Disingenuous SGA uses flawed analysis to misrepresent raptor crime data

Abacus Toys R UsThere’s a shockingly poorly-researched article in today’s Telegraph, penned by Scottish journalist, Auslan Cramb.

He claims that ‘Wind turbines have killed more birds of prey than persecution‘ this year. The basis of his flawed claim is his analysis of the latest SASA data, covering the period Jan-June 2014.

Cramb states that, “Four raptors were killed by turbines between January and June. Over the same period, two birds were confirmed to have been poisoned or shot“.

Dear God. Let’s just have a closer look at the SASA data, shall we?

March 2014: Dead peregrine found in Strathclyde – Carbofuran poisoning.

April 2014: Dead peregrine found nr Stirling – [shot on the nest].

April 2014: Dead buzzard found in Fife. Poisoned [“banned poison” not named by police].

June 2014: Dead hen harrier found in Muirkirk – [shot].

That’s four confirmed illegal killings in the report. Can’t Mr Cramb count? There’s also a further entry:

January 2014: Dead rook, rabbit bait & hare bait (Carbofuran) found in Strathclyde. Not a raptor, granted, but its misleading not to mention this incident especially as Carbofuran-laced baits are routinely used to kill raptors. This incident is no less serious than a poisoned raptor.

But what’s missing from the SASA report? According to our research, the following:

January 2014: 1 dead bird [species unidentified] & suspected poison bait, South Lanarkshire.

March 2014: 16 red kites poisoned in Ross-shire [“banned poison” not named by police].

March 2014: 6 buzzards poisoned in Ross-shire [“banned poison” not named by police].

April 2014: 1 dead buzzard, allegedly shot, bludgeoned and stamped on, Dumfries & Galloway. A criminal trial is underway.

That makes a total of 27 confirmed illegally-killed raptors between Jan-June 2014, plus one rook and one unidentified bird.

Now, it’s quite possible that Mr Cramb is unaware of some of those additional persecution incidents (although if he was a half-decent journalist he would have done some homework – information about all of those crimes can be found on this blog).

However, it is inconceivable that the 22 raptors poisoned in the Ross-shire Massacre in March this year escaped his attention. He’s a journalist – it’s his job to keep abreast of the news.

Sure, the 22 poisoned raptors are not listed in the SASA report because mysteriously, SASA has chosen to exclude them, probably at the request of Police Scotland – we blogged about this exclusion here and the ramifications of their secrecy just keep coming, as evidenced here), but it’s very poor journalism for him to have excluded them from his analysis on windfarm deaths vs persecution deaths.

disingenuousCramb’s poor research skills are one thing. However, his flawed analysis appears to have been readily accepted by the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, and used by them to misrepresent the truth about raptor persecution stats. In the article, Cramb says this of the SGA:

A spokesman for the SGA said the report revealed the truth behind the “prejudice” aimed at landowners and farmers which painted the shooting industry as “guilty until proven innocent“.

He added: “It is important the public can understand for themselves the true picture regarding wildlife crime.

“After the appalling finger-pointing at the shooting and farming industries following Conon Bridge this year by the highly politicised conservation movement, we will be interested to see if those groups now call for the same licensing measures against the government-backed wind farm industry”‘.

So, the SGA have accepted Cramb’s analysis even though they are fully aware that the 22 illegally-poisoned raptors at Conon Bridge are not included in his results. They can’t deny knowledge of the Ross-shire Massacre because the SGA spokesman even mentioned it in his quote!

We would argue that the SGA is being disingenuous, readily accepting Cramb’s flawed analysis because it suits their agenda to keep denying the extent of raptor persecution crimes in Scotland. That’s outrageous. Why is this organisation still allowed to sit on the PAW Scotland Raptor Group, whose objective is to raise awareness of raptor persecution, not to deny it? They’re a disgrace.

Telegraph article here

UPDATE 3rd November 2014: RSPB Scotland has also blogged about this here


9 Responses to “Disingenuous SGA uses flawed analysis to misrepresent raptor crime data”

  1. 1 Dave
    October 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Sounds like a spun article. Do the Barclay brothers have any shooting interests?

    • 2 Anand Prasad
      October 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      It would be interesting to know how much SGA, SLE and their ilk spend on spin doctors.
      Right now it really is a war of words and thankfully the RSPB are finally really getting their hands dirty.
      Mark Twain was part right with his ‘Lies, damned lies, and [false] statistics’.

  2. October 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Is Mr Ausland Cramb the ventriloquist dummy of the SGA? What a biased article I took that to be.
    It did mention the Rossshire Massacre albeit with inaccuracy “22 birds of prey had been found poisoned near Conon Bridge, Ross Shire. The figure was later reduced to 16 red kites,”
    omitting AND SIX BUZZARDS so that is “22 birds of prey”

  3. 4 Michael Watts
    October 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    And, Oh how the establishment lie and squirm. You know when it’s getting to them when they have to present such blatantly false stories in their Daily Torygraph.

  4. October 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    as Ive already said about this story on Facebook..”and I would like to point out the fact that the illegal killing of birds of prey [persecution] is a furtive hidden crime where the chances of discovery of victims are small..whereas wind turbines [legal] are inspected on a regular basis…so the comparison is utterly fallacious.”

  5. 6 Tracey
    October 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I think the issue is that the birds are said to be deliberately poisoned to be counted, so as the police have confirmed the Rossshire birds were not deliberately killed they are not counted! So any bird that eats poisoned bait , can be classed as accidentally poisoned, so the number will always be low. Just ridiculous!

  6. 7 Marco McGinty
    October 31, 2014 at 2:11 am

    “Now, it’s quite possible that Mr Cramb is unaware of some of those additional persecution incidents (although if he was a half-decent journalist he would have done some homework – information about all of those crimes can be found on this blog).”

    And therein lies the problem. Mr Cramb works for the establishment UK media, therefore the possibilities for producing a factual, balanced report border on the non-existent! Another example of the extremely poor and lazy journalism that is accepted as the norm.

  7. October 31, 2014 at 10:09 am

    usual shooting lobby tactics. make up bare faced lies to muddy the waters when the facts are damning towards them

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