Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged raptors

A few weeks ago we created a map for Mairi Gougeon MSP (Angus & Mearns, SNP) to show her the areas of her constituency where satellite-tagged raptors had either been found illegally killed or had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances. Unsurprisingly, the main hotspot area was centred on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens.

Mairi, as the Hen Harrier Species Champion, attended this year’s Hen Harrier Day at Loch Leven where she acknowledged the issues and spoke passionately about the need to address illegal raptor persecution. We welcomed her interest and enthusiasm and look forward to seeing her use her position to good effect.

We’ve now created another map, this time for MSP Fergus Ewing’s constituency of Inverness and Nairn. For new readers, Fergus also holds a senior position in the Scottish Government – he is Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.

This latest map is based on data from the recent expert review of golden eagle satellite tag data and also from the RSPB’s recent map showing the locations of ‘disappeared’ or illegally killed satellite-tagged hen harriers and red kites. Here it is, showing the locations of 15 satellite-tagged raptors (8 x golden eagles, 6 x red kites, 1 x hen harrier) that were either illegally killed in Fergus’s constituency or ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in his constituency:

And just like the map we created for Mairi, the hotspot areas within Fergus Ewing’s constituency all just happen to be on land managed for driven grouse shooting. Imagine that!

Unlike Mairi Gougeon MSP, as far as we can tell, Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing has never publicly spoken out about the illegal persecution of raptors on grouse moors, either within his own constituency or beyond (if anyone has any evidence to the contrary we’ll be happy to post it here).

He did, sort of, hint at it in a statement he made about grouse shooting in 2015 when he was Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism:

I am very pleased to be able to extend support to all of those who make a success of fields sports in a professional and responsible fashion. Their efforts bring to Scotland a number of visitors who are very welcome and make a significant financial contribution to the sector”

but you’ll note that he very carefully avoided mentioning raptor persecution crimes or any of the other environmentally damaging effects of intensive grouse moor management.

And he can’t claim that he’s unaware of what’s going on – we’ve contacted him on social media many times about this issue, especially when persecution incidents have been detected in his constituency (most recently in July – see here). He has chosen to ignore us at every turn and has given his full public support to grouse moor management in well known raptor persecution hotspots including the Angus Glens and the Monadhliaths.

If you live in Fergus Ewing’s constituency of Inverness and Nairn, you might want to contact him to ask him what he’s doing about the illegal killing of raptors on grouse moors in this area. He has a responsibility to respond to the concerns of his constituents. Email: Fergus.ewing.msp@parliament.scot

If you don’t live in Inverness and Nairn but wish to raise concerns about the level of illegal raptor persecution on the grouse moors of this Cabinet Secretary’s constituency, please use this email address: Scottish.Ministers@gov.scot [and mark it for the attention of Fergus Ewing].

For far too long we’ve allowed certain politicians to get away with wilful blindness about this ongoing criminality. It’s up to all of us to hold these elected representatives to account.

20 Responses to “Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged raptors”

  1. 1 Alex Milne
    August 29, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I love those maps you have prepared. It’s a pity that the tags are so expensive, and if lost along with the bird when both are “destroyed”. If only a shedload of those could be recovered and used to tag hen harriers in Scotland…

  2. August 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    What is the point of asking him this question, its pretty obvious what side he is on!!!!

    • August 29, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      The point of asking him this question is to see how he responds. If he continues to exhibit wilful blindness to the on-going criminality within certain areas of his constituency, his decent-minded constituents will be made aware and will hopefully elect somebody else next time around. However, if he does, finally, acknowledge that there’s a problem, pressure can be applied to ask him how he intends to deal with it.

      It’s no good just moaning about it – we have to engage.

      • 7 BSA
        August 29, 2017 at 8:48 pm

        I’d like to see Ewing replaced by the SNP but his replacement in an election is likely to be a Tory or possibly a Lib Dem, both British puppet parties. Compare the record of the SNP SG on raptors, not perfect I admit, with Westminster’s record and be careful what you wish for.

  3. 10 Jan
    August 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I shall be emailing the department for his attention.

  4. August 29, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Nothing like a politician making themselves look really stupid !

    Backing an unsustainable industry based on criminality is the perfect receipe.

    We all wait with bated breath for him & all the other apologists to speak out against the industry that they ….. er ……back ……oops….. wholeheartedly…..

    History has a knack of making these people look daft.

    Keep up the pressure !

  5. August 29, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    He does not have a responsibility, he has a legal DUTY. “It is the duty of every public body and office holder, in exercising any functions, to further the conservation of biodiversity so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions”

  6. 15 J .Coogan
    August 30, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I totally agree we should ask difficult questions , but lets not kid ourselves he will do nothing . He knows its an unsustainable industry based on criminality but he also knows that nothing will change in the near future, if he rocks the boat in a rural constituency he will be unemployed very quickly , remember the nasty party are waiting in the wings (up 8.4%) As with almost all politicians he is a self centred populist, who will say and do anything, however distasteful to stay in power for a few more years.

      August 31, 2017 at 7:40 am

      What are you on about? There is NOTHING criminal about the shooting industry. Those who are found to shoot raptors are ostracized from the shooting community pda!

  7. 17 Mike McNally
    August 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Better thing to start on would be to hold journalists to account for bullshit like this.

  8. 18 Philip lee
    October 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    For any raptor to disappear is a disgrace, I live in a large city, but the number of Kestrels has fallen dramatically. I used to see them everywhere but not now. So the persecution of raptors is a massive concern. I can understand game keepers concerns but it’s not like the raptors are wiping out game birds.

  9. 19 Rachel
    May 28, 2018 at 9:15 am

    I am raising awareness of neonicotinoid ( and cypermethrin) use in Forestry . This is widespread when clearfells are replanted w conifers . My MSP Mike Russell has been supportive. Ewing not so much. He is being influenced by some fairly dubious characters ie xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx. These powerful biocides wreak havoc in the environment and their use is poorly regulated. I want them banned . There are good non toxic alternatives for tree protection that are underfunded and underused . Ewing as in your case has remained resolutely blind and uninterested in my arguments ( save one or two bland statements. He does need replaced but by someone better not even more retrograde.

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