Calls to put ravens on General Licence to allow indiscriminate culls

Calls are being made to put ravens on the General Licence, which would allow them to be killed indiscriminately (see here).

Bert Burnett of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association is supporting the latest petition and said:

Ravens, no matter where you go now in our countryside you have every chance to see or hear ravens, but they are not like small children who as the saying goes ‘should be seen and not heard’, if you see them they will be doing damage and even if you hear them they will be planning damage“.

Here’s a raven carrying off a polar bear cub.

raven carrying polar bear cub

[Artwork by Jackie Morris, from The Ice Bear]


132 Responses to “Calls to put ravens on General Licence to allow indiscriminate culls”

  1. 1 Les Wallace
    April 9, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Another ‘predator’ that has made the mistake of not being so close to national extinction anymore. The lurid tales of gangs of ravens splitting up lambs from their mothers then pecking them to death beg the question ‘and what were those supposedly being an eyewitness to this doing all the time – standing around watching it !?!’ Buzzards have been the target for this garbage for a while now – ‘hoovering up lapwing chicks’ – badgers must be responsible for the decline of hedgehogs, pine marten for capercaillie struggling and now that otters aren’t so rare anymore, they’ve even been photographed on my local canal, talk of ‘controlling’ them has become predictable amongst the hunting, fishing, shooting set. Eel, wader and even kingfisher declines are being blamed on otters, which would be funny except for frequent suggestion of snaring them that’s been getting bandied about on certain fb pages. Two dead otters, they’d been snared, were recently found dumped on a public footpath down south. I very occasionally hear a raven in Falkirk, it’s taken so very, very long for them to bounce back and of course that’s really resented in some quarters. Not so long ago in Norway there were bounties on the heads of lamb killing sea eagles, now it’s accepted there it virtually never if ever happens…..and as for them plucking babies out of prams. Worrying that as well as too many people taking pride in spoutng bullshit there’ll be those believing it. When are the RSPB and others going to fight this crap head on?

    • 2 Marian
      April 9, 2016 at 7:13 am

      Absolutely right, Les.

      Very worrying to think there are all these dangerous plotting creatures around in our peaceful world.

      Maybe they could be trapped and used in circuses – or factory farmed as a useful source of cheap protein.

    • April 9, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Sea Eagles do take lambs. Last night I was shown photographs by someone who was involved with ringing sea eagles in the Scottish Islands and there were clearly lamb remains in the nest. I do doubt if the amount taken is anything like the amounts the compensation hungry sheep farmers claim.

      • 4 JW4926
        April 9, 2016 at 9:24 am

        They are also knowingly being enticed and poisoned with dead lambs being used as bait ………

        • 5 Doug Malpus
          April 9, 2016 at 10:23 am

          One only has to walk a sheep moorland to realise, how many lambs and sheep die of natural causes and why eagle nests have their remains. Eagles are carrion eaters when they get the chance.

          • 6 crypticmirror
            April 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

            Get sheep farmers talking amongst themselves and they will readily admit that the only thing sheep are good at are dying for no reason. Sheep, despite the claims of Countryfile, are not terribly hardy animals in our climate (they are not too hardy in their natural climates either, to be honest). They can be very lax at proper disposal of the remains, so it is no wonder that sea eagles (which are scavengers by nature, the vultures of the cold climates) are taking advantage of the windfall.

      • 7 Ed
        April 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

        Les said “Lamb killing”, not “lamb scavenging”.

  2. 8 steve macsweeney
    April 9, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Wonder what happened to Bert’s kids?

  3. April 9, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Seems like a pretty risky path to go down, when that doyen of huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ types (Alastair Robertson, who writes for the Scotsman) seemed to admit a couple of weeks back that he and his cronies can’t tell the difference between a jay and a pigeon?

  4. 10 IDC
    April 9, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Gamekeepers – the worst predators in our countryside, indiscriminate killers with unusually low intelligence.

    • 11 Tom
      April 9, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      What an ‘inteligent’ sweeping comment. You don’t do yourself any favours with remarks like that.

    • 12 kevin moore
      April 11, 2016 at 11:24 am

      I don’t know about low intelligence but definitely a psychopathic love of killing wildlife .

    • 13 Ghillie
      April 16, 2016 at 10:12 am

      your comment demonstrates your own complete lack of intelligence and ignorance

      • 14 Simon Tucker
        April 16, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        Absolutely Ghillie, what he should have said is that they have a highly developed low cunning: illegally poisoning, trapping and shooting protected birds of prey, without being caught, takes some skill.

  5. 15 steve moyes
    April 9, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Maybe we should try to get gamekeepers put on the general licence.1

  6. 16 Mr Carbofuran
    April 9, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Fair play chaps ! I think Bert has got a valid point. I was out in the Angus hills the other day on a fruitless sojourn looking for Hen Harriers and I did see a number of Ravens and like Bert I thought….hallo , hallo …these Ravens look like they are planning damage.
    We’ll blow me ! When I got back to my car there was a gang of juvenile Ravens trying to hot wire my car ! Luckily I managed to shoo them off but it was a close thing!

  7. 18 keen birder
    April 9, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Please no not Ravens, they are wonderful birds, hard, long lived and true characters of the wild, anyone who wants to kill them can fuck right off , this will not be given the backing by law that some people want.

  8. 19 Chris Roberts
    April 9, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Gamekeepers do far more damage in the countryside than any animal or bird, I think its about time that we got a petition going to cull their distasteful practises. Wildcats are still being snared in their medieval torture devises.

  9. 20 Andy Holden
    April 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

    A wonderful bird that BELONGS in our environment, unlike the killing keepers who don’t belong.

  10. April 9, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Man the most dangerous, most destructive animal on the planet will never admit that most of the problems are down to us and us alone, we can go on scapegoating badgers, and other hapless creatures but its us that is the problem and always has been.

  11. April 9, 2016 at 9:24 am

    This winter I enjoyed the wonderful sight of a Raven sitting atop the Bell Harry tower of Canterbury cathedral – a spice of wildness in an urban setting. A couple of birds have been knocking around the Stour valley between the city and Stodmarsh for a couple of months now. They died out in the county in 1844 and only returned to breed in Kent in 2006. I want them to stay and not be at the mercy of any gamekeeper or farmer with a shotgun.

  12. 23 Peter Jones
    April 9, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I keep hearing that old chestnut there are too many of them. I often have had this regarding buzzard, when replying ‘too many for what?’ I get ‘well there are just too many of them’. The answer to everything seems to be kill it, or more properly, we should be allowed to shoot it. These people really are from a bygone age and have no place in the modern world, we are stewards of our natural world not owners.

    • 24 elizabeth snell
      April 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      So do I living here in Welsh Kite country. When I pursue the comment I get exactly that statement: too many. Is it a primeval or Hitchcockian fear of big birds in the sky? I really expect to hear the same said of blue tits one day soon if they have a good breeding season. One thing is certain only direct scientific evidence can alter some irrational beliefs and that can be difficult to organise for raptors but how about this yesterday: farmer ‘ no swallows here’ me pointing to his lake; only about 200 feeding at the moment!

  13. 25 Peter Shearer
    April 9, 2016 at 9:43 am

    We really do need to find a way to make a concerted and joint effort with all the wildlife NGOs to get this kind of thing more into the public domain. If we do not succeed soon to fight these idiots, we will lose some species for ever. It needs to get higher up the political priorities and we all need to do our bit to influence people. To listen to the protestations that the modern gamekeeper is not like the old days-I think they are actually worse now.

  14. 26 against feudalism
    April 9, 2016 at 10:02 am

    It seems to me, that 3 species are causing all these problems! And these 3 species actually cost the Scottish tax payer Billions per year? So, if we get rid of all Sheep, Pheasants and ban all grouse shooting, that should lead to the break-up of ‘sporting estates’ = no more gamekeepers = increase in wildlife = increase in tourism.

    This would save the government £billions in subsidy payments, drop the price of land, because land cost is tied to subsidies, and therefore house prices.

    The illegal and criminal activities of land owners, and that does include farmers, is not going to change without radical land reform, but that will require political will. We have got rid of non-profitable industries in the past, so why are we hanging on to sheep farming? pheasant and grouse farming? Controversial perhaps, but then I do not personally eat any of the 3 species, and I do not feel the need to shoot anything, much less trap, snare or poison anything. It all comes down to landowner self interest, against the greater population interest.

  15. 32 Doug Malpus
    April 9, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Like so many of us, I am delighted by the presence of ravens, in my area we get the occasional winter visits from juvenile birds. It is wonderful to see and hear them.

    A cull of the prime predator should be called for. The gamekeepers, estate owners, managers and the indiscriminate shooters need to be culled or retrained in modern living with nature. It is long overdue that nature, which has reached such a desperate point because of greed and bloodlust, is given back to the wild. The shooting and its background industry, determined to carry out mass killing for fun and profit must go.

    Their propaganda must be ridiculed for what it is. Custodians of the countryside (what a joke), conservationists (only the grouse or other game birds bred in large numbers to be killed or maimed), landscape changers for their game birds’ benefit (damn the consequences to those down stream, flooding etc), habitat destroyers and so much more can be rightly attributed to this sick, archaic industry. Their argument includes that they remove unhealthy, diseased animals from the environment (I didn’t know that all predators were so unhealthy?)

    An industry run by the greedy and dim-witted, should not survive in our modern society. Many other very useful industries have gone, it is time for this pointless industry to go.

    • April 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Absolutely spot on! The ‘removing unhealthy and diseased animals from the environment’ argument is total rubbish.Nature has been doing this without help for millions of years. It comes back to money, as always. It is the wealthy who own and use these estate and they have massive influence, particularly in this govt. Time for them to go.

  16. 34 Anon
    April 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Bert around 30 years ago and am happy to report that he has not let the passing of time remove his affinity to black and white thinking or his ability to embellish tales designed to encourage others to accept his direction without further ado. Bert is not the type of individual to argue his case which is often based on little more than prejudice. I mean, why research the facts when one can simply intimidate the messenger as estate owners and gamekeepers have done for years? Given the absence of balance and the highly visible presence of personal abuse in much of his rhetoric I can sincerely thank him for illustrating to the rest of the world exactly what the conservation lobby has to deal with.

  17. 35 Marco McGinty
    April 9, 2016 at 11:02 am

    And of course, as almost everyone has a camera in their pocket nowadays, there will be a wealth of photographic and video evidence of these Raven attacks on sheep and lambs.

    What? There isn’t???

    Yet more lies from shooting industry spokesclowns.

  18. 36 Simon Tucker
    April 9, 2016 at 11:50 am

    This general licence is a derogation from the EU’s habitat and birds directives: it puts Scotland on a moral par with Malta. There is continual condemnation of Malta for its spring and autumn hunts but these bastards (gamekeepers and landowners) manage to stay out of the mainstream media (probably because so many of the media bigwigs are landowning bastards themselves and they are not going to advertise their criminality).

    Time to scrap the general licence: it is an invitation to criminality.

  19. April 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Has anyone set up a petition against this?

  20. 38 Merlin
    April 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    He’s obviously getting bored with no game shooting till August and having killed all the mountain Hares he has time to sit on his computer and plan doing damage

  21. 39 hector
    April 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I thought this was a forum for discussing the case for ravens being put on the general license but it seems to be a site for bashing the farming and game shooting industries in general and Bert Burnett in particular. I unlike Mr Anon have not known Bert for 30 years but on several sites he comes across as someone who can put forward a coherent argument a skill sadly lacking on this forum. The petition is being put together by in the main sheep farmers and is not a call for a massacre of ravens just the right to shoot those that attack livestock. As a sheep farmer who has lost a lamb this morning to ravens I find a lot of the comments on this site uninformed and pathetic. If JW4926 has evidence of ravens being enticed and poisoned with dead lambs he should take it to the police as I would. Why one of you thinks it is funny to name his avatar after a poison is beyond me but I am sure Mr Carbofuran has his reasons. Having been born, brought up and worked in the highlands for over 55 years the most endangered species is the native population but in the eyes of a lot on sites like this they are not important. Raptor Persecution Scotland is a very grand sounding name for what amounts to a few class warriors, keyboard hard men and the hard of learning to bump their gums but as a poor crofter what would I know.

    • 40 Simon Tucker
      April 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Farmers, gamekeepers and landowners have been crying “wolf!” for ever. You might have seen a raven scavenging a lamb that died due to poor husbandry, disease or a domestic dog but I will bet you cannot produce a single shred of evidence that the animal was actually killed by a raven. If you can, post a link to the video that shows your healthy lamb bouncing around until a big bad raven attacks it.

      The reason for bashing farmers and gamekeepers is very simple: you concoct anecdotal “evidence” to justify your illegal attacks on wildlife in a hope that politicians will be venal or gullible enough to make illegal actions legal. Your post is a prime example of that.

      The General Licence in itself is an abomination, causing massive disruption to the natural balance of wildlife on moorland and farmland, and only exists due to the anecdotal bullshit we have to put up with from poor farmers, greedy landowners and forelock tugging psychopathic gamekeepers.

