16
Dec
15

Golden eagles, the SGA, and porky pies

Fearnan Angus Glens Dec 2013The season of mince pies may be upon us but the SGA is feasting on a hefty pile of pork pies.

An article has appeared on the BBC news website today (see here) based on a claim by the SGA that grouse moors are good for golden eagles, and they justify this by saying their ‘survey’ (whatever that entailed) had found golden eagles nesting in 58 areas managed for grouse shooting.

This may sound familiar to some of you. They made a similar claim back in 2013 (see here), although that time they’d found 55 nesting pairs; a claim we took apart here and here. Rather than having to go over the same old ground, again, please read these previous two blogs on this.

To say that the SGA’s latest claim is disingenuous is putting it mildly. They’ve chosen some of their words wisely, by saying “areas managed for grouse shooting”. This, of course, includes both driven and walked up grouse moors. Had their ‘survey’ included only intensively managed driven grouse moors, their results would look quite different.

As we’ve said before, golden eagles do nest successfully on some driven grouse moors, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule. The number of vacant, unoccupied breeding territories on driven grouse moors is a bit of a giveaway to the overall picture.

What’s also misleading about their latest figures is that they haven’t included any data about the age of those pairs attempting to breed in areas managed for grouse shooting. Perhaps this was a deliberate exclusion, or perhaps they didn’t collect those data. Why is the age of the birds important? Well, if one or both of the breeding pair just happens to be a juvenile, that’s also a strong indicator that all is not well with the local golden eagle population. We’ve explained this before (see here) but this bit is worth repeating:

‘According to several scientific studies, the occurrence of breeding subadult eagles should actually be used as an early-warning of potential population decline. The reason these Scottish golden eagles are attempting to breed at three years of age is because there is little or no competition for that vacant territory. Why is there little or no competition? Because one or both of the territorial adults have been killed and there are very few non-breeding adults (known as ‘floaters’) around to challenge for the territory. If the population was healthy, it would be these breeding-age floaters that would move in to the territory, not an immature three-year old bird.

An excellent study (Whitfield et al. 2004 – see below) has also demonstrated that subadult and mixed-age breeding golden eagle pairs in Scotland have lower breeding success than adult pairs – a result of inexperience and persecution, seeing as most golden eagle territories in Scotland with subadult breeders are in areas associated with illegal persecution’.

According to a presentation at this year’s recent SOC conference, there is evidence from a number of golden eagle territories on driven grouse moors in Perthshire that show either one or both of the pair attempting to breed is a juvenile. These closely-monitored sites (subject to long-term monitoring by experts from the Scottish Raptor Study Group) are showing an unusually high turnover rate of adult golden eagles. This situation is easily masked by superficial SGA claims that golden eagles are breeding there. To the unsuspecting reader, it will sound like all is rosy but to get to the actual truth you need to look a bit more closely.

Also included in today’s BBC article are the following statements:

“The SGA said numbers of golden eagles were recovering from declines in the 1960s caused by pesticides”

and

“It [the SGA] said the management of grouse moors had helped to increase Scotland’s population of the large raptors”.

This is contrary to decades of peer-reviewed science that shows unequivocally that golden eagle recovery is severely limited in areas managed for driven grouse shooting. It’s outrageous that the BBC website has published these statements without providing an opportunity for any organisation to contest their validity. These statements amount to lies and the BBC should not have published them.

If you’d like to complain to the BBC, and ask them to retract these statements, please contact them here (click on ‘make a complaint’) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

The photograph shows a dead golden eagle called ‘Fearnan’ who was found poisoned on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens in 2013.

UPDATE 5PM: The BBC article has now been updated with a quote from RSPB Scotland, who also dispute the SGA’s findings.

Duncan Orr-Ewing said: “We are not sure where the SGA have got their information, however, if correct their survey highlights only 53% occupancy  of known traditional golden eagle territories in the central and eastern Highlands, far below the natural carrying capacity and continues to indicate that the species is in unfavourable conservation status in this area“.

To read what else he had to say see updated BBC article here

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48 Responses to “Golden eagles, the SGA, and porky pies”


  1. 1 steve
    December 16, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    have emailed bbc as per complaints form. If past complaints are anything to go by don’t hold yer breath!
    Good stuff tho’ RPS, no getting past you so easily!

  2. 4 nirofo
    December 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    The amount of biased peer disputed rubbish the BBC puts on air time after time should surprise no one who is in the slightest way familiar with controversial environmental matters, particularly where the shooting / hunting brigade is concerned.

  3. 5 Rob
    December 16, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Complaint made to the Biased Broadcasting Corporation ….. inexcusable !

  4. 6 Les Wallace
    December 16, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I sent in a complaint too. Pointed out that given the record of wildlife crime on these moors accepting these statements at face value was poor journalism, should have asked RSPB etc for their views – explaining the virtual absence of golden eagles in southern Scotland would be a bit awkward. In general the conservation organisations are going to have to be considerably more upfront about challenge the promotion of driven grouse moors as good for conservation. What damage does muirburn do to invertebrates and plants such as juniper (having an incredibly hard time, it’s susceptible to grazing pressure and fire)? What about the very, very long list of threatened species which will never thrive or even exist on grouse moors? Not just through the total absence of full woodland, but even naturalistic open areas with clumps of trees and scrub, boggy bits, varied vegetation. I would imagine the latter (as well as woodland) could be a really dynamic wild habitat, but you’ll not get that on a grouse moor with the rabid hatred of trees that could harbour crows and foxes and the general attitude to SCRUB!! Watched another one of those propaganda videos yesterday about the wonderful keepers looking after Scotland – stopping our glorious moors reverting to scrub as if the initial stage of new woodland is a vile disease that needs to be fought. Frustrating that this garbage is being pumped out, but seems to be little if any direct counterpoint from the conservation NGOs, too many people will believe the tweed coated pap they are being fed unfortunately.

