Posts Tagged ‘Invermark Estate

22
Dec
16

Gamekeepers want sea eagles, kites, buzzards, sparrowhawks & ravens added to General Licences

Further to this morning’s blog about RSPB Scotland’s damning response to SNH’s General Licence consultation (see here), we said we’d write a separate blog about some of the other responses that SNH received.

SNH has now published all the responses, and they’re well worth a read: all-responses-to-snh-general-licence-consultation-2016

There are many organisations and individuals calling for ravens to be added to the General Licences (no surprise) and, yet again, there are a number of requests for buzzards and sparrowhawks to also be added, which would allow these species to be casually killed across Scotland without any monitoring or regulation, although some have suggested these raptors should be on ‘regional’ General Licences to limit the casual killing to a particular area. How thoughtful.

One of the reasons given for adding ravens and buzzards to the General Licences was this: “There are arguably too many of them around and they cloud the skies in our local area“.

Here’s a photograph of some ravens and buzzards clouding the skies:

Actually, this is a photograph (by Richard Barnes) of Dunlin flocking on the coast of North America but it could just as easily be a plague of swarming raptors over a Scottish grouse moor, if you happen to be a pathological raptor hater stuck with an 18th century attitude, that is.

Take a look at the consultation response from Garry MacLennan. Surely not the same Garry MacLennan, Head Gamekeeper at Invermark Estate? Aren’t raptors supposed to be ‘thriving’ there? Perhaps the headline should have read ‘Raptors are thriving on Scottish grouse moors and we want licences to kill them’.

Also have a look at the responses from Iain Hepburn (the same Iain Hepburn as the head gamekeeper at Dunmaglass Estate?), Duncan Mackenzie and Calum Kippen (the same Corrybrough Estate gamekeepers who attended the recent meeting between the Cairngorms National Park Authority & the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association?). Aren’t these the gamekeepers who want licences to monitor and ring raptors? Don’t they see a bit of a conflict of interest there if they also want licences to kill these raptors?

Best of all though, is the response from Bert Burnett (presumably of the SGA). Bert suggests that ravens should be added to the General Licences and argues that regional general licences “could be rolled out for various species that may start to cause problems like sea eagles and kites etc“. Ah yes, that very serious problem of sea eagles mistaking small children for prey.

Of course, these calls for licences to cull raptors are nothing new. Scottish (and English) gamekeepers and land owners have been asking for these for 20 years (see here, here, here, here, hereherehere). So far, SNH has resisted but given Natural England’s recent capitulation on buzzard-killing licences, how much longer before we see the same in Scotland?

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09
Dec
16

Gift of grouse: their propaganda exposed

The Gift of Grouse – a campaign run by the Scottish grouse-shooting industry to promote the so-called ‘benefits’ of driven grouse shooting, have been well and truly caught with their pants down.

(Gift of Grouse for you anagram fans: to fog figures]

Some of you may remember a story from last year, where the Gift of Grouse made great claims about the number of bird species that had been recorded on three driven grouse moors – Invermark & Glenogil (both in the Angus Glens) and Glenturret in Perthshire. We blogged about these claims (here) and have since made repeated requests to see the actual data/reports (as have others – e.g. Andy Wightman here), but all to no avail. The Gift of Grouse refused to publish the reports and instead pointed everyone to a summary, written by The Gift of Grouse and not by the ecological consultants who had conducted the surveys.

Pay attention to some of the specific claims made in that Gift of Grouse summary about the survey undertaken on Invermark Estate:

The consultants “used a variety of techniques to record birds, butterflies, mammals and other species across 80 sq km of upland habitats which are specifically managed for grouse“.

And

“…..with an overall total of 81 bird species recorded as either breeding on the site or using the area as a valuable feeding resource“.

The clear intention from these statements was for people to believe that these three driven grouse moors support a wide range of avian biodiversity.