      I write as someone who comes from farming stock, who spent 7 years looking after stock before deciding to earn an honest living, and who never had a single animal killed by any part of our natural wildlife – the only problems were with domestic dogs.

      • 41 hector
        April 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

        Sorry Simon I have witnessed ravens and hooded crows attacking lambs still in the birth canal and have had to shoot a calf with its tongue ripped out while most of it was still inside the cow and the raven flew off as I arrived. I do not carry a video camera my phone does not have a camera. I have also witnessed a pair of golden eagles force a young hind off a cliff and a woodcock carrying its young in flight but have no video evidence. Not sure where you farmed but in the highlands and islands it does happen just like black backed gulls swallow young ducklings alive no video but seen it many times.

        • 42 Jack Snipe
          April 9, 2016 at 10:58 pm

          Your tall tales are strangely familiar, Hector, and I think I now know where you’re coming from. I was prepared to give you some benefit of the doubt until now, but there’s only one word I can use to describe your latest utterings – bullshit! Pardon me for being so blunt. Ravens and Hooded Crows attacking lambs still in the birth canal – who are you kidding? It is a well-known auld wife’s tale, often resorted to by farmers frustrated and angry when their view on crows are challenged. Protest all you like, you’ve taken that too far. No-one will believe anything you say now. Unfortunately it’s this sort of nonsense which leads to Ravens being threatened of removal of their legal protection, and the reason why other crows are already denied it.

          • 43 hector
            April 10, 2016 at 8:38 am

            Good morning Mr Snipe you seem rather angry. Not sure where to start with your rants. I can only report what I see on the ground and ravens and crows do attack lambs while the ewe is still giving birth. Quite often once a ewe is down to push the lamb out one bird works at the ewes head while one or two others go for the back end . If the lamb is presented with one or more legs back the head swells up and the birds go for the tongue and the eyes. I f not found in time the lamb or lambs are done for as is the ewe in some cases. Hill shepherds and vets all over the highlands can confirm this.
            As to farmers not using binoculars most do especially at lambing time in this part of the world but as I don’t have a video of them doing so this will no doubt be added to the bullshit file. I have no need to commission and independent ecologist whatever that is as I know what I see with my own eyes and binoculars. Perhaps you should change your own optics as they seem to miss a lot or the covers are still on. Anyway I await the publication of your research when it is written up and look forward to your videos of ravens helping ewes at lambing time as it is bound to go viral in the birding world.

    • 44 Jack Snipe
      April 9, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      I found it heartwarming to read through all the above responses to Mr Burnett’s proposal, and relieved to find that there is so much common sense and understanding. Then I started to read Hector’s reply, and at first thought, well, it’s important that other points of view are listened to, but then I realised he is just another farmer exaggerating about the impact of Ravens on lambing. A very articulate one it has to be said, and obviously an intelligent man, but tainted with the imaginative beliefs held by many who portend to be “guardians of the countryside.”

      Several years ago I decided to investigate the claims of local hill sheep farmers that Ravens were “attacking” and killing their lambs. Over a three year period I observed Ravens at four widely separated farms, and recorded over 80 hours of behavioural data specifically of interactions between Ravens and lambing ewes. The largest concentration was of 113 Ravens at two contiguous farms, most of them a non-breeding flock which over a period of years fluctuated in numbers and which appeared to select different sheep flocks in different years (this turned out to be significant for an unexpected reason – an association with localised abundance of Field Voles).

      Without going into extensive details (I’m still writing up), the most revealing result of my observations was that all these Ravens did absolutely no harm whatsoever to any lamb. I would go as far as to say the relationship between the sheep and the Ravens was symbiotic rather than one of simple exploitation by Ravens. Unlike Mr Burnett, I don’t have his Dr Dolittle gift of understanding the mind of a Raven, but I saw no evidence to suggest they were “planning damage,” and no sign of evil intent. Having read Derek Ratcliffe’s monograph “The Raven” AFTER carrying out my own research, it was interesting to find that a similar study had come up with almost identical results, and then to discover that, as far as I have determined to date, no research before or since the publication confirmed any of the anecdotal stories that some farmers relate.

      During the period of my research, I spoke to a number of sheep farmers and their opinions were more mixed than I suspected, with a few not being aware of any damage being done by Ravens. The craziest person I spoke to produced weird “eye witnesss” accounts of Ravens waiting at a lambing ewe until the lamb’s head was protruding, then “swooping down” (to add a sinister note to the tale) and pecking out the lamb’s eyes before it had even exited from its mother!

      However the truth is that on many occasions I witnessed several Ravens gathering closely around a ewe giving birth, sometimes an hour before the actual event. Once the lamb (or lambs) were born, the Ravens simply went for the afterbirth, and never did I see any Raven apparently attempting to kill a newly born lamb. If they were such a threat, why do the ewes appear totally unconcerned by their presence? One particularly revealing behaviour I witnessed on a number of occasions was after the birth, when a ewe would stand still while one or two Ravens picked delicately at the “mess” around its rear end. In a sense the birds were almost providing a midwife service!

      Gamekeepers and others are either deluded or lying when they claim Ravens are evil and destructive menaces. It is clearly an effect of their own psychological issues going on inside their own heads due to their own vested interests and insecurities. We can’t let them off with this one.

      • 45 hector
        April 9, 2016 at 6:03 pm

        Well Jack or if you prefer Mr Snipe I can only report what I see and am not exaggerating. I like your image of the ravens standing around helping the ewe clean up the afterbirth but either you use recreational pharmaceuticals or you have over dosed on Beatrix Potter. I am not a gamekeeper , deluded or lying and don’t claim ravens are evil but they can be destructive and a menace. Perhaps you and Simon can swap stories of cute ravens while the rest of us get on with the real world.

        • 46 Jack Snipe
          April 9, 2016 at 9:58 pm

          Mr Hector, I carefully observed that behaviour and would have nothing to gain from inventing it, if that’s what you’re implying. I saw it repeated on numerous occasions. I did not anthropomorphise like you suggested, as the behaviour was clearly just the Ravens taking the opportunity to obtain an easy picking of rich protein. You’re welcome to commission an independent ecologist to undertake painstaking research, and I feel sure they would witness the same behaviour. The problem with farmers like yourself, in my considered opinion, is that you are too busy farming to sit down patiently and watch the behaviour of these birds you like to condemn. The behaviours I observed and recorded required binoculars and telescope as essential optical equipment, and I very rarely see a hill farmer ever using binoculars, which surprises me when they’re tending or gathering sheep over such long distances. And as I have already said, I do actually know some experienced and enlightened hill sheep farmers who maintain that Ravens cause them no problems. You say you lost a lamb to Ravens this morning. Are you actually saying that you witnessed the Raven killing the lamb? With my long experience (not just my research project described above) I would find that difficult to believe. I have frequently seen Ravens eating dead lambs and full-grown sheep (usually ewes which have died as a complication of pregnancy), but have seen no evidence that the Ravens actually killed the animals. It’s a bit like the extensive research which was carried out by Glasgow University, which invited farmers (mainly in Argyll) to supply corpses of lambs which the farmers claimed had been killed by foxes; post mortem examinations revealed that 99% of them had died BEFORE the fox bit into them, the remainder being inconclusive. Farmers are notorious for jumping to conclusions, and gamekeepers are just as bad. I know because I have known quite a few of both sets of people personally over my lifetime. Obviously my research was limited, and I cannot say with certainty that Ravens never kill lambs, but I suspect that in the vast majority of cases if they do, the lambs were weak or abandoned. However I can tell from your attitude that you’ll never agree.

      • April 9, 2016 at 7:43 pm

        I wish it was as clearly black and white…. Ravens, especially flocks of no-breeders do on occasion cross the line. I googled and this was the first hit.
        Where they do cause problems, farmers are issued with licences so there is no need for them to ask for them to be added to the general licence.

          • 49 heclasu
            April 11, 2016 at 1:34 am

            Yes. I am afraid it does happen at times. I have witnessed it myself. I do not doubt your sincerity or honesty Jack Snipe but in my part of the world ravens, hooded crows and great black-backed gulls can be a problem at lambing time. Not a big problem, but a problem all the same. I live on a croft (I don’t own it), but at lambing time, the crofter used to bring all his pregnant ewes in to the fields closest to his house. He would then spend much of the day – every day – just walking the croft. Even so, he still lost the odd lamb, even ewe, to one or other of the above species. Usually it was blinded or had its’ tongue torn out. Not every year even, but it did happen.

            Where I live, many crofters have full-time jobs. In many cases their wives do too so, unless one or other or both are able to take holidays at lambing time, there is little to no supervision of their flocks during working hours. That is, in my opinion, asking for trouble. I am less than sympathetic when these people complain about losing lambs and ewes to predators. They should decide whether they are going to work – or keep sheep. Before ‘hector’ jumps down my throat here, I am well aware that crofting generally does not pay if one owns a small croft but there are other uses the croft can be put to apart from keeping sheep. I am continually informed that there is ‘no money’ in sheep anyway! So why go to all the trouble….

            There are also a large number of sheep which are turned out on to ‘the hill’ where they are left to their own devices throughout their lives, except when they are ‘gathered’ in late summer/autumn. As a result, there is a fair amount of mortality each year, the extent of which is much dependent on how they cope with the winter weather. But animal husbandry also plays a part. I know of one township where the sheep were rarely dosed. They just couldn’t be bothered. Again, asking for trouble. Blame it on the eagles!

            The amount of predation of lambs on crofts by the larger predators (eagles) is rare. As for those on the hill I cannot say. Yes, I have heard the ‘tales’ of hill flocks being ‘decimated’ by eagles but, firstly, I don’t buy that and, secondly, if the owners of these animals went to the trouble of bringing them on to the crofts at lambing time – and looked after them – they would be safer. To my mind, the disinterest shown towards these animals, apart from when they are gathered in the autumn and the subsidies are worked out, lends me to believe that hill sheep are ‘fair game’ on the hill. The owners do not have the right to call ‘foul’ when the numbers are lower than expected. However, I personally have only ever found lamb remains in an eagle eyrie on one occasion and the emaciated state of the animal suggested to me that it had probably been picked up as carrion. By the same token I have also walked on general grazing pastures in late spring where the stench of dozens of rotting sheep made the experience extremely unpleasant.

            Ravens, as are all other predatory species, are opportunists. In my experience, much of the ‘problem’ with them with regards to predation of lambs is ‘self-inflicted’. If someone intends to keep sheep, they should also ensure that the animals in their charge are well looked after and protected. ‘Protecting’ them with a gun is not the answer – IT IS THE LAZY option which, to my mind, is too prevalent these days. If this is too much to ask, then don’t keep them!

            • 50 hector
              April 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm

              Good afternoon and there is no danger of me jumping down your throat as you talk a lot of sense. I lamb the ewes in the fields next to the house to offer them some protection and then after a week move those lambed to a rented croft. If I hit a few problems at first light it may be mid morning before I get to the lambed ewes to feed them but you can’t be everywhere. You are right there is little money in sheep but they taste good and as Mull has a ragwort problem they keep the ground clear for the horses and cattle. The extensive hill flocks have to take their chances and on this pile of rocks sheep carrion make up a large percentage of the Winter ration for golden eagles. I have only lost one lamb over the years to a goldie and don’t grudge it or the odd hen I used to lose to the otters. The lambing percentage for hefted hill flocks here is about the 50% mark so is in effect ranching low input low output. As the raven numbers continue to increase the problem will get worse as even in this township which gets busy with tourists I can think of three occupied nest sits in what passes for a built up area in this neck of the woods. I agree if you are not prepared to put the hours in at lambing time you should not keep sheep. Anyway good to talk to you.

        • 52 Jack Snipe
          April 9, 2016 at 10:13 pm

          circusmaxim, that has got to be the most feeble “evidence” I’ve ever seen of “Ravens attacking a newly born lamb”. I watched it through once then replayed it patiently waiting for something to happen, and as someone who is very familiar with Raven behaviour in association with lambing ewes (see my post above), can see absolutely NOTHING to suggest that the Ravens (which were a family party, not a non-breeding flock) were showing any intent to attack the lamb. What was actually taking place as far as I could determine from a rather blurred shaky video, was a group of Ravens “cleaning up” afterbirth material from the grass around where the ewe had given birth. On the odd occasion when one of the Ravens pecked lightly at the lamb, they were almost certainly picking off traces of afterbirth from the wool. Does the ewe look at all concerned? Apart from the occasional nod towards one of the birds, not at all. This rather confirms my opinion that what farmers do is misinterpret perfectly benign non-aggressive behaviour, probably usually at a distance when they can’t see clearly what is actually happening. Thanks for that. I too have searched extensively for video evidence and that is just about the usual standard.

          • 53 Chris
            April 10, 2016 at 1:38 am

            Actually, Jack Snipe, I would say the ewe does look a bit concerned about the attention of the ravens around it’s lamb, and on a number of occasions, she appears to be keeping them away from it. However, I don’t see any particularly aggressive behaviour from the ravens either, and would tend to agree with your assertion that they are most likely trying to eat remnants of the afterbirth from the ground, and from the lamb itself.

