Posts Tagged ‘Leadhills Estate

09
May
16

Guidance for deployment of gas guns on grouse moors – still waiting

A year ago in May 2015, someone sent us some photographs of three propane gas gun bird scarers that had been deployed on the grouse moor at Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire (see here).

Bird scarer 1 - Copy

These 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 wondered why they were being used on grouse moors in the height of the breeding season?

A month later in June 2015, Mark Avery published photographs of gas guns that had also been deployed in the Peak District National Park and on an unnamed grouse moor in the Scottish Borders (see here).

We were interested in the deployment of these bird scarers in relation to (a) their proximity to Schedule 1 (and in Scotland, Schedule 1A) bird species [and thus any potential disturbance to these specially protected species] and (b) their use in designated Special Protection Areas [and thus any potential disturbance caused].

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).

So an FoI was sent to SNH to find out if anyone had requested a licence to use a gas gun on a grouse moor in the previous two years. It turned out nobody had.

An FoI was also sent to Natural England – no licence applications there either. It also emerged that NE had received a report in June 2015 of a gas gun being deployed on a SSSI on an estate in the North Pennines, without formal consent. In July 2015 a warning letter was sent to the estate asking them to remove the gas gun. The estate apparently complied and no further action was taken.

In September 2015, we encouraged blog readers to contact SNH and Natural England to ask for urgent guidance to be issued on the use of gas guns in protected areas and in close proximity breeding birds, particularly raptors (see here).

SNH responded quickly and said they would investigate, and depending on their findings, they may provide guidance (see here).

Natural England responded a short time later and said they recognised the need for guidance and that they were in the middle of drafting such guidance, which would be made available prior to the start of the 2016 breeding season (see here). In fact, Alan Law, Chief Strategy & Reform Officer at Natural England said: “I will arrange for you to be sent this guidance as soon as it becomes available, which will be in advance of next year’s breeding season“.

Well, the 2016 breeding season is already underway but we haven’t seen any formal guidance. Have you?

Let’s remind SNH and Natural England of their stated commitments and ask them to produce the following:

Emails to:

Andrew Bachell, Director of Policy & Advice, SNH: Andrew.Bachell@snh.gov.uk

Dear Andrew, Last September you said SNH would investigate the deployment of propane gas gun scarers with regard to the law, and specifically with regard to the recent guidance you issued on Schedule A1 and 1A species under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. You also said, depending on your findings, SNH would issue guidance if it was felt appropriate to do so. Please can you provide the results of your investigation and advise whether you intend to issue any formal guidance or not? Thanks.

And

Emails to:

Alan Law, Chief Strategy & Reform Officer, Natural Engand: alan.law@naturalengland.org.uk

Dear Alan, Last September you said Natural England was drafting formal guidance on the deployment of gas gun bird scarers within Special Protection Areas and their potential impact upon Schedule 1 birds. You also said this guidance would be available in advance of the 2016 breeding season. Please can you direct me to the location of this guidance document, or better still, please send me a copy, as you said you would. Thanks.

29
Jan
16

More shameless spin-doctoring from the Gift of Grouse

Gift of GrouseTim (Kim) Baynes, Director of the grouse-shooting industry’s propaganda campaign, The Gift of Grouse, is shameless. He must be to have penned his latest bout of spin-doctoring, this time pointing the finger at raptor workers.

Before we begin, here’s a definition of a spin doctor:

A person whose job involves trying to control the way something is described to the public in order to influence what people think about it“.

Ladies and gentlemen, the spin doctor is IN.

The following article, authored by Tim (Kim) Baynes, appears in today’s Courier and is entitled: ‘Trust needs to develop quickly between raptor groups and land management‘.

Despite the grouse season ending more than a month ago, our moorland continues to fire passions on all sides.

Since Jim Crumley’s last column, The Courier letters’ pages have been alive with debate. Yet, much of the criticism levelled at estates does not reflect what I see on our moors.

The Gift of Grouse campaign demonstrates the benefits of moorland, including species conservation.

Since then, a number of reports have been publicised. One looked at species present on Invermark, the estate cited by Jim Crumley. It found that 81 different bird species were breeding or feeding there, including a range of ‘red-listed’ most at risk birds. Amongst those present were 10 species of raptor including peregrine, golden eagle and hen-harrier.

Similar is happening on many Scottish estates. Yet disappointingly, the politics of the past – pitting raptor enthusiast versus gamekeeper – are still being played. The RSPB’s report uses incidents from two decades ago to influence present-day policymaking.  But, official figures from the past five years demonstrate raptor incidents are now in the teens per annum, with only some linked to land management. There is always work to be done but the law is tough on anyone convicted of wildlife crime, and even higher sentences are likely soon.

At the heart of this is continuing mistrust between some raptor enthusiasts and land managers. There are also internal rivalries within the raptor groups on who monitors which area, and this leads to secrecy. This is a serious issue as land managers need to know which birds are on their land in order to better manage them, but the survey results are often not shared with them, even when funded by bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage.

To break down mistrust, we must develop ways of maximising both raptors and prey species alongside grouse.  It should not be an either/or scenario. The persecution of raptors is becoming a thing of the past, but there is also a duty on raptor lobby to engage and share information. Trust is developing in some places but it needs to spread – and rapidly.

ENDS

Oh god, where to begin?

For context, perhaps we should begin by pointing out to those who don’t already know, Tim (Kim) Baynes is employed by the lairds’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates as Director of the Scottish Moorland Group. The Scottish Moorland Group is chaired by the one and only Lord Hopetoun – he of the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate – an estate with one of the worst records of illegal raptor persecution in the country.

Tim (Kim) is right in his assertion that there is distrust between some raptor workers and some landowners. Of course there is, and with bloody good reason!

Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) portrays itself as a wildlife-crime-fighting organisation and frequently points to its membership of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) as evidence of this. SLE has consistently stated that it is working hard to eradicate wildlife crime, and particularly illegal raptor persecution. The thing is, many raptor workers simply don’t believe them. Why not? Well probably because SLE has not sought to expel several member estates that have been implicated, over many years, in raptor persecution crimes. It would be an easy thing for them to do, but they haven’t done it. Until they do, raptor workers (and the general public) are justified to view SLE and their land-owning members with deep suspicion.

Another good reason for distrusting SLE is their continued denial of the extent of illegal raptor persecution, and their denial that the grouse-shooting industry (some of whom are members of SLE) is in any way implicated with these crimes (e.g. see here and here for just two recent examples). Where clear evidence has been provided, (e.g. 81% of all reported poisoning incidents in Scotland between 2005-2014 were on land used for game-shooting – see here), SLE has simply dismissed the figures and slagged off the RSPB for providing them (here).

RSPB persecution review 1994 2014 land use

In his article for the Courier, Tim (Kim) tries to claim that grouse moors are ‘good’ for species conservation and refers to a recent ‘study’ of breeding birds on Invermark Estate to back up this claim. The problem is, the full details of that ‘study’ (and a couple of others) have not been made available for public scrutiny, despite several requests to see it, and therefore has naff all credibility, especially when the ‘study’ of breeding birds was conducted, er, outside of the breeding season (see here).

But what interested us the most about Tim’s (Kim’s) article in the Courier was his (false) accusations (he’s good at those) about the raptor study groups. He said:

There are also internal rivalries within the raptor groups on who monitors which area, and this leads to secrecy. This is a serious issue as land managers need to know which birds are on their land in order to better manage them, but the survey results are often not shared with them, even when funded by bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage”.

This is absolute rubbish. The Scottish Raptor Study Group comprises 12 regional branches. These branches organise raptor monitoring within clearly-defined geographic regions, to avoid over-lapping and thus avoid ‘double-counting’ as well as ‘double disturbance’ of sensitive species. All the raptor workers who monitor Schedule 1 species are licensed (by SNH) to do so. These Schedule 1 disturbance licences are issued for specific areas; so if you have a licence to monitor, say, golden eagles in one area, you can’t use the same licence to monitor them in another area unless your licence specifically includes another area. Again, this is to regulate the amount of disturbance to sensitive species. There is no “internal rivalry” – raptor workers simply get on with monitoring in their own patch.

Raptor workers DO share their data – they provide their results to the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme (SRMS) and have been doing so since 2002! Tim (Kim) is obviously annoyed that landowners aren’t given access to those data “in order to better manage” those species. We all know what he means by “better manage” and that is precisely why raptor workers would be reluctant to share location data about highly persecuted species with dodgy landowners. Duh!

Tim (Kim) tries to imply that raptor workers are funded by SNH and as such, the data they collect should be made publicly available. Again, he either misunderstands the system or he’s trying to spin it so that raptor workers look like the bad guys. The truth is, raptor workers are not ‘funded’ by SNH, or by anyone else. SNH does provide SOME funding to the SRSG, but this amounts to a small contribution towards raptor workers’ fuel costs. It certainly doesn’t cover the full fuel costs (the funding is actually well below the commercial mileage rate claimed by consultants) and it does not cover the thousands and thousands of hours of time that raptor workers put in to their monitoring efforts. As such, the data collected by raptor workers belong to the individual raptor worker; not to SNH, not to the SRSG, and not to anybody else. These raptor workers are volunteers – nobody pays for their time, experience and expertise. They can do what they like with their data. That they contribute those data to the SRMS is to their credit, and they do so because they know their data will be useful to conservation and scientific organisations who want to keep tabs on species’ populations. Tim (Kim) Bayne’s inference that raptor workers are the problem is disgraceful.

Trust him and the grouse-shooting industry? Not a bloody chance. Not until we see SLE expelling the estates where persistent raptor persecution continues. Not until we see SLE supporting the work of RSPB Scotland’s investigations team. Not until we see SLE acknowledging the extent of illegal raptor persecution. Not until we see healthy, sustainable breeding populations of raptors such as golden eagles, hen harriers, peregrines, over  a period of years, on driven grouse moors in central, eastern and southern Scotland.

By the way, Kim, you still haven’t provided an explanation for why hen harriers have been absent as a breeding species in the Angus Glens since 2006 (here). Try and spin-doctor your way out of that.

23
Nov
15

Leadhills Estate featured in programme on Land Reform

The BBC’s Landward programme last Friday was a special edition focusing on land reform.

The Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate featured, including interviews with Pat Wilders, Chair of the Leadhills Community Company, and Donald Noble, the Edinbugh-based Leadhills Estate Factor.

The Leadhills Community Company (website here) was established in June 2014 as part of a formal process in readiness for registering an interest in a community buyout of Leadhills Estate.

Pat Wilders has got some guts. Well done that lady.

The programme is available to watch for the next 28 days here.

Leadhills village & grouse moor from Landward prog

04
Sep
15

Gas guns on grouse moors: urgent guidance required

You may remember back in May this year we blogged about the deployment of propane gas gun bird scarers on the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire (see here).

Bird scarer 1 - Copy

A month later, Mark Avery blogged about the deployment of propane gas guns on an unnamed grouse moor in the Scottish Borders and on another unnamed site in the Peak District National Park (see here).

It seemed they were being used with regularity across the uplands.

For those who don’t know, propane gas guns are routinely used for scaring birds (e.g. pigeons, geese) from agricultural crops – they are set up to deliver an intermittent booming noise and the audible bangs can apparently reach volumes in excess of 150 decibels. According to the Purdue University website, 150 decibels is the equivalent noise produced by a jet taking off from 25 metres away and can result in eardrum rupture. That’s quite loud!

We were interested in the deployment of these bird scarers in relation to (a) their proximity to Schedule 1 and 1A bird species [and thus any potential disturbance to these specially protected species] and (b) their use in designated Special Protection Areas [and thus any potential disturbance caused].

We assumed that the deployment of these gas guns would be subject to guidance and rigorous licensing controls by SNH (as they are the licensing authority for the Wildlife & Countryside Act (as amended)), particularly in relation to the hen harrier, which, as a Schedule 1A species, is “protected from harassment [including disturbance] at any time“, not just when it’s trying to breed (see here).

So an FoI was sent to SNH in June to ask for copies of all correspondence (during the last two years) between SNH and Scottish Land & Estates, and/or GWCT, and/or BASC, and/or Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association regarding the deployment of propane gas guns on grouse moors. As gas guns were clearly being deployed this year, we expected to receive a considerable amount of paperwork relating to SNH guidance on gas gun use.

How wrong were we!

In July, SNH responded by saying there had been “no direct correspondence” with any of the listed organisations in relation to the deployment of propane gas guns on grouse moors.

Hmm.

So it seems that SNH hasn’t issued any guidance on the deployment of these gas guns in sensitive areas where they may directly disturb breeding birds. Isn’t that a bit odd? Isn’t it obvious that the deployment of a gas gun bird scarer in proximity to specially protected birds is likely to, er, scare those specially protected birds? Surely this should be subject to a strict licensing regime?

To be fair to SNH, perhaps they had been unaware that these gas guns were being routinely deployed on grouse moors, and so they wouldn’t have thought that there was a necessity to provide guidance? However, that excuse can’t be used any longer because SNH are now well aware that these gas guns are being deployed. As part of their response to the FoI, they sent a copy of an email chain from members of the PAW Scotland Raptor Group (of which SNH is a member) discussing the deployment of these gas guns in Scotland. It really is worth a read – according to SLE CEO Doug McAdam, these guns ‘have been used for a number of years’ and are used to scare away juvenile ravens. Apparently (according to McAdam) this ‘isn’t a raptor issue’ and gas guns are ‘targeted and proportional’ and they ‘seem to have relatively little impact on other species’, although he fails to provide any shred of evidence to support these claims. He then goes on to say there should be an experimental removal of ravens – a suggestion ably slammed by Ian Thomson, Head of RSPB Scotland Investigations.

Read the correspondence here: FoI July 2015 SNH correspondence gas guns on grouse moors last two years

We would argue that SNH, as a matter of urgency, needs to provide official guidance on the deployment of propane gas guns in proximity to Schedule 1 and Schedule 1A birds, as well as their use in SPAs. Without official guidance, it would probably be difficult to secure a successful prosecution [for gas gun related disturbance offences]. This guidance should be relatively easy for SNH to produce – they recently published similar guidance on the use of helicopters and aircraft in relation to disturbance risks to Schedule 1 and Schedule 1A raptors and wider Schedule 1 species (see here). This guidance (which is very informative – well worth a read) indicates that a licence is required for any aerial work in the vicinity of a protected species. When you look at the noise comparison table produced by Purdue University (here), a Bell J-2A helicopter at 100ft is said to emit 100dB of noise; this is considerably less than the 150dB noise of a propane gas gun and so it follows that a licence would also be required for the deployment of a gas gun in the vicinity of a protected species and/or in a protected area.

We’d also argue that Natural England should also produce guidance on the deployment of gas guns, again as a matter of urgency. As evidenced in Mark Avery’s blog, these devices are also being used on the uplands of northern England.

Here are the contact details for SNH and NE, if anyone feels like writing to them to ask when we might expect the publication of such guidance:

Andrew Bachell, Director of Policy & Advice, SNH: Andrew.Bachell@snh.gov.uk

Alan Law, Chief Strategy & Reform Officer, Natural England: alan.law@naturalengland.org.uk

UPDATE 13th September 2015: SNH commits to investigating the deployment of gas guns on grouse moors (see here)

UPDATE 23rd September 2015: Natural England to issue guidance on deployment of gas guns on grouse moors (see here).

11
Jun
15

Henry’s Tour day 42: Leadhills

Thurs 11th June Copy

Henry went with an armed escort to visit Leadhills in South Lanarkshire.

He looks a bit distressed. Perhaps he was being deafened by the booming gas guns that have recently been deployed on the grouse moors of the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate.

Or perhaps he’d just been told about the long list of wildlife crimes that have been discovered in this corner of South Lanarkshire; 46 confirmed since 2003, but only two resulting in successful convictions (2004 – Leadhills Estate gamekeeper convicted of shooting a short-eared owl; 2009 – Leadhills Estate gamekeeper convicted of placing out a poisoned rabbit bait).

Here’s the list, all from Leadhills unless otherwise stated:

2003 April: hen harrier shot [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2003 April: hen harrier eggs destroyed [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2004 May: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2004 May: short-eared owl shot [gamekeeper convicted]

2004 June: buzzard poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: 4 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: crow poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 February: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 April: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 February: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 April: dead buzzard (persecution method unknown) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned egg baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: 6 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned egg bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: 5 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 April: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 May: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 November: 3 x poisoned ravens (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [gamekeeper convicted]

2009 April: poisoned magpie (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2010 October: short-eared owl shot [no prosecution]

2011 March: illegally-set clam trap [no prosecution]

2011 December: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2012 October: golden eagle shot (just over boundary with Buccleuch Estate) [no prosecution]

2013 May: shot otter found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 June: significant cache of pre-prepared poisoned baits found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 August: red kite found shot and critically-injured in Leadhills village [no prosecution]

2014 February: poisoned peregrine (Carbofuran) [‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

Word has it from a local informant that a suspected shot raven was found on Leadhills Estate in May 2015. Post-mortem results are awaited.

Just a few weeks ago, we were sent footage of a young man dressed in camouflage who was lying on the moor holding a firearm, looking over at a plastic decoy peregrine which had been placed on top of a small mound. When he realised he’d been spotted, he removed the decoy and took off back down the hill on a quad bike. Can’t imagine who that was or what his intentions might have been.

29
May
15

Gas-gun bird scarers deployed on Leadhills Estate grouse moor

These photographs were taken a couple of days ago on the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire. They show three propane gas guns set out on the grouse moor (one inside a grouse butt).

These 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.

Can’t imagine why they’d be deployed on a driven grouse moor during the critical stages of the hen harrier’s breeding season, can you?

Bird scarer 1 - Copy

bird scarer 2a

bird scarer 3 - Copy

12
Mar
15

Leadhills Estate confirmed as member of Scottish Land & Estates

The Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in south Lanarkshire has featured regularly on this blog (see here).

Since 2003, 46 confirmed incidents of wildlife crime have been discovered either on or near to the estate, but only resulting in two successful convictions (2004 – gamekeeper convicted of shooting a short-eared owl; 2009 – gamekeeper convicted of laying out a poisoned rabbit bait). Here’s the list:

2003 April: hen harrier shot [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2003 April: hen harrier eggs destroyed [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2004 May: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2004 May: short-eared owl shot [gamekeeper convicted]

2004 June: buzzard poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: 4 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: crow poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 February: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 April: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 February: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 April: dead buzzard (persecution method unknown) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned egg baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: 6 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned egg bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: 5 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 April: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 May: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 November: 3 x poisoned ravens (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [gamekeeper convicted]

2009 April: poisoned magpie (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2010 October: short-eared owl shot [no prosecution]

2011 March: illegally-set clam trap [no prosecution]

2011 December: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2012 October: golden eagle shot (just over boundary with Buccleuch Estate) [no prosecution]

2013 May: shot otter found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 June: significant cache of pre-prepared poisoned baits found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 August: red kite found shot and critically-injured in Leadhills village [no prosecution]

2014 February: poisoned peregrine (Carbofuran) [‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

For a long time, we’ve been trying to find out whether this estate is a member of the landowners’ organisation Scottish Land and Estates – an organisation that regularly claims to be fighting hard against raptor persecution. All our attempts to find out have been met with a wall of silence. We knew that Lord Hopetoun served on the SLE Board, so it was quite likely that his estate would be a member of SLE, but we weren’t able to find definitive evidence.

Well, we have now. Leadhills Estate has launched its own website (see here). It’s a spectacular example of how to conduct a public relations charm offensive – lots of info about how the estate is supporting the local community: providing a new home for the volunteer fire crew, lending a hand on Gala Day, engaging in a village clean-up for Christmas, and providing support for the Leadhills Miners Library. It brings a tear to the eye. There’s also plenty of encouragement for walkers to keep to the tracks so as not to disturb the wildlife – because Leadhills Estate really cares about wildlife.

Of most interest to us is a statement on the web site’s home page:

‘Leadhills Estate is a member of Scottish Land and Estates – an organisation which promotes the work of landowners and rural businesses undertake [sic] for the benefit of rural Scotland’.

Amazing. We’d love to hear how SLE justifies the membership of Leadhills Estate in their wildlife-crime-fighting organisation.

The Leadhills Estate website also includes a gallery showing images that visitors can expect to see when they visit this most welcoming of estates. Here’s another one for them – taken at one of many stink pits hidden away on Leadhills Estate (far from the tracks that visitors are encouraged to stick to). For those who don’t know, stink pits are used (legally) by gamekeepers in which to dump the rotting carcasses and entrails of dead wildlife. They set snares around the edge of the stink pit to catch (and then kill) any animals that may be attracted to the stench of death (typically foxes). This particular stink pit includes a few fox carcasses oh, and a cat. Nice, eh? Welcome to Leadhills Estate.

Leadhills dead cat stinkpit - Copy

 

 




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