Indeed, on the back of these apparent survey results, the Gift of Grouse even held a prestigious Parliamentary reception at Holyrood, hosted by Graeme Dey MSP on 23 November 2015,  with wide media coverage, to “celebrate diversity through grouse moor management“. Here’s a photo of them at that parliamentary reception, including Alex Hogg (SGA), Graeme Dey MSP and a load of gamekeeepers including some from the Angus Glens and some from the Lammermuirs.

81andflying

The Gift of Grouse have been pumping out this so-called success for a year now, and only the other day they referred to these survey results in another press release (here) when they claimed that ‘raptors are thriving on Scottish grouse moors’ – a press release that was dismissed by RSPB Scotland as “a pile of risible, make-believe tosh” (see here).

Well guess what? It turns out that the Gift of Grouse had good reason not to release the actual survey report from Invermark Estate because if they had, their misinterpretation (we’re being kind) of the data would have been exposed.

Unfortunately for the Gift of Grouse, a new summary report, written by the ecological consultants (Taylor Wildlife) has now been published and it makes for very interesting reading indeed.

Download it here: invermark-wildlife-audit-2015-and-2016

According to the Taylor Wildlife report, there were NOT81 bird species recorded as either breeding on the site or using the area as a valuable feeding resource” in 2015 as the Gift of Grouse had claimed. There were actually only “52 species considered to be breeding on site, 19 additional species noted during surveys as flying over and 10 species documented as incidental sightings“. How on earth can birds recorded as “flying over” a site be listed as “either breeding on the site or using the area as a valuable feeding resource“?!

Furthermore, the survey was not conducted “across 80 sq km of upland habitats which are specifically managed for grouse” as the Gift of Grouse had claimed. According to the Taylor Wildlife report, the habitats surveyed included “blanket bog, bracken, broadleaved and mixed woodland, coniferous woodland, dwarf shrub heath, improved grassland, inland rock and montane heath“. Since when has broadleaved and mixed woodland, coniferous woodland, improved grassland and inland rock been “managed specifically for grouse“?!

That RSPB Scotland quote, “a pile of risible, make-believe tosh” springs to mind.

It looks very much like the Gift of Grouse have misled everyone, including Graeme Dey MSP, doesn’t it? You can make up your own minds whether this misinterpretation of the Invermark survey results was a deliberate and cynical ploy to portray driven grouse shooting in a favourable environmental light, or whether it was just an honest inability to grasp the simple interpretation of bird survey data.

As an aside, it’s also interesting to note that these surveys were conducted as a requirement of the estate claiming Basic Payments. Funny that. Didn’t the grouse shooting industry claim that no public subsidies were used to support driven grouse shooting?

We should make it clear here that we are not having a go at Taylor Wildlife. On the contrary, we thank them for publishing this summary report. This morning, Andrew Whitelee, one of the ecological consultants involved in the survey, wrote a comment on one of our earlier blogs. We’re reproducing it here:

Hello everyone,

I work for Taylor Wildlife, who have been subject to a lot of speculation on this website recently. As with any other ecological consultancy, client confidentiality would normally prevent us from discussing specific surveys and data. However, in this instance the client (Invermark) have made the data public which means I can take this opportunity to clarify a few points. The Taylor Wildlife summary report can be found on this link.

Over the past two field seasons (2015 and 2016) Taylor Wildlife staff have been surveying on the Invermark Estate as part of the Basic Payment Scheme Farm Environment Surveys. This Government scheme requires us to undertake bird surveys using a modified version of the Brown and Shepherd methodology. This methodology is usually used for recording upland waders but for the purposes of the scheme we are required to record all species we encounter on surveys. We are not required to disturb the nests of Schedule 1 birds and our surveyors work completely within the law. The SGRPID/SNH guidelines we (and any other consultancy undertaking surveys) are bound by for the scheme are on the link below (page down to Annex A).

https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/basic-payment-scheme/basic-payment-scheme-full-guidance/eligible-hectares-and-minimum-activity—bps/

As I am sure you will all appreciate, we have no control over how our data is interpreted by others once it is published, so I would ask you to take a look and make up your own mind. At the end of each survey season we are required to submit our data and report to SNH/SGRPID for review. We also give our data to the relevant organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, The Mammal Society or Birdtrack (via the bulk upload option).