            I also find it hard to imagine that ravens would kill a healthy lamb, but in a harsh wild environment, perhaps the need to survive could indeed drive ravens to kill a lamb, or perhaps hasten the demise of one that is already in trouble. Good husbandry would be preferable to bad management practices in such cases.

          • April 10, 2016 at 7:53 am

            The ewe is stressed, the lamb is clean, the only blood in the shot is on the back end of the ewe. The family group is working to split the lamb away from the ewe. When they peck at the lamb they are at the back end or the soft feet.

            It does not happen all the time but even if you have not seen it, it does happen- so why make such a sweeping statement? We have to persuade people that lose lambs and calves to raven attack to change their farming and find ways to cope with the behaviour. Burying our heads in the sand and saying it does not happen- in the face of evidence to the contrary is just not helping. In fact its probably the best way to ensure that the raven ends up on the general licence.

            • 55 Simon Tucker
              April 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm

              The ewe is so stressed that she doesn’t move away from the spot and only occasionally takes notice of the ravens. Given how quickly sheep will move away from me when walking across a field, I suspect that if this ewe and lamb were seriously stressed they would have moved out of camera shot, which they didn’t.

              The lamb is not a “new born”: it is dry and fully mobile on its feet. It, too, could have moved away from the ravens at any time but didn’t. Neither display any behaviour that would indicate the situation was stressful, possibly irritating, but to put it any stronger than that is straw-clutching of the highest order.

    • 56 Jim Clarke
      April 9, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Not sure I get what you mean Hector. So the ‘class warriors’ at Raptor Persecution Scotland belong to which class exactly, and which particular class are they fighting a ‘class war’ against ? Do they belong to the landowning class and are trying to oppress the poor crofter? Or are they working class folks trying to challenge the power of the ruling class? Or both? Or neither? Perhaps they are middle class and want to kick both up and down? Please clarify if you would be so kind.

      • 57 hector
        April 10, 2016 at 8:17 am

        Good morning Jim. The class warriors bit was for the likes of the against feudalism poster. For the record I am for land reform but would hate to try and sort out how to implement it. A lot of calls for the big estates to be broken up some with merit but what do you do about holdings like Alladale owned by Paul Lister and some of the land held by the Rausing family who are all for conservation and re wilding. With the general election coming up a lot of ill informed nonsense is being fired about by groups like RISE who can promise the earth as the don’t have a hope in hell of getting in. I own about 90 hectares of land and rent some more and resent anyone telling me what I should do with it so can see where the estate owners are coming from on land reform. All the best.

        • 58 Jim Clarke
          April 10, 2016 at 10:14 am

          I’ll ask the question again; which class do you think Raptor Persecution Scotland are and which class do you think they are fighting?

          • 59 Jim Clarke
            April 10, 2016 at 10:22 am

            As Against Feudalism is, as far as I can tell, not an author at Raptor Persecution Scotland, if you are responding to his/her comments why did you aim them as RPS? Just like the melodrama? And yes David, this is my real name.

            • 60 Jim Clarke
              April 10, 2016 at 10:27 am

              Just to remind you what you actually wrote; ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland is a very grand sounding name for what amounts to a few class warriors, keyboard hard men and the hard of learning to bump their gums but as a poor crofter what would I know’. But you weren’t actually referring to RPS?

              • 61 Jim Clarke
                April 10, 2016 at 10:34 am

                I take it this quote is reasonably accurate ‘The average croft consists of around five hectares (12 acres) of land, although they can range in size from half a hectare to over 50 hectares. Most crofts are part of a township (a community of crofts) and share common grazing land’ (source; http://www.crofting.org/faqs/67). But you own 90 hectares David (and are able to rent some more). So you are a, to quote again, ‘poor crofter’? No real odds to me what you own but it would be nice to be clear to the other readers.

                • 62 Jim Clarke
                  April 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

                  So, is this what you were really trying to say; ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland is a very grand sounding name for what amounts to a forum where one person who I suspect might be a class warrior/keyboard hard man/hard of learning has posted some comments I don’t agree with but as a (not really that) poor crofter (well certainly not that kind of poor crofter the image of which I was disingenuously trying to imply) what would I know?’. That about right David?

                  • 63 hector
                    April 10, 2016 at 11:45 am

                    Afternoon Jim. I will try to clear up what you seem to struggle with. I have no idea who is behind this site or what their politics are and my original post was aimed at those posting on the forum at the time but was poorly put. So I have no idea what class RPS is or are as they are anonymous and have no idea what class they are fighting for the same reason. The average size of a croft is low in this part of the world and the 90 hectares has to be amended as my mistake it is 90 acres in old money made up of two croft code numbers . Only once in the last 5 years have I managed to reach the threshold for income tax on the croft and if it was worked out as an hourly wage it would be in pence rather than pounds so poor is a fair description in monetary terms. I consider myself well off in the beautiful area I live in and crofting is a lifestyle choice. Since I have only been here two days it is starting to look like RPS is an anti farming anti shooting organisation but is to commended for its moderation policy allowing the likes of myself to post and debate as trust me it is not always the case on other sites. I hope this helps. Bye the way Jim are you one of the anon authors of RPS ?

                    • 64 Jim Clarke
                      April 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm

                      Hector/David thanks for clearing that up, perhaps a little more caution would be advisable in future if you don’t want to come across as a someone trying to be a ‘keyboard hard men’? Also, when addressing people who own no land but do work on it, it is probably best to be clear about exactly how much you do own if you are going to throw around phrases like ‘class war’. No I’m not a member of Raptor Persecution Scotland but, considering the quality of their work, I would very much take it as a compliment if anyone assumed I was.

                    • April 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

                      ‘it is starting to look like RPS is an anti farming anti shooting organisation’
                      There are many commenters and as far as i know there is no organization they belong to or code they adhere to and if so I haven’t been sworn in, so it is inaccurate to lump everyone together.
                      I am anti grouse shooting. I suspect there is whole spectrum of views of readers on the sport hunting theme.
                      I am sure you are correct that Hooded Crows, Ravens, Black-backed Gulls, White-tailed Eagles and Golden Eagles all cause losses to sheep farmers.
                      The question for me is how much damage and whether farmers or landowners have a right to kill everything that threatens their income. That includes ragwort and the Cinnabar Moth.
                      The only place i know of on Mull with high numbers of ravens is around Tobermory tip. I hope you aren’t exaggerating acres into hectares.

                    • 66 Jack Snipe
                      April 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

                      anandprasad, I note you haven’t responded to my previous questions regarding your support for the allegations that Ravens kill healthy newborn lambs. Now you respond to another commenter and include the statement:

                      “I am sure you are correct that Hooded Crows, Ravens, Black-backed Gulls, White-tailed Eagles and Golden Eagles all cause losses to sheep farmers.”

                      As indicated to circusmaxim, I am currently putting together a paper on the results of my research on the interaction of Raven flocks with lambing ewes, and I wouldn’t like to present anything but the whole story. I’d be extremely grateful if you could explain why you are so sure that this allegation is true. I’m not familiar with the eagles, but as far as Ravens are concerned I have been carefully observing them for 17 years, and carried out intensive observations of behaviour during three of these. I gathered a fair amount of empirical evidence which indicates a high probability that Ravens do not kill healthy newborn lambs, and pose no threat to the livelihood of sheep farmers.

                      If you know of any research results which support what I regard as your rather sweeping statement, I would be very happy if you could point me in the right direction. One of my main concerns is that the more such statements are reiterated by the ‘friends’ of Ravens, the more people are likely to start believing them. My mind remains open to the possibility that it may happen very rarely, but all I can say to those who trust the word of gamekeepers and shepherds is “show me the evidence.” I was criticised for not having published my results, but why believe interested parties who can produce no actual evidence, rather than someone who has actually taken the time to investigate? Unless, of course, there is evidence out there that I haven’t located yet.

                      Incidentally, I have also been observing Carrion Crows closely for many years, and they were associated with the Raven flocks that were the subject of my research, and I have never witnessed any harm being done by them to healthy lambs. As far as I’m aware, scientists I know who have studied Hooded Crows have not recorded them killing lambs either. Any so-called evidence appears to be wholly circumstantial. I am also very familiar with Great Black-backed gulls foraging on hill sheep country (there is a small breeding colony within my study area), and again although I often see them feeding on sheep and lamb carcasses, I have never seen one even attempt to kill a healthy lamb. I assume by “Black-backed Gulls” you are not including Lesser Black-backed Gull, which would be a ridiculous contention.

                      I find myself in a similar situation to Professor David Houston of the University of Glasgow, who carried out research on the impact of foxes on sheep farming in Argyll. He showed conclusively that the allegations about foxes killing healthy lambs were not true, and that the economic impact of their activities was negligible. Sadly, despite no evidence to the contrary, farmers and even some nature conservationists continue to demonise foxes in the same way that grouse shooters demonise Hen Harriers.

        • 67 against feudalism
          April 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm

          Hi Hector, No offence taken :) rather tickled to be called a ‘warrior’, had thought I was too long in the tooth. This is really the wrong forum for this, but yes, I am for the break-up of the estates, they have been a drain, and a stain on Scotland since the clearances, which in a sense have not stopped. I, and many friends have been routinely harassed, threatened and bullied by shooting estate factors, and the employees of absentee ‘sporting estate owners, be thankful you own, not rent. I use my ‘name’ to draw attention to what is actually going on across Scotland, and hopefully people will wake up, and think about things. 99% of the estates practice the wholesale, and criminal slaughter of protected species, knowing that they are unlikely to be caught.

          If you are for land reform, then we are in accord, however, as the snp have discovered, the laws were written by the land owners, for the land owners, and these need to be rewritten first! read Andy Wightman’s The poor had no lawyer’s. “How do we implement it?” I would suggest that 1/ ALL grants and subsidies to estates are stopped now, 2/ there is a maximum farm cap payment of ? £20,000, but possibly, as New Zealand, stop all farm subsidies. 3/ Start ‘land value tax’, so that the 2/3rds of Scotland’s land, in the hands of some 1252 owners ( some hidden as offshore trusts ) actually contribute to the country.

          Oddly, I looked at the bbc report, telling us that buzzards had recovered,


          Strangely non here, in the eastern Cairngorms nat. park? but that led on to wolves and rewilding,


          Which looks at Alladale estate, it seems that he wants to entirely fence the estate to allow ‘rewilding’, but then charge entry? so much for our ‘right to roam’, more theme park Scotland.

          If you, or the ‘poor’ estate owners are unable to cope without subsidy, then I am sorry, but it is time to move on, why should my hard earned taxes, be used to preserve 18th century anachronisms?

          all the best, AF classy warrior

          • 68 hector
            April 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

            Thanks for the reply. I would like to see an end to the subsidy system but again how to do it without carnage. The move to cap farm payments was sunk by the NFU as the big farms pay the big subs so they got their way. While I own land the estate has retained the mineral and sporting rights so thank god the pile of rocks I live on is not frackable if that is a word. The environmental payments under CAP have helped a bit but a lot more could be done. If the subsidy stops livestock will continue to reduce in numbers and It will be bad news for ground nesting birds in the west as it is hill cattle that keep the ground in order. Also if small scale farming stops in the western isles the machair is done for with all that goes with it. All the best .

            • 69 against feudalism
              April 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm

              Hi Hector, Agreed, land reform is a large and complicated business, but needs to be brought out into the open, and discussed, and done. The Highlands are capable of supporting many, many more people, than are currently ‘allowed’ to live and work there. I am completely in favour of ( we need ) small farming, smallholding and crofting, and was encouraged to see there is a class called ‘woodland crofting’, and these should be helped, perhaps supported? Big ‘agri businesses’…… no, they are subsidy driven. Raise, buy and eat locally, should be the model where possible, everyone wins.

              Mineral rights, and shooting rights, should have been abolished along with feu duty, so they are on the list :)

              Ground nesting birds will survive without human intervention, set-aside if needed, grouse are happy in birch woodland, just that the shooters find it more difficult to hit them. We have, I believe, the lowest level of natural woodland cover in europe, that is a scandal. The Machair – local knowledge should be employed there! Living ‘with’ nature, rather than ‘managing’ it to death.

              I see nothing wrong with payment for stock lost to natural predation, works in europe with wolves.

              National parks – the land should be owned by the nation, not ‘shooting estates’ Environment minister, do your job.

              There are 5 million of us, being controlled by less than 2000, and we are still giving them money, in the 21st century? they are laughing all the way to their tax havens!

              all the best, AF

    • 70 Marco McGinty
      April 10, 2016 at 12:28 am

      Well, yes Hector (or should that be David Holden?), it was inevitable that the farming and shooting industries would be on the receiving end of anger and ridicule, because representatives from those two organisations are promoting this nonsensical plan. Who would you suggest we criticise? Greengrocers and violin makers?