  5. 7 James Bray
    December 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Love the bit where the SGA say they create habitat for mountain hares. Bless.

  6. 8 Alba52
    December 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Compaint submitted to the BBC regarding this SGA piece. To save others searching here’s the BBC link. https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/?lang=en&reset=&uid=116423311

  7. 9 Doug Malpus
    December 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    My complaint has just been sent.

    Here is what I said:
    More eagles nesting on grouse estates, say gamekeepers, is your headline.

    This is not verified by any reliable, responsible organisation, e.g. RSPB.
    Using data from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association is as bad as using statistics from any other biased body. They only see their perspective. Predator control (killing) is their prime role as they see it.

    The SGA supports gamekeepers that have convictions for Bird of Prey persecution. They also support many estates where the killing of raptors happens.

    The SGA talks about conservation but this does not show in the problems associated within and around shooting estates. Not only are bird of prey numbers declining but the finding of shot, poisoned and trapped birds corpses is not infrequent, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    The bias that the BBC has shown in this news article is tantamount to positive PR for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, something they don’t deserve.

    Questions that should have been asked, could include, Why are raptors frequently poisoned with banned and illegal pesticides? Why have so many estates reduced the mountain hare populations so severely, the Golden eagles preferred food? Why are criminal gamekeepers kept within their membership?

    Please review your reporting of such matters without bias to an organisation that still lives and works in the Victorian era.

    For more information about Raptor persecution please refer to https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com
    This site holds a vast amount of information about the wrong doings of the shooting estates.

  8. December 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    they say they found golden eagles nesting in 58 areas of grouse moorland. no doubt they promptly shot the birds in 43 of those areas and poisoned the ones in another 12

  9. December 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    They are hilarious!!

    So what was the methodology that they used for the survey and who carried it out or will they not share the hard science!?

    Or was this largely anecdotal evidence from the gamekeepers.

  10. December 16, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Dear aunty beeb….

    This story is based on the press release issued by a minority group which represents game keepers. Gamekeepers are known to supress Golden eagle populations and other raptor species.

    A balance was sought, by contacting the RSPB, a national authority. RSPB cast doubt on the survey results and referred to Government advisors who report that in the absence of illegal killing of golden eagles that the population would rapidly recover. This would not be a recovery from the effects of DDT in the 1960’s, this would be a recovery from the ongoing illegal suppression of the population.
    My complaint is that the content of the game keepers dubious press release was not sufficiently challenged and that their headline was essentially published without taking into account the serious doubts raised by the RSPB and Government advisors.

  11. 13 Jimmy
    December 16, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Standard BS from the SGA on this subject. BBC would want to cop on to such things when covering this topic

  12. 14 Marco McGinty
    December 17, 2015 at 1:29 am

    The only element of surprise I have, is that people show surprise when the BBC spew out lies and propaganda.

    The BBC is a corrupt, establishment mouthpiece, and will therefore naturally side with their own, which in this case just happens to be the shooting industry.

    Despite the BBC’s never-ending claims of fairness and impartiality, they just can’t help spreading lies and propaganda.

    I realise that the following is off-topic, but on the BBC News at Six on Tuesday evening (15 Dec), it was mentioned twice in the programme, that Tim Peake was the first Briton to have went to space in 25 years. The first time the newsreader spoke those words, I thought I would give her the benefit of the doubt, but then she repeated the exact same phrase later in the programme. So, knowing she was wrong, I decided to delve into the matter, and here’s what I found;

    Helen Sharman was the first Briton to go into space when she went to the Mir Space Station in 1991, but it would appear that the UK is happy that her achievements have been airbrushed from history (those with a grasp on basic arithmetic, will realise that this was actually less than 25 years ago – for the gamekeepers amongst us, just ignore the arithmetic bit, as I know it’s not really a strong point in your made-up numbers profession).

    She was followed by Michael Foale, who also went to Mir, but in 1997.

    Piers Sellers went to the International Space Station three times in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

    Nicholas Patrick went to the ISS on two occasions (to commemorate his Scottish ancestry, he took a Saltire with him).

    Gregory H Johnson went into space twice, in 2008 and 2011.

    Richard Garriott went to the ISS in 2008 as a space tourist.

    Tim Peake goes to the ISS in December 2015.

    That would actually make Tim Peake the seventh Briton to enter space, and not the first as the BBC tried to tell us. And where did I get most of the information? A BBC website page dated 15 December 2015!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35103788
    https://archive.is/IqM6r

    So, on 15 December 2015, the BBC lied to the entire world (as they do every day), and people still expect them to play fair.

    • 15 Voice of Reason
      December 17, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      The BBC is a corrupt, establishment mouthpiece, and will therefore naturally side with their own, which in this case just happens to be the shooting industry.
      Despite the BBC’s never-ending claims of fairness and impartiality, they just can’t help spreading lies and propaganda.