There seems to be a misconception that Taylor Wildlife provided the majority of the data used in the Gift of Grouse statement. However, we only collected data on Invermark so that is the only part I can pass comment on. Two years of Invermark data starts to give us a baseline, more data collected in the coming years may help us to identify trends and hopefully provide useful data for informed land management decisions in the future. In my opinion the more data collected in upland environments the better.

If anyone wants to contact me to discuss the above, then please feel free to do so, my email address is andrew@taylorwildlife.co.uk

Andrew Whitelee
Senior Ecologist
Taylor Wildlife

04
Dec
16

Scottish landowners pretend that raptors are ‘thriving’ on driven grouse moors

Gift of GrouseWe’ve come to expect outlandish propaganda from the Gift of Grouse campaign group, designed to portray driven grouse moors as models of excellence for raptor conservation. But this time they’ve exceeded all expectation. Forget their usual unsubstantiated post-truth drivel, wholly disconnected to reality, because that’s got nothing on their latest effort, which takes the stretching of credibility to new depths.

The following press release from the Gift of Grouse is set to hit the headlines tomorrow:

ENCOURAGING NUMBERS OF BIRDS OF PREY SIGHTED ON SCOTTISH MOORLANDS

An increasing number of birds of prey are thriving on Scottish grouse moors due to gamekeepers’ conservation efforts.

More than 10 different raptor species including golden eagles, red kites and hen harriers have been identified on prominent grouse moors this year. They are among the 86 bird species that have been recorded on estates in the Angus Glens.

A snap shot from a range of estates across the Angus Glens Moorland Group highlighted encouraging evidence with gamekeepers on Invermark Estate in particular sighting nine raptor species including buzzards and golden eagles. Some of these are nesting and successfully breeding on the estate.

A number of other estates also reported healthy numbers with Ballogie Estate, Royal Deeside, revealing a total of 15 buzzards regularly hunting on the moor. Figures from the Speyside Moorland Group were equally as strong with 12 species of birds of prey recorded on Strathspey Estate alone. Atholl Estate in Perthshire are also monitoring 12 different raptor species.

Garry MacLennan, head gamekeeper on Invermark Estate, said: “Scottish grouse moors are far from being raptor deserts, as some opponents of shooting claim. We have monitored a growing number of buzzards, kestrels, golden eagles and white-tailed eagles. Keepers and estate managers do recognise there are some areas of the country where there are fewer raptor species but there is plenty of hard evidence to show that raptors are successfully nesting on grouse moors.”

The findings from Invermark are part of annual surveys undertaken using SNH guidelines.  These surveys were conducted by Taylor Wildlife, an ecological consultancy specialising in upland environments.

Richard Cooke, manager of Invermark Estate, said: “The survey is an extremely helpful way for us to monitor the biodiversity of the estate and which species are benefitting the most from our habitat management practices. Throughout the year we carry out rotational muirburn and control predation under the general licence, including foxes, stoats and other mustelids in particular.  This is to the benefit of many ground nesting birds and is reflected in the rich birdlife recorded by the annual audit.

The Tayside Moorland Group has also carried out species monitoring at a number of estates throughout the region with Glenturret Estate in Perthshire recording no less than 12 different raptor species hunting and nesting on the moorland this year. The estate tally included several breeding pairs of hen harriers, a nesting pair of peregrine fledging four chicks, short eared owls and numerous red kites.

Conservation training, conscientious moorland management and favourable weather conditions can all impact positively upon species numbers found on Scottish moorland.

Figures revealed in Wildlife Estates Scotland’s latest annual report show that 11 accredited estates reported the presence of golden eagles, with seven of these reporting 19 pairs. Eleven estates also recorded sightings of hen harriers with four reporting 18 breeding pairs. Buzzards were also reported on 20 estates, with a total estimated population of over 920 birds.

It was also recently revealed in a national survey that golden eagle numbers have surpassed 500 pairs giving them a ‘favourable conservation status’ in the UK. Eagles have made a home on several moorland estates across Scotland with Millden Estate, a member of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, recording a particularly high number of sightings.