      As for your perception that Bert Burnett puts forward a coherent argument, may I just remind you that not so long ago, Mr Burnett expressed a desire to set fire to a group of peaceful protesters. Not so much a coherent argument, but more the ramblings of a psychopath. Perhaps you share his view?

      Buzzard numbers were estimated to have increased by 36% in Scotland from 1994 to 2007, yet Mr Burnett argued in 2003 that the increase was nearer 1,000%. Not so much a coherent argument, but more a grossly exaggerated and moronic account.

      The same Mr Burnett argues on his Facebook page, that once wild boar become established, they will eradicate ground nesting birds, but you will probably have read that piece, as you have commented on some of his Facebook posts.

      And another Facebook post saw Mr Burnett demanding the removal of Chris Packham from all television programmes, and placed into some mental health program. Do you consider Mr Burnett’s beliefs regarding Mr Packham to be the basis of a “coherent argument”?

      Then you attack a commenter for his/her chosen pseudonym. Instead of being annoyed at such a trivial point, it would probably be better if you focused your anger at those sections of society that actively stockpile and use such illegal substances. You know the ones – mostly gamekeepers, but also some farmers – the very professions that you appear to support.

      • 71 hector
        April 10, 2016 at 8:02 am

        Good morning Marco. As you have deduced my name is David Holden and I own two crofts on the Ross of Mull. The name Hector was my nickname many moons ago and is the name on my wordpress account as the first blog I posted on was Random Thoughts on Scots Lam by the late Paul Mc Conville and it already had a David . This last few days is my first visit to this site and more out of curiosity to see if it justified the tag of bile brigade. The jury is still out on that one. Firstly all very melodramatic but I am not attacking anyone and am not proposing to set any of you on fire. My thoughts on Chris Packham is that he is a well meaning clown which is hardly a basis to section a person. I know a fair few keepers and a lot of farmers and as far as I know none are stockpiling illegal substances and were I to come across one poisoning birds of prey I would report them and appear for the prosecution.
        As to Bert Burnett I only know him in cyber space and he seems reasonable to me. The petition to get ravens on the general license was put up by a Danny Bisset but in here it all seems to be about Bert for reasons best known to yourselves. Anyway hope that clears up a few things and if you don’t mind me asking is Marco McGinty your real name . A

        • 72 Marco McGinty
          April 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm

          Hector/David, you appear to have missed my point. You still hold the opinion that Bert Burnett seems reasonable, yet you have conveniently ignored the fact that he expressed a desire to set fire to a group of peaceful protesters, and he has demanded that Chris Packham be removed from our TV screens, and placed onto a mental health program.

          To any sane person, those actions would be deemed psychotic in the extreme, but if you choose to find those beliefs to be “reasonable”, then you are a poor judge of character.

          As for poisons stockpiling, if you’ve made it clear to your farming and gamekeeping friends that you would report them and appear for the prosecution, then it is incredibly unlikely that they would own up to possessing such substances. You do realise that criminals tend to keep quiet about their dodgy activities?

          However, just in case you are in denial about the extent of this stockpiling, I’ll just leave this here for you to read http://www.farming.co.uk/news/article/11659 (archived here http://archive.is/DZsii)
          Of course, like all criminal activity, this represents the tip of the iceberg, so I think it is safe to assume that their are still many farmers and gamekeepers that have held onto their prized possessions.

          And finally, what does it matter if Marco McGinty is my real name or not?

          • 73 hector
            April 11, 2016 at 5:10 am

            Morning Marco. It is not up to me to defend Bert but looking at your links he called Mark Avery a twat and a throwaway remark about burning protesters is hardly a measure of insanity. I have never met Bert but find him reasonable to deal with on various blogs. On this page we have a Steve Moyes calling for gamekeepers to be put on a general license and on the RPS Facebook page a Gary brown calling for farmers and keepers to be culled. Are these also psychopaths ? Also on this page there is a rather creepy reference to Bert’s children which I find deeply disturbing.
            As to your latest link the handing in of poisons under amnesty is hardly evidence of stockpiling but the exact opposite. Where I live is sea eagle central and birds of prey are heavily monitored and no cases of poisoning or persecution. Dead raptors are handed in and no evidence of foul play. Most farms in this area do not even own a firearm or shotgun. I know this as I get a lot of calls to put down livestock and road casualty deer but we are painted on blogs like this as blood thirsty murderers and liars when we report corvid attacks on livestock. Since joining this blog I have been impressed by quite a few posters which came as a pleasant surprise but a minority let the site down. As to your name it does not matter to me but as you seemed to make an effort to establish my identity I was just asking and by your reaction assume you are not using real name. Anyway have a good day I am off lambing.

            • 74 Marco McGinty
              April 11, 2016 at 11:02 am

              So, a belief that burning innocent and peaceful protesters is perfectly acceptable in your mind, and you still consider the owner of that remark to be a reasonable person? Well, now we know why dialogue regarding raptor persecution has failed these past decades, when people like yourself won’t even condemn such comments, never mind the persistent illegal slaughter of our wildlife.

              It is hypocritical that you are prepared to accept that Burnett’s comment was a “throwaway remark”, and you persistently defend his “reasonable” actions, yet you find similar comments from the other side as “deeply disturbing”.

              And once again, you appear to be ignoring the point I was trying to make. Most recorded criminal actions represent a tiny minority of the actual number of crimes committed, and in the case of the poisons amnesty, the amount handed in will represent a small percentage of what is still being held by gamekeepers, farmers and landowners. Just because Mull doesn’t experience raptor poisonings, does not mean that it doesn’t happen elsewhere. Perhaps the people of Mull realise that wildlife tourism is great for the island economy?

              Now, onto the issue of my name. If it doesn’t matter to you if I use my real name or not, then why ask the question? And why jump to a conclusion when I ask why you demand to know. Again, we see a hint of hypocrisy, considering you were prepared to comment on here using a pseudonym, yet you want to know if others are using real names or not. (Trust me, it didn’t take much effort to discover your true identity, as you posted a very similar comment on here and on Burnett’s Facebook page.)

              And finally on the subject of comments on Bert Burnett’s Facebook page, I have to enquire further on the following comment you posted on a foxhunting issue;

              “It does not look too clever for the hunt in question. A point to remember is everyone and their uncle has a camera these days so you have to be seen to abide by the law and follow the rules or risk even more draconian legislation.”

              Firstly, you accept that everyone has a camera nowadays, yet you have stated that you do carry such items (and seemingly, nor does anyone else in the farming and shooting industries when it comes to the “frequent raven, crow or buzzard attacks”). Perhaps you don’t have a camera, and I will accept your word on that matter, however the second part of your comment does concern me somewhat. You have professed that “were I to come across one [keepers and farmers] poisoning birds of prey I would report them and appear for the prosecution.”, yet your comment on foxhunting appears to contradict that. To any open-minded person, the fact that “you have to be seen to abide by the law” could easily mean that you believe it is perfectly acceptable to commit illegal acts, providing you don’t get caught.

              • 75 hector
                April 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

                Marco or is it Mark you seem to have a problem with Bert Burnett for whatever reason so take it up with him. As to my pseudonym I explained the reason for it to another poster. I do own a camera a large clunky SLR with a 300 mm lens but do not carry it for practical reasons as at this time of year I carry several kilos of lambing kit. As you seem to lurk on Bert’s Facebook page he has shared my picture of the lamb killed by ravens a few days ago along with a video of a live ewe after a raven attack so take a look. The phrase you have to be seen to abide by the law means you have to be squeaky clean and make sure it is obvious
                The comment I found deeply disturbing was reference to Bert’s children which was creepy on so many levels that if I have to explain it to you I am wasting my time. When you join in a blog there is usually at least one loudmouthed bully and at least one pedant that needs to get out more and I am afraid this blog is no exception. Anyway back to the lambing.

                • 76 Marco McGinty
                  April 11, 2016 at 2:38 pm

                  Ah, deliberately missing the point again. I’m not that bothered about Bert Burnett, but the issue is that you have repeatedly stated that you consider him to be a reasonable person, yet this same person has stated that he would like to set fire to peaceful protesters, or have people placed in mental health facilities, simply because they have a differing view. If that’s the type of person you consider to be reasonable, then I would hate to come across those you consider psychopathic.

                  As for “lurking” on Bert Burnett’s Facebook page, I only went to it for the first time a few days ago as a result of the claim that he was “reasonable” in his arguments, so you have yourself to thank for that. But it is amazing what you learn on such sites, so I will offer my thanks to you for that.

                  Although I have looked at some of the posts on Burnett’s Facebook page (it’s ironic that we are being called the bile brigade by them!!!), I don’t have the time or inclination to go through every post, so would you please link to the photograph and video, then I’ll have a look.

                  Now, the issue of the “deeply disturbing” comment. The actual question that you appear to have some trouble with was “Wonder what happened to Bert’s kids?”, but I suppose if you want to fake moral outrage at such an innocuous question, then that’s up to you. I take the question as a response to Burnett’s belief that “children should be seen and not heard”. Obviously you disagree with that and you have experienced some upset as a result of the question being asked, so perhaps you should explain why you feel aggrieved at such a question.

                  And now onto the subject of the perceived bullying and pedantry. Would you care to explain who has been bullied, who has carried out the bullying, and alert us all to examples of bullying that has occurred on this page? Or are you just going to sit and home and lie your way through the debate?

                  The name could be Mark, it could be Marco, it could be Alex, it could be Fraser, or it could be something entirely different, however for someone that has stated that it doesn’t matter, you seem determined to get an answer out of me! Why the need to know?

                • 77 Marco McGinty
                  April 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

                  Just to add, surely the phrase should have been along the lines of “You have to abide by the law”, and not to be “seen to abide by the law”. I still maintain that the phrase you used could easily be taken that you are perfectly happy for criminal activity to occur, providing you don’t get caught.

                  I also asked you to link to the photo and video of the Raven attacks on the lamb and sheep, but you have not yet done so. Video documentary of a Raven, or Ravens, attacking sheep would appear to be relatively rare, so this evidence that you have could prove valuable in your attempts to change minds.

                  I look forward to viewing such rare footage.

                • April 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

                  I agree that ‘steve moyes’ comment ‘Maybe we should try to get gamekeepers put on the general licence.1’
                  is provocative but that doesn’t mean it is OK for your ‘reasonable man’ to use a ‘throwaway remark’ about setting fire to someone.
                  Two wrongs and all that.

                  But if you expect to make a comment like
                  ‘Why one of you thinks it is funny to name his avatar after a poison is beyond me but I am sure Mr Carbofuran has his reasons’
                  ah that ‘reason’ again
                  and on a blog dedicated to stop raptor persecution, well… Good luck with that.
                  and then
                  ‘I own about 90 hectares of land and rent some more and resent anyone telling me what I should do with it’
                  Again don’t expect any unheated replies from people like myself who believe that you are at the most a guardian of the land and wildlife that live on and pass through it and it is not yours to do with as you please. Irrespective of whether you are receiving tax payers money in the process the law appears to disagree with you.

                  You are tarring me with the same brush as ‘steve moyes’ and yet resent when ‘steve moyes’ does the same with gamekeepers. I can’t speak for ‘steve moyes’ but most commenters on this blog are talking about ‘criminal gamekeepers’ and i took his comment to mean such. The clue is in the blog name. But he could, in thios particular blog, also refer to gamekeepers who want to kill everything that looks the wrong way at a grouse.
                  When you wrote

                  Unlike you i try not to generalise except when referring to the ‘driven grouse shooting lobby’ which i often abbreviate to ‘grouse shooting lobby’ because they appear to be one and the same thing. I feel it is fare to target those organization as a whole because they all seem to be singing the same tune which goes something along the lines of:
                  1. we love raptors and don’t kill them although there are some rare bad apples.
                  2. raptors are bad for business.
                  3 we demand a change to the law so we can kill those raptors which we love
                  4 .If we can’t kill them we demand a change to law allowing us to move raptors off our moors but we do love them really.
                  5. Burning heather and peat is like having a haircut
                  6. We don’t destroy the water table or habitat, ditches and roads are like having a haircut.
                  7. Those gun scares are not for raptors, we love them to bits, it a bot like having a firework display
                  8. Lead ammunition is a bit like having a hair cut
                  9. We spread veterinary drugs around the countryside sustainably, if it stays in the ecosystem it must be sustainable, right
                  7. we kill Mountain Hares sustainably (aside, what does that word mean again) it’s a bit like having a haircut
                  8. We are terribly compassionate with out serfs who love us to death for giving so much back to the community.
                  9. We still want you money though so keep paying your taxes folk
                  10. We have never benefited from Panama in the last 5 seconds

                  • April 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

                    Sorry too many typos.
                    A corrected version:

                    I agree that ‘steve moyes’ comment ‘Maybe we should try to get gamekeepers put on the general licence.1’
                    is provocative but that doesn’t mean it is OK for your ‘reasonable man’ to use a ‘throwaway remark’ about setting fire to someone.
                    Two wrongs and all that.