      What a load of paranoid lunatic conspiracy nutter tosh. The only other place where you’ll find that level of complaints that the BBC are against them and part of some grand conspiracy etc is the pages of the Shooting Times, which is deliciously Ironic given the nature of your your laughably overblown hyperbole.

      Clearly you have a big chip on your shoulder about the BBC, grow up and get over it.

      Lazy regurgitation of a press release on a minor topic (and it is a minor topic to most people no matter how strongly you or I may feel about it) does not a conspiracy make. You do understand the difference between sloppy journalism on ‘relatively’ unimportant stories and grand conspiracy don’t you..? (Nod your head so we can see your tin foil hat bob up and down….)

      Sadly journalists increasingly just regurgitate press releases these days in an hurry to meet their deadlines, it’s sloppy but it happens across the board (read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies for a detailed account of why this is happening, you’ll enjoy it). If they think it’s not too contentious they may not bother getting a second opinion or scrutinising the claim, particularly if they consider the issue to be one of minor importance.
      Although they may sometimes report that “organisation x says…” (which is not actually the same as saying that what is being said is a fact), and when (if) issues are raised with the statement they publish those if relevant. It’s typical of modern lazy journalism: publish the statement and move on, or wait for the rebuttals then publish them too. If nobody sends rebutalls then obviously nobody cares and you were right not to waste time chasing any up, if the rebuttals come then you’ve saved yourself the hassle of having to chase people up for quotes, win win for the journalist, lose lose for the public. A Woeful way to work…welcome to journalism in the 2010’s.

      As for your extended astronautical ‘example’ on BBC lying. Strewth.

      Helen Sharman was the first Briton to go into space when she went to the Mir Space Station in 1991, but it would appear that the UK is happy that her achievements have been airbrushed from history
       
      Well since you bring it up….when I caught the last 20 mins of the live broadcast event the BBC had put on to cover Mr Peake’s arrival at the space station Helen Sharman was right there co-presenting and commenting on his arrival with Dara O’Brien and Brian Cox. Some airbrushing…
       
      Oh and I’m told that she was introduced on the programme as “Britain’s first astronaut”. (more airbrushing?)
       
      Out of interest Helen’s flight was funded by a group of commercial companies along with the Russians.
       
      Michael Foale had joint US/UK citizenship he to space as a US citizen funded by the US government
       
      Piers Sellers became a US citizen in 1991 and flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government.
       
      Nicholas Patrick became a US citizen in 1994 and flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government
       
      Gregory H Johnson moved to the US when he was a nipper and became a US citzen, guess what… he flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government
       
      Richard Garriott Was born in UK but moved to the US as a kid, he has joint US/UK citizenship. Interestingly his father was a US astronaut and he funded his own trip as a space tourist.
       
      That would actually make Tim Peake the seventh Briton to enter space, and not the first as the BBC tried to tell us. And where did I get most of the information? A BBC website page dated 15 December 2015!
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35103788
      https://archive.is/IqM6r

       
      So er not much airbrushing going on then?
       
      Although when you look at it Helen Sharman was the only one you could truly claim as British and her trip wasn’t a British mission. Tim Peake’s flight is effectively the first actual British Manned mission to space.
       
      So, on 15 December 2015, the BBC lied to the entire world (as they do every day), and people still expect them to play fair.
       
      Well that sounds rather dramatic, rather than the truth that on a few mainstream articles on a fairly unimportant subject some journalists didn’t waste several minutes trying to explain the history of Brits and ‘sort of Brits’ in space.
       
      Reading your over the top attack on them I’m not sure its the BBC that has a biased ‘agenda’

      Oh and here’s an odd one: http://www.thenational.scot/world/profile-major-tim-peake-who-will-become-the-first-british-astronaut-to-visit-the-international-space-station.11185

      Profile: Major Tim Peake, who will become the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station

      OH no look even “The National” that bastion of honest Scots journalism are ‘lying’ to the entire world , why do they want to make out Peake is the first Brit in the ISS when internationally renown expert on space and nationalities Macro McGinty has confirmed with the aid of the BBC that it has been previously visited on six occasions by three other Brits? Liars liars their agenda laded pants on fire! it’s a conspiracy I tell you…. help Matron bring my tablets!

      • 16 Marco McGinty
        December 17, 2015 at 11:07 pm

        “What a load of paranoid lunatic conspiracy nutter tosh. The only other place where you’ll find that level of complaints that the BBC are against them and part of some grand conspiracy etc is the pages of the Shooting Times, which is deliciously Ironic given the nature of your your laughably overblown hyperbole.”

        Well, you can keep your head firmly buried in the sand if you want to. The BBC has propagated government lies and spin for decades. They have (together with the establishment) conspired in the cover up of paedophile rings, they have (together with the establishment) conspired in major cover ups, they have (together with the establishment) continually force fed the populace with lies which has led us into illegal wars. I could go on, but you obviously believe that I am making all of this up.

        “Lazy regurgitation of a press release on a minor topic (and it is a minor topic to most people no matter how strongly you or I may feel about it) does not a conspiracy make. You do understand the difference between sloppy journalism on ‘relatively’ unimportant stories and grand conspiracy don’t you..? (Nod your head so we can see your tin foil hat bob up and down….)”

