31
May
19

Political silence in response to wildlife crime in Cairngorms National Park

Nine days ago we learned that yet another satellite tagged hen harrier (‘Marci’) had vanished in suspicious circumstances on an unnamed grouse moor near Strathdon, an area of the Cairngorms National Park previously identified as a raptor persecution hotspot.

[Hen harrier Marci, photo by Shaila Rao]

Hen harrier persecution is a National Wildlife Crime Priority and the population in Scotland has suffered a 27% decline in the last 12 years. As such, we expected a strong response from the authorities.

We’ve trawled websites and Twitter feeds and this is what we’ve found:

Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Grant Moir, Chief Executive Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment – silence

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment and Hen Harrier Species Champion – silence

Alexander Burnett MSP, in whose constituency Marci ‘disappeared’ – silence

PAW Scotland – silence

Scot Gov Greener, ‘the official Twitter channel of the Scottish Government covering the environment and rural economy’ – silence

And then seven days ago we learned that four geese had been found poisoned by a highly toxic banned pesticide on the western side of the Cairngorms National Park. Police have been searching an area on the Pitmain Estate near Kingussie after estate workers reportedly alerted them to the corpses.

Given the seriously high risk to humans, wildlife, domestic stock and pets, and the Scottish Government’s previous comments about having a zero tolerance policy for illegal poisoning, we expected a strong response from the authorities.

We’ve trawled websites and Twitter feeds and this is what we’ve found:

Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Grant Moir, Chief Executive Cairngorms National Park Authority – silence

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment – silence

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment – silence

Kate Forbes MSP, in whose constituency the poisoned birds were found – silence

PAW Scotland – silence

Scot Gov Greener, ‘the official Twitter channel of the Scottish Government covering the environment and rural economy’ – silence

So what’s the deal, here?

Don’t they care?

They do care but they’re too embarrassed to comment?

They’ve commented on so many other similar incidents that there’s nothing new to be said?

They know they’re impotent to stop it happening again and again and again?

Keep quiet and hope it all goes away?

Compare and contrast this silence with the recent response of the North Pennines AONB Partnership to the illegal shooting of two buzzards within the protected area – Strong public statement, posters put up on public noticeboards, fliers distributed to shops and pubs in the area and lots of coverage on social media.

The Scottish authorities couldn’t even manage a tweet between them!

And then compare and contrast this silence with the recent sentencing of wildlife poisoners in Spain – Two years and eight months in prison AND a five year & four month disqualification from the management of hunting reserves and the right to hunt AND a fine of 67,538.65 Euros AND to been told to ‘take measures to recover the damage caused’.

The last prosecution for an alleged wildlife poisoning case in Scotland (that we’re aware of) involved the poisoning of three buzzards on a game shooting estate in Perthshire. Despite pleas from Police Scotland, the Crown Office decided to drop the prosecution and didn’t provide an explanation for this decision.

Is anybody still wondering why wildlife crime is still so prevalent in Scotland?


18 Responses to “Political silence in response to wildlife crime in Cairngorms National Park”


  1. 1 Paul V Irving
    May 31, 2019 at 9:25 am

    It will not be but ought may be to be shame, indifference might be closer to the mark. The Cairngorms NP authorities need a dose of the metaphorical bomb under them. As to the politicians they will probably refer it to another useless committee or fact finding or is that hiding mission. Much easier to pretend to support change but do nought and take the money we all pay.

  2. May 31, 2019 at 9:55 am

    And after all that great publicity from BBC TVs #Springwatch.

  3. May 31, 2019 at 10:03 am

    It comes back to the General Licences. If any eejit can look at a signed document on a Government website and then go off and legally kill unlimited numbers of circa 11 species of native wild birds then why not kill raptors and other protected species as well? When the Government treats many birds as vermin and trash it reinforces the moronic mentality of the shooters who treat all birds, apart from the ones other people pay to shoot, as vermin and a nuisance to be got rid of. The whole system needs scrapped and rebuilt and a good start would be to get rid of the culling mentality embedded in SNH and several other Government Departments.

  4. 4 Pip
    May 31, 2019 at 10:09 am

    And I hand you back over to “Springwatch” where everything in the NP is apparently rosy! Meanwhile I cannot help but feel that all the people, agencies and other assorted interested parties mentioned in the article are nothing more than a bunch of paper shuffling chair polishers and placemen (and women and anything else) looking after their own interests and salaries. What did you expect? When you look at that list your heart sinks at uselessness of it all – and them.