Jason Clamp, head gamekeeper on Millden Estate, commented: “We are fortunate enough at Millden to have regular sightings of golden eagles. Seeing several of these magnificent birds on a daily basis has to be one of the highlights of my job. We are also very careful to leave a sustainable population of mountain hares for birds of prey, such as golden eagles, to hunt.

At Millden our team of gamekeepers has taken a proactive role in ensuring that we have a suitable breeding habitat for various birds of prey such the merlin, of which we currently have four nesting pairs. This has been brought about through controlled heather burning ‘muirburn’, which creates micro habitats suited to ground-nesting birds like the merlin.

We are delighted that the golden eagle, a species of conservation concern, amongst many other species, has found a safe and suitable environment in which to flourish in such impressive numbers, where careful moorland management has been imperative.”

ENDS

Wow! Where to start with this? It’s such ludicrously far-fetched bollocks it could have come straight from the mouths of gamekeepers and grouse moor managers. Oh, hang on…

Perhaps the idiots behind the Gift of Grouse campaign didn’t see the results of the latest national golden eagle survey, published just a few short weeks ago. You know, the survey that showed breeding golden eagles are still largely absent from driven grouse moors in the Eastern Highlands, just as they were in the last national survey conducted in 2003. Only 30% of known territories were occupied in this area – that’s a pathetic 34 out of 91 territories.

Perhaps the idiots behind the Gift of Grouse campaign didn’t see the results of the recent study on northern red kites, showing that illegal persecution on driven grouse moors in this region is just as bad now as it was in 1989.

Perhaps the idiots behind the Gift of Grouse campaign didn’t read the recent scientific paper showing hen harriers have suffered a ‘catastrophic decline’ on the driven grouse moors of NE Scotland.

Perhaps the idiots behind the Gift of Grouse campaign didn’t read the scientific paper showing peregrines continue to suffer a ‘long-term decline’ on the driven grouse moors of NE Scotland.

It’s all very well saying that raptors have been ‘sighted’ on grouse moors – of course they’ve been seen there – they are drawn to those areas precisely because of the absence of territorial breeding adults (as well as an abundant food supply). Nobody disputes that you can see raptors over these moors – the crucial distinction, which the Gift of Grouse idiots have carefully avoided, is how many raptors are breeding there? Remember, no breeding hen harriers in the Angus Glens for ten years!

It’s interesting that this press release refers to the grouse moors of the Angus Glens – a well known hotbed of illegal raptor persecution for over a decade. Here’s a map to illustrate the point:

Four grouse moor estates are highlighted in red (Invermark, Millden, Hunthill, Glenogil [with thanks to Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website for estate boundaries]). You see those purple dots? They represent confirmed illegal raptor persecution crimes. Are we seriously being asked to believe that raptors are ‘thriving’ in this region?

It’s also interesting to note that the ‘data’ behind the Gift of Grouse propaganda come from an ‘annual audit’ carried out by Taylor Wildlife consultancy. We’ve blogged about this group before – these are the ‘experts’ who claimed to have recorded 81 species of birds ‘feeding or breeding’ on an Angus Glens grouse moor last year. The problem is, their survey methods didn’t adhere to the usual industry standard – rather than conduct their breeding bird survey between March and June, when you’re supposed to do it, they conducted their survey between June and August, which is, er, after the breeding season!

Will we get to see this year’s report to scrutinise the methods and results? Highly unlikely – we’re still waiting to see their 2015 report but apparently it’s a secret and we’re not allowed to read it. Can’t think why.

Also of note in this latest press release is the reference to Glenturret Estate in Perthshire, another well-known driven grouse moor. We’ve blogged about this estate before, when it was claimed that Hen Harrier Day protesters might ‘disturb’ hen harriers – a species that has consistently failed to breed successfully on this moor. This year, they are claiming to have ‘several breeding pairs of hen harriers’ amongst other species. That’s interesting, because according to monitoring data from the Scottish Raptor Study Group, there was only one hen harrier breeding attempt on Glenturret this year, and, as has so often happened here in recent years, the nest failed for ‘unknown reasons’. Unfortunately it’s not possible to work out why hen harriers keep failing here because the estate has apparently refused to allow nest cameras to be installed.