        See my above comment. If you believe that the cover ups of large, widespread paedophile rings, the propagation of government lies that led us into illegal wars that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and many other major government cover ups, can all be put down to the “lazy regurgitation of a press release on a minor topic”, says far more about you than it does me. You see, it doesn’t stop with local news and press releases – BBC lies and propaganda is felt worldwide, and on a far greater scale than you care to admit.

        “Sadly journalists increasingly just regurgitate press releases these days in an hurry to meet their deadlines, it’s sloppy but it happens across the board (read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies for a detailed account of why this is happening, you’ll enjoy it). If they think it’s not too contentious they may not bother getting a second opinion or scrutinising the claim, particularly if they consider the issue to be one of minor importance.”

        So, you are agreeing with me, then! If they don’t think it’s too contentious, or they can’t be bothered scrutinising claims, then all impartiality is gone, and they are guilty of corruption and publishing propaganda. There’s no get out clause.

        “Although they may sometimes report that “organisation x says…” (which is not actually the same as saying that what is being said is a fact), and when (if) issues are raised with the statement they publish those if relevant. It’s typical of modern lazy journalism: publish the statement and move on, or wait for the rebuttals then publish them too. If nobody sends rebutalls then obviously nobody cares and you were right not to waste time chasing any up, if the rebuttals come then you’ve saved yourself the hassle of having to chase people up for quotes, win win for the journalist, lose lose for the public. A Woeful way to work…welcome to journalism in the 2010’s.”

        Again, you appear to be agreeing with me. In my opinion, this form of journalism is corrupt, and as the BBC regularly act in such a manner, then I was perfectly entitled to mention that fact.

        “As for your extended astronautical ‘example’ on BBC lying. Strewth. Well since you bring it up….when I caught the last 20 mins of the live broadcast event the BBC had put on to cover Mr Peake’s arrival at the space station Helen Sharman was right there co-presenting and commenting on his arrival with Dara O’Brien and Brian Cox. Some airbrushing…”

        The airbrushing example was a tongue-in-cheek remark, and just perhaps due to the BBC’s ignorance of her achievements, and the anger it caused in may individuals, the BBC had to adapt the script for the live show. Just as they had to adapt the website page relating to the SGA’s claims.

        “Out of interest Helen’s flight was funded by a group of commercial companies along with the Russians.”

        It doesn’t matter who funded the flight, that fact remains that Helen Sharman is British.

        “Michael Foale had joint US/UK citizenship he to space as a US citizen funded by the US government.”

        It doesn’t matter if he had joint citizenship, or if he was funded by the US Government, he is still British.

        “Piers Sellers became a US citizen in 1991 and flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government.”

        As with the above, he is still British.

        “Nicholas Patrick became a US citizen in 1994 and flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government.”

        At the risk of repeating myself, it doesn’t matter who funded the flight, or if the astronaut changed citizenship, he is still British.

        “Gregory H Johnson moved to the US when he was a nipper and became a US citzen, guess what… he flew into space as a US citizen funded by the US government.”

        Jesus H Corbett! See above.

        “Richard Garriott Was born in UK but moved to the US as a kid, he has joint US/UK citizenship. Interestingly his father was a US astronaut and he funded his own trip as a space tourist.”

        Born in the UK and has joint US/UK citizenship, still makes him British. My mother was born in Italy, and now has joint Italian/UK citizenship, so are you, and the BBC, trying to tell me that she is not Italian?

        “So er not much airbrushing going on then?”

        No, but a perfectly clear example that the BBC lie so much, they don’t know they are doing so!

        “Although when you look at it Helen Sharman was the only one you could truly claim as British and her trip wasn’t a British mission. Tim Peake’s flight is effectively the first actual British Manned mission to space.”

        FFS, how many times? It doesn’t matter who funded the trips, if the person is British, that person is British.

        “Well that sounds rather dramatic, rather than the truth that on a few mainstream articles on a fairly unimportant subject some journalists didn’t waste several minutes trying to explain the history of Brits and ‘sort of Brits’ in space.”

        It’s not dramatic at all. It was mentioned twice on the News at Six, that Tim Peake was the first Briton to go to space in 25 years, yet the same organisation’s website is claiming that he is actually the seventh Briton to go into space. Somewhere, the BBC is lying, and they are lying to the world.

        “Reading your over the top attack on them I’m not sure its the BBC that has a biased ‘agenda’”

        So, my factual piece, backed with evidence, is regarded as an “over the top attack” that has a “biased agenda”? Please, enlighten us all. What is my “agenda”?

        “Oh and here’s an odd one: http://www.thenational.scot/world/profile-major-tim-peake-who-will-become-the-first-british-astronaut-to-visit-the-international-space-station.11185
        Profile: Major Tim Peake, who will become the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station
        OH no look even “The National” that bastion of honest Scots journalism are ‘lying’ to the entire world , why do they want to make out Peake is the first Brit in the ISS when internationally renown expert on space and nationalities Macro McGinty has confirmed with the aid of the BBC that it has been previously visited on six occasions by three other Brits? Liars liars their agenda laded pants on fire! it’s a conspiracy I tell you…. help Matron bring my tablets!”

        Yes, the National is also guilty of lazy journalism, and despite showing some early promise, the appeal has faded, which is why I don’t buy it anymore.

