Cairngorms National Park Authority responds to death of hen harrier ‘Lad’

HH Lad July 2015 Dave PullanFollowing on from yesterday’s news about the discovery of a dead hen harrier (suspected shot) on a grouse moor within the Cairngorms National Park (see here), Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority has issued a statement (see here).

We’ve reproduced it here:

It appears likely from the post-mortem carried out by SRUC that a tagged hen harrier has been shot in the National Park. It is a disgrace that there are still people who think shooting a hen harrier is acceptable in the 21st century.

Millions of people visit this incredible Park every year with 12 per cent of visitors coming here for wildlife watching earning millions for the local economy. 43 per cent of people in the Park are employed in tourism and every illegal raptor crime adversely affects this area and Scotland’s reputation. The National Park Authority will work with all our partners to try and ensure that raptor crime is a thing of the past and that populations and ranges recover in the Park.


Good on the CNPA for issuing a statement (that’s more than the Environment Minister seems to have done), and this statement is marginally better than the one it issued nine days ago in response to questions about mountain hare massacres taking place on grouse moors within the National Park (see here), but once again it mostly just reads as empty rhetoric.

Pay attention to that last line: “The National Park Authority will work with all our partners to try and ensure that raptor crime is a thing of the past and that populations and ranges recover in the Park“. It’s all very well saying they’ll ‘work with partners’, but how, exactly, will that translate in to action?

The CNPA has talked a lot about partnership working and action, especially to address the issue of illegal raptor persecution on grouse moors within the Park, which it recognises as “threatening to undermine the reputation of the National Park as a high quality wildlife tourism destination” (see here).

For example, in 2013, a new, five-year ‘action plan’ was launched which aimed to ‘restore the full community of raptor species’ and one of the action points was for the SGA and SLE ‘to trial innovative techniques to increase raptor populations’ (see here). How’s that going? Anyone seen an increase in raptor populations? No, of course not. What we’ve actually seen is a long-term decrease of some raptors on grouse moors within the Park: the local hen harrier population has crashed (see here) as has the local peregrine population (see here) and there is no indication that these declines are about to be reversed.

Last year the CNPA hosted a high-level meeting with the Environment Minister and landowners, in which it was stated in a post-meeting CNPA press statement, “Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years…” (see here).

What progress is that, then?

The last line of the CNPA’s latest statement in response to the death of hen harrier ‘Lad’ could translate as follows: ‘We’re not happy about this, it casts us in a bad light, we wish it would stop but we’re hopeless and helpless to bring about change’.

We’re not. Please sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting HERE.

Photo of hen harrier ‘Lad’ by Dave Pullan

19 Responses to “Cairngorms National Park Authority responds to death of hen harrier ‘Lad’”

  1. 1 Andrew
    March 23, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    “Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years…”

    Progress: persecuting more raptors and conserving more grouse!

  2. 2 Chris Roberts
    March 23, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    The only bird of prey in the national park I see on a regular bases is my local Sparrow hawk. ALL others are conspicuous by their absence. I don’t see any progress with regard to increasing raptors being made at all, the opposite is more likely true. Banning ‘driven grouse moors’ is the only way forward to get our eco-systems back in order.

    • March 23, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      ‘The only bird of prey in the national park I see on a regular bases is my local Sparrow hawk’
      Chris from what i hear that’s an understatement.
      I have a friend high up in a conservation NGO who lives in Speyside and he told me he never sees a Hen Harrier or Golden Eagle. I may have not got it verbatim but that is how i remember it.
      Grant Moir is doing what CEOs only seem capable of, yakety yak.
      A conversation between him and Aileen McLeod must break some kind of law of physics when sound tries to cross from one vacuum to another.

  3. March 23, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Don’t be too hard on Dr Aileen Dolittle. She was otherwise engaged today….making an important announcement about Beaver conservation. You guessed it right… she announced that she has not made her mind up yet! Kings Cravens help ma bob…… we won’t miss her…..

  4. 5 Julie Wright
    March 23, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    A leopard doesn’t change its spots, I’ve driven around the Grouse moors in Scotland & the lack of life says it all, not counting the grouse. How many years do talks with partners have to go on, before the Scottish Government get their behinds into gear, while the Raptor population dwindles until one day the’ve all been wiped out again. Doesn’t matter how much talking they do with them, they will carry on illegally killing anything that is a threat to grouse. I dread to think how many birds have been killed & not been found, but anyone who kills for sport doesn’t give a hoot for the food chain. They are not going to worry about killing anything else. If they want to shoot why not go back to walk up shooting & actually eat what you kill instead of wasting life, oh I forgot they won’t eat it just incase they get lead poisoning! The problem with trying to convict these people is that they have money & friends in high places, so to actually catch them in the act & get a conviction is nigh on impossible and they know that, which is why they keep illegally killing raptors. Maybe the Cairngorms National Park can have rangers like Africa, the crims will never know when they are being watched & filmed & make it legal as evidence in Court. It is after all a CRIME TO

    • 6 Stewart Love
      March 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Rangers in Africa carry guns. Could our National Park Rangers be armed. If so when can I sign up. Look out Gamekeepers here we come. Ooops just a daydream. Silly me, but then Gamekeepers and Estate Owners getting filmed should help keep the Raptor crime down.

