The National Trust has issued a formal statement in response to the video of an armed man on a grouse moor sitting next to a decoy hen harrier.
Remember, this wasn’t just any old grouse moor. It was a National Trust-owned grouse moor, within the Peak District National Park, and a participant moor in the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative.
Statement from Jon Stewart, General Manager, National Trust (Peak District):
“As part of our High Peak Moors Vision and as a conservation charity, the National Trust is committed to protecting birds of prey and working closely with partners and tenants in managing the moors. We are aware of a report of a suspicious incident being investigated by the police, which took place in February this year on land in the Peak District which we own and lease out for grouse shooting. We have been awaiting the results of their investigation before following up ourselves. We now know the police have reviewed the footage but are taking no further action, so we will now be carrying out a full investigation of our own. We are treating this very seriously and will not be commenting further pending the results of that investigation.”
It’s good that they’ve bothered to issue a statement, and it’s good that they are launching their own ‘full investigation’, although it would have been better had they launched this investigation back in February, when they were first made aware of this video. They needn’t have waited for the results of the police investigation to launch their own internal investigation.
Nevertheless, they’ve said they’re investigating and they’ve said they are treating this “very seriously”, so let’s see just how seriously they’ll manage this. They know the identity of the estate where the footage was filmed (on the Snake Moors, according to a comment given by the NT to Mark Avery this morning), and presumably they have a contract with the shooting tenant of that estate that will allow them to take action against the tenant if there is evidence to suggest the tenant has breached the conditions of the contract.
As we understand it, the National Trust re-assessed its contracts with its three grouse moor tenants within the Peak District National Park following the earlier case of raptor persecution that was uncovered on the NT Howden Moor, resulting in the conviction of gamekeeper Glenn Brown (see here). It is rumoured that the revised contracts include a clause detailing the specific type of predator control techniques permitted on NT land. We wonder if the use of a decoy raptor was specifically mentioned in the new contract?
We await the findings of their investigation, and news of what action the NT will (or won’t) take with great interest. Let’s hope they get this right.