Posts Tagged ‘hen harrier

28
Jun
17

GWCT back-pedalling on hen harrier cull idea

So, further to our last blog about the GWCT calling for a ‘limited cull’ of hen harriers in response to the news that hen harriers have sunk further in to decline, the GWCT is now saying (on Twitter) that we have deliberately misrepresented their position and that they are NOT calling for a cull of hen harriers.

Let’s just be clear here. If we have misrepresented their views (and we don’t believe we have – see below), then it certainly wasn’t done intentionally. We’re not in that game, unlike the GWCT who are the masters of misrepresentation (e.g. see here for just one of many examples).

The GWCT argues that we “spliced together” two parts of their statement “to misrepresent our position“. It is fair comment to say we spliced together two parts – we did. But not to misrepresent the GWCT’s position – it was because we believed they were specifically referring to hen harriers in both parts of their statement.

If we were deliberately trying to misrepresent the views of the GWCT, why would we have published their entire press statement? We published it for precisely the reason NOT to misrepresent – it’s there for all our blog readers to view and to make up their own minds. Judging by the public reaction both here and on social media, we’re not the only ones who thought the GWCT was advocating a ‘limited cull’ of hen harriers.

So why did we think they WERE advocating a hen harrier cull? Well, it’s mostly down to one paragraph:

Dr Adam Smith said: “We need an adaptive approach whereby agreements are reached between landowners and government, allowing sustainable numbers of both raptors and prey to be achieved. We welcome Defra’s plan to study how to regulate the impacts of harriers on grouse in a non-lethal trial in the interests of both species. This is overseen by Natural England and supported by many organisations including the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, who first suggested licensed control in 1998. Grants, intra-guild effects, limited culls, target predator densities and other mechanisms should be used in this way to serve the long-term interest of raptors as well as game species and other wildlife.

In this paragraph, the GWCT are specifically discussing the management of hen harriers. They talk about DEFRA’s (ridiculous) Hen Harrier Action Plan, and in the same sentence mention that the GWCT  “first suggested licensed control in 1998“. The sentence that immediately follows is where they advocate, amongst other things, “limited culls“. In our opinion, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that they were still talking about hen harriers, especially as we know that the GWCT has previously advocated a hen harrier cull (see here).

When GWCT said on Twitter that they were NOT advocating a hen harrier cull, we asked them for which raptor species they WERE advocating a cull. They responded by saying they weren’t advocating a cull of any raptor species, but claimed, “The line refers to possible research into effects of raven population on wading birds. The line refers to all wildlife, not just raptors“.

We’ll leave the reader to decide whether this was a case of genuinely mistaken misinterpretation (on our part) of a poorly-articulated  GWCT press statement, or whether this is the GWCT furiously back-pedalling in the face of a public backlash to their long-standing calls for a hen harrier cull.

The rest of our original blog remains unchallenged by GWCT (the bit about there being an over-abundance of red grouse and a lamentable lack of hen harriers) and all this argument about whether they currently want to cull or not is acting as a nice distraction from the REAL issue, which is the continued illegal killing of hen harriers on driven grouse moors.

28
Jun
17

GWCT responds to hen harrier decline with calls for a ‘limited cull’

This is just astonishing.

Following this morning’s news that the UK’s hen harrier population has descended further in to decline, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has published the following response:

The GWCT says the results of the national hen harrier survey indicate that balance in moorland conservation and management in the UK is needed more than ever.

Many birds of prey have now largely recovered their numbers, with buzzards, sparrowhawks and ravens commonplace species. Such a full recovery of numbers and range is not the case for all birds of prey. Though the hen harrier has increased in range and number from a few pairs on Scottish islands in the early 20th century to the estimated 545 pairs in 2016, there is still work to do on their conservation.

This ground-nesting species is attracted to grouse moors where gamekeepers manage the heather, the fox numbers, and provide plenty of young grouse for them to eat. The GWCT’s research has shown a cyclical relationship between harriers and keeping. With plenty food and protection from foxes, harrier numbers can increase. If predators eat too many grouse chicks, the grouse moor becomes unproductive, making the moor redundant. Without gamekeepers there is less food, heather or fox control, so the harrier population cycles down again. Declines and rises in harrier numbers are not always linked to grouse management.

