Westminster debate on driven grouse shooting – evidence of raptor persecution

ALMDWe’ve been reading through the written evidence presented to the Westminster debate on driven grouse shooting and naturally, we’re interested in the evidence relating specifically to illegal raptor persecution.

472 submissions have been published. Of these, 200 were against driven grouse shooting in its current form, while 270 were supportive of the status quo (a couple of submissions didn’t provide a clear response either way).

Of the 200 submissions against driven grouse shooting, 182 of them cited illegal raptor persecution as a concern. That’s a lot. The on-going killing of raptors has clearly motivated the majority of respondents to write in against driven grouse shooting.

Of those in favour of driven grouse shooting, many of them simply didn’t mention raptor persecution at all (this was also noted by Mark Avery yesterday). Perhaps they thought that by ignoring it, we’d all forget it was an issue. Move along, nothing to see.

However, some of those in favour of driven grouse shooting DID mention illegal raptor persecution, but not as an issue of concern. Instead, 21 of them claimed that raptor persecution is either rare or isn’t even happening. Here are some quotes:

The funny thing is that the raptors rely on us and our work as much as the grouse do. The do-gooders are wrong to point fingers. There isn’t persecution of predators anymore, has been so for a while. If anything the only reason raptors like buzzards and hen harriers are still around is because of us, the keepers“.

The argument that we persecute raptors has no ground to stand on. The opposite. Because they are ground-nesting birds by controlling the population of vermin like foxes we protect them. And if a keeper is even suspected of killing a raptor, it’s instant dismissal. If they’re lucky. No one would want to give up their career like that“.

The argument that we persecute birds of prey is a good few decades behind“.

The antis keep slinging mud at us but there’s no proof. They say we persecute raptors but there aren’t bodies“.

And regarding birds of prey, it’s ridiculous too, they are about, they are abundant. If anything, I’d say there are now even too many of them, they are wiping out the smaller songbirds and such“.

Opponents of grouse shooting often say that management of prey species includes the illegal killing of protected birds of prey such as Hen Harriers. In fact, illegal persecution is extremely rare“.

The keepers, and everyone really, all agree that shooting birds of prey is wrong and it hasn’t been done for decades round here“.

Predator persecution has not happened in decades. At least on the moors I work and know I can say that for certain. It’s just wrong to shoot a particular species of bird off, we all know this, and it’s ridiculous that people still claim we continue with it“.

I doubt there are even any ‘bad eggs’ left in the keeping community nowadays. We have huge biodiversity on the moors here and are all extremely proud of it. We have everything from little songbirds to large merlins and hen harriers“.

If they think there is still bird of prey persecution, they are very wrong. They are misinformed“.

I know of no instance on any of the estates visited where raptor persecution has occurred or has even been spoken about“.

There are more birds of prey in the countryside than I can ever remember, yet there are constant accusations of persecution principally towards gamekeepers.  Many of these accusations are unfound [sic] as there is often no evidence to support them“.

Game keepers on  high profile estates have well paid jobs and would be unemployable elsewhere if guilty of persecuting raptors. Equally, landowners in Scotland many of them high profile are subject to vicarious liability if protected species are killed. So they don’t  do it“.

The whole grouse shooting debate comes down to the lives of predator birds, doesn’t it? I think the argument is three decades behind if not more. It used to be the case that they were labelled vermin and were treated as such but now predator persecution round here is no more, not even a memory“.

A similarly absurd claim was made by Amanda Anderson during her oral evidence, who claimed the raptors are ‘there on the moors’ (she had ‘a picture in her head’ and said she ‘could see raptors from her kitchen window’). About as credible as Sarah Palin’s claim that she could see Russia from her back door.

In amongst all the written submissions is plenty of evidence of continuing raptor persecution: eg. see here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here and here. And then there’s this one, listing 252 persecution incidents on grouse moors over the last ten years. We’ve copied the data below.

We look forward to Monday’s debate in Westminster Hall and listening to MPs trying to defend this widespread and disgusting criminality that continues, largely without punishment, on UK driven grouse moors. If your MP needs a reminder of the scale of these crimes, it might be worth sending him/her a link to this blog post.

