Glenturret used to have lots of successfully breeding raptors, but these days, not so much. They certainly don’t have breeding golden eagles anymore because the eagle’s eyrie was burnt out last year. Here’s a photograph of the cliff face, taken in April 2015 – note the blackened hillside. Spontaneously combusting eagle eyries are a common problem on some Scottish grouse moors. Either that or golden eagles need to learn to discard their fag butts with more care.

We’ll add updates to this blog tomorrow when we see which newspapers have swallowed the Gift of Grouse guff hook, line and sinker. We’ll be particularly interested to see whether SNH issues a statement to rebutt the claims being made – SNH has access to the actual raptor breeding data via the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme – let’s see them put it good use.

UPDATE 5 December 2016: “Risible, make-believe tosh”: RSPB responds to Gift of Grouse propaganda (here).

07
Jun
16

The ‘secrets of the Angus Glens’ that Countryfile forgot to mention

On Sunday evening, Countryfile included a piece about the grouse moors of Invermark Estate in the Angus Glens and how it was “a haven for wildlife”.

It can be viewed on iPlayer here for the next 28 days (starts at 22 mins in).

Inane, vacuous and unquestioning, this piece was heralded in previews as ‘uncovering the secrets of the glen’.

Invermark is only one of several grouse moor estates in the Angus Glens. Here are some secrets of the wider Angus Glens that weren’t mentioned on Countryfile:

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird allegedly been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle seemingly caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside with two broken legs & left to die. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 June, Glen Ogil: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2013 July, Glen Moy: illegal hawk trap. No prosecution.

2013 September, nr Edzell: unset spring trap next to bait. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle ‘Fearnan’. No prosecution.

2014 August & September, Glenogil Estate: alleged snare offences. Prosecution of gamekeeper underway (currently ongoing).

2014 October, Nathro: shot buzzard. Prosecution? Unknown.

And some more secrets of the Angus Glens that weren’t mentioned:

No breeding hen harriers on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens since 2006 (see here).

Mountain hare massacre on the grouse moors of the Angus Glens (see here).

Angus Glens gamekeeper facing trial for alleged pole-trapping offences (see here).

Mark Avery has written an alternative and more accurate Countryfile script (see here) than the one that was aired on Sunday evening.

Plenty of people on social media have been asking when Countryfile will do a piece on illegal raptor persecution. To be fair, they did one in 2014 (we blogged about it here) and it was fairly well balanced, but this then begs the question why Countryfile researchers hadn’t done their homework for this latest episode.

Had they done so, here are some of the images they would have found from those ‘wildlife haven’ grouse moors of the Angus Glens. From the top down, an illegally poisoned golden eagle, another illegally poisoned golden eagle, an illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle, an illegally trapped golden eagle that was then dumped in a layby with two broken legs and left to die, the nest tree of a white-tailed eagle that was illegally chainsawed to the ground, and a pile of rotting shot mountain hares. The grouse moors of the Angus Glens a wildlife haven? Hardly. They’re notorious wildlife crime scenes.

Petition to ban driven grouse shooting here

Fearnan

alma

whiteg

deeside eagle

wtenesttree

mountain-hare-cull-angus-glens-large-copy

29
Sep
15

The gift of grouse: spectacular propaganda from the Angus Glens

Gift of GrouseWe love it when the grouse shooting community produces its propaganda pieces to spoon-feed to the (sym)pathetic right wing elements of the national press. It’s usually a masterclass in foot-shooting and provides us with ample material for a good laugh.

Take this month’s latest offering –  a published, commissioned report from the University of the Highlands & Islands:

Grouse Shooting, Moorland Management and Local Communities: Community Perceptions and Socio-Economic Impacts of Moorland Management and Grouse Shooting in the Monadhliaths and Angus Glens

and a video produced by the Angus Glens Moorland Group (basically all the gamekeepers that work there) entitled:

The Untold Story: Driven Grouse Shooting’.

