Chough-ing hell

Chough control - CopyAn article appeared in the Scotsman the other day (see here) written by someone called Katrina Candy, Head of PR at GWCT (Scotland).

It was all about the apparent benefits of corvid ‘control’ (the words ‘trapping’ and ‘killing’ aren’t great words to use when your job is Head of Public Relations for an organisation that promotes game-shooting as a wildlife-friendly pastime).

It would seem that Ms Candy hasn’t read the latest research on the impact of corvids on other bird populations – see here for a good overview.

Her article was further discredited by the choice of illustration – none other than a chough, a highly protected species listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. Let’s hope the error was made by a picture editor at the Scotsman and not by the Head of PR for GWCT (Scotland).

The article also mentioned a current ‘study’ being undertaken by GWCT and SASA, ‘to investigate how corvid traps are used under the current General Licence system in Scotland’. This ‘study’ involves asking trap-users (mostly gamekeepers) to keep records of what they’ve caught. These records (which of course are going to be unbiased and 100% truthful) will be analysed against data collected from trail cameras set at crow traps for ‘short periods of time’.

The proposed use of the trail cameras has apparently caused “some concerns” amongst members of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. GWCT and SASA have had to reassure participants that the cameras will only be set with the trap-user’s permission and the footage will not be used “for policing trap-users” (see here).

Can’t imagine what they’re worried about.

It’ll be interesting to see the results.

9 Responses to “Chough-ing hell”

  1. 1 wingsandwildhearts
    April 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Just goes to show people should always check their facts. That energy could be better used for providing more sustainable methods of control rather than using crows as a scapegoat.

  2. April 10, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX. Sadly, there seems to be quite a lot of dumb/biased folk in GWCT, that consider any bird other than game birds must be got rid of. Oh, they do allow LBJ’s, I assume, to survive, or are they too small to hit with their guns.
    More vigilance needed. Keep watching and report anything suspicious.

  3. 3 Chris
    April 10, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Collating data from 42 studies carried out globally over a 60 year period does not constitute a scientific study, and the results really don’t have a valid practical value for here and now. Raptor persecution is too important a subject to be diluted by arguments over the effects corvid populations have on song bird populations.

    • April 11, 2015 at 12:05 am

      “Collating data from 42 studies carried out globally over a 60 year period does not constitute a scientific study…”

      What an extraordinary statement! The peer reviewers and the editors of the leading scientific journal Ibis obviously didn’t share your opinion.

      Have you actually read the paper? It included, quote, ‘326 explicit evaluations of relationships between a corvid and a potential prey species’. Can you elaborate on why you think this doesn’t constitute a scientific study?

      As for your last statement, corvid ‘control’ is implicitly associated with game management, which in turn is implicitly associated with raptor persecution. Therefore corvid ‘control’ and its (in)effectiveness is very much an issue of interest to us.

  4. April 11, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    The supposed benefits gained from shooting small predators are pathetic. This management ‘technique’ fails to acknowledge that predators are an integral aspect of ecosystems and that species continue to decline. Larger predators like lynx need to be restored to give balance back alongside properly addressing our own treatment of the environment, rather than pretending foxes, corvids and other predators are the problem.

    • 6 Jimmy
      April 12, 2015 at 12:25 am

      In a balanced ecosystem these smaller predators are kept in check by top predators like large raptors, wolves etc. Obviously problem on this isles is the scarcity/absence of top predators, ergo need for corvid,fox control

  5. 7 Rob
    April 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    maybe ms Candy consulted Sir Ian Botham? He’s known for picking up a red ball hurtling towards his head at 90mph but not for his avian species ID, corvid or otherwise.

  6. 8 Chris
    April 14, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    A scientific study is (should be) done with a recorded and verifiable methodology, which should be able to be repeated by others to double check and test the validity of results. This is to ensure as much objectivity as possible. This study is collating data, basically interpreting results of this wide range of previous studies, and is necessarily much more subjective. Science moves forward by the consensus of many different interpretations leading to more studies to either prove or disprove such interpretations. That is not the case here.

    Corvid ‘control’ is mostly associated with game management, but not entirely. I do not shoot, am not a game manager, but I can tell you that when I carried out some magpie control over a 5 year period, something that I might add I didn’t particularly like doing, there most certainly was a significant increase of song bird populations. This was not a part of a scientific study, so of course, that is just my opinion.

    As a falconer, I share your deep concern about raptor persecution. It is illegal, immoral and unjustifiable, and needs to be stopped. My point was that efforts to uphold the law is more important than getting bogged down arguing about something that is allowable within the law.

  7. 9 Rob
    April 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    confusing Red-legged Chough with any species of corvid that might need to be legally controlled Chris is a crime indeed!!

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