News has emerged today of an incident that allegedly took place on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park, Aberdeenshire, over a year ago.
According to an RSPB press release, on May 30th 2013, two witnesses contacted Police Scotland about what they described as a “coordinated hunt” of a male hen harrier, which ended with the bird allegedly being shot.
‘They explained watching for almost three hours as two individuals, armed with shotguns, criss-crossed the moor, with at least one other individual directing them by radio from his vehicle to the location of where the bird was seen perched’.
Police Scotland launched an ‘investigation’ but apparently insufficient evidence meant that nobody has been charged.
Read the RSPB press release here.
It’s all so depressingly familiar.
The ‘investigation’ probably went something like this:
Police Officer: “Have you been shooting at hen harriers?”
Gamekeeper: “No comment”.
Police Officer: “Ok thanks, sorry to have troubled you”.
The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association has issued a statement about this alleged incident – it’s exactly what you would expect from them – read it here. Apparently the alleged incident never happened and it’s unfair for the RSPB to blame gamekeepers for killing raptors blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to hear whether another gamekeeper, who allegedly killed a hen harrier in Aberdeenshire a year ago, will face prosecution. We blogged about his case being reported to the Crown in January this year (see here). It seems the Crown is taking its time to decide whether to proceed, which is quite surprising when you consider that hen harrier persecution is supposedly a wildlife crime priority. Seven months from the time of the alleged incident to report it to the Fiscal? Another five months (& counting) for the Fiscal to decide whether to proceed with a prosecution? Yep, it’s a real priority, isn’t it? Time is running out though – the Fiscal has until mid-July to decide what to do…
If, like us, you’re sick of all the denials, and all the failed ‘investigations’, and all the incidents that The Untouchables keep getting away with, you can sign this petition to ban driven grouse shooting (background info here, sign it here) and you can make plans to take part in one of several peaceful protests against hen harrier persecution – see here for info.
Photo of a male Hen Harrier by Robin Newlin.