The publication of these two pieces was celebrated at a Parliamentary reception last week (see here) hosted by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism (a long-standing supporter of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association) and attended by gamekeepers and luminaries from the grouse shooting industry such as Doug McAdam from Scottish Land & Estates.

The report mostly suggests that there is great support for grouse moor management and all its ‘benefits’, from within the two communities surveyed. We’re not going to say very much about these findings at the moment other than to say that we are aware that someone has been analysing the survey questionnaire data and has discovered some fundamental flaws that basically render the report’s findings obsolete. We’ll return to this once the analysis has been completed. The report can be downloaded here: Grouse Shooting Moorland Management and Local Communities_2015

What we do want to blog about now is the hilarious video produced by the Angus Glens gamekeepers. This video (watch it here) was first published on the Inglorious 12th, timed to coincide with the opening of the grouse shooting season. It formed part of a new campaign called ‘The Gift of Grouse’, which is a one-year propaganda offensive, heavily promoted (and maybe even funded) by Scottish Land & Estates, and others, aimed at cleaning up the media image of the grouse shooting industry. Check out their website here.

For some reason, the video has now been re-launched this month, perhaps to coincide with the publication of the commissioned report. Whatever, that doesn’t really matter. This video really is a gift and an almighty own-goal.

You would think that if the grouse-shooting industry wanted to portray an image of lawful, environmentally-sensitive management, that they’d choose to focus on an area that wasn’t notorious as a massive wildlife crime scene, wouldn’t you? Well, apparently not.

This video is brilliant. It includes interviews with head gamekeepers from five grouse-shooting estates in the Angus Glens; some of these estate names will be very familiar to regular readers of this blog. The interviewees are: Jason Clamp (Millden Estate), Garry MacLennan (Invermark Estate), Martin Taylor (Glenlethnot Estate), Danny Lawson (Glenogil Estate) and Bruce Cooper (Glenprosen Estate). [Incidentally, one of these head keepers shares his name with a gamekeeper who was formerly employed on Skibo Estate in 2010 when three poisoned golden eagles were found poisoned. What an amazing coincidence. No prosecution for poisoning those eagles, natch, although the sporting manager was done for possession of a massive stash of banned Carbofuran].

The video provides a heart-warming narrative of the daily lives of gamekeepers in the Angus Glens, complete with a soothing musical backing track, where the keepers are keen to explain how they care for the welfare of all the wildlife in the Glens and how the emphasis is no longer on just the grouse, apparently.

Jason Clamp (Millden) says: “We’re not looking for massive bags of grouse” and “We’re not looking to kill thousands of grouse“.

That’s an odd statement coming from the head keeper of perhaps one of the most intensively-managed grouse moors in the area. According to the Millden Estate sales brochures (2010 and 2011) great emphasis is placed on the record number of grouse that have been killed / are available to be killed and this is a prime selling point. Record bag sizes are also apparently the main reason the estate owner decided to withdraw his estate from sale in 2011 (see here).

We’re also told by Garry MacLennan (Invermark) that the Angus Glens are great for raptors (ahem – see below) and the video bizarrely cuts to show what looks remarkably like a Gyr/Saker hybrid falconry bird….whatever it is, it certainly isn’t a native species and it certainly isn’t a wild bird living in those Glens.

Probably the most amusing thing about this video (and there is an awful lot to laugh at) is the title: ‘The Untold Story’. Oh, the irony.

Here are some of the untold bits of the untold story that, unsurprisingly, don’t feature in this film:

Known raptor persecution incidents in the Angus Glens 2004-2014 – 

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle seemingly caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside with two broken legs & left to die. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle ‘Fearnan’. No prosecution.

