News round up

news 2There’s been a lot of interesting articles in the news media over the last few days. Unfortunately we’ve been too busy to blog about these in details so here’s a quick round up:

Balmoral’s nature award dismissed as a PR stunt

Balmoral, the Queen’s estate in Aberdeenshire, has won a “coveted award” (according to SLE) that recognises ‘exceptional work on game and wildlife management’. The estate has received accreditation under the Wildlife Estates Scotland’ (WES) banner – a scheme that was set up by Scottish landowners’ representative body Scottish Land & Estates in 2010, suspiciously timed to coincide with the Scottish Government’s then consideration of introducing estate licensing under the WANE Act (we blogged about it here).

However, WES has been described by environmentalists as “a mutual admiration society” and “little more than a public relations campaign that lacks credibility”. Balmoral’s award is difficult to understand given that five natural features on the estate (ancient Caledonian pine forest, bog woodland, blanket bog, dry heaths and wet heathland) have been categorised as being in ‘unfavourable condition’ by SNH.

Full story on Rob Edward’s website here.

If Prince William wants to be a conservationist then he must stop shooting

Simon Barnes has written an excellent piece in the Independent about Prince William’s recent statement on his visit to the US about zero tolerance on international wildlife crime, particularly elephant & rhino poaching. Barnes puts in to words what many of us are thinking – that if Prince William wants to be a credible ambassador for wildlife conservation (which would obviously be a good thing) then he must first address the criminality associated with driven grouse shooting in the UK (a pursuit in which he and other Royals participate). Full story in the Independent here.

Sporting estates criticised for failing wildlife in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has been reviewing moorland management practices within the Park and has highlighted many issues with which it’s unhappy. These issues are largely associated with the type of intensive management implemented by landowners to increase the number of grouse that can be shot each season. They include the illegal killing of birds of prey (an issue on which the CNPA spoke out against earlier this year, see here), the mass culling of mountain hares, bulldozing too many hill tracks, erecting fences across hillsides, and poorly managed heather burning.

The CNPA is concerned about the cumulative effects of these practices and their effect on wildlife within the Park. Grouse moor management is a dominant land use within the park, currently covering 44% of the land area. The CNPA suggests that this figure may need to be reduced in order to protect wildlife.

Full story, including a link to the CNPA’s report, on Rob Edward’s website here.

Britain would be big enough for the hen harrier and the grouse if it weren’t for politics

Charles Moore (not to be confused with Charlie Moores from Birders Against Wildlife Crime) has written a dull piece in the Telegraph which is basically just him slating the RSPB (yawn) and essentially claiming that hen harriers would be doing just fine if only the RSPB would leave the discussion re: brood management / shut up / go away. Interestingly, he cites some comments from a former RSPB employee (Alex Stoddart) to try and justify his criticism of the RSPB. He ‘forgot’ to mention that said former RSPB employee just happens to now work as the Ass Director of the Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) and who seems to have a bag of chips and a bottle of ketchup on his shoulder when it comes to the RSPB and other conservation charities – see here.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Charles Moore likes a spot of grouse shooting – another fact he ‘forgot’ to mention in his article.

For anyone interested, Martin Harper (Conservation Director RSPB) has responded to Moore’s criticisms here.

Hare coursers’ cars are crushed after being seized by a court

An article on the Cambridge News website informs us that police seized two cars that were being used by hare coursers and that the vehicles have now been crushed after being confiscated by the court. Wouldn’t it be great if this tactic was applied to the vehicles of raptor killers….there’d be a few Landrovers and quad bikes heading for the crusher…


9 Responses to “News round up”

  1. 1 crypticmirror
    December 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    There was something in Sunday’s BBC Countryfile show about upland moor management too, but I think it was more about how they destroyed habitat to allow better sheep grazing. I admit to not really having been paying attention to it I’m afraid.

  2. 2 Mike
    December 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Hare coursers cars on the one hand, 10 week suspended sentence on the other – wouldn’t it be good if we had a level playing field?

    Big up to Simon Barnes for an article that covered most bases in his inimitably clear and factual manner. Also well done to the Independent on Sunday for running it. It’s becoming clearer, with every week, who is playing on which side, which are the dirty players and we even have a ref who has blown up on a clear foul! What’s more there’s a lot more honest explanation of the rules of the game getting out there!

  3. 3 Marco McGinty
    December 16, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Yes, a fantastic article from Simon Barnes, on the sheer hypocrisy of the biggest scroungers and parasites that this land has ever known. William is only interested in increasing his own personal profile, and feebly attempting to portray the royal family as wildlife friendly, caring and compassionate, just as his mother did, however it is patently clear that the exact opposite is the truth.

  4. 8 Jeff
    December 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    What an amazing load of old b******s from Alex Stoddart on the SACS site!

    “Collectively those who shoot and hunt in the UK do far more for real conservation than all the conservation charities lumped together. They know, but choose to hide this simple fact.

    We will be hammering the message home: “restrict shooting, damage conservation, lose species”. They can ramp up all the drama they like about raptor ‘persecution’, but it us who do most for conservation of all species, not just those species with greatest fundraising potential.”

    Breath-taking arrogance if he believes such nonsense!

    • 9 Marco McGinty
      December 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Aye, but we all know where this organisation stands on the issue of wildlife crime. This is a quote from Ian Clark, the Director of SACS;

      “Ordinary common sense, backed up by face to face discussions with keepers, confirms that no one ever sets out to poison eagles (or kites, for that matter) – any cases of eagle poisoning are accidental, when they take bait set for other birds. The setting of poison bait is illegal and deplored by all responsible sportsmen and keepers. In one view, the only reason poison is used is that there is currently no legal way for raptors to be managed where this is felt necessary, and poison may be the way least likely to be detected.”

      So, there we have it. The Director of SACS knew that gamekeepers were deliberately targeting raptors by the setting of poisoned baits, yet chose to completely ignore the issue, and refused to report the criminal activity.

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