The gamekeeping myth of thriving raptors


There was a good letter published in The Courier a couple of days ago, in response to the Gift of Grouse propaganda that raptors are ‘thriving’ on grouse moors.

Sir, – A recent article by a game-keeping lobbyist painted a picture that all was well on our uplands and that birds of prey were thriving, especially on the Angus hills.

As a way of confirming this, keepers have been counting the number of flying raptors as a measure of this success.

Surely successful breeding birds of prey would be a better benchmark of their status?

I once had an osprey fly over my house but it does not nest in my garden.

Indeed, if it flies over some of the intensely keepered estates, especially on the eastern side of the Angus hills, they will have to keep flying.

Come April and May, the uplands here are host to numerous scarecrows, explosive gas guns, bird-scaring bangers and inflating figures attached to sirens.


Well, if you were a ground-nesting bird of prey like a hen harrier, all this racket would put you off breeding on the Angus hills; and they haven’t for 10 years.

Ironically, with the cacophony of noise ringing out night and day, you will see precious little else as curlew and golden plover, like the raptors, are forced to move on.

Recent truly scientific papers show that golden eagles, hen harriers and other raptors in the north-east Highlands are largely absent from these managed estates.

Indeed, hen harriers have suffered a catastrophic decline.

So concerned is the Scottish Government that Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, has commissioned a review regarding this.

The RSPB has derided this latest press release attempt at fooling the public as propaganda and make-believe.

The gamekeeping fraternity’s scientific report flies in the face of peer-reviewed scientific reports from Scottish National Heritage, the RSPB and others.

Perhaps not surprisingly, their scientific report is not in the public domain and so their outlandish claims cannot be verified.

David Mitchell.
6 Henry Street,


Well done, David. Great to see blog readers spreading the word.

As a quick update, a summary scientific report of the bird surveys done at Invermark Estate in the Angus Glens has now been published. As expected, the report reveals that the grouse-shooting industry’s claims about ‘thriving’ raptors were not supported by the evidence, and the Gift of Grouse campaign had misled everyone (see here).

8 Responses to “The gamekeeping myth of thriving raptors”

  1. December 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Nicely done, of course the paper should be preparing a story to balance the keepers spin.

  2. 2 Logan Steele
    December 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Well done David. This so called ‘report’ is laughable and a mark of thier desperation as MSP’s are finally waking up to what is happening up on the moors. The evidence is piling up and we await the results of the investigation to the missing sat tagged raptors. It will be dynamite and will confirm what we all know and hopefully will be the trigger to provide a further tightening of the legislation. Never before can I recall any pursuit, hobby, business or profession that is so hell bent on it’s own demise!

  3. 4 Doug Malpus
    December 15, 2016 at 10:45 am

    But will the government ever wake up and accept that all is far from rosy on the moors, a very destructive killing industry for little other than the sordid pleasure of sadistic folk. They destroy habitats, predatory animals and birds, break laws use their wealth to squirm out of justice. They know they are doing the right thing in their primitive, Victorian minds where greed and blood lust rules but we know the truth.

    The truth will, I hope, destroy this hideous industry.

    I have not had a response from the Times regarding their printing of the same GK lying report.


  4. 5 Chris Roberts
    December 15, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Very good letter David. I fear not much will be done with the likes of Fergus Ewing in the government. (the gamekeepers own personnel minister)

  5. 6 Alex Milne
    December 15, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Perhaps most remarkable is that the Dundee Courier has printed the letter.
    I see this as yet another sign of change.
    Well done for taking the time to write the letter, David, and t may alert yet more people to the truth. In the past it would have been a waste of time.

  6. 7 coogan
    December 15, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Well done Dave , for the COURIER to print this is simply mind blowing,wait for the flood of letters from the lead shot munching brigade,some of them should be a hoot .Only problem is I might have to buy a courier again.

  7. December 16, 2016 at 10:48 am

    my opinion is that whilst we have a Tory government, who support landowners in their running of pheasant shoots , driven grouse shoots and fox hunting, this continued slaughter of our wildlife will just continue. this is not to say that we should not all rise up against this.

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