The GWCT believes the UK’s objective must be to enhance the community of raptors in the country as a whole. In some species this will need improvements in food supply or nest protection. In other places reducing the predation pressure by raptors, including hen harriers, on wildlife using the most satisfactorily humane methods will encourage their protection and conservation.

Dr Adam Smith said: “We need an adaptive approach whereby agreements are reached between landowners and government, allowing sustainable numbers of both raptors and prey to be achieved. We welcome Defra’s plan to study how to regulate the impacts of harriers on grouse in a non-lethal trial in the interests of both species. This is overseen by Natural England and supported by many organisations including the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, who first suggested licensed control in 1998. Grants, intra-guild effects, limited culls, target predator densities and other mechanisms should be used in this way to serve the long-term interest of raptors as well as game species and other wildlife.

“The GWCT condemns crimes against wildlife. We are committed to finding an effective and practical resolution to the conflict between red grouse and raptors. Wildlife crime only serves to delay a satisfactory resolution of the conflict.”

ENDS

Are they for real?

Here we have the news that in England in 2016 there were just four territorial pairs of hen harriers (resulting in just three successful breeding attempts, none of which occurred on a driven grouse moor), where there is the potential for over 300 pairs.

Compare that with the unsustainable, artificially-high density of red grouse produced on driven grouse moors (this density is between 10-100 times higher than the ‘natural’ density), and you’ve got GWCT talking about the “need to reduce the predation pressure by raptors, including hen harriers” which could be achieved by, amongst other things, “limited culls“?

What?!! Without resorting to a torrent of swear words, we’re actually lost for words. Actually, the magnitude of what they’re proposing deserves a swear word. What the actual fuck? As has been said over and over again, if a business model relies on the removal of a protected native species, it isn’t environmentally sustainable. If that business model has practically eradicated, illegally, that protected native species, the business deserves to be closed down.

GWCT are right in that “a balance in moorland conservation and management is needed more than ever” but the idea of culling a species that is just about to fall off the precipice in to breeding extinction, thanks to systematic illegal persecution, is insane.

Balance on the UK moorlands will only be restored if (a) the illegal persecution stops and (b) the clamour for ever-increasing bag sizes (# of grouse shot) stops.

UPDATE 3pm: GWCT back-pedalling on hen harrier cull idea (see here)

28
Jun
17

National hen harrier survey reveals further decline

Press release from RSPB Scotland:

Hen harrier numbers have fallen by 9% in Scotland since 2010, according to the latest national survey of these birds, with the total population now estimated to be less than 500 breeding pairs.

The fifth national hen harrier survey was carried out in 2016 by the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Raptor Study Group, along with a range of other UK partners, and covered the whole of the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.

In Scotland the results revealed a drop in breeding pairs to only 460, compared with 505 pairs from the previous survey in 2010. The UK population is now estimated at 545 breeding pairs.

This is the second successive decline in the Scottish hen harrier population revealed by national surveys, signalling a worrying trend. In the longer term, over the last 12 years, the number of breeding pairs has dropped by 27% in Scotland.

Known for their majestic skydancing ritual, hen harriers are one of the most threatened birds of prey in the country. Independent research has identified illegal killing as one of the main constraints on this species, along with a changing climate and the loss of heather moorland and other suitable nesting habitat to commercial afforestation and overgrazing.

Scotland is still a major stronghold for hen harriers, with 80% of the UK population. However, having a breeding population of fewer than 1000 birds makes this species vulnerable to the effects of habitat degradation and, in some areas, wildlife crime. The west Highlands continue to provide a home for the majority of Scotland’s breeding harriers (estimated 175 breeding pairs), while Orkney and the Hebrides were the only areas of the country to show a slight increase in the number of these birds.

According to the survey, similar hen harrier declines have been witnessed in all other parts of the UK as well. In England, these birds are on the brink of extinction as a breeding species, with the population falling from 12 pairs in 2010 to only four pairs last year. Meanwhile, Wales saw the number of pairs fall by more than a third over the past six years, from 57 to 35, and Northern Ireland recorded only 46 pairs in 2016 compared with 59 in 2010.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said: “The hen harrier is an indicator of the health of our upland environment, and the fact that its population continues to decline is of major concern. The hen harrier is a high priority for our conservation work and urgent steps need to be taken to tackle illegal killing of this species and to improve their moorland breeding habitats.”