                    But if you expect to make a comment like…
                    ‘Why one of you thinks it is funny to name his avatar after a poison is beyond me but I am sure Mr Carbofuran has his reasons’
                    ah, that voice of ‘reason’ again
                    and on a blog dedicated to stop raptor persecution, well… good luck with that.
                    And then you write
                    ‘I own about 90 hectares of land and rent some more and resent anyone telling me what I should do with it’
                    Again don’t expect any unheated replies from people like myself who believe that you are at the most a guardian of the land and wildlife that live on and pass through it and it is not yours to do with as you please. Irrespective of whether you are receiving tax payers money in the process the law appears to disagree with you.

                    You are tarring me with the same brush as ‘steve moyes’ and yet resent when ‘steve moyes’ does the same with gamekeepers. I can’t speak for ‘steve moyes’ but most commenters on this blog are talking about ‘criminal gamekeepers’ and i took his comment to mean such. The clue is in the blog name. But he could, in this particular blog-post, also refer to gamekeepers who want to kill everything that looks the wrong way at a grouse. And no i don’t think criminal gamekeepers should be shot but if capital punishment was going to be re-introduced for criminal gamekeepers i would be sorely tempted.

                    Unlike you i try not to generalise except when referring to the ‘driven grouse shooting lobby’ which i often abbreviate to ‘grouse shooting lobby’ because they appear to be one and the same thing. I feel it is fair to target those organization as a whole because they all seem to be singing the same tune which goes something along the lines of:
                    1. we love raptors and don’t kill them although there are some rare bad apples.
                    2. raptors are bad for business.
                    3. we demand a change to the law so we can kill those raptors which we love
                    4. If we can’t kill them we demand a change to law allowing us to move raptors off our moors but we do love them really.
                    5. Burning heather and peat is like having a haircut
                    6. We don’t destroy the water table or habitat, ditches and roads are like having a haircut.
                    7. Those gun scares are not for raptors, we love them to bits, it a bit like having a jolly fun firework display
                    8. Lead ammunition is a bit like having a hair cut
                    9. We spread veterinary drugs around the countryside sustainably, if it stays in the ecosystem it must be sustainable, right
                    7. we kill Mountain Hares sustainably (aside, what does that word mean again) it’s a bit like having a haircut
                    8. We are terribly compassionate with out serfs who love us to death for giving so much back to the community.
                    9. We still want you money though so keep paying your taxes folk
                    10. We have never benefited from Panama in the last 5 seconds

            • 80 Marco McGinty
              April 11, 2016 at 11:20 am

              That last paragraph should be “yet you have stated that you do not carry such items”.

  22. 81 Ian Walby
    April 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Hahahaa! Ridiculous! ….Raven’s “planning to do damage”!
    Nice painting tho.
    I agree with Les too, the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts etc should do more to try and dispel the silly and often unfounded folk tales about predatory animals and the “damage” they do!

  23. 82 George M
    April 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Well said, Jack Snipe. It’s just Bert and one of his homily’s in regard to any ecological issue which isn’t an exact fit his own. His comparison using children as symbols of innocents and birds as agents of evil is as silly, as one could get ….. but it’s inflammatory presentation could be attractive to those who use his rants as an aid to motivate themselves. There can be little doubt as to whom most people would listen too in regard to Bert’s claims, which must be taken on faith, and the scientific observations of Jack Snipe, precisely recorded behaviours logged over a period of years. No contest, I reckon.

  24. 83 Mike
    April 10, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I fully support Jack Snipe’s description of Raven behaviour and it fits exactly with my own more limited observation. How many times do we read a paper on some ecological topic or watch a TV programme on an aspect of animal behaviour only to be incredulous about the realities. To me the raven, a corvid blessed with a ‘thinking’ approach to life, has developed it’s strategies over thousands of years and coexisted with sheep as long as they have been kept. It is surely no surprise that they have developed the symbiotic approach rather than the wholly predator style – somewhat like indigenous peoples around the world, or what is left of them, harvesting and in harmony.
    To my mind, and presumably those who are in the pro Raven camp, it is man that is completely out of sync with the natural world. Unfortunately despite farmers being a group who could be expected to be working in sympathy with the natural world there are precious few who are and a large proportion who are running their business efficiently with disregard. Many like nothing more than to place the blame elsewhere for their own shortcomings and myth about losing lambs and ewes fits well with leaning on five bar gates with a straw in mouth image – if the hat fits, wear it!
    Yesterday I walked through sheep with new born and watched a Raven check out a ewe and recent lamb. It’s behaviour fitted with Jack Snipes account ( I was watching through binoculars). The lamb was unconcerned, the ewe didn’t even get up and two carrion crows stood by. The same sheep were on waterlogged poor ground with hardly a blade of grass following a cold, wet night. I walked on and passed one lamb casualty of the night untouched by Raven or crow. I almost feel that the Raven has a higher intellect than many of the farmers.

    I had the misfortune to live surrounded by two in by hill farm fields. The pasture so overstocked that come February/March the ewes were malnourished and dropping. At one point there were eight dead ewes being eaten by fox at night and crow/buzzard by day and they at least we’re flourishing. Come lambing in April the grass was improving, ewes survived but only just. The farmer then started losing lambs to,by now, hungry foxes with Cubs. the local hunt usually suspend hunting at lambing time but he enlisted them to help solve his problem – we watched as the pack went through his sheep and one dog killed two lambs on its way!

    Now which has more credibility in my mind, Raven or farmer? It’s literally a no brainier!

  25. 84 hector
    April 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

    http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A253116.pdf A link for Jack snipe from fellow bull shitters SNH who state that ravens do kill lambs but what do they know.

    • 85 Jack Snipe
      April 11, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Perhaps you don’t know this, hector, but you imply that you do, and your fellow agricultural businessmen often agree – SNH is staffed by human beings who sometimes make errors. In this case mythology is being presented as if it is fact, and one may as well substitute “ravens” with “eagles” and “lambs” with “small children.” I note that there are no references to these “well documented reports from across the world.” This is by no means the first time that I have encountered SNH being rather liberal with the facts, and in effect what has happened is that unverified statements have become repeated so often (by vested interests) that some naive individuals end up believing them. That was the very reason why I made a personal decision to establish the truth for myself. It is interesting that once an individual has been convinced that a misperception is true, it can be extremely difficult to convince that person otherwise, even through scientific research. There are numerous examples of this psychological phenomenon documented widely across the world.

      During my study of Ravens previously described on this blog, I was able to observe and speak to a number of farmers as they went about their business. I have engaged in conversation with farmers on many, many occasions throughout my life, as have many of my fellow birdwatchers and naturalists, and one thing most of us agree on is that, with the odd exception, it is amazing how ignorant farmers can be of the natural world which is all around them on a daily basis. One shepherd I met on the hill once, when I asked if he ever had any problems with Ravens, claimed that he didn’t, because he had shot them all and hadn’t seen a Raven on his farm in over ten years. For obvious reasons I didn’t point out to him that we were standing fifty yards away from an electricity tower which held a nest containing a very noisy brood of three young Ravens! To put it mildly, most of the anecdotes I hear on a regular basis are derived from old wives’ tales. Gamekeepers are another matter. I’ve been in the company of gamekeepers who gave the distinct impresssion they were participating in a lying competition, with their tall tales and received wisdom. It’s hard not to be sceptical, or cynical.

      In any case, if the killing of lambs by Ravens was “common” as stated in the SNH pamphlet, and others including the real Marco McGinty have already posed this question – why is there no photographic evidence? And why has the BBC Wildlife Unit never filmed such behaviour? It would make for pretty dramatic television. Most of all, why is it that observational naturalists and scientific researchers cannot find a single piece of evidence that proves it does happen? The video evidence given already on this blog was laughable, and quite revealing in terms of human imagination. I’ve always qualified my opinion by saying that I cannot deny the possibility that a Raven could occasionally kill a healthy lamb, but only so rarely as to be wholly insignificant. Personally I will continue to doubt that it ever happens, except in the case of a lamb which is already very sick or moribund, because this I have witnessed on two occasions. The difference between people like myself and farmers who disagree, is that I have taken the time to research the hypothesis in real life. In all the time I have spent observing Ravens’ behaviour, I’ve never seen a single farmer paying them any attention whatsoever. They just believe what they believe, maybe because they got their information from an SNH pamphlet.

      Like Marco McGinty (a well known and respected Scottish ornithologist who’s never been known by any other name!), I too would be interested in being provided with a link to your photographic evidence.

      • April 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

        Hi Jack,
        sorry i couldn’t reply in the correct place i think there might be a limit on the number of messages in a thread. I accidentally came upon your response, when i came to look for some lambs stats which i think i saw someone post, i don’t get automatic notifications so only reply now.
        I say i am sure for various reasons. Mots birds species are opportunistic and British Birds magazine for example is full of notes by species showing newly discovered and often surprising predation by various species.
        Corvids as you know are supremely intelligent and so are gulls. I believe it would be extremely naive to believe that Ravens, Hooded Crows and Great Black-backed Gulls (sorry i meant to write Great the first time but got distracted) don’t occasionally kill lambs especially if the lamb is weak or sick (i don’t belive i used the word ‘healthy’). Individuals and conditions will vary and there must come a time when these large predators will be in a position where a lamb is killed. To me it is just a question of how often it happens but i concede that as your study shows it must be rare and, to me, never enough to justify a ‘cull’.
        I also base it on the evidence of sheep farmers. I live on a sheep farm and have seen lambs with their tongue tips pecked off. A lamb in this condition has basically been killed because it cannot suckle and will starve and will probably die quickly of the cold. The farmer whose land i live on says it is the Hooded Crows which peck the tongue tips. I have to take his word for which species is involved. I know farmers are unreliable and exaggerate but on this i’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.
        The collective hours put in by sheep farmers is astronomical compared to your study. This would account for the difference in your observations and theirs. And then the rest is chinese whispers.
        I can’t find any post from you to me that i haven’t responded to.
        I don’t want to get into a battle about this. You have your opinion and i have mine.

  26. 87 elizabeth snell
    April 10, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Never say never! I have seen a raven pecking at a lamb in process of being born. The ewe took no notice. The lamb may have been a still born, I don’t know as I only had bins at the time. I live in the heart of sheep country, this does happen but as I’ve only seen it once in 16 years and the farmers here aren’t clamouring for GL’s or taking the law in their own hands it can’t be that big a problem.
    PS I wish people would use their own names to post.

    • 88 Chris Roberts
      April 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      I tend to agree with you Elizabeth about using real names. My full name is Christopher Donald Roberts, I am proud of my name and whenever I post here or elsewhere, any comments I do make, I am not ashamed to be associated with them.

    • 89 Simon Tucker
      April 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Always do – I stand by anything I post (and have even been known to acknowledge that I was wrong when I am – but that is even more rare than a credible account of a raven killing a lamb).

    • 90 Jack Snipe
      April 11, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Elizabeth, I too wish we lived in a society where it was possible to use my real name. I do in certain fora, and I’m sure some visitors to this blog who know me personally can easily deduce my identity from the research projects I describe. At the real risk of sounding a bit paranoid, I use a pseudonym on RPS to err on the cautious side, because I have over the period of my life been threatened with violence a number of times. Living in the countryside, constantly in the field and being known by local farmers and gamekeepers, I have actually been physically assaulted on a couple of occasions, received death threats from hunt supporters (which I didn’t treat seriously) and gamekeepers (which I treated slightly more seriously), and have been shot at on four occasions. There are some rather unpleasant and intimidating characters involved in shooting and hunting, perhaps a small minority but enough to cause concern for one’s personal safety.

    • 91 Jack Snipe
      April 12, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Elizabeth, I was slightly alarmed myself when I first saw behaviour identical to what you describe, a Raven pecking at a lamb as it was in the process of being born. However after I had watched it on dozens of occasions I realised it was not as alarming as it seems, as the birds doing so were merely competing with other Ravens to grab the spills attached to the lamb, including the placenta. I witnessed no obvious injury being inflicted on any lamb. When Ravens are removing edible material from the lamb itself or from the rear end of the mothering ewe, it is quite amazing how delicate these big birds can be. I don’t believe there is anything anthropomorphic about this behaviour, just that the Raven is being delicate to avoid causing the ewe to move away or react defensively. I only wish someone like BBC Springwatch would film this endearing behaviour, which could radically alter certain people’s perception of the bird. However that would be against their closet pro-Countryside Alliance policy, presumably.

      • April 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

        Dear Mr Snipe,
        may I call you Jack, I have read with great interest your comments, and agree with you totally. Nature can be cruel, I have spoken with an expert on ravens who has studied them both in captivity and in the wild. For over 5o years. I have told him I will not refer to him by name, as I do not want him to be subjected to any nastiness from the pro shoot ravens camp. But his opinion is that unless there is photographic evidence the raven is actually caught in the act, who can say how the lamb or ewe came about their injuries. He did say that you might get a rogue raven pair that do this, and then teach their chicks the same. But like a lot of people who are against this ridiculous shooting spree, he feels that a lot of the blame lies with the shepherds, who do not monitor their sheep often enough, and that if people have witnessed these actions why did they just stand there and gawp, not aid the sheep or lamb. It is well known ravens feed on lambs afterbirths, and I am sure if someone is looking through binoculars from a distance they might mistake this for aggressive behaviour. I am planning to write to the Scottish first minister about this. How long before the eagles become the next tARGET.!!!!!!!!

