with the government to bring back driven grouse shooting in the presence of sustainable numbers of hen harriers, is where the best hopes of progress on this issue lie.
Results at Langholm so far are that neither harriers nor grouse have recovered – not what anyone expected, but each year scientific understanding improves and practical solution gets closer.
Making progress will involve compromise on all sides.
Organisations representing grouse moor managers such as SLE are fully behind this process and it is unfortunate that RSPB has pulled out of the mediation process in England. Perhaps Scotland provides the best opportunity to make progress now. Douglas McAdam, Scottish Land & Estates, Musselburgh”
[Link to the letter here].
And he accuses Logan Steele’s letter as being misleading!
First, which “official statistics demonstrate a clear decline in the number of incidents of raptor persecution” is Doug McAdam referring to? The ones we know of only relate to known poisoning incidents, although they are limited to poisoned birds; they do not include the discovery of poisoned baits and nor do they include suspected poisoning incidents or unreported poisoning incidents. More to the point, they do not relate to other types of raptor persecution, such as shooting, trapping, nest destruction, ‘disappearing’ birds etc. The only statistics that account for all types of raptor persecution incidents are those compiled annually by the RSPB; statistics that have never been accepted by SLE or any other game-shooting organisation.
Second, McAdam says “land management for driven grouse shooting delivers a huge benefit for other protected wildlife, especially waders, and sustains employment and communities in remote rural areas“. Another misleading statement. Land managed for driven grouse shooting is not only bad for protected wildlife (golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, hen harriers, goshawks, red kites, buzzards, peregrines, ravens, pine martens, mountain hares etc etc) but it is catastrophic for other species too (foxes, weasels, stoats, crows etc etc). And that’s without even touching on the landscape-level environmental damage.
McAdam goes on to suggest that “making progress will involve compromise on all sides“. No it won’t. Making progress will depend entirely on whether the grouse-shooting industry will accept that they have to work within the law and put an end to illegal persecution. If they do, all well and good. If they won’t, then they face a direct action campaign to ban driven grouse shooting by those of us who are sick of waiting for the government to act on our behalf. Hollow promises just don’t wash anymore. Time’s up.
McAdam’s penultimate sentence is laughable. He’s trying to suggest that the RSPB are the unreasonable ones in this 20+ year saga, for walking away from the six-year long Hen Harrier Dialogue process (see here). They are definitely not the unreasonable ones – they recognised a sham process and got out. Until SLE start to publicly expel their member estates where raptor persecution is rife (and we all know who they are, and so should McAdam – if he doesn’t, he’s in the wrong job), then the credibility of SLE’s involvement in ‘making progress’ will be viewed with as much contempt as it deserves.