2014 October, Nathro: shot buzzard. Prosecution? Unknown.

There’s also no mention of the massacre of mountain hares known to take place across the Angus Glens. This photo shows a pile of slaughtered hares photographed on Glenogil Estate in 2012:

mountain-hare-cull-angus-glens-large - Copy

And no mention of the “savaged, stripped and blasted land” as portrayed in this photograph of Millden Estate in 2014 (by Chris Townsend):

Interestingly, a Parliamentary Motion has now been lodged (Jamie McGrigor, Tory) congratulating the Angus Glens gamekeepers on their video and welcoming the Gift of Grouse initiative. The motion hasn’t attracted a lot of support although some of the signatories are surprising, to say the least (see here).

23
Mar
15

Hare-brained propaganda from the grouse shooting industry

Over the last couple of years we’ve blogged a lot about the obscene massacre of mountain hares on Scottish grouse moors (see here for previous posts).

It’s quite the hot topic these days, resulting in Parliamentary questions, public petitions, and even a call from SNH/GWCT/SLE for grouse moor managers to practice “voluntary restraint”  – a pointless exercise in our opinion (see here).

It seems that SNH doesn’t have much faith that voluntary restraint will be employed – a few weeks after they issued their plea to landowners, they asked hill-walkers to report any evidence of large-scale culls (see here).

Today, the grouse-shooting industry issued their own press release about mountain hares on grouse moors. We thought it was an early April Fools’ Day stunt but apparently it isn’t. It reads as follows:

MOUNTAIN HARES ON THE MARCH AFTER GROUSE BONANZA

(Issued on behalf of a Scottish Moorland Group)

The Highlands are celebrating a special conservation bonus following two very good grouse seasons.

Scottish moorland managers are reporting large numbers of the much loved and easily recognised mountain hare, linked to last year’s ‘best in a generation’ grouse season. The Scottish population of hares is thought to be around 350,000 and in some areas they are now at historically high levels – the hares have the red grouse to thank!

Concern has been expressed recently that hare numbers may be going down; however grouse moors in the Angus Glens, Speyside and Highlands report that their numbers have increased along with grouse levels. Heather moorland managed for red grouse is an extremely good habitat for hares to thrive on.

The mountain hare is the only native species of hare or rabbit in Britain, easily distinguished by its white plumage during the winter months and brown during the summer. It is known that its population fluctuates in 7-10 year cycles, however actively managed moorlands give this iconic Scottish species a sustainable future.

Danny Lawson, head gamekeeper on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens, said: “I have seen more mountain hares this year than at any time since I came here. Our mountain hare population has been increasing along with grouse over the last three years because our heather management gives them good grazing and because of predator control over the estate and other neighbouring estates.

Good weather in the breeding season helps mountain hare numbers and the last two seasons, 2013 and 2014, have been very good for both grouse and mountain hares. Like grouse, mountain hare populations have to be carefully managed. Culling is legal and is necessary in some circumstances and such management should be done sustainably and be supported by a sound management plan.”

Tim Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, says: “There are surprising gaps in our collective knowledge about this secretive animal.  This can lead to assumptions about population changes which are not correct and we support the research project commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage to get a better handle on how to accurately count hares on the open hill.  What does seem certain from the long term observations of moorland managers on the ground is that there is a strong link to land use; hare numbers are likely to go down where moorland is unmanaged or afforested but will increase where managed for red grouse.”

-ENDS-

Anyone convinced that grouse moor managers view mountain hares as “much loved”? Anyone convinced that hare culls by grouse moor managers are “carefully managed”?

Have a look at the photographs at the foot of this blog and make up your own minds.

What’s also interesting about this press release is the decision to include a quote from the head gamekeeper of Glenogil Estate. We’ve blogged a lot about Glenogil Estate over the years (see here). Glenogil Estate is one of several grouse-shooting estates in the Angus Glens. Here’s some information about raptor persecution in the Angus Glens, mainly gleaned from the RSPB’s annual BirdCrime reports and SASA’s annual reports:

2004 May, near Edzell: long-eared owl and two short-eared owls starved to death in crow cage trap.  No prosecution.

2004 May, Invermark Estate: peregrine nest destroyed. No prosecution.

2006 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 April, Easter Ogil: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2006 May, Glenogil Estate: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2006 June, Glenogil Estate: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. No prosecution. Estate owner had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments. This was being appealed, but it is not known how this was resolved.