  27. April 10, 2016 at 10:48 am

    “Ravens, no matter where you go now in our countryside you have every chance to see or hear ravens … ” If only that particular statement was true but it’s the complete opposite. Ravens used to visit my garden and the countryside where I love to walk, but not any more. To see one now is a rarity, a sighting to be treasured. I saw one flying over my local wood, last year and rejoiced, hoping that s/he had a mate.
    “…but they are not like small children who as the saying goes ‘should be seen and not heard’, if you see them they will be doing damage and even if you hear them they will be planning damage“.
    These people are clinically insane. This statement is beyond parody…

  28. 94 john mark
    April 10, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    They should not be allowed to cleanse the countryside of all wildlife just in the name of farming ….. have they not heard of crow scarers modern day farming has a lot to answer for the damage its doing to wildlife and nature

  29. 95 keen birder
    April 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I must add, I am a sheep farmer, two years ago one of our ewes was down giving birth, it was having a hard time lambing, my elderly parents were with it and then left it to get help and came back to the house, we went back about 20 minutes later and carrion crows or crow had pecked the left eye out of the ewe, and pecked the tip of the tongue off one lamb and another lamb which had been born had its bottom and rump badly pecked, the lambs both died the ewe survived, and has had triplets this year, she is known as “one eye”, this lambing time we are over half way through, and thankfully have not had any more problems, . On another occaision a few years ago, a lamb was lying sleeping in the sun, about 10 days old, a carrion crow was seen to kill it, it had a large bullet hole type wound right on its forehead, a couple of days later the crow was around looking for another.. The lamb was a big strong one and definatly died by being killed by the crow. Theres a very large population of carrions in Britain, they can be very common,probably 970000 pairs in Britain, according to the bird atlas, but the raven is much less so, more precious, much rarer. We have had very few problems with crows, but their numbers have been reduced. If they were as common as I know they are in some places I would be worried at lambing time.

    • 96 Jack Snipe
      April 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Glad someone is at least getting back on topic. This sounds a more credible account, and keen birder manages to place it in perspective by admitting that both events described were rare. I will say though that my original interest in crows was with Carrion Crows, because although I was aware of them predating wader nests and chicks, from an early age I was always puzzled as to why anyone found this objectionable. The same people who would marvel at a Peregrine killing an adult wader would become irate at a Carrion Crow taking a chick. It seems such a skewed attitude towards nature. Ironically some farmers like to mock conservationists for not understanding the “life and death” nature of reality, yet they too will offer false sympathy for the “victims” of natural predators. It didn’t take me long to realise the phenomenon of constructing one’s own version of reality, and although no-one can claim total immunity to this tendency, I became determined to adopt as scientific an approach as possible. It makes no sense at all to have an emotional hatred of a species simply because it’s a predator by nature, when the planet has been absolutely brimming with animals killing each other to survive every second of every day for millions of years. It might be understandable if an animal poses a threat of death towards one’s fellow humans, or is a serious competitor for food, but can we honestly say in modern Britain that it is necessary to kill predators when we aren’t exactly suffering from food shortage? We are supposed to be civilised, and should adopt a sympathetic attitude towards nature, because ultimately it’s all we’ve got. And also because we have evolved to be considerate towards the feelings of others. My main recreational pastime is birdwatching; if I was causing others serious distress by walking quietly in the countryside wondering at the sight and behaviour of nature through my trusty binoculars, I would sacrifice my pleasure for the sake of humanity. Maybe the recreational hunters of this world should think similarly.

      One other fact worth mentioning with regard to my Raven study previously described, is that there were smaller numbers of Carrion Crow also associating with the lambing ewes. I did not ignore their behaviour although I was concentrating on the Ravens, but if any incident similar to that described by keen birder took place, I doubt if I would have missed it. However as I have conceded, his/her account does at least sound credible, and accepting it as honest, it has to be interpreted in a balanced way and understood to be rare. I do not doubt that crows are intelligent enough to be opportunistic, and will exploit a situation where our emotions tell us to be protective. However that’s nature, and it’s better to be philosophical about it rather than taking some sort of self-satisfying revenge on a whole species.

  30. 97 Danny
    April 10, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Below is a copy of the email sent to the Scottish SPCA canvassing their support in making the RSPB see sense!

    [Ed: rest of comment deleted. Danny, you’re welcome to comment on here but please don’t cut and paste large chunks of propaganda from your petition site]

  31. 98 keen birder
    April 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I have been very interested in Carrion crows all my life, fasinated really, by their lives, how old they live, how far they go ,to set up their own territory, their nests are imacalate constructions, really well lined usually with sheep wool, and their eggs, so pretty, and sometimes slightly varied in colour, ive had it drummed into my by my ancestors and other friends, that they are bad. In my life I too have been guilty of killing many hundreds of these birds, as I grow older I now look at the bigger picture, . One thing that I do remember from my youth, I had a country upbringing in an area that had no gamekeepers, there were far more carrions in that area, than there are now, every possible territory was taken, and then there seemed to be more waders then than now.
    I am more than concerned at how the waders have gone from most of our County of Cumbria, I fear the worst now for them, and local extinctions of curlew seem to be inevitable, in the 60s and 70s, badgers were scarce as were buzzards and Sparrow hawk, foxes then were less in numbers than now, I have seen many a duck nest with eggs eaten by crows, and some by badgers. This is how it is and how it always has been.
    The ducks get a hammering from shooting at night by the “flight ponds,”, then theres modern farming, and habitat loss, fast traffic, poachers, I could go on and on.
    Just having hope that wildlife will come back.

  32. April 10, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I am keeper of ravens at Knaresborough Castle in north Yorkshire, I am very concerned about this proposal, I remember a couple of years ago the sun had a front page headline. ‘ Killer ravens taking newborn lambs or something along that line. When will these gamekeepers farmers, take a look at nature other from their prospective of their game birds. I had one of my ravens shot last September, she was flying around the castle harming no one, but one of the local morons shot her in the head. Are we going back to Victorian times, when ravens were persecuted then for being so called companions of the devil because they could talk. So it must be witchcraft. !!!. Ravens are omnivorous, yes they will take live prey, but only if its sick or almost dead. They do not take lambs from the ewe as they give birth. If this has happened one needs to look into the reason for this, loss of normal food supply, would be a good place to start. No one You can not just argue for indiscriminate shooting of any bird, until you have lots of evidence to back up your claim.

  33. 100 Kim
    April 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    For goodness sake, just lay off wildlife. We humans moved in on land and made it our own. We build on land and drive off wildlife. We farm land to suit ourselves. Cleared habitats for pastures and development. We are the ones doing the damage here, the ravens are surviving just as other wildlife is trying to survive. The destruction is caused by us and the only reason here is not for the welfare of the lamb which will be slaughtered to feed the ever growing population of humans but the loss of money, you know that stuff that is revered by humans. So we have developed a ‘lose money, must kill it ‘ mentality. Well go ahead small minded, near sighted people, kill them all, kill everything and when you are dead and buried you won’t care but future generations will suffer but that’s ok as you’ll be gone too. Yes I am furious and you probably think I’m bonkers too but I don’t care, I am sick and tired of hearing of this type of behavior. Also try educating yourselves on the behaviour patterns of the local wildlife and try to adjust, you may just learn something apart from drinking in the bullshit fed by selfish people for their own gain.

  34. 102 Elaine
    April 11, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Has anyone thought of bringing this more into the public attention by starting a petition to try and stokp it?

  35. April 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Ahem…to get back to the subject..the licensed killing of ravens. The above thread has to be one of the longest and quickest produced in all the years Ive been reading and commenting. Welcome to those who have belatedly noticed the excellent RPS..and seem astonished to find that most commentators dont like them – I would ask them to read the very long list of archived wildlife killing incidents going back decades which is attached to this blog and understand why we are all so angry…..but …ravens licences. They have been given out before of course and I will give you just one instance of the abuse of such licences in the past – 1980s to be more precise – when estate on the Western Isles was given a licence to kill ravens with a bag limit of 6. An underkeeper on the estate who was involved, told me later that over 120 ravens were killed, at their roost, in a systematic fashion, using rifles. The underkeeper no longer works in the sport shooting field, the above is one reason why….Given the level of criminal killing that continues to take place surrounding game shooting I would have absolutely no trust in their sticking to quotas. An Open General Licence including raven would be a disaster for these birds. Up to the 1980s ravens had been all but wiped out in South-east Scotland, we were down to literally 1 or 2 pairs – lets not let that happen again..

    • April 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      I applaud your opinion in this matter, and it sickens me to think that we could lose ravens once again just as they are making a comeback. Why is it only in Scotland that this so called massacre of lambs at the beaks of ravens takes place. As I said in my original post, if this is happening, then something is drastically wrong with the current eco system, should that not be looked into, before these beautiful birds have to look down the barrel of a shotgun.

      • 105 Simon Tucker
        April 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

        Igraine: I suspect the reason it is only in Scotland is the same reason that alien abductions only take place in the USA: because there is a vested interest in spinning the tale – to what end? Who knows with regard to alien abductions; all too obvious with the odious shooting industry.

    • 106 BSA
      April 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Exactly. The only relevant fact in all of this is that you are dealing with criminals and apologists for criminals. Unless that simple fact is recognised and addressed effectively then discussion of the merits of any management system is a waste of breath.

  36. 107 keen birder
    April 11, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Last year I saw on a Game and Wildlife conservation trust ,link to Ravens and the Langholm project that licences had been issued on the Buccleugh Estate, to kill ravens. I was suprised to see that. They seem to come and go a bit in my area, im happy to see them, then worry why when I dont see them. I dont honestly know of any killing going on, but you just cant tell, no ones going to say anything if theve done them in.

    • 108 Jack Snipe
      April 11, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      I have a study area extending over approximately 20,000 hectares of moorland and mixed farmland in west central Scotland, where I monitor 10-12 nesting pairs of Raven. Within that area there are usually one or two flocks of non-breeding birds totalling up to around another 100 birds. However the non-breeding numbers fluctuate from year to year, as well as having a tendency to shift between different areas. Judging by a correlation with the distribution of hunting Kestrels, especially outside the breeding season, I have come to the conclusion that there is an association with local patches of high Field Vole density. Ravens are known to feed on small mammals, especially voles, and although it is difficult observing detail at long distance, their foraging strategy appears to suggest they are hunting voles. Behaviour of non-breeding Raven flocks in association with lambing ewes in spring seems to divide into four main activities: (i) feeding on afterbirths and sheep carrion; (ii) foraging amongst grass, presumably for invertebrates and small mammals; (iii) loafing in groups, often on a nearby small hillock, or perched on fence posts; and (iv) engaging in communal aerial displays, often termed “playing on updraughts.” As the flocks move from place to place within the wider study area, it’s not always cause to worry if they disappear temporarily. This may seem slightly removed from the issue of persecution and licences, but it’s important to be aware that the Raven’s activity budget does not include “being up to no good.”

  37. 109 hector
    April 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Good evening to you all in here. Not sure where to start after last night. Had quite a long conversation today with a member of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and while totally against the raven going on the general license confirms that ravens do attack and kill lambs. But what does he know with all those letters after his name as we have an anonymous researcher in here that claims the opposite. So SNH say ravens kill lambs, a well respected PHD says ravens kill lambs , the department of agriculture and SNH issue licenses to kill ravens that kill lambs but they are all wrong . Don’t think so. We then come to an ex RSPB worker who met an ex estate worker in the 1980s who claim an estate killed 120 ravens with rifles when they only had a license to kill 6. This is troubling as it requires proof rather than hearsay and if ravens are as rare as claimed how in the hell did an estate manage to shoot 120 . I am afraid it does not stack up. For the record I am not having a go at Dave Dick as he did some good work over the years at RSPB and quit over the courage of his convictions.
    We then come to the study by Mr Snipe and the claim he has been shot at four times. Aye right. For all its failings Police Scotland take a dim view of shooting at people so unless Jack can produce charge sheets , video evidence and convictions I am afraid this one will go in the B–ls-it file unless the study area in question was in Dodge City or Syria. At least Bert Burnett and all the nasty keepers are out of the frame for these alleged shootings as gamekeepers tend to hit what they shoot at.
    Having a look at the raven petition it seems to be driven by sheep farmers rather than the shooting lobby and knowing a lot of them they are not doing it for fun they have a problem. Last night I also had a look at the application form for a license to shoot ravens and you are expected to provide proof ravens are causing a problem and proof that alternative methods like scaring and diversionary feeding have failed. Either SNH and the Scottish Government are complicit in a fraud or there is a raven problem which may or may not be solved by the general license.
    On a final note we come to the RSPB. When I moved to Mull we had the late Mike Madders as the man on the island and he was excellent visiting farms and estates and getting on with those that owned the land. We then had a man I can’t even remember his name as we never saw him out and about and we now have Dave Sexton. I have only met Dave once but he seems to have built up a working relationship with the NFU and farmers . My point is that they seem able to do the job without getting threatened or shot at so perhaps Mr Snipe should change his approach and see how that works out.

