Cover up in the Cairngorms National Park!

Well done to Scottish animal charity OneKind for organising today’s protest rally at the Scottish Parliament, enabling campaigners to call on MSPs to put an end to the mass unregulated slaughter of tens of thousands of mountain hares on Scottish grouse moors.

Ingeniously, OneKind replicated the now infamous image of that truckload of dead mountain hares (published here and here earlier this year) with their own truckload of (soft cuddly toy) mountain hares:


(Photo from the rally by Stuart Spray).

Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham addressed the rally and said the Scottish Government opposes mass culls, that legislation to protect mountain hares has not been ruled out, but that the Government needs evidence before it can act.

That evidence might be harder to come by in future. A board member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (Eleanor MacKintosh) recently suggested to members of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association that they literally cover up their mass hare-killing sprees by using covers on the back of vehicles to hide the evidence from prying camera lenses instead of having piles of dead hares on display in open-backed trucks!!!

This information (and other fascinating discussions) was revealed in an FoI asking for information about a meeting between the CNPA and the SGA that was held in September this year. We’ll be blogging a lot more about that in due course.

29 Responses to “Cover up in the Cairngorms National Park!”

  1. November 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Miss MacKintosh must realise that Mountain Hares would not need to be managed by humans if the Cairngorm National Park allowed its wildlife to live in a more natural state rather than have gamekeepers destroying the very predators which, if allowed to, would keep the hares in check.
    I have emailed her with that thought even though I expect her to be heavily on the side of the grouse brigade.

    • November 17, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Indeed I have copied in to my email all the other CNP board members who have an email address.

      • November 22, 2016 at 10:57 pm

        Reply from Eleanor MacKintosh…

        Dear Mr Holden

        Thank you for your recent email in relation to mountain hares in the Cairngorms National Park.

        It is my opinion that what I said has been taken completely out of context I am very clear on, and whole heartedly support the CNPA current position on hare culls.

        The Cairngorms National Park Authority is clear in its position on mountain hare culling. The CNPA does not support ‘hiding’ in any way the number of hares culled. On the contrary, our advice to land managers is to be more open about the number of hares culled. We recognise that culling hares is legal and that culls can be undertaken for a number of reasons. We do not support large scale culling and endorse the call for restraint made by SNH. We support the ongoing work to develop best practice in counting mountain hare numbers being developed by the James Hutton Institute and GWCT. In the meantime our advice to land managers is to set out clearly why culls are undertaken, share information on the numbers of hares culled and where possible to count hare numbers consistently while waiting for the recommendations on counting methodology from the current research.

        The information you refer to is a note by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association of a meeting with CNPA to discuss a number of aspects of the recent National Park Partnership Plan consultation.


        Eleanor Mackintosh

  2. 4 against feudalism
    November 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    One has to ask, WHAT IS THE POINT of the Cairngorms national park ? How much of OUR money is wasted as inflated salary for these idiots.

    What next, suggest that the keepers hide the carcasses of raptors better, so that the CNP does not have to wring its hands, yet again, in public ?

    Is that what we want for our Scottish national parks, sheep and ‘gamebirds’ only, no wildlife ?

    Hamish Trench – perhaps if your keepers stopped killing Golden Eagles, then they might naturally reduce mountain hares.

    Burt Burnett – The keepers are slaughtering Hares, because they ‘might’ affect grouse numbers, and to reduce raptor food supply, no other reason.

    Eleanor MacKintosh – You should be ashamed of yourself, and resign immediately. There should be MORE TRANSPARENCY, not less, disgraceful.

  3. 5 I C T
    November 17, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    What a statement…….Ms Mackintosh should resign immediately. She obviously doesn’t believe in what NP’s are for.

  4. November 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    My email to Eleanor MacKintosh.
    If anyone wishes to use my words to message her, and her colleagues too, then please do.

    Dear Eleanor MacKintosh

    Your comment about keepers covering open truck loads of culled mountain hares in order to prevent prying cameras recording the evidence is extremely disturbing, especially when it comes from a person involved with the management of a national park.