17 Responses to “Westminster debate on driven grouse shooting – evidence of raptor persecution”

  1. 1 michael gill
    October 26, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    “little songbirds to large merlins”

    h ah ah ha ha ha

  2. 2 Doug Malpus
    October 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    It sounds like a Grimm’s fairy tale. Raptor persecution doesn’t happen here?? It doesn’t exist??

    As for “bad eggs” the stink is overwhelming.

    But the best one for me is, “….. there are no bodies”?? Isn’t that the same as satellite tags not working, disposed of in the same way as the bodies??? But we do find the ones they fail to bury or destroy!!

    We have too many bodies that are not cleaned up, killed or injured by trapping with pole traps (illegal), poisoned with banned and illegal substances (illegal) and shooting (illegal).

    Unlike brothers Grimm there are no fairies, trolls or wicked witches on the moors. We know who the criminals are, protected by the high and mighty.

    I’m chasing my MP to be at the debate.


  3. 3 Roberta Mouse
    October 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Just scrolling through that incidents list makes me sob…I mean just how the flying fu** do these imbeciles sleep at night…scuse language. Like they care about little songbirds. Damn these neanderthals to hell !

  4. October 26, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks RPUK.
    I am about a third of the way through reading them all so hadn’t yet read the ones by Steve Downing and ‘name withheld’. Brilliant!
    A year or so ago i blogged about the grouse lobby’s hidden agenda and unbelievably here it is virtually word for word as witnessed by Steve Downing ‘if we can’t kill them legally we will continue to kill them illegally’.

  5. 5 Paul
    October 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Wow, who’d have thunk, gamekeepers are paragons of virtue in actual fact. Haven’t come in contact with so much sh*t in a good while and I’ve been mucking out fields all day!

  6. 6 JohnM
    October 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Pity it’s Westminster and not a court of law. The blatant perjury, in the face of undeniable evidence, fits well with most people’s conception of modern political practice.

    So they break the Law and laugh at us, do they, because moors are vast and catching culprits red-handed well-nigh impossible. Two can play at that game.

  7. 7 Mark Farrar
    October 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I read this,but their is one question I would like to ask.Why have the 5 male hen harriers which disappeared in the Trough Of Bowland and the 1 male hen harrier which disappeared in the Peak District been omitted. Read this article on raptor politics on the disappearance of 5 male hen harriers from the Trough Of Bowland and 1 male hen harrier from the Peak District which forced the 6 female hen harriers to abandon their nests containing eggs and young last year 2015.

    • October 26, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Is it simply because they were not proved to have been killed? Most right thinking people would have deep suspicions but maybe this list omits them in order to avoid the Grouse lobby pointing the finger at some records as being pure conjecture.

      • October 26, 2016 at 8:47 pm

        I always have the feeling, when reading through lists like this, that had these incidents with depressingly similar modus operandi and restricted to the same sort of areas related to almost any other crime (from burglary upwards) then neither the police nor the wider public would be in any doubt that they related to systematic criminality. That the apologists for driven grouse shooting cannot understand this suggests an extraordinary level of blind bias at best and, at worst, knowing connivance.

  8. 11 Mark Farrar
    October 26, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/defras-plans-unchanged-despite-loss-of-5-breeding-hen-harriers/. How can the DEFRA Action plan committee together with the law and Briitish Justices ignore these terrible incidents which have gone without investigation? Some one some where is responsible for these stomach churning cowardly crimes.What I have read and from what I have seen on the Internet the missing hen harriers in 2015 have not returned,not been seen again.We bird lovers know the fete of the these missing hen harriers.Three hen harriers nesting this year,is actually a embarrassment for DEFRA,Law,British Justices,Moorland Association and GWCT.Be on your conscience sir!If they were human this would seen as murder!

  9. 12 Nimby
    October 26, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    We may be out numbered but I offer that it will be Quality (note capital letter) vs quantity? There are a number of proDGS submissions which contain errors so are they admissible? There’s a Oxford Uni DPhil who informs the Inquiry that there are no Hen Harriers in Wales!

    One submission appears to have been as a consequence of a misreporting of a survey – HoC Petitions staff have been asked about accepting such errors. If enough of us are able to provide evidence that material is not accurate then that will help our cause. Let’s deal in facts and leave the spin to bounce and hit them where it hurts?

    To compound the deficiencies few cite references to validate the points they raise, so subjective and selective hearsay? After all they oft recite there’s no evidence of illegal persecution by virtue of no/few prosecutions? Cake and eating?

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