Posts Tagged ‘gamekeeper

10
Jul
19

New trial date for Scottish gamekeeper accused of multiple wildlife crimes

Criminal proceedings continued on Monday (8th July) against Scottish gamekeeper Alan Patterson Wilson who is accused of allegedly committing 12 wildlife crimes.

Mr Wilson, 60, is accused of shooting two goshawks, four buzzards, a peregrine falcon, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus, south Scotland between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also faces charges of using a snare likely to cause partial suspension of an animal or drowning, failing to produce snaring records within 21 days when requested to do so by police and having no certificate for an air weapon.

We also believe he is accused of the alleged possession of the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Mr Wilson has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A previous trial date had been set for 13th June 2019 but for unknown reasons the case was adjourned until Monday 8th July. At Monday’s hearing a new trial date was set for 20th August 2019.

Previous blogs about this case: see herehere here  here herehere, here and here.

Please note: we will not be accepting comments on this news item until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.

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26
Jun
19

Scottish Government commissions research on gamekeepers’ “rights & aspirations”

While we’re all waiting for Scottish Ministers to turn twenty years’ worth of hollow promises in to tangible and effective action against the rampant criminality still all-too evident on many grouse and pheasant-shooting estates, the Scottish Government has decided to invite tenders for some new research in to the ‘rights and aspirations’ of gamekeepers.

Yes, it’s easy to see why this would be a priority for the Government. Those poor, misunderstood raptor haters, who do so much in their role as custodians of the countryside….

[Pie chart from RSPB Birdcrime report: The occupations/interests of the 176 individuals convicted of bird of prey persecution-related offences 1990-2015]

Does this look like the actions of a Government ready to crack down on criminals in an industry known to be heavily involved in the illegal killing of birds of prey?

Although to be fair, the new research isn’t just about gamekeepers. The full title of the research contract up for grabs is this:

To fill gaps in existing knowledge on the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and to better understand the rights, benefits, attitudes, working conditions and future aspirations of gamekeepers.

This has come about following the publication earlier this year of the Government-commissioned Socio-economic and Biodiversity Impacts of Driven Grouse Moors in Scotland. That research identified a load of gaps and this latest research opportunity aims to fill some of those gaps as well as to look at the game-keeping profession, as Roseanna Cunningham had indicated way back in 2017 when she first announced the Werritty Review in to grouse moor management.

The invitation for tender can be found here with a closing date for applications at midday on 7th July 2019.

The research contract is worth £80,000 and begins on 24th July and ends on 20th December.

The tender document can be downloaded here: Research to assess the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors

Most of the detail is dull and tedious and only relevant to those submitting a tender, but this short summary of what is expected from the work is useful:

Sarcasm and irony aside, some of this research is actually long-overdue and should make a significant contribution to the discussions about the so-called benefits of grouse moor management, assuming there are sufficient and reliable data sources available. However, the usual caveat applies – it all depends on which organisation wins the tender and whether they are sufficiently independent and robust for the research to withstand scrutiny. If it’s anything as bad as the GWCT’s research proposal to kill ravens in Strathbraan (described as “completely inadequate” and “seriously flawed” by SNH’s own Scientific Advisory Committee) then we’ll be no further forward.

The timing is interesting though. This research will clearly feed in to the long-awaited Werritty Review, which was supposed to have been submitted by now but we understand has been delayed due to ill-health. For how long remains to be seen.

17
Jun
19

Running scared?

The weekend before last we were out filming in Scotland with Chris Packham, at a number of locations and with a number of experts. We’re not going to say too much about that at the moment because….well, you’ll see in due course.

At one particular location we were followed and filmed by an individual. Those photographs were subsequently doing the rounds on social media last week – some of you may have seen them – and they led to a wide range of absurd accusations and claims, including one particular favourite – that Chris was ‘caught filming on a grouse moor and as soon as he was spotted by the gamekeeper he literally ran back to the car and hid his face’.

Now, what was it that Scottish gamekeepers have been accused of doing recently? Was it something about making “greatly exaggerated” claims? Have a look at this video that WE filmed of us leaving that grouse moor, having been followed and filmed by this gamekeeper for at least half an hour – can you see anyone “literally running back to the car to hide their face”?

Note the gamekeeper filming us, sitting in the black 4×4 parked in the lay by behind our two vehicles.

There have also been claims that we were filming “illegally” on the grouse moor. No, we weren’t. Our accusers would do well to read the Land Reform Act and learn about public rights of access in Scotland.

There have also been claims that Chris broke BBC guidelines by filming with a BBC film crew without landowner permission. No, he didn’t. This wasn’t a BBC film crew and landowner permission was not required (see above).

There have also been claims that Chris broke BBC guidelines by ‘campaigning on social media’ during his Springwatch contract. No, he didn’t. Chris wasn’t the one who posted the photos and associated commentary on social media (i.e. ‘campaigning’) – that was done by those in the game-shooting industry, who shot themselves in the foot by bringing it to the attention of Springwatch viewers while the series was still on air! How can Chris be held responsible for someone else’s decision to post photographs of him on social media, accompanied by a string of false accusations?!

There have also been claims that one of the people involved was (a) a security guard or (b) an ‘animal rights extremist/thug’ – no, he wasn’t either of those. It’ll become apparent later in the year exactly who he was and what he was doing there!

There have also been claims that this particular member of our team was violently intimidating towards the gamekeeper, and that he “wouldn’t back down against him”. Have another look at our video – can you see any evidence of violent intimidation or can you see a man walking back to his vehicle and immediately getting in to avoid any confrontation with the gamekeeper who was filming him?

On something of a tangent, it has also been claimed that Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Ruth Tingay of RPUK are “shagging”, which is apparently why the Cabinet Secretary agreed to appear in our Fred video last year. Erm…..

It’s pretty clear that there are some within the game shooting industry who are so terrified about our work and the impact we are having they’ll try anything to discredit us, no matter how pathetic or defamatory the accusations.

It looks like they’re the ones running scared….and so they should be. Some of the footage we filmed in Scotland will be devastating to the grouse shooting industry. Forget Werritty and the long-awaited review – what we have transcends anything that Professor Werritty can report.

 

17
Jun
19

Gamekeepers accused of making ‘misleading’ & ‘greatly exaggerated’ claims re: mountain hares

Here’s a shocker. Scottish gamekeepers have been accused of making ‘misleading’ and ‘greatly exaggerated’ claims about mountain hares, according to SNH staff emails, uncovered by a Freedom of Information request from Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind.

Gamekeepers accused of making stuff up? Shurely shome mishtake.

This news was revealed in an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times, and the SNH staff comments are alleged to refer to a propaganda video on grouse moor management, produced by the Grampian Moorland Group.

Here’s the article (illustrated by what looks like a brown hare, not a mountain hare).

Gamekeepers have made “misleading” and “highly questionable” claims over mountain hares, according to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) staff emails passed to The Sunday Times.

In recent years sporting estates have defended mass culls of mountain hares in Scotland, an iconic species that animal welfare groups claim is under threat due to large-scale killing.

This newspaper revealed last year that up to 38,000 mountain hares a year had been killed on Scottish estates, some of which have charged people thousands of pounds a day to shoot the animal. More than 1.3m hares have been killed in Scotland over the past 50 years.

Mountain hare killing is unregulated during the open season, but although there has been a sharp decline in hares in northeast Scotland, there is an ongoing dispute as to whether the species is in decline overall.

SNH is the official body with the responsibility for protecting wildlife in Scotland, and it has been liaising with various bodies on how to protect mountain hares, while taking into account the views of gamekeepers and estates who dispute claims the animal is under threat.

Emails released following a freedom of information request reveal that SNH staff raised concerns over a promotional video for grouse moor and hare management produced by the Grampian Moorland Group.

During internal discussions last year, SNH staff said the video made “misleading claims” while another email said the browsing impacts of mountain hares were being “greatly exaggerated”. The emails were obtained by animal welfare charity, OneKind.

Bob Elliot, OneKind director, said: “We are always being informed by the gamekeeping community that large-scale mountain hare culls are needed. Now Scottish Natural Heritage are also raising serious concerns about some of the facts portrayed in online videos and communications by the shooting community. It’s time for the government to ban the large-scale culling of mountain hares for good.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said: “The SGA and SNH have long disagreed over issues such as browsing impacts of hare and deer on habitats and would have these same differences tomorrow, regardless of FOIs (freedom of information requests) or internal emails.”

Grampian Moorland Group said: “Group members worked with SNH and the James Hutton Institute on the research to establish the best methods of counting mountain hares. If SNH has a problem, they should contact us directly.”

SNH said: “We know of very few sites where mountain hares are considered to have an impact on site condition. The few we are aware of involve a combination of sheep and/or deer also.

We have not recommended control to improve the condition of any of these.”

ENDS

14
Jun
19

Case against Scottish gamekeeper accused of 12 alleged wildlife crimes: trial adjourned

Two years on, and the trial against Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson, who is accused of committing 12 alleged wildlife crimes, has been adjourned before it even started.

Mr Wilson, 60, is accused of shooting two goshawks, four buzzards, a peregrine falcon, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus, between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also faces charges of using a snare likely to cause partial suspension of an animal or drowning, failing to produce snaring records within 21 days when requested to do so by police and no certificate for an air weapon.

We also believe he is accused of the alleged possession of the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Mr Wilson pleaded not guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing in May and his trial was due to begin yesterday (13th June 2019) at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

For reasons unknown to us, the trial has been adjourned. We don’t yet know if it will be rescheduled and if so, when that might be.

Previous blogs about this case: see herehere here  here herehere and here

Please note: we will not be accepting comments on this news item until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.

29
May
19

Case against Scottish gamekeeper accused of 12 wildlife crimes proceeds to trial

The case against a south Scotland gamekeeper has continued this week with an intermediate diet (a type of court hearing) and he has pleaded not guilty to a number of alleged offences.

Alan Wilson, 60, is accused of shooting two goshawks, four buzzards, a peregrine falcon, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus, between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also faces charges of using a snare likely to cause partial suspension of an animal or drowning, failing to produce snaring records within 21 days when requested to do so by police and no certificate for an air weapon.

We also believe he is accused of the alleged possession of the banned pesticide, Carbofuran.

Due to Mr Wilson’s not guilty plea, this case will now proceed to trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 13 June 2019.

Previous blogs about this case: see herehere here  here here and here.

Please note: we will not be accepting comments on this news item until legal proceedings have concluded. Thanks.

25
May
19

Gamekeepers ready to support reintroduction of buzzards to Salisbury Plain

Thanks to the blog reader who sent us this screen grab of a tweet doing the rounds recently (it now appears to have been deleted).

Oh dear. Perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider publishing a link to the RSPB’s very helpful online article ‘How to ID a Hen Harrier’, which includes these useful guides:

And perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider revising its article about hen harrier conservation by publishing the facts about why hen harriers are in a spiral of decline across the UK? (BIG CLUE: GAMEKEEPERS ARE INVOLVED).

Perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the findings of the recent scientific paper which showed that hen harriers are ten times more likely to be killed on grouse moors than any other habitat. Yes, TEN TIMES more likely!

Or perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the recent news that one of the many tagged hen harriers to vanish in suspicious circumstances just happened to vanish less than 20 miles from the proposed ‘reintroduction’ site in Wiltshire, in an area heavily managed by gamekeepers for pheasant and partridge shooting?

Incidentally, on the subject of DEFRA’s outrageous proposal to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England this year, we’ve heard recently that some of our colleagues in Spain have been approached again by Natural England, seeking donor birds, with an apparent assurance that these donor birds won’t go any where near the UK’s upland grouse moors! If this is an accurate report (and we have no reason not to believe it, given the source), it fits in with Natural England’s previous distortions of the truth about hen harrier persecution (we blogged about that here).

The Spanish are not stupid. We’re aware that at least some of those who’ve been approached recognise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support such an ‘assurance’, and besides, Spanish raptor conservationists are well aware of the ongoing killing of hen harriers on UK grouse moors and they consider this southern England reintroduction proposal to be a sham – just a distraction from where the conservation agencies should be focusing their efforts. By all accounts, at least some of them have told Natural England to get lost.

Bravo, Spain!




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