  5. 7 terry derby
    March 23, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Lets see them deny this one happened……….silence from the dark side speaks volumes.

    Who would want to shoot a hen harrier
    Who has a gun and the ability to do so

    Maybe I am jumping to conclusions and to quick to point the finger

    Of course in not this primitive behaviour is nothing new and is happening on an industrial scale.

    Made worse that its within the national park

    Lets see what other tagged raptors turn up dead

  6. 8 Dave
    March 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    The National Park Authority will work with all our partners to try and ensure that raptor crime is a thing of the past…”Trying” isn’t doing. Just not good enough. I tried not to visit last year and failed. This year I’m trying not to visit and guess what? I’m determined to succeed this time.

  7. March 23, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    ‘The National Park Authority will work with all our partners to try and ensure that raptor crime is a thing of the past and that populations and ranges recover in the Park’

    Me – I’m trying not to use the words brewery, organise, couldn’t and party (the polite word) in the same sentence ………

  8. 10 Jimmy
    March 23, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    The shooting estates won’t change – only solution to this is to shut them down.

  9. March 23, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    There’s certainly no shortage of vacuous and pompous sounding statements available.

  10. March 23, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Maybe (and it’s with a heavy heart I say this as it’s a beautiful country) it’s time that birdwatchers, wildlife lovers walkers etc boycotted Scotland until something serious was done to stop this happening. The money from tourism far outways that from shooting and if enough people took it up I am sure there would be enough pressure from local businesses etc to provoke a change.

  11. 13 Raptor rights
    March 24, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Never mind all the money and reputation we will be losing, I see no mention of the hen harriers right to simply be! What about wildlife’s intrinsic rights? Everything Grant Moir said is directly linked to money.

  12. March 24, 2016 at 7:48 am

    It’s always the same UK wide. Where there are shooting interests there will be the persecution of our wildlife be it illegal or otherwise. Gamekeepers will never change, their remit is to protect the game birds at all costs (ignoring the fact they are already over populated and intensively reared and many will just end up in a stink pit) and the very nature of the job (see what I did there) means they are unlikely to pay for the crimes they commit.

    The big issue here is the institutionalised Victorian attitudes of the land owners both north and south of the border. They believe they have the right to do what they like with the land they own and that includes the wildlife which lives, and often dies there. If they aren’t able to make money from the wildlife then it will be considered a pest regardless of species and protective status and will be treated as such by the psychopaths wearing tweed and sporting a shot gun.

    The irony is ecotourism is hugely expanding, estates could make good money by rewilding and cashing in on the wildlife watching opportunities that this creates but they are so stuck in their attitudes and riding the gravy train of subsidies that very few have opted for this route.

  13. 15 terry derby
    March 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

    The problem continues because of “institutionalised Victorian attitudes of the land owners” inconjunction with a governement, police and SNH who are unwilling to grasp the nettle and tackle to issue.

    Were is any ENFORCEMENT…………………..

    • March 24, 2016 at 9:47 am

      You are of course correct. The wider problem is the lack of will to enforce the law on these issues be they raptor persecution or hunting with hounds. It’s fairly widely understood that law enforcement officials, be they police or higher up the legal food chain are involved with these activities (shooting and hunting) so the road to change, I fear will be long and arduous.

  14. 17 Jimmymac
    March 24, 2016 at 9:18 am

    “The NPA will work with all their partners to try and ensure that raptor crime is a thing of the past and that populations and ranges recover in the Park” That’s quite astonishing. Last year I was reliably informed that an estate up in the Cairngorms in the Aviemore area had offered to manage a red kite release scheme on their estate, all at their own expense and was refused by the CNPA & SNH. Yet the neighbouring estates will be releasing billions of pheasants and red-legged partridges. Obviously the likes of SLE had a hand in that decision and the jelly legged SNH just capitulated. These organisations say one thing & do completely the opposite. Clearly neither the CNPA or SNH are fit for purpose.

  15. 18 Chris Roberts
    March 24, 2016 at 10:28 am

    That is interesting Jimmymac, first I’ve heard of the proposed red kite release programme. I would make a guess that the estate in question is Glen Feshie, as they are the only one looking to a more positive wildlife future. However as they are surrounded by driven grouse moors I wouldn’t expect the kites would last too long, to many poison and trigger happy gamekeepers around.

  16. 19 coogan
    March 24, 2016 at 10:43 am

    I want to hear more from “The truth” he brightens my day. I think we should request him to comment on a regular basis .Do you think it might actually be xxxxx xxxxx? almost as entertaining and funny and with the same grasp of basic ecology.

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