First Minister finally writes to 9 year old boy about golden eagle persecution

At the beginning of July the news emerged that two satellite-tagged golden eagles, named Adam and Charlie, had vanished from the same grouse moor, on the same morning, in highly suspicious circumstances (see here).

In response to this news, and prompted by children’s author Gill Lewis, quite a number of people drew pictures of golden eagles and sent them to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to finally take action against the grouse shooting industry. One of those people was a nine-year-old boy called Freddie Blackman, who drew this fantastic picture:

After almost a month of silence from the First Minister, not just about these suspiciously ‘missing’ eagles but also about a ‘missing’ hen harrier and two other hen harriers (here & here) that were found on grouse moors with illegal spring traps gripping their legs, Nicola Sturgeon has now finally responded to Freddie with this letter:

Nine-year-old Freddie seems a pretty savvy young man and is unlikely to be impressed with The First Minister’s suggestion that she doesn’t yet know why golden eagles and other raptors are ‘going missing or being hurt’ but that she’s waiting for a report from a ‘special group of people’ (Prof Werritty et al) to find out!

He’ll also be pretty unimpressed if he checks out the SNH website, as Ms Sturgeon suggests, to find out ‘what we are doing to protect wildlife in Scotland’. Er, here’s what you’re doing, Nicola – thinking about putting ravens on the General Licence so that gamekeepers and farmers can slaughter as many as they like, when they like, without any level of accountability whatsoever.

Freddie wasn’t the only one who wrote to the First Minister urging action against the grouse shooting industry. Andy Wightman MSP, the Scottish Parliament’s Golden Eagle Species Champion also wrote to Ms Sturgeon following the disappearance of Adam & Charlie. He told her it was ‘long past time for reviews and inquiries’ and he asked for some very specific action:

  1. Provide clear leadership in condemning these organised crimes;
  2. Commit to legislate to ban or to regulate driven grouse-shooting;
  3. Meet with me and others concerned with raptor conservation to discuss how your Government can take further action to eradicate wildlife crimes;
  4. Invite the Justice Secretary to convene a high-level task force of law enforcement officials to step up prevention and detection of wildlife crime and improve the admissibility of evidence in court.

The First Minister’s response to Andy’s letter? To ignore his specific requests for action and to delegate back to Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham who simply regurgitated the standard response that’s been sent to all those who wrote to the Scottish Government about the ongoing persecution of raptors on Scottish grouse moors:

Without a shadow of doubt, the Scottish Government’s continued procrastination about dealing with the criminals within the grouse shooting industry will be high up on the agenda of many of us attending the Revive conference today.

Watch this space……

9 Responses to “First Minister finally writes to 9 year old boy about golden eagle persecution”

  1. 1 Boaby
    August 3, 2019 at 11:55 am

    SNP are clearly conflicted , economy at all costs is not what is best for Scotland.

    Particularly when the cost is OUR wildlife.

    This is not what he people of Scotland wants.

  2. 2 Alan Johnson
    August 3, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    How illuminating that her answer to the lad was as lame as all the answers that anyone gets from ScotGov.

    • 3 J .Coogan
      August 3, 2019 at 5:12 pm

      Worryingly the same reply as I get from Swinney and Wishart ,and I never even realised I was being patronized …not much.

  3. 4 Simon Tucker
    August 3, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    The SNP are politicians: like the Tories they either are the “landed gentry” or aspire to be so. They will not upset the people they want to be a part of – which is why Sturgeon is such a wet blanket, why the crime gets smothered by reviews and reports. Politics is an excuse for inaction.

  4. 5 Mike hadn
    August 4, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Let’s face the SNP are untouchable since the jingoistic Scots lap up everything they say. They have achieved nothing whilst in power other than maintain the status quo, whilst blaming everything on Westminster. They pander to a pseudo-left wining agenda whilst giving succour to the landed lairds. They are a popularise party of the central belt, they care nothing for rural Scotland, otherwise broadband would have been a priority so that a multitude of different businesses can thrive in the highlands. Whilst connectivity is poor the grouse moors can claim the economic upper hand.

    • 6 heclasu
      August 5, 2019 at 3:12 am

      Not quite right Mike. I now have satisfactory fibre broadband here in the Western Isles but I do agree wholeheartedly that SNP need to take their fingers out and take on the Lairds. Not only to stop the slaughter of raptors and other species but also for the negative impact their land management practices are having on climate, downstream flooding etc. To quote MLK. ‘I have a dream’. It is that everyone who lives in an area that can be affected by water run-off from these grouse moors gets out on August 12 and peacefully disrupts their shoots – and then continues to do so as and when they can throughout the season. Hit them in the pocket! When the rich Americans and the Merchant Wankers start asking for their money back we might start to get somewhere.

      • 7 Les Wallace
        August 5, 2019 at 8:30 am

        Spot on and well said! The flooding issue has got massive play in the more public arena and it’s barely been touched yet. Previously the point has been whether or not muirburn exacerbates flooding…probably, but if you listen to pro DGS reps being challenged about this e.g at the parliamentary hearing and ‘debate’ regarding Mark Avery’s petition to ban it they’ve very successfully managed to swat it aside as if it’s incorrect or an irrelevance. What is a very different beast though are pro active steps to reduce flooding. One is peat bog restoration which the DGS lot claim they are doing, but what they most certainly are not is planting trees along watercourses to slow the flow of water into them, and putting woody material in them which will also do the same. In the not too distant future beaver reintroductions would magnify these effects, and create brilliant fire breaks at the same time. These efforts collectively across mostly upland areas including where DGS is the dominant land use will not take too long to prevent tens of millions of pounds of flood damage to businesses, good quality farmland and homes downstream.

        Of course trees and DGS do not mix and therefore guess who isn’t exactly rushing forward to volunteer to do this out of public spirit? They might need a bit of a political kick up the arse which shouldn’t be too hard to deliver. Imagine a politician being publicly put on the spot and asked what they think is more important ever bigger grouse bags or stopping somebody’s home being flooded, a stock broker getting pleasure from shooting loads of grouse or preventing the dreadful human misery of a family having to leave their home and losing many of their personal belongings? That’s what it all boils down to and so far how often has it been used as an argument for reforming grouse moors?

        I know I’m an absolute pain in the arse about this, but I think this point has to be made incessantly until it’s taken up it’s the best ammunition we’ve got – the status quo means there’s more chance of your home being flooded especially if you live in Perth, Brechin, Alyth, Dumfries….. So far I can’t recall Revive specifically mentioning targeted riparian and contour tree planting on grouse moors to alleviate flood risk far less getting beavers back into the hills to do that. Yeah sounds a bit surreal and far fetched putting beavers into the hills to cut flooding, until you compare it with people standing in things called butts shooting loads of grouse driven towards them for ‘fun’ which worsens it. It was great to see the Scottish Wild Beaver Group had a stall at the Revive Conference (which was brilliant) and I hope this is a step forward, I don’t think Revive has so far even used the word beaver once, would be glad to be proved wrong. As far as the potential targeted tree planting has even without beaver to reduce flood peaks this is a great project which made a significant breakthrough in demonstrating this, the scope for doing this on large parts of grouse moors must be enormous https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/publications/2013/02/the-pontbren-project/

        • 8 Paul V Irving
          August 5, 2019 at 3:45 pm

          All Les says is very true whether you live in the Pennines valleys from Derbyshire to the border or all those places in Scotland he mentioned and many many more besides with increasing incidents of very heavy rain flooding is more likely if you are downstream of grouse moors. They pretend that there are major works in progress to block drainage grips, rewet vast areas to help restore upland blanket bogs. However whilst there are some projects there are vast areas where this is not happening and will not happen without huge public pressure on both owners and governments. Doing it is good for carbon sequestration, great for habitat restoration, aiding a whole host of species, including waders ( see Dovestone results) and it helps prevent rapid run off. Tree planting as per the Pickering scheme and creating slower flows as they have done also helps but if the habitat is right Beavers do all that for free and create better habitat for other wildlife in the process. For all but a tiny few this is a win, win situation.

          • 9 Les Wallace
            August 5, 2019 at 5:51 pm

            Yes referring to the peat bog restoration they’re supposedly doing is one way they’ve been batting off criticism that DGS increases flood risk. I doubt they’re doing a fraction of what they say they are. You are dead right Paul I’ve read what they’ve been doing to replicate beaver dams at places such as Hardcastle Crags – 340 (!!!) volunteer made ‘leaky dams’ – and although they are a sterling effort, there’s just no way it can replace beavers who’ll make better dams and maintain them. No less than four beaver trials in England to look at how they can stop homes from being flooded – Scotland zero, disgusting.

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