Archive for the '2013 persecution incidents' Category



14
Jan
17

Public funds to promote wildlife criminals in Scotland?

In December 2016 we blogged about the ‘Game for Growth’ strategy, which is a plan to promote Scottish country sports and boost its value to the economy. The strategy, which was launched at a parliamentary reception on 20th December 2016 (here) is being led by the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) and is being part-funded by VisitScotland using tax payers’ money (see here).

You may recall that Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman lodged a parliamentary question about the use of these public funds, as follows:

Question S5W-05930: Andy Wightman (Lothian, Scottish Green Party). Date lodged: 22/12/2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of the recipients of financial contributions from VisitScotland to the strategy, Game for Growth Strategy – Country Sports Tourism in Scotland 2016; what information it has regarding how each recipient will use this; what action it has taken to ensure that no money was provided to the owners or managers of landholdings on which crimes against wildlife have been committed; whether it will publish the strategy on its website, and what aspects of this it is supporting or plans to support with public money.

This question has now been answered:

Answered by Fiona Hyslop MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs) on 11/1/2017:

VisitScotland has approved a grant of £17,925 to the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group to promote Scotland as the destination of choice for all country sports. The Group will use this to develop content and supporting digital activity to attract visitors from across the UK and Scandinavia. As this money is for a specific project, no funding will be provided to individual estates or land owners. There is no intention to publish the strategy on VisitScotland’s website and so there will be no funding support for this.

It’s an interesting response. It does clarify that public funds (at least these public funds) will not be given directly to individual estates or landowners, but it is also clear that individual estates will still benefit from this public funding, albeit indirectly, because the SCSTG will use the funds to promote these individual estates as part of an online PR campaign.

In our December blog, we noted that the SCSTG website was promoting the Dunmhor Sporting Agency as a provider of country sports activities in Scotland:

We were surprised to see Dunmhor Sporting being promoted on the SCSTG website because Graham Christie of Dunmhor Sporting was convicted in December 2015 of being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who had used an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard on the Cardross Estate. We just looked at the SCSTG’s website again and Dunmhor Sporting is still being promoted as a country sports provider.

So much for the game shooting industry ousting its criminal members.

We wonder whether the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, is aware that a now (part) publicly funded organisation (the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group) is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal and if so, whether she thinks this is an appropriate use of public funds?

Emails to: scottish.ministers@gov.scot and mark it FAO Fiona Hyslop

06
Dec
16

‘Giant buzzards’ eating dogs, warns Tipperary newspaper

The following article was headline news last week in the Tipperary Star, a local rag in the Irish Republic:

ATTACKING BUZZARDS TARGET TERRIERS

By Noel Dundon

A call to have the protection orders on buzzards lifted has been made following a number of incidents in which the birds of prey have taken terriers and other animals in deadly swoops through mid Tipperary.

Buzzards are causing major problems in the mid-Tipperary area at the present time with a number of terriers having been taken, leading to a call for protection orders to be lifted.

Two families have been left in distress after their dogs were preyed upon and killed by giant buzzards in the Templetuochy area where hares, rabbits, cats and other small animals have also been taken.

However, it has also been revealed that are birds of prey circling overhead Deputy Michael Lowry in Glenreigh, Holycross, while Moyaliffe, Drombane, Inch, Clonmore and Castleiney are also areas where buzzards have been spotted on the attack.

There is one report of a Yorkshire terrier having been attacked, but survived and was patched up by a veterinary surgeon, only to be attacked again and killed a short time later – all by the same buzzard which can have a wingspan of up to three feet with very powerful and strong claws used to take prey.

Forested areas which afford cover are the best hunting ground for buzzards and dog and cat owners are being advised to be on the watch out for their pets which could be taken at the blink of an eye.

There are also concerns that with the increase in buzzards, the spring lambing season after Christmas could be an ideal hunting ground for them – but a very costly one for sheep owners.

ENDS

The online version of the article was illustrated with this photograph, entitled ‘A buzzard on the rampage’.

Is this ‘journalist’ having a laugh? Since when did ‘giant buzzards’ (or even normal-sized buzzards) start killing dogs, and since when did the sight of soaring buzzards above a politician’s head become a cause for alarm?

This type of sensationalist, ignorant, scare-mongering would be funny if it didn’t have consequences. Unfortunately, this baseless demonisation of birds of prey does have consequences, and serious ones at that. As we see all too often, there are still people clinging on to 19th Century attitudes who think that raptors are ‘vermin’ and should be destroyed. Articles like this one above will only fuel their prejudice and lead to the illegal persecution of these birds.

Tipperary is no stranger to raptor persecution – in the last few years the following crimes have been recorded:

July 2015: shot buzzard

May 2014: poisoned peregrine

January 2014: shot white-tailed eagle

July 2013: shot peregrine

June 2013: shot peregrine

June 2013: shot peregrine

Raptor persecution is a serious issue in Ireland, and the latest official report shows the trend is pointing upwards with 35 confirmed persecution incidents in 2015 – the highest number since recording began in 2011 (see here).

We’d encourage strong (but polite) words of complaint to the Tipperary Star:

Email journalist Noel Dundon: nd@tipperarystar.ie

Email editor Anne O’Grady: aog@tipperarystar.ie

UPDATE 6/12/2016: BirdWatch Ireland has issued a strong statement in response to the Tipperary Star (see here).

02
Dec
16

Case against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon re: shot hen harrier, part 7

scales-of-justiceCriminal proceedings continued at Elgin Sheriff Court today against Scottish gamekeeper Stanley Gordon.

Mr Gordon, 60, of Cabrach, Moray, is facing a charge in connection with the alleged shooting of a hen harrier in June 2013.

Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far in this case:

Hearing #1 (19 May 2016): Case continued without plea until 16 June 2016.

Hearing #2 (16 June 2016): Case continued without plea until 14 July 2016.

Hearing #3 (14 July 2016): Case continued without plea until 11 August 2016.

Hearing #4 (11 August 2016): Case continued without plea until 1 September 2016.

Hearing #5 (1 September 2016): Mr Gordon enters a not guilty plea. A provisional trial date is set for 19 December 2016, with an intermediate diet set for 18 November 2016.

Hearing #6 (18 November 2016): Case adjourned for another intermediate diet on 2 December 2016.

Hearing #7 (2 December 2016). Provisional trial date of 19 December is dumped. Case adjourned for another intermediate diet on 10 February 2017.

21
Nov
16

Case against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon re: shot hen harrier, part 6

scales-of-justiceCriminal proceedings continued at Elgin Sheriff Court on Friday against Scottish gamekeeper Stanley Gordon.

Mr Gordon, 60, of Cabrach, Moray, is facing a charge in connection with the alleged shooting of a hen harrier in June 2013.

Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far in this case:

Hearing #1 (19 May 2016): Case continued without plea until 16 June 2016.

Hearing #2 (16 June 2016): Case continued without plea until 14 July 2016.

Hearing #3 (14 July 2016): Case continued without plea until 11 August 2016.

Hearing #4 (11 August 2016): Case continued without plea until 1 September 2016.

Hearing #5 (1 September 2016): Mr Gordon enters a not guilty plea. A provisional trial date is set for 19 December 2016, with an intermediate diet set for 18 November 2016.

Hearing #6 (18 November 2016): Case adjourned for another intermediate diet on 2 December 2016.

03
Sep
16

Trial for gamekeeper re: alleged shooting of a hen harrier

scales-of-justiceCriminal proceedings continued at Elgin Sheriff Court on Thursday against Scottish gamekeeper Stanley Gordon.

Mr Gordon, 60, of Cabrach, Moray, is facing a charge in connection with the alleged shooting of a hen harrier in June 2013.

Mr Gordon entered a not guilty plea at Thursday’s hearing and so this case will now move to trial. An intermediate diet has been set for 18 November 2016 (this is an administrative hearing to establish whether both the defence and prosecution are ready for trial) and the trial date itself has been set for 19 December 2016.

Previous blogs on this case hereherehere and here

17
Aug
16

Coordinated hunt & shooting of a hen harrier in 2013 – location revealed

A couple of years ago (20 June 2014) we blogged about the alleged coordinated hunt and shooting of a male hen harrier on a grouse moor in Scotland (see here).

hen-harrier-male-robin-newlin

This alleged crime had actually taken place in May 2013 – it was reported to Police Scotland by the two members of the public who had witnessed the event, Police Scotland investigated but no further evidence was available to take the case forward.

For some reason, Police Scotland failed to publicise this incident or appeal for information, despite hen harrier persecution being a UK National Wildlife Crime Priority. Instead, it was left to the RSPB to issue a press release over a year later (see here) as part of a wider call for more sporting estates to take action to protect hen harriers.

At the time, the location of this incident was pretty sketchy. The RSPB press release said it took place ‘on a moor in the eastern Cairngorms, within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park’.

But then roll on to late 2015 and the publication of RSPB Scotland’s 20-year review of raptor persecution crimes. If you have a look at Table 3 in this report, which details confirmed incidents of persecution or attempted persecution (excluding poisoning) of birds of prey in Scotland 2013, the following information appears:

HH shot Glen Gairn

According to this table, a hen harrier was shot at ‘Glen Gairn’ in Aberdeenshire in May 2013. We presume, given the date and location, this is the same incident as referred to in that 2014 RSPB press release.

So, Glen Gairn. Where’s that then?

Well, would you believe, part of Glen Gairn appears to lie at the eastern boundary of Invercauld Estate, not a million miles from where those illegally-set spring traps were recently discovered at Gellaig Hill. (Map detail created from information provided on Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website).

Glen Gairn final - Copy

Now, we should urge caution here before anyone jumps to conclusions. This map is slightly misleading because it suggests that Glen Gairn lies entirely within the boundary of Invercauld Estate. It doesn’t. Glen Gairn extends east across the river, beyond the Invercauld Estate boundary, and on to the grouse moors of neighbouring Dinnet Estate.