  5. 5 Graham Barlow
    May 31, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Wasn’t Wild Justice formed to deal with situations like this i.e. pressuring government to enforce the law.

  6. 7 Simon Tucker
    May 31, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I wonder just how censored the presenters are being during their Springwatch run this year? No mention of any controversy, lots of shots of the pretty parts of the Cairngorms: not a bit of muir burn to be seen.

    • 8 Les Wallace
      May 31, 2019 at 8:56 pm

      That in itself is a bit of a statement, about 40% of the CNP is grouse moor and it’s been conspicuous by its absence from Springwatch so far. Fair comment, but there’ll be some in certain quarters that will see that as a provocative action to deny their contribution to landscape and conservation. I sort of wish during the series they raise questions about grouse moors and whether or not they’re good for conservation and should they be such a big part, or any part at all, of a National Park. I would be amazed if any fair, objective scrutiny of them gave the thumbs up. Springwatch would be a good place to do that.

  7. 9 Dougie
    May 31, 2019 at 11:59 am

    What we have is a bunch of political dwarfs in control. Endless debate with no meaningful action. The people in

    control are not stupid, therefore there has to be another reason why they will not confront this crime. What can

    that reason be ?

    I don’t think they hate wildlife so that is unlikely.

    They may not care very much. That may be the case with some of them, but probably only a few.

    I suspect that they have weighed up the outcomes of pursuing the criminals and not pursuing the criminals.

    Egg thieves are pursued and sometimes dealt with robustly. There is no political downside with that.

    Wildlife crime involving shooting interests rarely results in prosecution. When it does, cases frequently stagger

    through the courts and fail or those unlucky enough to be found guilty receive light sentences.

    If there is no other reason it would appear that there is a political downside to not dealing with such crime. I

    wonder why that is. Who, or what is exerting influence. Who is having their tails twisted and by whom.

  8. 11 Jill Willmott.
    May 31, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Isn’t it time for an FOI request to be sent to the lot of them, to see what is going on? Surely they would have to reply to these? If they do not respond, how about attempting to shame them in the Press or on TV?
    I think part of the trouble is that RPUK can be sidelined and apparently safely ignored, as we have only a small following. Perhaps time to link up with Wild justice for a joint assault?

  9. 12 George M
    May 31, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Is the Scottish Government and it’s Agencies powerless over the Lairds on whose lands much of the wildlife crime is committed on .. arguably in their interests by their employees? Legally and politically are we still in the mid 19th century? It would appear so.

  10. 13 Jimmy
    May 31, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    I fear for Scotlands Wild Places under the current estaiblishment – between the widespread wildlife criminality in so called National Parks to the destruction of habitat across the bord by government subsidised forestry and windfarms, the outlook for many iconic Scottish Species is looking increasingly bleak:(

  11. June 1, 2019 at 8:07 am

    This orchestrated and organized wildlife crime is facilitated by political silence. This makes those politically silent complicit in the continuation of this orchestrated and organized wildlife crime.

    The solutions to this type of persistent crime problem are well known. Increasing resources for investigation, increasing punishments to act as a deterrent and to induce those caught into cooperating with the authorities in return for lighter punishments. I say this hasn’t happened because the authorities and the politicians know very well who lies behind this persistent wildlife crime, and it is some of the most senior members of the establishment. So they play a deliberately ineffective game of just pursuing the lowly paid minions with inadequate resources and inadequate punishments.

    To use an analogy. It’s like the authorities ignoring senior figures in organized crime such as drug dealing, and only pursuing minor street dealers. Which as we all know, isn’t actually how the authorities tackle drug crime. Yet for reasons already stated, this is how the authorities are treating this organized wildlife crime – where they will only prosecute the lowly minions perpetrating the crime, and only then if the evidence is forced upon them. Even then they will come up with endless excuses for not prosecuting the perpetrators despite incontrovertible evidence implicating them.

  12. 15 brian jackman
    June 1, 2019 at 11:12 am

    From those in power – a deafening silence.

  13. 16 ICT
    June 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    So much for the self proclaimed “Progressive Party”!


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