    You must realise that mountain hares would not need to be managed by humans if the Cairngorm National Park allowed its wildlife to live in a more natural state rather than have gamekeepers destroying the very predators which, if allowed to, would keep the hares in check.

    You must also realise that national parks are there to conserve wildlife and nature. Victorian practices such as grouse shooting should be consigned to history. Our natural heritage simply cannot sustain the present pressure the human population increasingly places on it.

    One fine day in the not distant future a comment like yours will be treated in the same way that racist and homophobic comments are seen today – disgusting – and illegal too.

    As Sir David Attenborough said in the new series of Planet Earth “We are at a crucial time for nature” and that does not just mean the effects of climate change on the ice caps, it also means every bit of natural heritage we have remaining on the Earth, it also means your beloved Cairngorm National Park.

    It is time that you reminded yourself of the ‘The Sandford Principle” http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/students/whatisanationalpark/aimsandpurposesofnationalparks/sandfordprinciple

  5. 7 Ian Ford
    November 17, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Great work uncovering that transcript.

  6. 8 Mr Greer Hart, senior
    November 17, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Great to see a determined group of protestors against the killing of Mountain Hares. According to a wee passage in the Daily Mail of 12 November, 2016, which reported that nearly 2000 Brown and Mountain Hares were killed in 2012, to protect “growing timber”. Due to being protected since 1981, permission had to be sought from the SNH under a “special circumstance” ruling. In 2011 a closed season was brought in to limit hunting. Added to this hecatomb, we have the obscene mass cullings of Mountain Hares due to the alleged danger they pose to Grouse, from their carrying ticks. Such massacres can intrude into our protected areas, to satisfy the gamekeepers’ need make “vermin” control more effective.

    What I would like to know is, do such gentle creatures have to be killed in such land numbers every time someone plants trees? Surely, the highly respected Trees for Life forest restoration charity does not kill Hares when it plants its native trees, to restore what has been lost by poor land management. I have planted many trees and never had much bother with Hares. Most conservation/restoration projects use tree guards to fend off Vole/Rabbit/Hare nibbling. However, plantings as an investment would be a different story, but surely there must be a better of protecting such schemes, other than killing so many wild animals? It is now time for an investigation into this matter, so that if any alternatives are available that avoid slaughter on such a scale, can be costed.

    Rob Gibson, SNP, convenor of the rural affairs committee, wants to make the Land Reform Bill as radical as humanly possible. Obviously, public ire has been aroused over the tenant farmer issue, and the right to buy. Those landowners who run shooting estates are worrried about the threat to their tax breaks, which give them millions of pounds. The old excuse of protectng rural jobs has been trotted out.

    What offends many humane thinking thinking people is that failure to radicalise Scotland’s landownership, would reinforce the tight grip of the almost feudal system that prevails in our upland areas, with a rigidly suppressive regime of control over protected wildlife species, by a relatively small number of people, who exercise a power far beyond which is acceptable in a country has fast moved away from living in awe of the gentry and other birkies. Those who shoot are also part of this hegemony, with their wealth and influential positions, being used to block any progress in land reform; a land reform that would remove that dead hand from the nation’s land, and a system based on proper cost accounting, scientific management techniques, alternative ways of creating full rural employment with above minimum wage, the provision of services to make life more bearable etc. A whole new and dynamic approach awaits to be launched int our rural environment. Those estates that want to comply by obeying the law and only employing gamekeeper to conserve and not kill wildlife, could be part of the new loo Scotland. The days should be over of Dukes, Lords and others who have subjugated Scotland’s countryside, and held onto the land for far too long.

    A New Year resolution should be for all of Scotland’s conservation and animal welfare groups to begin drafting the plans for a new management of Scotland’s landscape, and the democratising of ownership. A new era awaits, if we cooperate and get rid of the fuddy duddies who may hold us back. Or, are we going to hear an end to the fiery rhetoric from our politicians, and for their intent to sink back once again into submission of the old crew who have run a rotten ship?


    • 9 J COLEMAN
      November 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Yes in Spades.
      I cannot own land in India,Denmark,Pakistan or China and other land and do as I wish.Time to go back to basics and find a route that by passes the Hollyrood clan and get some results.
      Lots of jobs without guns,traps and poisons.

  7. 10 Paul
    November 17, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Unbelievable. This from employees of a supposed national park. What exactly is the point of having a national park if this is how they act. Shambolic. John Muir wouldn’t have much truck with them anyway.

  8. 11 steve macsweeney
    November 17, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Eleanor McIntosh
    What a remarkably compassionate human being! Her comments on this subject may not be forgotten I hope.

  9. 12 John F. Robins
    November 17, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    The “Hide your guilt” advice is not new. A few years ago I attended a Government conference in Inverness on the subject of seal killing by fishery and aquaculture interests. A scientist thanked the Scottish Government for bringing him first class from his new job in Australia to address the conference and then he advised seal shooters to do their killing in the early morning when there would be few people around to witness it!

    • November 17, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      The public only get to know a tiny piece of what really goes on in the killing world. If all the ‘legal’ killing of moorland fauna was able to be seen ‘in the flesh’ then there would be a mass outcry against the unnecessary past-time of driven grouse shooting. As it is there are relatively few people who are actually aware of the real suffering of nature at the hand of man and his many means of destroying so much life.

  10. 14 Steve Webster
    November 17, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Can I recommend Parkswatchscotland, a blog on our “national parks” as good in its way as this one.

    It has for months been meticulously documenting the atrocious mess which has been made in Coire Cas, at the top of the Cairngorms funicular. The latest blog reveals another dimension of the scam.

    I entreated John Finnie, a Green MSP for the highlands, to hold someone to account and get some undertakings on the restoration of the gouged out land. I was trying to get an assurance that following some warm words to the effect from Hamish Trench the CNPA would make sure a montane woodland is created, turning the destruction into a positive outcome, and protecting the piste from windblown snow as they do for pistes in Scandinavia and Colorado,

    John Finnie blocked me from his Twitter feed.

    I promise I had said nothing abusive or threatening.

    Cairngorms National Park is a disgrace, and as far as I can tell, so are the MSPs who should care about it.

    So they can all block me now.

  11. 15 Steph
    November 17, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Taken together with Peter Argylls words in September ..I do wonder if this is unofficial park policy. Argyle , after condemning illegal practices… goes on to mention ‘legal ‘practices in away that suggests the problem is not culling , but photos of the same:
    ‘In a world where the power of social media can hardly be underestimated, a photograph of a truck filled with mountain hares or the remains of a raptor can spread around the world in minutes. Almost overnight these incidents can undo much of the good work that is being done to balance competing demands over grouse management.’ http://cairngorms.co.uk/park-talk-15/

  12. 16 Chris Roberts
    November 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    The Cairngorms National Park, in which I live, is fast becoming a joke. If they have people such as Eleanor McIntosh on its board, it is no longer a surprise that I seldom see any birds or pray within its borders and that wildcats are becoming extinct. It is also known as the Cairngorms National Development Park, as it must be the only National Park to allow a new town to be built within its borders.

  13. 17 Pheasant beater
    November 17, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    What a deceitful woman Eleanor Mackintosh is. It makes one wonder how many other deceits she could be involved in. She also displays a lack of fundamental ecology and is disrespectful for the National Park she is supposed to serve. She’s certainly not fit to hold a place on the board of the CNP nor any other position in a public office.

  14. 18 BSA
    November 17, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    If we are all mistaken and the cull pictured was in fact carried out for good habitat reasons then why did the CNP not explain that publicly in some detail ?

  15. 19 Flash
    November 17, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Well done Onekind. We should all join this charity and give it our support. The more voices against the killers, the better.

  16. 20 Brian
    November 18, 2016 at 12:58 am

    National Park what a joke ! A bloody National Disgrace ! It’s just another shooting estate, who make all the rules,Scandalous.Thanks to Onekind and Everyone who attended the Protest ,wish I could have been with you all Regards Bri.

  17. November 18, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Yes, Onekind has done a lot of good work and fully deserves to be supported. I am a member!

  18. 22 Iain Gibson
    November 18, 2016 at 3:45 am

    It’s time to stop being polite and for organisations like the RSPB to stop trying to curry favour with the shooting community, as the scientific (or pseudo-scientific) arguments are merely going round in circles. We need to get to the root of why politicians seem so enamoured by the ‘advice’ they receive from heavily biased interested parties like gamekeepers and hunting organisations like BASC, or the dreadful Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Their paid lackey scientists with their misplaced ideas of wildlife ecology and ‘research’ designed to support their cause are treated seriously by most politicians, while robust science-based ecologists and biologists are somehow regarded as wacky scientists with a chip on their collective shoulder. Look at the way Mark Avery and his associates like Chris Packham were vilified at the recent Westminster Hall debate, under the protection of parliamentary privilege of course. The propaganda techniques of the game shooting lobby are disingenuous and rely on the spreading of various mistruths concerning their impact on ecology, backed up by deliberate misinterpretation of animal behaviour. RPUK tackles this head on, but RSPB, and in Scotland SWT and SNH, try too hard to keep the peace, rather than wake up to the fact that an intellectual and ethical war is taking place. It would be great to be optimistic and say we’re winning this war, albeit slowly, but sadly I fear we’re losing it. On BBC’s Question Time last night, one of the topics for discussion was the effect of living in a ‘post-truth’ society, and many are beginning to realise that this effect is becoming widespread and deeper rooted. I would contend that it is up to social scientists to expose this phenomenon and its dangers throughout the entire world, and that at a more local and focused way we should be exposing the dubious ethical justification for the seeking of pleasure in the killing of wild animals, and the importance of robust, clean, sound science to establish something approaching reality. Unless we discredit the propaganda and lies being told by the darker side, we may as well be playing tit-for-tat. To do that we need to make sure our own house is in order, and go much more on the offensive, even if it involves exposing the lack of integrity being adopted not just by the propagandists, but also the researchers who are happy to influence public opinion in the manner of tobacco industry scientists.

  19. 23 Eco-worrier
    November 18, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I have recovered from a life threatening depression brought on I believe by the realisation rhat people who grab all the power have the basest of motives and act for the select few. Eleanor Macintosh and you others in the Cairngorm’s Authority, don’t you realise that thanks to social media millions of people are seeing the loss of British wildlife with growing sadness and anger. If you buckle to pressure from the shooting lobby, the only honourable thing is to resign. We must have people who can see the bigger picture on how selfish and brutal pursuits by a few are inciting growing contempt, and that if authorities can’t protect nature, things need to change.

  20. 24 Alex Milne
    November 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Perhaps Eleanor MacKintosh was being ironic, but I’m not prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. Surely all the board members are aware of the huge damage driven grouse shooting is doing to the National Park? I spent a week in the CNP 18 months ago, but did not see a single eagle, hen harrier or Goshawk. I did see hundreds of traps set up on timber over ditches. Wildlife tourism has no chance in the CNP. This summer I was in Orkney, Skye, Harris and Lewis and the West and North Coast generally. Wonderful. The hotels, however seemed all to be booked up ages in advance. The only 3 hotels I stayed in in the CNP this year were nearly empty. What a difference! Please, CNPA, stop shooting yourself in the foot. Invite OneKind and The RSPB for sensible discussions on the way to get the actual park matching the vision. Let the SGA, SLE and Scottish Moorland Association know of your extreme displeasure, if indeed you are displeased. If not, those of us who wish the CNP well need not expect an improvement.

  21. 25 Iain Gibson
    November 21, 2016 at 3:27 am

    So according to Hamish Trench, gamekeepers believe that “the Park needed to be more proactive in highlighting the positive side of the cull for instance Conservation of Habitat.” I’d love to have it explained why slaughtering thousands of Mountain Hares is essential to conserve habitat, and which type of habitat they mean. It’s just a bunch of verbose nonsense. Gamekeepers are taught a particularly idiosyncratic version of ecology on their training courses, apparently based on old wives’ tales and worn out anecdotes. The sooner society recognises this the better.

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