We don’t know exactly where in Glen Gairn those two members of the public watched the alleged coordinated hunt and then shooting of that male hen harrier in 2013. It could have been on the Dinnet side of the Glen, or it could have been on the Invercauld side of the Glen, or it could have extended across both sides of the Glen. We don’t know, but presumably Police Scotland will know if those two members of the public were able to give accurate grid references.

As so often happens, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution so we have no idea who was responsible. It must have been the handiwork of those pesky moorland fairies. They do seem to be quite active in this part of the Cairngorms National Park, don’t they?

Photo of a male hen harrier by Robin Newlin

12
Aug
16

Ministerial reaction to ‘missing’ golden eagles

Following yesterday’s news that eight young satellite-tagged golden eagles have ‘disappeared’ in the Monadhliaths in the last five years (see here), we were interested to read the response from Roseanna Cunningham MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment.

Here’s the statement that appeared on the Scottish Government’s website:

The Scottish Government has ordered a review of satellite tracking data, following reports from RSPB Scotland that a number of golden eagles have disappeared in the Monadhliath mountains.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said: “The latest reports of satellite-tagged golden eagles disappearing on or near grouse moors are very disturbing and disappointing. That is why I have instructed officials to analyse the evidence from around 90 surviving and missing satellite-tagged eagles, to discover if there is a pattern of suspicious activity.

Grouse moor management does help species such as curlew and golden plover as well as generating much needed rural employment and income but this cannot be at any price. The public rightly expects all businesses in Scotland to obey the law. Let me be clear: grouse shooting is no exception.

As previously stated, the Scottish Government is prepared to introduce further regulation of shooting businesses if necessary. It will be unfortunate if the activities of a few bring further regulation on the whole sector, but that is the risk those why defy the law and defy public opinion are running“.

END

Yesterday we described her call for a review of satellite-tag data as ‘fatuous’ (see here). Not because such a review is unwelcome; it isn’t. But because the reason given for the review – ‘to discover if there is a pattern of suspicious activity’ – suggests that the pattern of activity is currently unknown. That’s as ridiculous as it gets. Of course the pattern of illegal persecution is already known, and has been for decades. Endless peer-reviewed scientific papers and government reports on golden eagles, hen harriers, red kites and peregrines have unequivocally linked the illegal killing of these raptors with intensively-managed driven grouse moors. Why pretend that this is all news? Why pretend nobody knows what’s been going on?

Taking the example of the Monadhliaths, this area has been a known eagle persecution blackspot since the 1970s! Have a look at this article that was published in the Scotsman on 11 March 1993 (we blogged about it here):

the_mountains_where_eagles_die_map-compressed2

To be fair, in recent years a number of more enlightened landowners in this area have been working closely with conservationists, resulting in a small increase in golden eagle survival on a few local estates, but as clearly seen from yesterday’s news, there are still other estates in the Monadhliaths that have yet to drag their sorry backsides away from the (now illegal) ‘management’ practices of the 19th Century.

Nevertheless, we do welcome the news that the Cabinet Secretary is actually doing something this time, instead of just churning out the same tired old Government rhetoric of ‘We will not hesitate to take further action if necessary’. It is necessary and we do expect to see ‘further action’ without any more stalling or prevarication. If you hear hooves, Cabinet Secretary, look for horses, not zebras.

But it’s not just the reaction of the Environment Cabinet Secretary that interests us. It turns out that another Cabinet Secretary should be taking more of an interest than most. Fergus Ewing MSP is the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity. He also happens to be the Member of the Scottish Parliament representing the constituency of Inverness and Nairn.

If you look at the map of Fergus’s constituency, and then look at the map showing the last known locations of those eight satellite-tagged golden eagles, you’ll see that a good few of the points where the eagles were last recorded lie within Fergus’s constituency boundary.

Inverness Nairn constituency map

FergusEwing Constituency Monadhliaths

ge disappeared

Now, we know that Fergus’s job is to represent the interests of ALL his constituents (estimated at 66,619 voters, according to his website). We know he does a good job of representing the interests of a tiny fraction of those constituents who are involved with the game-shooting industry – here’s a picture of him attending the Moy Game Fair last weekend – and is that a Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association tie around his neck?

fergus ewing sga tie

But what about the interests of the tens of thousands of his other constituents? We’re pretty sure that most, if not all, will be appalled to discover what’s still going on in their area. What will Fergus be doing about that?

Will he be encouraging his constituents to sign this petition calling for the Scottish Government to introduce a licensing scheme for all gamebird hunting?

A good many of his constituents have already signed this other petition, calling for an outright ban on driven grouse shooting (which has just smashed through 90,000 signatures, on it’s way to 100,000 and a parliamentary debate in Westminster).

We’ll watch with interest to see what both these Cabinet Secretaries do next.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 3,207,175 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors