Cairngorms National Park mountain hare cover up denied

Last week we blogged (here) about an extraordinary comment attributed to Eleanor Mackintosh, a Board member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). During a discussion with the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association on 29 September 2016, Ms Mackintosh apparently suggested they use covers on the back of vehicles to hide the evidence of mountain hare culls rather than risk photographs being taken of piles of dead hares being transported on open-backed vehicles:

Naturally, most people would expect the CNPA to be clamping down on the mass slaughter of mountain hares on grouse moors within the National Park, not suggesting to gamekeepers that they instead just hide the evidence, so Ms Mackintosh’s comments didn’t go down too well. One of our blog readers, Andy Holden, wrote to Ms Mackintosh to express his disgust and she duly replied as follows:

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


Interesting. So Ms Mackintosh doesn’t deny that she made the suggestion, but instead she claims her remarks were taken “completely out of context“. Really? By whom? Not by us – we posted the notes from the CNPA/SGA meeting exactly as they were presented in the FoI response (see photo above).

Perhaps she meant that the notes from the meeting (prepared by the SGA) hadn’t been written up accurately and had reported her comments ‘out of context’? That’s entirely possible, of course, but in this case it seems unlikely.

Why would we say that seems unlikely? Well, because the notes from the meeting, as prepared by the SGA, were emailed to the CNPA on 4 October 2016. The recipients of that email included Will Boyd Wallis (CNPA), Hamish Trench (CNPA), Mike Cottam (CNPA) and someone listed as ‘Eleanor’. Will, Hamish and Mike had all attended the meeting with the SGA, so we assume the person named as ‘Eleanor’ was Eleanor Mackintosh, who was also present at that meeting.

Later that same day, Hamish Trench (CNPA) sent an email back to the SGA (also copied to Will, Mike and ‘Eleanor’) acknowledging receipt of the notes but not accepting them as an accurate reflection of what was said during the meeting by him, Will and Mike. Hamish offered to amend the notes before they were circulated more widely.

On 6 October, Will Boyd Wallis (CNPA) sent an amended version of the notes back to the SGA, and copied in Hamish, Mike and ‘Eleanor’. In this amended version, Will had made several editorial changes to some of the comments, but did not amend the comments attributed to Eleanor. Presumably, as ‘Eleanor’ had been in receipt of all this correspondence, if she thought her comments had been placed ‘completely out of context’ here was the perfect opportunity for her to say so.

She didn’t.

You can read the correspondence between the SGA and CNPA here: cnpa-sga-mtg-29-sept-2016-amendment-of-notes

Now, maybe Ms Mackintosh was away, maybe her internet was down, maybe she didn’t see the notes until they were published on this blog.

Or, maybe, she did suggest that gamekeepers should hide dead mountain hares under covers and now she’s in the middle of a shit storm and she’s looking for a way out.

23 Responses to “Cairngorms National Park mountain hare cover up denied”

  1. 1 sidney Burnett
    November 24, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    It’s time their was a clear out of killers in the national park from the manager down they aren’t fit for purpose everybody should be getting in touch with their MPS

  2. November 24, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I’ll wager this week’s pocket money that its your final suggestion that’s the truth.

  3. November 24, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Does anyone remember ” Wavy Mavis ” in ” Open all Hours ” ?
    She seems to be reincarnated …
    “Do I want Hares ?”
    ” Do I want a sustainable cull ? ”
    ” Do I want to support unsustainable activities ?”
    ” Do I understand the revulsion of the visiting public ? ”
    ” Do I understand what the public wants from those in charge of protected areas ?”
    ” Is driven Grouse shooting sustainable ?”
    ” What am I here for ??????”
    ” I don’t know Mr. Arkright …… ! ”

    A little humour goes a long way ……..

    Keep up the pressure !

  4. 4 Secret Squirrel
    November 24, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    National Parks are nothing more than lickspittles to the landowners (witness LLaT’s behaviour with Forestry over wild camping and sites.)

  5. 5 Peter Hack
    November 24, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Joy oh joy; thank you very much again for a most entertaining read. You deserve a bloody medal for this work.

  6. 6 S TUCKER
    November 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I have had the letter from Hamish. He just completely ignores the question of Mackintosh’s suitability for her position on the board of the National Park

  7. 7 Alan
    November 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Plainly, she said what she said. The more times someone says something is ‘clear’ the more you know it’s not. Though she also quietly tries to slur the SGA for misrepresenting her. But actually her letter to Andy Holden is as hapless as anything else. Culling means, in any ordinary language, reducing populations. So CNPA believes in reducing populations but not on a large scale and with restraint. What on earth does that mean when no-one knows the starting population? OK so that’s the SNH position too but she does have the particular disadvantage of suggesting deceiving the public on the matter.

    • 8 Andy
      November 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

      Yet again, a massive cover up. Let us see these reports about how many hares they kill and why. Great reporting by yourselves. It’s a cover up from top to bottom. It’s shameful how the people who are meant to be protecting these precious landscapes are protecting these people who ruin our countryside

  8. November 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    On the plus side the keepers have to stop killing the beavers now!

    Would there be so many ticks if the keepers didnt make the perfect habitat for them. Monoculture always runs the risk of disease.

  9. 10 Norman Murray
    November 25, 2016 at 12:48 am

    You keep turning over the same suggestive crap for every argument,you know why culls take part so why drag it up ,are you slow on the uptake or just stirring,I probably think the latter applies.

    • 11 Iain Gibson
      November 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      What kind of contribution is that? Apparently one which RPUK considers doesn’t merit a reply, and if that’s the case I can agree with them. The idea that mountain hares are killed to control tick infestations is nonsense, just a smokescreen. The only credible reasons for doing so are a) to render the estate less attractive to Golden Eagles, and b) because it provides a jolly bit of sport and recreation for the hunters and gamekeepers. Just look at the expressions on their faces in that infamous photograph of all the dead hares lined up in front of them. I have asked the interested parties to explain the Defra line that the cull is “necessary for the conservation of habitat,” but have yet to receive a reply. The justification by stating that killing hares is “legal” is no justification at all. Lots of activities which are not illegal by statute are still unacceptable morally, but we would hardly use the term “legal” to excuse them. The Mountain Hare clearly should be a protected species

  10. 12 Doug Malpus
    November 25, 2016 at 12:53 am

    But we know that gamekeepers will kill beavers even if they are lawfully protected from such vermin. Just the same way they continue to kill raptors.

    I have even seen comments from the Angling groups that beavers reduce fish stocks??? Perhaps my knowledge of natural history is completely awry but I thought they only ate leaves and bark (no, no, not bark like dogs….)

    Now then, is it the mountain hares eating the grouse?

    Oops! It’s is time for my milky chocolate bedtime drink, goodnight.


  11. November 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Absolutely ridiculous hares do not need culling, people do!

  12. 14 Steve Webster
    November 25, 2016 at 9:01 am

    There’s a really simple way CNPA and SNH could assure us the killing of hares is a “managed cull.”

    Tell us how many are being killed. Ideally, tell us also how many are left.

    I asked these questions in March when the now infamous photo above first came out. I got no answer.

  13. 15 Peter robinson
    November 25, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Hares should be culled naturally by predators not by trigger happy gamekeepers

  14. November 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    its a wonder that golden eagles are have anything left to eat. if they cant poison them they will starve them to death

  15. November 25, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Sorry but I can’t help myself from injecting another little bit of humour ;

    After completing a survey, I once joyously informed a National Park board member & local landowner that otters were once again present on his river.
    His response left me helpless with laughter …..

    He said ….. ” Oh, otters, so they’re here with they’re big yellow teeth, cutting down my trees “…………

    He didn’t even know the difference between otters & beavers !!!!!!!! …..you couldn’t make it up !!!!

    The serious issue is that these people are responsible for our cherished wildlife & landscapes, having no knowledge or understanding of their required management, giving great power to the damaging vested interests that they espouse i.e. driven game shooting & subsidy – driven agriculture.

    Keep up the pressure !

  16. November 26, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    that old line, “hares need controlling”. same with foxes, eh?? lies, all horrible lies.

  17. 20 Tony Warburton MBE
    November 26, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Well said Iain G. Your summary says it all. No food = no predators = more Grouse. More Grouse = more cash = more ‘sport’/’fun’ for the pleasure killers. And Sidney Burnett has the answer – but add Norman Murray to the list!

  18. 21 Jamie McKenzie
    November 30, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hi there, could someone from raptor persecution UK please contact me about this? Many Thanks, Jamie McKenzie, reporter, Press and Journal

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