2006 July, Millden Estate; poisoned sheepdog (Lindane). No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 May, Glenogil Estate: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). No prosecution.

2008 October, ‘Glenogil Estate: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 March, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 April, Millden Estate: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). No prosecution.

2009 July, Millden Estate: poisoned golden eagle ‘Alma’ (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2009 August, Glenogil Estate: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 May, ‘Nr Noranside’: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 September, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2010 October, Glenogil Estate: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). No prosecution.

2011 February, Airlie Estate: buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. (see below)

2011 March, Airlie Estate: 3 x buzzard caught in illegal crow trap. Prosecution (!) but dropped after statement from suspect given to SSPCA deemed inadmissible.

2011 April, Millden Estate: shot buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 April, ‘Nr Noranside’: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Suspicious death.

2011 June, Rottal & Tarabuckle Estate: dead kestrel inside crow cage trap. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Edzell’: spring-trapped buzzard. No prosecution.

2012 February, ‘Nr Bridgend’: remains of buzzard found under a rock. Suspicious death.

2012 May, Millden Estate: satellite-tagged golden eagle seemingly caught in spring trap, then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside with two broken legs & left to die. No prosecution.

2012 May, Glen Esk: disappearance of sat-tagged red kite. No further transmissions or sightings of bird.

2013 January, Invermark Estate: white-tailed eagle nest tree felled. No prosecution.

2013 November, Glen Lethnot: poisoned golden eagle ‘Fearnan’. No prosecution.

2014 October, Nathro: shot buzzard. Prosecution? Unknown.

Can we take it then, that as this press release was issued by the Scottish Moorland Group – a sub-group of Scottish Land & Estates – that Glenogil Estate is a member of SLE? If so, surely the partner organisations of the PAW Scotland Raptor Group will be asking questions at their next ‘partner’ meeting.

A few newspapers have picked up on this press release today, including an article in the P&J entitled, ‘Mountain hare thriving thanks to grouse management‘.

Here are some pictures of ‘much-loved’ mountain hares ‘thriving’ on Scottish grouse moors, including one photograph that was taken on, er, Glenogil Estate.

mountain-hare-cull-angus-glens-large - Copy

mh4 - Copyhares-glenshee-feb-2014-11 - Copymh2 - Copymountain-hares-deeside-2010 - Copyslry30 - Copyhares-glenshee-feb-2014-21 - Copymh3 - Copy

07
Aug
14

East Scotland sea eagle chick fledges: what fate awaits this one?

For the second consecutive year, a young white-tailed eagle has successfully fledged from a nest in east Scotland.

His sibling, who hatched in 2013, un-mysteriously ‘disappeared’ earlier this year in a notorious raptor persecution blackspot in the Cairngorms National Park (see here and here). He was the first sea eagle to fledge in east Scotland in over 200 years but he didn’t even survive to see his first birthday. His satellite transmitter went silent after he’d visited a driven grouse moor where previously a head gamekeeper had been convicted of poisoning offences (2006), a poisoned golden eagle had been found in 2011 (no prosecution), a poisoned buzzard had been found in 2011 (no prosecution), poisoned bait had been discovered in 2011 (no prosecution) and a short-eared owl had been found in 2011 that had been shot and shoved underneath a rock (no prosecution). The police raided the estate in April this year but found no trace of the eagle.

He might not have been the first sea eagle to fledge in Scotland in over 200 years if another east Scotland pair had not had their nest tree felled by someone with a chainsaw (see here – no prosecution).

The BBC is running an article on this year’s fledgling (see here) and includes a telling remark from RSPB Scotland saying they hoped the young bird would avoid areas where birds of prey have been poisoned or trapped. In other words, steer clear of driven grouse moors.

He’s got at least five years in which to run the gauntlet before he becomes mature enough to breed – we don’t rate his chances much.

Go west, kid, go west.

wtse fife 2014 ian francis




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