Eileen Stuart, SNH’s Head of Policy & Advice, said: “While Scotland remains the stronghold for hen harriers in the UK, the continuing decline is a serious concern particularly the low numbers found in parts of the mainland. We’re committed to continuing to work with a wide range of partners to tackle wildlife crime through PAW Scotland, including initiatives such as Heads up for Harriers, and General Licence restrictions where evidence supports such action. Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland have set up a joint Raptor Working Group to identify and promote the opportunities of forestry for raptors, including hen harriers, to sustainably deliver Scottish Government environmental and forestry policy.”

Wendy Mattingley, from the Scottish Raptor Study Group, said: “There is a very concerning trend of a long term decline in the number of breeding hen harriers in Scotland. For the population to begin to recover and expand over all suitable habitat, the intensively managed grouse moors of east and south Scotland must produce successful breeding hen harriers again. The hen harrier is a wonderful spectacular raptor and more action must be taken to ensure that its future is secure.”

Tim Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “Scotland is still the UK stronghold for the hen harriers by a huge margin. However, it is disappointing to see any indication of decline in Scotland – and much larger drops in Wales and Northern Ireland – even though the decline is regarded by the survey team as statistically insignificant. Harrier breeding fluctuates annually for many reasons – not all associated with wildlife crime. For example, 2016 was a poor year largely due to low vole numbers in Scotland with weather and predation shown to have played their part.  Fifteen of our members, covering an area of 325,000 acres, will be working with the Heads Up for Harriers project again this year to better to understand the reasons for poor harrier breeding and to help rebuild the harrier population.”

Simon Wotton, lead author of the study, said: “This survey required a monumental effort from a number of different funders, organisations and volunteers – without their help, dedication and expertise we wouldn’t be able to build up this accurate picture of these magnificent birds of prey. We hope these results will convince everyone in a position to help hen harriers to take positive steps to ensure their protection and rebuild the country’s population for people to enjoy for generations to come.”

Ends

If there’s anybody still wondering why approximately 2,000 pairs of hen harriers are ‘missing’ in the UK uplands, here’s a short yet instructive video which explains everything:

And let’s not forget, just two weeks ago Tim (Kim) Baynes of Scottish Land & Estates claimed that illegal persecution of hen harriers was an “historical controversy” and that “a better idea of current numbers [of hen harriers] will emerge when the results of the 2016 UK harrier population survey are published, but the overall picture is expected to be broadly the same in Scotland“ (here).

We’re thinking of changing his name to Duplicitous Tim.

19
Jun
17

More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes

We’ve all learned by now how Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group, likes to spin the facts; we only wrote about it last week (see here).

Here’s another well-spun article. We missed it when it was published in the Scottish Sporting Gazette (Summer 2016) but someone has kindly sent through. It’s classic Tim (Kim), pretending that illegal persecution is no longer an issue and also pretending that most conservationists (apart from us so-called ‘extremists’) now support the idea of some form of raptor ‘control’.

“The last few decades have seen a grinding controversy over birds of prey, with incidents of illegal killing linked to sporting estates often in the headlines. The good news is that the underlying situation is now hugely improved, but that has galvanised social commentators to try even harder to keep the controversy alive. Social media is their tool of choice, but the facts can become seriously distorted. The problem now is that all the positive work by land managers risks being derailed by a small number of committed activists, particularly those who are anti-grouse shooting.

The facts are that a number of long-term changes have come to fruition in the last five years. Scotland has pioneered new approaches, particularly through the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS) – of which Scottish Land & Estates and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association are committed members – with awareness training and tightening up of legal sanctions.

The Scottish Government now publishes official data on police-recorded persecution cases which enables national assessment of the problem each year, and that has shown a marked decline in bird of prey incidents – particularly poisoning, which is down to single figures. The police believe that wildlife crime generally is now under control and, for example, there have been no police-recorded raptor incidents in the whole Cairngorms National Park for the last two years. Recently, there have been as many reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded birds of prey to the vet as there have been keepers being prosecuted!

Alongside this, most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland, as evidenced by the BTO Bird Atlas, and on many sporting estates they are in rude health. An example is the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project where there are now 68 pairs of breeding raptors. There was a national census of golden eagles in 2015 which is expected to show an increase, and 2016 sees the latest national survey of hen harriers.

