Further to the claims of Scottish gamekeeper Donald McBeath that ‘bird activists’ are killing golden eagles and hen harriers as part of a smear campaign against grouse shooting (see here and here), the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) has dismissed his claims as ridiculous.
PAW Scotland statement:
The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland is calling for a cool-headed discussion about the disappearance of birds of prey in the Scottish highlands.
The call comes following unsubstantiated claims by a gamekeeper who believes ‘bird activists’ might be to blame. Louise Batchelor, a spokesperson for PAW Scotland, says that there appeared to be no evidence to back the claims. There were reports that the gamekeeper said: “I certainly would imagine that there would be a few activists who would take a chance of doing something and I wouldn’t put it past them.’’
Reports also said that some pressure groups had called for grouse shooting to be outlawed and they reported the gamekeeper as saying that call ‘might give activists a motive for sacrificing a few birds of prey’. Louise Batchelor said: “The idea that ‘bird activists’ were responsible for the disappearance of golden eagles and hen harriers as part of some conspiracy theory, to smear gamekeepers, is ridiculous. This kind of claim, made without foundation, cannot go unchallenged and PAW Scotland will continue to take the lead in any serious debate about what is happening to Scotland’s birds of prey. ”
It’s understood that the gamekeeper behind the claims does not belong to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who are members of PAW Scotland. A spokesman for the SGA said: “As has always been the case since these reports have emerged, our sole focus is the investigation. The SGA will do anything we can to assist Police Scotland and the Scottish Government in their investigations and we do not comment on the opinion of private individuals.”
Well done, PAW Scotland!