13
May
21

“Another poisoned golden eagle? If the SNP are serious about protecting wildlife we need an Environment Secretary who will act” – Jim Crumley

Jim Crumley has written a brilliant opinion piece for the Courier (published 10th May 2021) in response to the discovery of the deliberately poisoned golden eagle found on Invercauld Estate in March.

The article is reproduced below:

THERE is a job of some urgency for the new Environment Secretary at Holyrood.

You may have read about the golden eagle found poisoned at Invercauld estate in the Cairngorms National Park.

The guiding principles for a national park should centre around the wellbeing of the landscape and its ecology. Nothing else. Otherwise, why bother to have a national park at all?

But what Scotland has instead is two national parks obsessed by tourism and the rural economy.

As it happens, I have just been reading a book called “A Life in Nature”, a collection of writings by Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Worldwide Fund for Nature. He wrote this:

“For conserving wildlife and wilderness there are three categories of reason: ethical, aesthetic, and economic, with the last one (at belly level) lagging far behind the other two.”

And this:

“Conservationists today are involved in a gigantic holding operation – a modern Noah’s Ark to save what is left of the wildlife and wild places, until the tide of new thinking begins to flow all over the world.”

Long wait for tide to turn

He wrote that 60 years ago.

But because I read it at the same time as Nicola Sturgeon’s astonishing election achievement was playing out, I began to think that there is an opportunity right here, right now.

If we are on a tide of new thinking, it has never been more important that the Scottish Government appoints an Environment Secretary with a radical agenda.

And please don’t let Fergus Ewing anywhere near it, because he is far too chummy with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

The golden eagle found poisoned at Invercauld this spring is the latest in a breathtaking catalogue of around 80 crimes against wildlife in the national park’s young life

The first thing I think the new Environment Secretary should do is to familiarise himself or herself with the track record of the Cairngorms National Park in conserving wildness and wildlife, and then to consider how the land within the park is managed.

The result of that familiarising process should be cause for a great deal of concern for the new Environment Secretary.

If it isn’t, the Scottish Government will have appointed the wrong person, because the golden eagle found poisoned at Invercauld this spring is but the latest in a breath-taking catalogue of around 80 crimes against wildlife in the national park’s young life (it was established in 2003).

Twelve golden and white-tailed eagles have been killed in that time along with 24 buzzards; and 10 hen harriers in the last five years alone.

A sea eagle nest tree was deliberately felled and nests of peregrine and goshawk were destroyed.

All that inside the national park, in the last 18 years, and all of these birds have the highest level of legal protection.

Victorian values

That alone should be enough to persuade the new Environment Secretary that the situation calls for new thinking.

The estates’ attitudes towards birds of prey are symptomatic of a far wider contempt for those species of nature which they judge to be inconvenient for what remains a depressingly Victorian attitude to land and wildlife.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s response to the eagle-killing was dismal. A statement on its website says: “The CPNA condemns this senseless and irresponsible behaviour and condemns it in the strongest possible terms. Raptor persecution has no place in 21st century Scotland and no place in this national park.”

How can you revere a landscape when the principal management tools of its private owners are fire and guns and poisons, burning the land, killing the wildlife?

No, it doesn’t condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

If it had done, the park authority would be screaming down the phone to the Scottish Parliament that grouse moor and deer forest should have no place in 21st century Scotland or inside the national park.

They are completely incompatible with thoughtful conservation of a landscape that should be revered for its wildlife and wild landscape.

How can you revere a landscape when the principal management tools of its private owners are fire and guns and poisons, burning the land, killing the wildlife. And why aren’t national parks owned by the nation?

That might have amounted to something like the strongest possible terms.

The other problem with the park authority’s statement is that, alas, there IS a place for raptor persecution in 21st century Scotland, in many places, and one is the Cairngorms National Park.

Reality doesn’t match ambition

The first words you read on the home page of the Cairngorms National Park Authority website are these: “An outstanding national park, where people and nature thrive together.”

It is a very worthwhile ambition, but it is a long way from the reality on the ground.

The new Environment Secretary might also like to consider that one of the reasons for such a toll of wildlife is that as things stand, the estates know they will almost certainly get away with it, for there are hardly ever prosecutions.

If our newly-elected government wants to project the image of a forward-thinking independent Scotland on the European stage – and I sincerely hope it does given my lilac and yellow votes for the SNP – then the tide of new thinking should perhaps begin by blowing away that embarrassing Victorian stain from the face of the land.

ENDS


17 Responses to ““Another poisoned golden eagle? If the SNP are serious about protecting wildlife we need an Environment Secretary who will act” – Jim Crumley”


  1. 1 Jill Willmott
    May 13, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Brilliant article. I hope it is read far and wide, and alerts more people to the Tragedy of our Moorlands.

  2. 2 C.
    May 13, 2021 at 11:20 am

    I don’t see how Fergus Ewing can continue as Rural Economy Secretary for much longer. In 2018 he made the extremely rash promise to resign if superfast broadband was not available to ‘every single household’ by 2021. That will not be achieved. The opposition are already pushing for him to resign and I can’t see the Greens backing him. The First Minister would be well advised to use the upcoming cabinet reshuffle to remove him from the job before he is forced to go.

  3. 3 Dougie
    May 13, 2021 at 11:21 am

    That is indeed a good piece by Jim Crumley.

    However, I must comment:-

    “another poisoned golden eagle? if the snp are serious about protecting wildlife we need an environment secretary who will act”

    It is not just about appointing an environment secretary who will act. It is about having a First Minister who will:-

    1. MAKE the environment secretary act
    2. NOT having ANY minister who is chummy with the SGA

  4. 4 Stephen Lewis
    May 13, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    A fair effort from Crumley. Of course the problem with the SNP is the fact that they are all about preserving driven grouse moors/shooting; by licensing them.

  5. 5 Peter Crispin Hack
    May 13, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    With the greatest of respect to this blog the Glasgow Climate Change Conference should be at the forefront of this debate not raptor persecution; in my view Scotland and the SNP should and could be arguing that our entire ecology evolved below 350ppm.

    The fact that the author is quoting Sir Peter Scott and raptor persecution at all is a rather lamentable reflection on the grotesque distortion of the Scottish environmental debate; the sheer scale of the anthropogenic crisis was probably not apparent to Scott even if he alluded to wildlife’s struggles that are apparent to any observer that looks and he was one of the first.

    2040-50 the North Pole is summer ice free; that will kick off feed back loops as the already melting methane deposits frozen for millenia are released, this will accelerate the nitrate oxide “Dead Zones” that will expand in the oceans as temperatures rise..

    Feed back loops are not written into the IPCC science; the whole IPCC edifice is far too cautious; to observe the Precautionary Principle we have to have C02 ppm falling by 2040/50; nothing in ecology is linear, its all “Hockey Sticks”.

    • 6 Les Wallace
      May 13, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      Speaking as someone whose campaigning experience goes back nearly 34 years and who has been a committed wildlife lover for nearly fifty years you have just shown why we haven’t yet had a tide of change – includin for climate change whatever that might be in reality as opposed to projections and speculation. Reducing environmentalism to monomania about carbon emissions/fossil fuels/climate change has meant we have fallen back in areas where we were making progress such as with the protection of rainforests and reducing waste, things which are actually driving increasing CO2 concentrations. Please tell (or preach to?) us Peter how putting the cart in front of the horse allows progress? We’ve ended up with rainforest cleared to grow biofuels, other forests chipped to make fuel pellets for power stations – bad though raptor persecution is it’s dwarfed ecologically by these. This is all thanks to ridiculous kneejerk political reaction to incessant two dimensional CC campaigning which is really the marketing of a brand rather than the broad based environmentalism that’s needed to solve ALL problems. Since we still have so many blank spots in our understanding as to how climate operates and changes (why was the Eocene so warm?) The idea we know how feedback loops may or may not occur in the real world is a joke frankly. Even since the end of the last ice age there was a period when the climate was significantly warmer than today allowing European pond terrapins to live as far north as Southern Sweden. No earth destroying runaway climate change then or indeed previous interglacials when hippos lives as far North as Yorkshire.

      There’s a type of zealotry and hysteria that’s crept in with CC campaigning that’s been enormously damaging generally and hasn’t helped any legitimate dicussion on the topic. Very easy to quote reports, the difficult part is putting them in context. I’ve said for years that CC itself will take a very long time if ever to do the damage that’s been done by CC campaigning – there was once an idiot writing in the Independent that we needed to clearfell ancient forests because regrowth would absorb carbon faster, he said we can’t afford sacred cows when ironically it’s CC obsessing that’s the sacred cow..

      • 7 Les Wallace
        May 13, 2021 at 6:05 pm

        Pardon the typos in this – I’m typing half blind as the comments box is not opening up properly, is anyone else experiencing this?

      • 9 Keith Dancey
        May 13, 2021 at 10:34 pm

        “Since we still have so many blank spots in our understanding as to how climate operates and changes (why was the Eocene so warm?)”

        The early Eocene was around 50-54 million years ago where CO2 concentrations are estimated from recent Boron isotope studies to be up to an astonishing 1400 ppm.

        “The idea we know how feedback loops may or may not occur in the real world is a joke frankly.”

        It may be a joke to you but, then, what do you know about Nyquist plots and Gershgorin circles in the real world feedback loops?

        “Even since the end of the last ice age there was a period when the climate was significantly warmer than today allowing European pond terrapins to live as far north as Southern Sweden”

        This Holocene global temperature anomaly was restricted to the Northern Hemisphere and is strongly correlated with the degree of Arctic amplification and sea ice loss during strong summer insolation, but which was compensated by weaker winter insolation resulting in a relatively small annual mean insolation delta.

        In general, the paleoclimatic record for the past several hundred thousand years shows an extremely high correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and global mean temperatures, with various anomalies associated with solar cycles and orbit perturbations.

        “No earth destroying runaway climate change then” because the Northern Hemisphere Mid-Holocene Thermal maximum wasn’t a global phenomenon.

        But all this has nowt to do with raptor persecution.

    • 10 Jimmy
      May 13, 2021 at 8:39 pm

      Utter nonsense – the drivers of extinction continue to be direct human pressures via persecution, industrial farming etc. Neither is their any linear relationship between CO2 and world temps. Furthermore this winter and Spring has been one of the coldest for decades over large areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Quoting rubbish from climate alarmists who claimed a few years ago that the Arctic would be “ice free” in the early years of this decades shows what utter nonsense you’ve just posted

      • 11 Keith Dancey
        May 13, 2021 at 10:36 pm

        “Neither is their any linear relationship between CO2 and world temps”

        Donald Trump lives. He can’t spell, either.

        • 12 Jimmy
          May 14, 2021 at 8:31 pm

          I suggest you educate yourself on issues such as the UHI effect etc.

          • 13 Keith Dancey
            May 15, 2021 at 8:28 pm

            “I suggest you educate yourself on issues such as the UHI effect etc.”

            On the contrary, I have been recognised by NASA, ESA, SERC (as was) and the UK Government as an expert in the matter since the 1980s, and therefore been employed by all of them…

            The urban heat effect is precisely why we (properly qualified scientists – not ignorant skeptics such as yourself who hide behind anonymity to type scientific untruths) designed scanning radiometers to measure the sea surface temperature of the Earth’s oceans from low orbit for the past forty years. The verified data from these satellites formed formal empirical proof of global warming, as presented to, and published by, the IPCC.

            There can be no urban heat effect on the Earth’s oceans.

            I suggest you educate yourself on issues such as SSTs… You do know how to convert raw radiances into temperatures, don’t you? And how to verify them?

    • 14 Keith Dancey
      May 13, 2021 at 9:24 pm

      “the Glasgow Climate Change Conference should be at the forefront of this debate not raptor persecution”

      On a blog labelled Raptor Persecution? And since when did ‘this debate’ about the poisoning of a Golden Eagle figure on the agenda of COP26?

  6. 15 Frances
    May 13, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Am I mistaken or was there a proposal to nationalise the land owned by the usually non resident landowners in Scotland? I may be getting muddled up but I seem to think some time ago there were noises about moves to take over the large estates. Booting out these people with their love of blood sports might be one solution.

    • 16 Peter Crispin Hack
      May 13, 2021 at 2:30 pm

      All land subject to Enclosure Acts could by one Act of Parliament be returned to the people and a great new National Park created across Britain with a substantive right to roam? It could then be re afforested in mosaics to address wildlife, the return of the Caledonian and other upland forest and address our balance of payments deficit in timber for a sustainable building industry that reduced carbon use brick ? Areas could be entirely rewilded and some areas returned to common grazing depending on the wishes of the adjacent community and stake holders re land use with subsidies diverted to different forms of upland land use than endless sheep?

      If you want a real argument as to power, ancestry and history ?


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