    • 110 elizabeth snell
      April 12, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Ravens fly many miles to winter roosts, there is a famous one on Anglesey holding hundreds of birds so its perfectly possible 120 were shot at a roost .

    • 111 Jack Snipe
      April 13, 2016 at 1:14 am

      Dear Mr Hector, you must have lived a very sheltered life if you are so incredulous at my accounts of being shot at. Despite your obvious attempt to accuse me of inventing my claims (which you have already done in the case of scientific research which didn’t suit your weird beliefs), I can assure you I have been shot at four times during the past 48 years, and had witnesses with me on every occasion. On one occasion, when I was accompanied by a professional colleague as a witness, we immediately reported to the nearest police station, but were told that they “didn’t have an officer available” to arrest the perpetrators of the crime. And that was less than a month after the Dunblane massacre! So I’m afraid your faith in the police to deal with such incidents does not always meet expectations. I assume my report is logged in their records, but who knows? I was never informed of any follow-up. On the three other occasions I am not being so dramatic as to claim I was a victim of attempted murder. The hunters in question fired at sufficient range that I was stung by lead shot twice, and not hit at all during the other incident. An older birdwatcher who was accompanying me was so angry he forcibly took the shotgun from the assailant and threw it into a very deep river! If you don’t believe me, I don’t particularly care, and can’t do anything about it because, despite criticising me for hiding behind anonymity, you do so yourself. It is truly pathetic that you have to defame someone in a feeble attempt to undermine their credibility. I am currently writing up my research for publication, so won’t be anonymous for much longer. In fact I’ve already done a lecture tour on my work on Ravens, so I’m moderately well known already in some ornithological circles.

      As to the mystery “well respected PhD” who is your reliable ecological adviser, I’m also a member of the Raptor Study Group, a founder member in fact, and I don’t know any of my colleagues who believes the mythology about Ravens killing lambs, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances when a lamb and/or its mother are moribund. There is no point in me trying to convince you of this, because you are simply in denial of the scientific evidence (or lack of it) and clearly unwilling to listen to the word of someone who has studied the behaviour of crows in the wild, especially Ravens, in some depth. I suggest you read the monograph The Raven by the late Derek Ratcliffe, and you might learn something from one of the greatest ornithologists who ever lived in this country. In the meantime I would ask who is this well respected PhD, as I assume that as a respected scientist he has nothing to be secretive about, and would happily be prepared to engage in dialogue with me. I’m sure we could compare notes, assuming he has done work on Ravens, rather than picking up his knowledge from that ill-advised SNH pamphlet. If he can point me to the scientific evidence I will happily review my own findings. In science it’s important to maintain an open mind, but you seem not to understand that concept. It’s interesting that you seem to believe that someone who has “all those letters after his name” is necessarily an authority on all scientific subjects, even confined solely to ornithology. That’s more than just a bit naive, Hector!

      • 112 hector
        April 13, 2016 at 8:44 am

        Morning Mr Snipe. I have withheld the name of the RSG member I was talking to as I had a general conversation with him . The next time we talk I will ask him if he minds me using his name and given the bile that can spout from some of the less well informed on this site he may not agree. You seem a bit dismissive of those with letters after their name Jack but that is life . As to the mystery reliable ecological adviser I don’t require one as I am well enough qualified in my own right..
        We then come to defamation and open minds. I came on to this site and reported accurately my experience with ravens and livestock and was branded a bullshitter by your good self which hardly suggests an open enquiring mind on your part. I still find your claims to have been shot at mind boggling especially the bit about reporting it to a police station a month after Dunblane and getting no response and suspect them to be fiction. As to my identity I was unmasked by your friend Marco from comments I left on Bert Burnett’s facebook page and have confirmed my ID explained the name on my WordPress account to this site and explained where I live and what I do for a living which makes me not very good at this anonymous carry on. I look forward to reading your research when published and would love to attend one of your lectures as I have an open mind but remain sceptical of some of your more outlandish claims. Anyway I am off out lambing so enjoy the rest of your day.

        • 113 Jack Snipe
          April 13, 2016 at 6:06 pm

          Hector, your accusations of dishonesty on the part of someone who has carried out a thorough investigation into the alleged impact of Ravens on sheep farming are despicable. Is this the tactic you use whenever someone comes up with a result that doesn’t tie in with your beliefs? At least I’m blaming your imagination for convincing you that Ravens kill healthy lambs, and not accusing you of making it up, even although you could well be doing so for all I know. It never occurred to me that anyone would make such a fuss about a side issue which arose from someone questioning why some people on this blog site prefer to hide behind pseudonyms. I gave my explanation, and you decided to seize on a small part of it as an opportunity to declare me an outright liar. That’s the oldest trick in the book. I don’t have to prove anything to you as a persistent individual, and if you don’t believe me I don’t care, but unless YOU can prove otherwise, please just shut up about it. As I said, I have witnesses from each incident. However it’s irrelevant to our discussion, and I suspect others are becoming bored of our petty squabbling. If you insist on continuing, please stick to the main issue.

          I note another wee trick of yours is to ingratiate yourself with peers of mine who work for SNH and RSPB, in an attempt to discredit me as any sort of authority on Raven behaviour. This attempt at divide and rule is utterly transparent. I have to make it clear that I did not show any disrespect for anyone with letters after their name, of whom you seem to be in awe; I merely pointed out that it means next to nothing regarding specialist knowledge. When I speak to farmers about their work and their attitude to wildlife, I don’t ask to see their PhDs in Agriculture, and I’m impressed by whatever wisdom they demonstrate, not whether they have letters after their name. We can’t all know everything about everything, or make sweeping presumptions about specialist knowledge held by someone with a string of letters or an MBE. Someone might have a biological PhD in an obscure finch which inhabits the Galapoagos, but it doesn’t make them an expert on Ravens in Scotland. I’d be interested to hear what your opinion would be of this man of letters if he had told you that Ravens didn’t kill lambs? Would you still revere him so much?

          I await with much patience the link to your photographic evidence that you have promised to Marco McGinty. Or are you having doubts about that? Let’s see it. Or on the subject of proving something that doesn’t exist, can you provide me with a reference to any research which contradicts my observations, and by that I don’t mean an SNH pamphlet thrown together by a junior member of their office staff, or even a quote by someone with letters after their name. A simple research result, that’s all I ask. All I can find are references to statements such as “ravens are known to kill lambs,” with a list of references to similar statements. Received wisdom in other words. It’s also a well know propagandist trick. Say something often enough and people will start to believe it.

          • 114 hector
            April 13, 2016 at 7:16 pm

            Mr Snipe I have been reporting from day one on this blog what I have seen regarding ravens and livestock and been called a bullshitter for it. As to tactics I don’t know how I am supposed to be trying to ingratiate myself with your peers who work with SNH and RSPB as I do not have a clue who you are. As to my opinion of the ” man of letters” if he had told me ravens didn’t kill lambs I would call a doctor and consult his family as he would be clearly unwell and possibly insane. As to photographic evidence for Marco he had time to rake around on Bert Burnett’s Facebook page to come up with my quotes so he can do the same for the photographs. I am ignoring Marco as after reading this blog he comes over as the man who just likes to argue and would argue with himself if left alone and having been shown some of his past work he is not worth bothering with.
            As to your “thorough investigation into the alleged impact of ravens on sheep farming ” now may be the time to put up or shut up as to date I have seen nothing. By your definition of being shot at I have been shot at hundreds of times as what you describe is spent shot falling a bit like wishy washy hailstones but why let the truth get in the way of a good story. As to a quote “ravens do kill lambs ” from myself a poor crofter with letters after his name. Say hi to Marco if you see him.

            • 115 Jack Snipe
              April 13, 2016 at 11:18 pm

              Hector, you’re a lost cause and utterly pathetic, now resorting to implications that I’m mentally ill as well as an outright liar. Don’t you realise this says a lot more about you than it does me? I can’t see the point in continuing dialogue with someone as stubborn and insulting as yourself. I prefer to debate facts, not biased opinions, or having to defend my character against someone who admits he doesn’t know me from Adam. I have gone into considerable detail to describe the observations of my research on Ravens, and it is now perfectly clear that no amount of evidence will convince you to understand the reality. Yet you claim to have an open mind – is that a joke? The fact that you are now declining to present your conclusive evidence that you “lost a lamb to a raven” says it all. I’ve been holding fire until seeing this photographic evidence, but I suspect that what you really found was a dead lamb which was being eaten by a Raven, which would be similar to all the other “proof” produced by some farmers. It’s perhaps worth remembering that we’re debating the views of an individual who said about Ravens, “if you see them they will be doing damage and even if you hear them they will be planning damage.“ What utter nonsense. Your contribution to the debate has been equally meaningless, and your personal attack on Marco McGinty sounds more like a self description to me. I note you have also been unable to find any published scientific research which supports your case, which accords with my experience, so far, that none exists. Carry on crofting. Your lambs need you.

              • 116 Simon Tucker
                April 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm

                Hector – put up the link or admit you are a typical farmer and want to kill wildlife “just in case”. You are just like those people who see big cats: you call anecdote “fact”, you never publish photographic evidence or clear video footage of the claimed attacks but tell the world that you have them.

                Put up or shut up.

            • 117 Marco McGinty
              April 14, 2016 at 12:18 am

              “As to photographic evidence for Marco he had time to rake around on Bert Burnett’s Facebook page to come up with my quotes so he can do the same for the photographs.”

              So, you’re not going to bother providing any evidence for your claims, and you expect me to go to extreme lengths to try and find your so called evidence? You do realise that’s not how it works? And just to clarify one point – I lifted a single quote of yours from Burnett’s Facebook page. That would be singular, and not the plural as you have tried to suggest. Making things up again, are you Hector?

              “I am ignoring Marco as after reading this blog he comes over as the man who just likes to argue and would argue with himself if left alone and having been shown some of his past work he is not worth bothering with.”

              What? Should I just accept everything that emanates from people such as yourself, without question or challenge? You can ignore my questions and comments all you like, that is entirely up to you, however all that does is prove that you cannot support your outlandish claims, and neither can any of your “expert” friends.

    • 118 Marco McGinty
      April 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      “Had quite a long conversation today with a member of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and while totally against the raven going on the general license confirms that ravens do attack and kill lambs.”

      As far as I can gather, no-one has suggested that Ravens do not kill lambs and sheep on occasion, but these will be scarce examples, and the majority will involve couped ewes, or weak and dying lambs. In such instances, I would be happy for the farmer to receive some form of compensation, provided that there is evidence that the animal(s) were actually killed by Ravens (not scavenged), and that animal husbandry was of the highest quality – in other words, checking on animals regularly throughout the day, bringing them in for lambing, and certainly not leaving them for days on end without any checks (which does happen).

      “We then come to an ex RSPB worker who met an ex estate worker in the 1980s who claim an estate killed 120 ravens with rifles when they only had a license to kill 6. This is troubling as it requires proof rather than hearsay and if ravens are as rare as claimed how in the hell did an estate manage to shoot 120.”

      Hmm. You refuse to acknowledge such an incident could possibly occur because there is no evidence trail, and you immediately slam the report as mere hearsay, yet you have failed to provide evidence in all of your communications on this website. You do realise that for much of your argument (and that of many other farmers and gamekeepers) is just hearsay? Furthermore, no-one claimed that the Raven was rare, so why the need to deliberately lie?

      “Police Scotland take a dim view of shooting at people so unless Jack can produce charge sheets , video evidence and convictions I am afraid this one will go in the B–ls-it file”

      Again, you make demands for people to provide video evidence of incredibly isolated incidents (that may well have occurred long before video capture technology was commonplace), yet you have failed to provide any video evidence of incidents that are apparently occurring on a daily basis on farms throughout the country, not just with single-bird attacks, but rampaging flocks.

      “Last night I also had a look at the application form for a license to shoot ravens and you are expected to provide proof ravens are causing a problem and proof that alternative methods like scaring and diversionary feeding have failed.”

      So, if the current system allows a farmer to apply for a licence to kill problem Ravens, why the need to have the species placed on the General Licence?

    • 119 heclasu
      April 14, 2016 at 1:18 am

      Hector, please do not question the integrity of Dave Dick! I know him and I know the estate he alludes to very well and I would say that, if anything, the 120 he mentions is, if anything, very conservative. As far as I know the moron involved is still trying to count up to six! Trouble is, you see, although I agree with you that ravens and crows can be a danger to lambs, when someone is put in a position of trust to kill six birds – and what Dave doesn’t mention – the terms of the licence were for birds only when they were harassing lambs – they seem to forget how to count and, in the end, the blood lust takes over and they take it as carte blanche to do whatever they like. In the case of the personality who was employed by this particular estate, both definitely apply! After all, who is going to know? The obscene abuse of this – or any other – licence, together with the way in which wildlife legislation regarding the illegal destruction of raptors is completely ignored by some estates is the reason why people on this site get angry and they are absolutely justified to feel that way. The problem is Hector, when you start looking through this blog, you start to realise that it is NOT just one or two rogue estates – it would seem the majority are at it! I don’t know your personal circumstances and I am not going to bother looking them up. But, if YOU have a problem with ravens and you want a licence to shoot them then, GET the proof SNH or whoever are asking for, and APPLY for it! If and when you get it, apply by its’ terms. I will certainly not criticise you for doing that. However, there is absolutely no requirement and definitely no need for a general licence to shoot ravens – so stop arguing for it.

      • 120 hector
        April 14, 2016 at 8:23 am

        Morning Heclasu. I tried to make it clear in my post I was not having a pop and Dave Dick and stated that he did some good work while at RSPB. The point I was trying to make was I report what I see on the ground here and there are howls of show us the proof yet a conversation in a pub 20 odd years ago is to be taken as fact. The statement that the majority of estates are at it is the sort of sweeping generalisation I have an issue with as in my experience that is not the case. At the moment we are not having a big issue with ravens and having talked to the bird survey boys there is not a large non breeding flock of ravens in the area. Five years ago a flock arrived and did a lot of damage for about a week. If I thought for a minute I would be granted a license for double figures at least ravens so I would be ready for the next time it happens I would go for it but it would not be granted. Most crofts in this township and even a couple of the larger farms do not possess a rifle or shotgun so I get the calls to go and shoot animals attacked by ravens so have a fair idea of what goes on. I have had to shoot ewes, lambs and calves for a variety of mutilations carried out by ravens and it is a distressing sight. I have been unable to post a YouTube link posted on my timeline . It is called Heatherlea wildlife mid april 2015 and is some poor quality video footage but gives a flavour of what it is like when a flock of ravens turns up so have a look if you want. It seems to have been taken by a shepherd . Anyway all the best to you but I would still like to see ravens on the GL. I am off on my second round of the day and it is stunning here with the first wheatear arriving on the croft this morning.

        • 121 Marco McGinty
          April 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

          I have watched the Heatherlea footage (you consider this evidence?), and all it seems to show is nothing much at all. Anyway, I don’t know if anyone else has watched it, but the following is a brief rundown of the events captured in the video (concentrating on the footage with sheep and ravens).

          20 seconds – video of sheep flock
          26 seconds – couped ewe – ravens not showing any attention, but neither is the farmer!
          38 seconds – back to the wider sheep flock
          48 seconds – back to the couped ewe – no ravens in attendance, and still the farmer ignores the animal’s plight
          50 seconds – back to sheep flock
          59 seconds – back to the couped ewe again – still no ravens in attendance, and still the farmer ignores the distressed animal. A couple of seconds later, a raven appears, but still keeps a distance from the ewe.
          1 minute 7 seconds – back to the sheep flock
          1 minute 41 seconds – back to couped ewe
          1 minute 47 seconds – footage of another sheep flock?
          1 minute 53 seconds – footage of corvids
          2 minutes 28 seconds – distant footage of a sheep, a lamb and some corvids. This lasts until 3 mins 37 seconds, and apart from a stand-off between the ewe and a raven or two, nothing much happens.
          3 minutes 37 seconds – distant footage of some sheep and a raven. Again, nothing much happens
          3 minutes 51 seconds – a couped ewe with an injured lamb
          4 minutes 41 seconds – footage of the same injured lamb, this time from a sheltered location
          5 minutes 5 seconds – distant footage of some sheep and a raven. Again, nothing much happens
          7 minutes 2 seconds – footage of sheep
          7 minutes 10 seconds – a few sheep and a group of ravens – nothing happens
          7 minutes 22 seconds – another flock of sheep
          7 minutes 26 seconds – a flock of ravens
          7 minutes 57 seconds – a ewe with two lambs in a barn
          10 minutes 18 seconds – after a few seconds into this clip, we eventually see a dead lamb. This death is, of course , attributed to the raven (as they had been seen flying off from the spot), and the ewe has apparently been “terrorised” by the ravens. It is then stated that the carcase will be removed, “so the ravens don’t have anything more to eat”. If ravens were thought to be such a major problem, then why would you remove a food source for them? Would this not mean that there was a possibility that they could attack more of your lambs or sheep? Altogether, absurd rationale.
          12 minutes 37 seconds – footage of a dead lamb
          13 minutes 3 seconds – distant footage of ravens
          14 minutes 10 seconds – back to the dead lamb

          And that’s it! Almost fifteen minutes of footage showing sheep and ravens in very close proximity (probably edited from many hours of footage to show the worst examples), and apart from a single peck in the excerpt from 2 minutes 28 seconds to 3 minutes 37 seconds, there are no attacks, and no predatory behaviour caught on film.

          • 122 Jack Snipe
            April 14, 2016 at 11:50 pm

            Thank you Marco for this detailed rundown of the events occurring in the infamous “proof” video of interactions between Ravens and lambs. As you deduce, it appears to show no evidence whatsoever that Ravens killed any lamb, never mind a healthy one. For those who are still doubtful, I’d like to reiterate that my research into the alleged problem involved a total of over 80 hours observation, during which I recorded (in my notes) far more interesting behaviour than is shown on the video (see my previous comments). However, and I feel the need to repeat this because some others (who should know better) do not seem to have digested what I’ve already written: NOT A SINGLE HEALTHY LAMB WAS ATTACKED IN ANY WAY DURING MY 80 HOURS OF INTENSIVE OBSERVATIONS. The study was relatively simple to conduct, on inbye land with up to 30 or more Ravens in single fields of lambing ewes. The only few lambs and ewes which were being eaten by the Ravens had almost certainly died of other natural causes; a degree of mortality during lambing is virtually inevitable in hill sheep farming. The timing of these observations suggested that most deaths had occurred during the night, and mostly following severe frost or torrential rain. In my opinion, and so far no-one has produced any evidence to the contrary, just hearsay, the culling of Ravens for causing alleged harm to sheep farming is totally unwarranted and unnecessary. SNH, RSPB and other conservation bodies need to review their policies regarding protection of Ravens, based on modern science not mythology. The birds deserve full protection. Even if Ravens did kill a tiny percentage of lambs, the ethics of culling the population for this reason would be unacceptable. Unfortunately farmers who demonise the birds have a vested interest in continuing to promote the idea that Ravens kill lambs, in order to justify receiving compensation payments.

            • 123 hector
              April 15, 2016 at 10:54 am

              Morning Mr Snipe. Three years studying ravens gives 80 hours of observations you may need to get out a bit more. As to the Infamous proof video I posted it to ” give a flavour of what it is like when a flock of ravens turns up ” and did not claim it as proof but don’t let facts get in the way of your preconceived ideas. As to farmers demonising ravens ” in order to justify receiving compensation payments ” there is no compensation for raven damage so again epic fail. As to the footage if it is not the ravens removing the eyes ears and tongues from live lambs what is doing it . The curlews or the red throated divers ? We went through this with the RSPB with sea eagles from they don’t eat lambs then they only eat dead lambs then the live lambs they eat are non viable to ok they prey on healthy lambs but not many. We even had them try to claim the lambs were diseased as they were yellow in colour like the unfortunate lamb in the video. Now farmers in the affected areas are being compensated for loss of lambs. Anyway I am done with this thread as trying to convince the likes of yourself of anything is like herding cats with a terrier a waste of time. I await the publication of your research and am sure you will post the title of the journal in which it is to be published on this blog. The thread on banning grouse shooting looks like fun with a subject close to my heart poaching being discussed.

              • 124 Marco McGinty
                April 15, 2016 at 6:43 pm

                “I posted it to ” give a flavour of what it is like when a flock of ravens turns up”

                What? That next to nothing happens at all, despite a large number of Ravens. We were led to believe that “if you see them [Ravens] they will be doing damage and even if you hear them they will be planning damage“, yet nothing untoward happens between the ravens and the healthy sheep. It would be fair to say that the video just about destroyed the very argument that Burnett was trying to make, with the only problem issue being the couped ewe and its lamb. The majority of people on this site agree that this does happen, on occasion, but you have to consider that poor animal husbandry is the major contributing factor to such events. If the ewe had not been disabled, the lamb would have been fine.

                Now, onto your patent dislike for the RSPB (quelle surprise!). You claim that the RSPB once stated that sea eagles don’t eat lambs, and you also claim that they have shifted their position on such statements throughout the years (I’ve heard similar statements over the years, usually from the farming community, but also some gamekeepers). Perhaps it is true – perhaps they did believe that sea eagles don’t eat lamb, but I would have trouble believing that this was their official stance on the subject. As a result, would you be prepared to provide some evidence that they, as an organisation, actually made such a statement?

              • 125 Jack Snipe
                April 15, 2016 at 10:10 pm

                Hector, I have spent a lifetime (I’m now 65) watching birds, including Carrion Crows, and since their numbers recovered by the early 1990s, Ravens. I’m fortunate enough to have Ravens nesting within sight of my house, and I have monitored breeding numbers and productivity in my surrounding study area (20,000 hectares) for the past 17 years. I have spent innumerable days out on the hill observing Hen Harriers and Ravens in particular, most of the time with the latter in a relatively casual manner. However the time of my research work referred to over a three-year period was a cumulative total of 80 hours spent observing Ravens intensively, in fields of lambing ewes, accurately recording the activities of each individual bird. That was over twenty days, averaging about four hours a day. If you know of anyone else who has studied Ravens in such intimate detail, I’d be more than happy to compare notes with them. I may have got my fact wrong regarding compensation payments, but that was an honest mistake due to being misinformed (assuming you are correct). So glad it gave you something to latch onto. I console myself with the fact that you are in a very small minority responding to this blog who testify that Ravens are harmful to healthy lambs. You specifically refer to flocks of non-breeding birds descending on sheep flocks and causing great harm, well, my study subjects were mainly such flocks of immature non-breeders. The highest number gathered in one field of ewes numbered 113 birds, a lot of Ravens, and they did no harm at all. In fact they cleaned up the afterbirths and consumed a whole dead ewe within 24 hours! I have some pretty gory photographs of the corpse, but I wouldn’t claim it proves whether or not the ewe had been killed by a Raven. In actual fact it was killed by the shepherd using a sharp knife, as it had been ‘coupit’ for a couple of days, and he hid the corpse behind a dyke. I know this because the shepherd admitted it to me. If there are serious doubts about the results of my research, then science has the answer to that too – all it needs is for an independent researcher to undertake a similar study. I would suggest SNH and RSPB need to come together to initiate follow-up research to establish the truth once and for all, rather than just accepting the mythology spun by a few farmers and gamekeepers.

              • April 21, 2016 at 11:15 pm

                ‘We went through this with the RSPB with sea eagles from they don’t eat lambs’
                Someone else asked for a source for your claim but you didn’t give one nor a date.
                I can give you this source showing that from 1999 lamb predation was accepted.

                You wrote
                ‘I tried to make it clear in my post I was not having a pop and Dave Dick’
                but you accusing him of fabricating a story. How is that NOT having a go?

  38. 127 I C T
    April 13, 2016 at 6:53 am

    I believe the Anglesey roost can be a couple of thousand.

  39. 128 Peter Shearer
    April 13, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    That has taken me about an hour to read through! The bits that stick out are Chris Packham being described as a clown (he is a very intelligent clown in my view) and Hector keeps saying he is off lambing, but never gets there! If Ravens do a bit of damage, that is nature and of little real impact. If we need to agree some form of compensation and the terms for it, fine. But I am sure most people want our native wildlife protecting as far as we can. My qualification is ACIB. Nothing to do with birds but I still like to comment!

  40. 129 hector
    April 13, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Good evening Peter .Chris Packham is intelligent there is no debate about that his status as a clown is open to debate. He is very good at product placement hence the Jackets etc on the BBC with badges which in years gone bye would have been blacked out. I go lambing but as a crofter have a small number of sheep so if trouble free can get round quickly several times a day. I also want our native wildlife protected and large numbers of ravens do a lot of damage to ground nesting birds in this part of the world in my opinion. I have no Idea what ACIB stands for but well done and am sure it is a worthy qualification and whether to do with birds comment away as this is supposed to be an open forum. I don’t grudge the ravens a bit of damage but when they step over the mark which is what happens when a flock of non breeding birds arrives on your holding I would like the right to act and at the moment I can’t. Anyway all the best and I do go lambing at least for the next couple of weeks then different problems ruin my life. Lol.

  41. 131 Marco McGinty
    April 19, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    I heard on the Scottish news tonight, that a flock of 450 sheep were stolen from a farm near Moffat, with detectives stating that the theft would have required careful planning.

    That’ll be them fuckin’ Ravens again!

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