  13. 17 Jack Snipe
    December 17, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Has anyone obtained a copy of the original SGA’s press release? This would be extremely useful to see and scrutinise, for example did they actually imply (by omission of reference if nothing else) that “the latest study” which recorded 450 pairs of Golden Eagles in Scotland was carried out by the SGA? That’s how it reads in the article, but we know that was not the case. It would also be interesting to know how closely their data for 2013 match those held by the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme. I would hope that RSG and other raptor workers have produced a more accurate result for that particular study area.

    There may well be some truth in the statistics, but as usual the SGA’s presentation and interpretation is designed to hide the real truth, as exposed above by RPS. It is a standard practice adopted by gamekeepers with which I am all too familiar, having studied their natural history over a period of 40 years or more. They attempt to focus attention on “good news”, like the pair of harriers they protected on their patch (while exterminating the other half dozen), or the alleged success of eagles on grouse moors; these are token gestures publicised to obfuscate what is really happening, and is aimed at promoting the gamekeepers’ role as “the guardians of the countryside”, and “friends of wildlife.” It’s a PR exercise, and not a very good one for those of us who see right through it, which unfortunately on this occasion doesn’t include the BBC. Although to be fair to the latter, the few words quoted from Duncan Orr-Ewing succinctly shot down the false claims made by the SGA. So it was not completely unbalanced.

    For that reason I’d suggest it’s not worth joining the anti-BBC bandwagon by complaining too strongly, but it is worth picking on the SGA statement to highlight their hypocrisy and ability to lie through their teeth. To be honest it dismays me that the excellent arguments put forward in this blog do not get disseminated more widely. Other natural history groups and conservationists tend not to hear these arguments as often as they should, so don’t campaign as effectively as they might. We should think about whether raptor study groups could be partly responsible for this by being so exclusive and secretive. I confess to having personal experience in this respect, as I have been attempting to put together popular articles revealing the truth about harrier persecution in my local area, but have been hindered by my local Raptor Study Group being reluctant to allow me to use their data, despite me being a founding member of the Group since the 1970s with a trustworthy track record! I have also been monitoring a nationally important population of Hen Harriers over the past 18 years. Apparently that means nothing to some people.

    • December 17, 2015 at 7:32 am

      The original BBC article was totally unbalanced. They only added the RSPB Scotland quote after we’d made a complaint. The original article featured regurgitated lies from the SGA and the BBC didn’t think to challenge them. The complaints to the BBC are wholly justified.

    • 20 Marco McGinty
      December 17, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Presumably, this is what was sent out as the press release
      https://archive.is/eiI8m

      As mentioned in the text, RPS and SRSG ripped the SGA’s 2013 claims to shreds (https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/gamekeepers-and-golden-eagles-the-facts/ and https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/environment-minister-faces-more-calls-for-grouse-shoot-licences/)

      As for the BBC, they would have been perfectly content to have publicised the SGA propaganda without any input from the RSPB, and I would imagine that the comment from Duncan Orr-Ewing was only included after people had sent off complaint emails, so I would have to disagree on the issue of balance.

      I’m sure SRSG will have the full data to provide the true account of what is happening with the Golden Eagle population, and why the species fares so badly on driven grouse moors, and I would expect details to published here some time soon.

      But what are the chances that if SRSG issue a press release, destroying the SGA’s propaganda, that the BBC will run with the story, firstly without any input from the shooting industry? Highly unlikely, I would imagine. In fact, I’ll go as far as to suggest that the BBC would completely ignore it.

      There’s a greater chance that the Ku Klux Klan will take part in future Black Lives Matter marches, than the BBC ever being fair, impartial or balanced.

      • 21 Jack Snipe
        December 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        Fair enough Marco, but it still worries me that people criticise the BBC at a time when the Tories are determined to undermine the organisation through privatisation. The BBC is biased primarily because an extreme right-wing government applies unacceptable pressure upon them to toe the party line, with the threat of reducing budgets to selling off the assets altogether. We should criticise the BBC for being biased, but not without qualifying it by blaming the real culprits. I’m involved in the campaign to save the BBC, as I believe in the principle of public broadcasting, but not Soviet-style like our current government is attempting (with some success) to implement.

        • 22 Marco McGinty
          December 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm

          The BBC in England is pro-Tory and pro-establishment, and has been for years, whereas in Scotland it’s pro-Labour, and all of this is at the expense of the supposed impartiality that the organisation believes it lives by. But as long as they can continue with their anti-independence, SNP-bad rhetoric, then they are happy. We’ve had “Soviet-style” broadcasting in the UK for decades, it’s just that the people didn’t realise, and many still refuse to accept that fact.

          Getting in bed with the Tories is suicide – the Lib Dems found out after their spell in coalition, the Labour Party in Scotland found out after doing the Tories dirty work for them, and now the BBC is about to find out – but worryingly, very few individuals in those organisations voiced concerns at the time, and it doesn’t appear as though anyone within those groups thought they would be shafted once their usefulness came to an end.

          No, the BBC made their pact, and as a result they have failed, so I won’t mourn their passing.

          • 23 Jack Snipe
            December 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm

            Marco, have you got shares in the Murdoch corporation? I’d rather save the BBC and grant them proper independence to provide a fair and unbiased public service. Commercial services are beholden only to their owners and shareholders, hardly a group of people to support a ban on driven grouse shooting!

            • 24 Marco McGinty
              December 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm

              No, I despise the man, but you have to realise that the BBC will never be independent, and they will never provide a fair and unbiased service. If you believe that the BBC Trust is free from such figures, then I suggest you check up on the history of some of its past and current members.