Three surveys of managed grouse moor estates in 2015 showed the presence of 10 raptor species, including breeding eagles and harriers. However, there is ongoing concern that these two Schedule 1 species could be doing better in some areas and Scottish Land & Estates are working closely with PAWS partners in two national initiatives – Heads Up for Harriers and the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

With this background and the recent publication of the year-long scientific study ‘Understanding Predation’ by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, the real debate over birds of prey is now moving onto more positive territory, with focus on the ecological impacts, not just the incidents of persecution. It is now accepted that key prey species such as waders, black grouse, and grey partridges are in serious decline while some predators including buzzards and ravens have increased significantly. The project has fostered real cooperation among groups of stakeholders with traditionally opposing views, and it is hoped that the new Scottish Government will now back practical action to address this problem. It is now up to the extremists to give that cooperative approach their full support and not jeopardise progress”.

END

We could spend all day pointing out the spin in Tim’s (Kim’s) claims, such as there being no police-recorded raptor persecution incidents in the Cairngorms National Park for two years (not quite true – see here), or that there are more reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded raptors to the vets than there are of gamekeepers being prosecuted, implying that gamekeepers are no longer committing alleged offences (not quite true – see here), or implying that eagles and harriers were successfully breeding on three surveyed grouse moor estates in 2015 (not quite true – see here), or that most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland (not quite true – see here, here, and incidentally both these scientific papers were published before Tim (Kim) wrote this tripe), or implying that all stakeholders, with traditionally opposing views, are now supportive of backing what Tim (Kim) calls ‘positive action’ against raptors (what he means is licenced ‘control’) – again, this is not true. Name one conservation NGO that doesn’t have a vested interest in game shooting who supports this idea?

One year on from Tim’s (Kim’s) world of fantasy, and our so-called ‘extremist’ claims that illegal persecution is still rife on many driven grouse moors has been validated by the findings of the recently published golden eagle satellite tag review. It is now apparent even to the Scottish Government that illegal raptor persecution continues, albeit very well hidden (apart from if the targeted raptor victim happens to be wearing a satellite tag) and on the basis of this overwhelming evidence, we are finally set to see some action.

Thank goodness the policy makers haven’t listened to Tim’s (Kim’s) distorted point of view.

UPDATE 22 June 2017: Retired Police Wildlife Crime Officer Alan Stewart has blogged about this article here

17
Jun
17

Another year, another gas gun deployed on a driven grouse moor

It’ll come as no surprise to anybody that gas guns are still being deployed on driven grouse moors, at a critical time in the hen harrier breeding season.

Here is one photographed this week in use on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens (photo from one of our blog readers):

We’ve been blogging about the use of gas guns for two years. For those who don’t know, propane gas guns are routinely used for bird scaring on agricultural fields – they are set up to produce a periodic booming noise to scare pigeons, geese etc away from crops. The audible bang can reach volumes in excess of 150 decibels. We suspect these are being used on driven grouse moors throughout the UK uplands to prevent hen harriers and other ground-nesting raptors from settling to breed.

We’ve previously asked the statutory conservation organisations about the legality of use. We assumed that the deployment of these gas guns would be subject to guidance and rigorous licensing controls by SNH and Natural England (as they are the licensing authorities for the Wildlife & Countryside Act (as amended)), particularly in relation to the hen harrier, which, as a Schedule 1A species (in Scotland only), is “protected from harassment [including disturbance] at any time”, not just when it’s trying to breed (see here). After a long delay, SNH replied with this and Natural England came up with these (useless) ‘guidelines’.

Hopefully the use of gas guns will be included in the forthcoming independent review of grouse moor management techniques.

Hen harriers haven’t bred successfully on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens since 2006. Can’t think why.

15
Jun
17

Law professor comments on inadmissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions

As regular blog readers will be aware, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the public prosecutors in Scotland, have, in the space of two months, either dropped or refused to prosecute five cases of alleged wildlife crime. These include:

25 March 2017 – gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough (Dalreoch Estates), accused of the alleged use of illegal gin traps. Prosecution dropped due to paperwork blunder by Crown Office.

11 April 2017 – landowner Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), accused of being allegedly vicariously liable for the actions of his gamekeeper who had earlier been convicted for killing a buzzard by stamping on it and dropping rocks on to it. Prosecution dropped due to ‘not being in the public interest’.