              • 25 Jack Snipe
                December 18, 2015 at 12:16 am

                … appointed by the Tory Government.

                • 26 Marco McGinty
                  December 18, 2015 at 8:04 am

                  Not exactly, Jack. According to the BBC website, they are appointed by the queen on advice from Department for Culture, Media and Sport ministers through the Prime Minister, so I would imagine that this would have been the process when Labour were in power, as well as the ConDem coalition.

                  So, considering that the monarchy has a say in such matters, and one of their favourite pastimes is shooting, the BBC will never provide a fair and balanced approach where game shooting interests are concerned. Nor will they offer a fair and balanced view in relation to the royal family, or government matters, or foreign policy matters, or just about any other issue concerning the establishment and establishment figures.

      • 27 Gretchy
        December 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        Well much of the media have simply ignored this story, but I have come across these terrible Liars happy to unquestioningly regurgitate SGA propaganda

        http://www.thenational.scot/news/rise-in-number-of-eagle-nesting-sites-reported-in-cairngorms-area.11291

        http://www.strathspey-herald.co.uk/News/Golden-eagles-nests-on-the-rise-in-the-Cairngorms-National-Park-16122015.htm

        I guess someone might want to write to them and challenge them, before returning here to declare that they are part of a Tory/Establishment/Pro-shooting conspiracy…….. Up for it Marco?

        This is an excellent web-site with excellent informative articles, increasingly hampered by some downright ‘odd’ conspiracy theorists who seem to be pushing some underlying political agenda via the comments facility. It’s a pity

        • 28 Marco McGinty
          December 17, 2015 at 11:36 pm

          Yes, they are both guilty of publishing lies and propaganda. If deliberately issuing a press release from an organisation that xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx in order to survive, without challenging or questioning it in any way, is not classified as publishing lies and propaganda in your mind, then how else would you describe it?

          Fair? Balanced? Impartial?

          As for you “increasingly hampered by some downright ‘odd’ conspiracy theorists who seem to be pushing some underlying political agenda via the comments facility.” comment, would you care to provide some supporting evidence for this claim?

  14. 29 Peter
    December 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I don,t know enough about golden eagles to know who is telling porkies but I thought a bit rich to complain that the BBC had published this information without inviting a response from anyone else. I agree they should have done but over the years the RSPB and others have published skewed information on various topics and none of you have complained that this was one sided. Anyway, merry christmas to you all.

    • 30 Les WAllace
      December 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      I don’t think that the number of bitterns and avocets on their reserves, the return of the common crane or surveying birds in your back garden carry quite the same element of contention as the issue of bird of prey numbers in areas where they have been historically, and still are, heavily persecuted. Maybe the SGA would like to claim that the RSPB is lying when it says that its management practices have been highly successful increasing the number of bearded reedlings in the Tay reed beds, in fact I’m sure it would love too, but where as its motivation in doing so isn’t hard to understand (maligning the opposition), its factual basis for doing so certainly is. No Peter good reason why in this instance the BBC coverage was seriously under par. Merry Xmas to you too.

    • 31 Marco McGinty
      December 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      So, would you be prepared to provide some links where the BBC has published RSPB press releases that contained “skewed information”, and where other organisations were not given a chance to comment?

  15. 32 I C T
    December 17, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I sent a complaint to the bbc just a few days ago on something quite unrelated. And I’m disappointed they accepted the SGAs bull without checking the facts, but Marco’s extreme rant against the organisation is quite unjustified.

    • 33 Marco McGinty
      December 17, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      How so?

      What did you find extreme, and why do you believe it was unjustified?

      And out of curiosity, why did you make a complaint to this “fine organisation”?

  16. 34 I C T
    December 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I think the answers have been covered above by other bloggers to your comments. I’ve critisized the BBC in the past & possibly will do in the future & I’ve done likewise regarding the RSPB. At least unlike some other states you can critize the state broadcaster! Tomorrow evening I’ll be tuned in to the BBC at 6.25 pm like millions of others across the whole of a Britain & the across the whole of Ireland!

    • 35 Marco McGinty
      December 18, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      And I’ve successfully fended off those comments by providing factual evidence as to why the BBC will never provide a fair, balanced or impartial service, and I’ve provided evidence that the organisation will say one thing on a subject, and then go on to completely contradict that statement – in other words, deliberately lying, no matter how unimportant people rank the articles.

      Of course, it wasn’t just me that provided criticism. If you read all of the comments on this article, you will soon discover that Steve, nirofo, Rob, Les Wallace, Alba52, Doug Malpus, circusmaxim and Jimmy, have all sent complaints, or criticised the BBC, on this matter.

      As you have admitted to complaining to the BBC, and criticising them, you have also expressed your dissatisfaction at their service, Jack Snipe has also admitted that they are biased because of UK government influence, and of course our host’s article has shown that the BBC operate in a biased manner.

      That means that more or less every person commenting on this article has offered criticism, sent complaints, or believes the BBC to be biased. Those facts cannot be argued against.

      So, the BBC are obviously not operating in a fair, balanced and impartial manner, are they?

  17. 36 Rob
    December 18, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Dear Dr Barnett

    Thank you for your email about the BBC News Online article: More eagles nesting on grouse estates, say gamekeepers – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-35110963.

    We have received a wide range of feedback on this matter so the response below strives to address the majority of those concerns raised but may not address all of the specific points you have mentioned. Please be assured your comments have been registered and sent to senior editorial staff at BBC Scotland who have asked that we forward their response as follows:

    “We have reported extensively on the issues surrounding birds of prey over many years. We appreciate the strength of feeling generated by the subject, and we need to reflect the views of both sides in this debate. As a result, we felt it was appropriate to cover the claims being made by the SGA.

    The final version of the story includes RSPB Scotland challenging the figures put forward by the gamekeepers. This is not unusual, as our online stories often evolve during the day as reaction and other information emerge.

    However, we would accept that on this story we should have waited to include the views of both sides before publishing the original article.”

    Thank you, once again, for taking the time to contact us.

    Details of the BBC complaints process are available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle.shtml

    Kind Regards

    BBC Complaints

  18. 37 Jack Snipe
    December 19, 2015 at 4:11 am

    That seems a reasonable response from the BBC Complaints department. They have admitted to a degree of failure, and we can only wait to see if that is redressed in future. Also, the heading in the original article does seem to have been “More eagles nesting on grouse estates, SAY GAMEKEEPERS” (my emphasis). And at least they responded to criticism by later inserting an excellent quote from Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB. I honestly don’t think the final version was really worth some of us getting so steamed up about. I haven’t heard Marco giving any examples of any constituent part of the media which we can trust to expose the truth in an unbiased manner. From a left-wing perspective Socialist Worker and to some extent The Huffington Post do so, but neither is popular nor trendy enough to be read by most people, whereas Private Eye is the closest we have to a centrist, relatively politically neutral publication which certainly strives for the truth, even if it misses the target now and again. Even with its relative popularity it still doesn’t reach a mass audience.

    However, I most certainly am enraged by the audacity of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association in putting out such a deceitful and disingenuous press release. To what depths will these liars stoop to distract attention away from their insidious culture of cruel self interest and contempt for the law of the land? This is where we should be directing most of our wrath, rather than spending too much time arguing among ourselves about the integrity of the BBC. But how do we reach a wider audience? I’ve posed this question a number of times, but have yet to hear any response or suggestions as to the best way to get our message across. At the moment the SGA, G&WCT, BASC and others seem to be winning the PR war, albeit in a disgustingly deceitful manner. Our arguments are honest and true, but appear to be heard almost exclusively in the wilderness of our own forums.

    RPS is my preferred source of reliable, up-to-date information about raptor persecution in Scotland. The reporting is well written, informative and well referenced, and gives many of us food for thought and inspiration to go out there and argue against persecution and for greater enforcement of the laws protecting wildlife. Like most readers (I presume), I’ve no idea who is responsible for writing the articles and administering the post, whether it’s a team of experts or just one well-meaning and knowledgeable individual. It does strike me though, that the publicity generated by SGA et al could be more effectively countered by RPS putting out its own damning press releases. Is there any reason, to do with resources or whatever, why this doesn’t happen?

    • 38 Marco McGinty
      December 19, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      I suppose it could be seen as a reasonable response, and that’s all that can be said of it, but the fact remains, and they have admitted to doing so, they acted wrongly in this case. It’s all very well adding in a short comment that disproves the claims, many hours after many people will have read the article, so many people will have read that article thinking that all was well with the Golden Eagle population in Scotland, and that the shooting industry was primarily responsible for the “success”. This was, in all probability, a deliberate tactic.

      There was a clear breach of the BBC’s supposed fairness and impartiality, and as I’ve already mentioned, as long as the monarchy and the establishment control the BBC’s output, there will never be balanced reporting.

      Imagine the following. IS (or ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) decide to issue a press release. The press release contains a falsified account of killings in the Middle East, in which it is claimed that the majority of murders were actually carried out by western agents. Would the BBC run with the headline “UK and US special forces responsible for beheadings in the Middle East, say ISIS”, firstly without allowing anyone from the UK and US Governments to comment? No, the press release would be ignored, and rightly so.

      Although the scenarios are vastly different, the acceptance of press releases should follow the same processes, yet the BBC choose to operate differently whenever it suits.

      Furthermore, remember a little more than a year ago, when the fair and impartial BBC had their Landward programme deal with all of the issues surrounding grouse moors and management. Instead of a balanced programme that included persecution and the wholesale slaughter of all predatory creatures, we were treated to an all-out pro-shooting extravaganza. See here https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/last-nights-landward-programme-putting-lipstick-on-a-pig/

      As for my take on the media, as long as it’s mainstream media in the UK, it won’t provide the full truth, and in many cases, it will knowingly publish downright lies. There are many independent journalists and blogs out there, so here’s a couple;

      Wings Over Scotland is a fine example of a blog that destroys media and political myths, and in my opinion is a political equivalent of RPS http://wingsoverscotland.com/
      Common Dreams has some interesting articles http://www.commondreams.org/

    • 40 Marco McGinty
      December 19, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      I forgot to add another link about the BBC, detailing an extract from a book published in 1988 – it makes for very interesting reading!
      http://www.bilderberg.org/mi5bbc.htm

  19. 41 Peter
    December 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Yes go on – issue your own press releases and get Marco to write them – please!

    • 42 Marco McGinty
      December 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Interesting to note that you provided a statement earlier about the RSPB providing “skewed information”, and I asked you to offer some evidence to support your claim. You didn’t do so, probably because you can’t.

      So, I will ask you again. Please provide your evidence.

      But more likely, it is a simple case that your pathetic comments are only designed as deflection tactics to switch the topic from the lies and misinformation that emanates from the shooting lobby, to the usual RSPB-bad nonsense.

      Nice try, but a fail nonetheless.

    • 43 Marco McGinty
      December 20, 2015 at 3:04 am

      More or less every article produced by RPS could easily be described as a press release, just not in the conventional term. I’m also quite sure that there will be BBC employees that read the site, and this could possibly extend to one or two of them being subscribers, so it would be foolish to believe that the BBC as an organisation, is unaware of the exemplary work that this site produces.

      Yet, how many articles produced by RPS has formed the basis of a news story on the BBC website, on the radio, or on any television programme? Indeed, have you ever heard of RPS being mentioned regarding Scottish content on the BBC? And it’s a very similar story for Wings Over Scotland.

      I can’t think of any articles taken up by the BBC, however I’m sure our host has an answer.

      So, with that in mind, would anyone care to guess why?

      • 44 Jack Snipe
        December 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        Marco, surely you must be joking? Most birdwatchers, and even some Raptor Study Group members to whom I recommend this site have never heard of it, and even if a few BBC employees do read it, they are a huge organisation and it’s unlikely that the offending article will have come to their attention, especially not pre-publication.

        • 45 Marco McGinty
          December 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm

          No, I’m being serious. Journalists, whether freelance or employed by larger media organisations, depend on sites such as this for stories, and will trawl through them on a daily basis. As a result, I firmly believe that the BBC will be well aware of this site.

          If you look back to RPS’s 5th Birthday article, you will find that journalists and TV producers are listed amongst the subscribers.
          https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/our-5th-birthday/

          As mentioned, RPS will have a definitive answer, and hopefully will shed some light on the matter, time permitting, without breaking data protection laws.

          As for raptor workers, I have no idea why some have not heard of the site, but I do agree that most birdwatchers will be unaware of the site, but that is mainly because most birdwatchers don’t have the passion that you or I have. They will be content with feeding birds in their gardens, going on a monthly field trip, perhaps a weekend walk or two, along with a few hours volunteering at a local reserve. They are simply not interested in getting involved in the grittier side of conservation, or in the politics surrounding it.

          And on the topic of politics, despite political decisions dictating people’s daily lives, the vast majority of people are just not interested in the subject, preferring to get their “news” from a sensationalised headline and the first two sentences of a story, rather than digesting the whole article then questioning whether they are being told the actual truth. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s the way most people conduct themselves.

  20. 46 Jack Snipe
    December 20, 2015 at 12:51 am

    I might disagree with some of Marco’s points, sometimes quite strongly, but he does make a very significant personal contribution to the debate and campaign against raptor persecution on this site, and I suspect elsewhere. We need more activists with his conviction and passion. He deserves a bit more respect than back-biting, bickering and accusations of having some sort of hidden political agenda. The opposition would be having a right laugh at some of it, or are they perhaps responsible for the personal attacks, some of which are verging on troll activity? I suggest we don’t drift too off-topic, and express disagreements in a respectful and constructive manner.

    I continue to be mildly disappointed that RPS doesn’t respond to my suggestion about getting the message across more widely. This is NOT a criticism, and I repeat I have tremendous admiration for the credible forum that this blog does provide. However I understand that resources may be over-stretched. We don’t have the financial backing enjoyed by the hunting and shooting brigade.

    • 47 Marco McGinty
      December 20, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks, Jack.

      Yes, we will have our disagreements, and we will offer our own views in an attempt to convert one another to our respective ways of thinking, using evidence to back up our claims. That’s entirely natural, and what a healthy debate should be founded on.

      Regarding RPS getting the message out, I don’t think there is anything else that he/she/they can do. As mentioned in an earlier post, journalists know about the site, so we have to question why the media doesn’t want to run with RPS articles (I still maintain that this is as a result of the establishment-controlled media). So, it’s up to us to inform others of the site, however I do think that conservation organisations could play a bigger part, by regularly mentioning/promoting the site.

      Sadly, as you suggest, there does appear to be one or two people on here whose actions verge towards the troll side of debate, and it is possible that they are shooting lobby plants employed to use distraction or deflection tactics, as that appears to be all they have.

      They contribute nothing to the debate, just as they do to life and society in general.

  21. 48 Jack Snipe
    December 21, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I do have a few contacts in the media, and did contribute to the work of a large local authority media and communications department over a number of years. I’m no expert in the field, but did have some success in putting together effective press releases. RPS is a terrific source of information, but one previous commenter mentioned “lazy journalism”, and I’m afraid that in these days of expected high productivity, some of the less experienced copy writers will not take the time to digest and produce a serious piece of investigative journalism when that is not their specific remit. Most organisations, including RSPB (and even the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association) are aware of this, so they resort to spoon feeding the media with well-written (although in the latter case not entirely accurate) press releases which require very little editing before going to press, often referred to as “copy and paste” jobs. RPS provides reliably accurate information and a forum for discussion, which is fine as it stands, but if that were also turned into media-friendly press releases they would be in a position to be more hard-hitting and independent than RSPB, for example. Having said that, for all I know this could already be happening behind the scenes, but I see little evidence of it in the wider media. I realise I may be preaching to those who are wiser than myself, but if admin is interested in my idea, I’d be willing to help in an experimental trial if contacted privately. No strings attached.


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