21 April 2017 – gamekeeper Stanley Gordon (Cabrach Estate), accused of the alleged shooting of a hen harrier. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

25 April 2017 – gamekeeper Craig Graham (Brewlands Estate), accused of allegedly setting and re-setting an illegal pole trap. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

21 May 2017 – an unnamed 66 year old gamekeeper (Edradynate Estate), suspected of alleged involvement with the poisoning of three buzzards. Crown Office refused to prosecute, despite a plea to do so by Police Scotland.

Two of these cases (Cabrach Estate and Brewlands Estate) were dropped due to the COPFS deciding that the use of RSPB video evidence, on which the prosecutions relied, was inadmissible.

There has been widespread public condemnation and political concern about these decisions, especially in the case of the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in Morayshire. The Crown Office has attempted to explain the decisions but many questions remain unanswered for those of us who don’t have the legal expertise, or all the case details, to challenge the COPFS decisions.

We read with interest, then, a blog that was published yesterday written by Peter Duff, Professor of Criminal Justice at Aberdeen University. His blog, entitled ‘The law of evidence, video footage, and wildlife conservation: did COPFS make the correct decisions?‘ deals specifically with the Cabrach & Brewlands cases and can be read here.

We thoroughly recommend reading it. It’s important to read the perspective of an independent, expert academic who has no axe to grind on either side of the debate. It’s hard for those of us who are either tainted by years of frustration about criminal raptor killers getting away with it, or those with a vested interest in raptor killers avoiding prosecution, to take an unbiased view of the law and its application, so Professor Duff’s opinion is a valuable contribution to the debate. Not only that, it’s great to see this issue receiving wider coverage than the usual commentators.

That’s not to say we agree with his interpretation though! In short, Professor Duff concludes that the COPFS decisions were “perfectly reasonable”, and he explains his reasoning for this, but, crucially, some of what he writes does not take in to account previous case law on this issue, perhaps because he was unaware of such cases?

For example, Professor Duff states: ” In my view also, for what it is worth, I agree that the courts would not excuse such an irregularity in obtaining the video evidence and prosecutions would be fruitless“.

First of all, the Scottish courts HAVE excused the irregularity of obtaining video evidence without the landowner’s permission and far from those prosecutions being ‘fruitless’, they actually resulted in the conviction of the accused (e.g. see the Marshall trial here and the Mutch trial here).

During the Marshall trial, there were several hours of legal argument about the admissibility of the video evidence. The Sheriff accepted the video evidence, commenting that the RSPB presence on the gamekeeper’s estate [from where the video was filmed] was “neither illegal nor irregular, and the intent to obtain evidence did not make it so“.  This is no different to the recent Cabrach case.

During the Mutch trial, again involving several hours of legal argument about the admissibility of evidence, the Sheriff accepted that the RSPB had not placed the video camera with the purpose of gathering evidence for prosecution, but they had placed it as part of a legitimate survey in to the use of traps. This is no different to the recent Cabrach case.

There is also an on-going trial at the moment (concerning alleged fox hunting) that relies heavily on video evidence filmed on privately-owned land without the landowner’s permission. The court has accepted the video evidence as admissible (although we can’t comment too much on this as the trial is still live).

So on that basis, we profoundly disagree with Professor Duff’s opinion that covertly filmed video evidence would not be accepted by the Scottish courts. It already has been, on several occasions, resulting in convictions. The question remains then, why did the COPFS decide it was inadmissible? Somebody within the Crown Office (presumably an experienced lawyer from with the Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit) decided, when this case was first marked, that the video evidence was admissible. It took nine court hearings over a period of a year before the COPFS decided that the video evidence was inadmissible. We still don’t know the basis for that decision. And the other related question to this is why didn’t the COPFS let the court make the decision? It’s this inconsistency of approach that has caused so much confusion, and as Professor Duff writes, ‘bewilderment’.

Professor Duff also writes: “The actions by the RSPB [of placing a covert camera] are a breach of the right to privacy of both the estate owners and their employees (whilst not quite analogous, imagine if your neighbour installed a secret camera to record everything that went on in your garden)“. Sorry, but it’s quite absurd to compare these two scenarios given the size difference between these two types of landholdings. Nobody could argue that placing a covert camera to film somebody’s back garden wouldn’t be a breach of privacy, as you’d reasonably expect to see the human occupants on a daily basis. But on a multi-thousand acre estate, far from any private dwelling? Come on, “not quite analogous” is one hell of an understatement. And not only that, in the Cabrach case, the camera was aimed at the nest of Schedule 1 hen harrier, which by law cannot be approached/disturbed without an appropriate licence from SNH so you wouldn’t expect to film anybody anywhere near the nest.

All in all then, Professor Duff’s interpretation of the law, whilst useful, still doesn’t explain, or justify, the decisions made by the Crown Office in these two cases.

And questions still remain about the decisions to drop the other three cases (gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough of Dalreoch Estates; landowner Andrew Duncan of Newlands Estate; an unnamed gamekeeper of Edradynate Estate), none of which were reliant upon video evidence.

13
Jun
17

Technology challenge launched to solve problem of finding hidden or destroyed satellite tags

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has joined forces with Scottish Natural Heritage to co-sponsor a new CivTech challenge aimed at finding a creative and innovative technology-based solution to the problem of finding ‘disappearing’ satellite tagged raptors.

As you’ll be aware, satellite-tagged raptors are ‘disappearing’ in Scotland and England with increasing frequency. There was a time, in the early years of satellite tagging raptors, that illegally-killed birds would be found as their tags were still emitting signals allowing researchers to pinpoint the location of the corpse and thus evidence of the crime (e.g. poisoned golden eagle Alma whose corpse was found on Millden Estate in the Angus Glens in 2009). However, the raptor-killing criminals got wise to this and in recent years have been making more effort to destroy and hide the tag at the same time as killing the bird.

This lack of hard evidence causes problems for the wildlife crime enforcement agencies because it becomes very hard to prove that the bird has actually been killed. In a small number of cases, the satellite tag could just have malfunctioned, and we have seen evidence of this (e.g. hen harrier Highlander here), although the expected frequency of this happening is very low (the recent golden eagle satellite tag review identified tag reliability, based on studies of the same tags deployed in the US and Europe, as around 98%). Nevertheless, even with the high number of ‘disappearing’ tagged raptors in Scotland but little hard evidence of criminality, researchers have still been able to identify unusual concentrations / spatial clusters of where these birds have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances.

For example, here is a map showing the significant spatial clustering of ‘disappeared’ tagged golden eagles that just happen to be concentrated in several areas of driven grouse moors in and around the Cairngorms National Park, as identified in the golden eagle satellite tag review:

This identification of ‘suspicious’ persecution hotspots is excellent, and has contributed significantly to the Scottish Government finally accepting that this is an on-going problem that needs addressing, but it doesn’t provide enough information to instigate criminal proceedings against those involved. More hard evidence is required for that.

CivTech is a Scottish Government-led initiative, first piloted in 2016, which challenges creative technologists to come up with a solution to public sector problems. Some of the first challenges included improving flood forecasting and ensuring it is better used, and improving air quality in urban areas.

The joint Cairngorms National Park Authority / Scottish Natural Heritage challenge invites technologists to look at the problem of ‘disappearing’ satellite-tagged raptors and to devise a solution to find those tags, or at least provide ‘indestructible’, real-time information about the tag’s last location before it was tampered with. This probably won’t overcome the long-term problem of identifying an actual individual criminal, especially on an estate that employs multiple gamekeepers, but it might just be enough to create a deterrent. At the very least, it should provide enough information for the Scottish Government to impose civil sanctions on that estate – sanctions that are currently being discussed after Roseanna Cunningham’s announcement last month.

Opening up this challenge to the CivTech community is a very clever idea as it will reach an audience that probably knows nothing of this issue, and who may well come up with a solution that is beyond the expertise of the typical conservationist. Who knows what the technology geeks will come up with? The two instigators of the challenge (Grant Moir from CNPA and Keith Duncan from SNH) are open-minded as to what the solution might look like, e.g. a software-based solution that can be applied remotely to tags that are already deployed, or a new hardware solution that involves fitting a new gadget on to new raptors. Any new solution may be trialled in the Cairngorms National Park, a massive raptor persecution hotspot, and if successful, could be rolled out across the UK.

The closing date for applications has already passed (1 June 2017) and a ‘pitch day’ has been set for 26 July 2017.

Well done Grant and Keith. We look forward to hearing more about this later in the year.




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

Blog Stats

  • 3,050,747 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors