Posts Tagged ‘Lochindorb Estate

06
Mar
13

Environment Minister answers parliamentary questions on mountain hare snaring

ChristineGrahameMSPBack in early February, following the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the Lochindorb hare snare trial, MSP Christine Grahame posed some parliamentary questions to clarify the legal position regarding the snaring of mountain hares (see here).

Environment Paul Wheelhouse has now answered those questions:

Question S4W-12782: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government how many applications for species licences to use snares to capture mountain hares have been made since 2006; how many have been granted, and for what reasons licences were not granted.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

Four applications for a licence to snare mountain hares were received between 2006 and June 2011 by the Scottish Government, as the appropriate licensing authority at that time. Two were granted and two were refused.

The applications that were refused did not offer sufficient detail or historical information on populations to allow the Scottish Government to satisfy itself that this proposal would not affect the favourable conservation status of mountain hares and two of the licences were therefore refused.

Following the introduction of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, the licensing function was transferred to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in July 2011. SNH has received one application for the snaring of mountain hares, which was granted.

Question S4W-12781: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what the legal basis is for the licensing regime operated by Scottish Natural Heritage regarding the use of snares to capture mountain hares.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

Mountain hares are listed on Schedule 3 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) considers that snares are non-selective traps and a licence is therefore required under Regulation 44 of the above Regulations.

SNH is, however, aware of the recent case at Inverness Sheriff Court concerning the snaring of mountain hares. SNH will be reviewing its position in light of this case before the end of the close season on 31 July 2013.

Question S4W-12780: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that it complies with the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats regarding the (a) use of non-selective traps to capture protected species and (b) the reporting requirements under article 9.2.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

The requirements of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats as regards the use of non-selective traps to capture protected species are implemented in Scotland through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Schedule 3 of these Regulations lists species which may not be taken by specified means including traps which are non-selective according to their principle or their conditions of use, or any method which is indiscriminate and capable of causing its local disappearance or serious disturbance to a population. However, the Regulations allow licences to be granted under certain circumstances to permit the taking of these protected species by these non-selective methods, for example preventing serious damage to growing timber is a commonly used reason.

In order to comply with Article 9.2 of the convention, UK licensing authorities report biennially to the European Commission on the granting of all such licences.

mhare contributedIt’s interesting that SNH will be ‘reviewing its position’ about its licensing regime in light of the Lochindorb verdict. As far as we could tell, the Lochindorb ‘not guilty’ verdict was based on the specific type of snare used at that time (sometimes called a ‘w’ snare, sometimes called an ‘m’ snare, depending on who you’re talking to). That snare was legal in 2009 (at the time the alleged offences took place). During the trial the defence successfully argued that that particular type of snare had never knowingly caught any non-target species. Unfortunately the prosecution was unable to provide any evidence to the contrary. However, that snare-type has since been banned, because under the Snares Scotland Order (2010) it is no longer legal to use a snare in a way that an animal could become partially or wholly suspended.

So, accordingly, as SNH considers the legal snares currently in use as ‘non-selective’ (i.e. they could catch non-target species), surely they won’t be reviewing their licensing policy in favour of allowing hare snaring? We’ll have to wait and see.

We’ll be blogging a bit more about snaring in general, especially as the new snaring legislation comes into force at the end of this month. There’s quite an amusing lead article on the new snaring regs in the latest Modern Gamekeeper rag, with a contribution from everyone’s favourite policy advisor, Bert Burnett of the SGA. More of that later…

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01
Feb
13

Lochindorb hare snare verdict leads to parliamentary questions

mhare contributedThe ‘not guilty’ verdict in the recent Lochindorb hare snare trial (see here) has led to some interesting parliamentary questions being asked.

Libby Anderson (of OneKind) posted the following comment on the blog. It’s a good one so we’re reproducing it here (thanks, Libby!) –

“A disappointing verdict but – while unfortunately there is no written judgment available – it does sound as if the Sheriff took pains to make it clear that this case turned on its own facts and should not be seen as a precedent.

On the “indiscriminate” issue: It may have been stated in court that bycatch is rare – amazing considering the high non-target capture levels recorded in DEFRA’s report on snaring last year, based on “best practice” field trials. But indiscriminate capture surely also refers to capture WITHIN the target population. For example, how can a snare be set to ensure it doesn’t capture a pregnant or lactating female? (Bearing in mind this case dates from before the close seasons were introduced for hares.)

Snares are specifically prohibited for use on mountain hares under the Bern Convention. If a state decides to make an exception to this it must be for good reason, subject to appropriate conditions and returns must be submitted so that the state can report to the COE. Yes, a licensing scheme!

I don’t really understand why there isn’t a strict liability offence of using a snare for the relevant species without a licence. Surely it shouldn’t be left to individuals to decide what the law is about using non-selective traps for protected species? Are industry legal advisers able to judge the population status of a protected species?

ChristineGrahameMSPRPS readers may be interested to see that Christine Grahame MSP [Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, SNP] has lodged some questions which ask the Scottish Gov to clarify current legal position:”

S4W-12780 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that it complies with the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats regarding the (a) use of non-selective traps to capture protected species and (b) the reporting requirements under article 9.2.

S4W-12781 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government what the legal basis is for the licensing regime operated by Scottish Natural Heritage regarding the use of snares to capture mountain hares.

S4W-12782 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government how many applications for species licences to use snares to capture mountain hares have been made since 2006; how many have been granted, and for what reasons licences were not granted.

The expected answer date is 28 Feb 2013 so we’ll post those when they’re available.

Mountain hare fans might be interested in Andy Howard’s fantastic photographs on his website Highland Nature Images (here).

30
Jan
13

Countryside Alliance nicked our text!

Well, well, well. Take a look at the Countryside Alliance’s website (see photos below) – they’ve only gone and nicked our text on the Lochindorb trial verdict, without acknowledging us as the authors!! They’ve even got ‘Copyright © Countryside Alliance’ at the foot of the page!

Seems like a breach of copyright to us, not dissimilar to the claims made by BASC last year when a video produced by the League Against Cruel Sports had to be removed as they’d included BASC footage, without permission for use (see here). The shooting press called that an ’embarrassing blunder’.

Here’s a message to the Countryside Alliance – either acknowledge where you lifted the text from, or remove it from your site. We’re flattered that you should think our blog is worthy of replication but we do not want anyone to think that we write for a shit outfit like yours.

UPDATE (17.00hrs). ‘Embarrassing blunder’ all sorted – our text now mashed up with their own.

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29
Jan
13

Implications of the Lochindorb hare snare verdict

mountain hare by Steve GardnerThe almost four-year long Lochindorb Estate hare snare trial concluded today at Inverness Sheriff Court. The accused, former head gamekeeper and long-time SGA committee member David Taylor was found not guilty of illegally using snares to catch mountain hares on the Lochindorb Estate in 2009.

This has been a lengthy and complex case, seen by many as an important ‘test’ case. For previous blog entries see here, here, here, here, here and here.

The ‘not guilty’ verdict, however, only applies to the particular circumstances of this specific case. On this occasion, at that specific location and at that specific time, the evidence was deemed insufficient to merit a conviction. Sheriff Abercrombie accepted that Taylor was operating within the law and in good faith. This verdict though, does not mean that a future case with a different set of specific circumstances, could not result in a conviction. The verdict does NOT mean that it is legal to snare mountain hares in general terms; only within the terms of this particular case.

One of the key issues was whether a snare could be described as a ‘trap’. The prosecution said yes, the defence argued no. Sheriff Abercrombie deemed that a snare could be described as a trap. This is important for future potential cases.

The defence had also argued that the snares in question (the w-shaped snare) were selective; i.e. that they only caught the target species. Several gamekeepers spoke as defence witnesses and stated that in all their (combined) years of snaring, they’d never caught a non-target species using this snare-type. Whether you believe that or not is up to you – the fact of the matter was that the prosecution could not provide evidence to show that the w-shaped snare was indiscriminate. This should hopefully be a moot point in future cases as the use of the w-shaped snare to trap mountain hares has since become prohibited. Under the Snares Scotland Order (2010), it is no longer legal to use a snare in a way that an animal could become partially or wholly suspended.

The other important issue highlighted by this case was the lack of current scientific understanding of mountain hare population ecology in Scotland. We hope SNH will get their act together and implement an appropriate research and monitoring strategy for what many believe is a keystone species; i.e. one that plays an important role in the survival of other species such as the golden eagle and probably the pine marten.

BBC news article here

SGA statement here

Defence agent’s statement here

29
Jan
13

Lochindorb hare snare verdict

Former Lochindorb Estate head gamekeeper and SGA Committee Member, David Taylor, has been found not guilty of setting illegal snares to catch mountain hares.

More to follow…

11
Dec
12

Purdey Awards: “celebrating greatness”?

champagneThe annual Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation were established to celebrate those who achieve most in game conservation, according to the Purdey Awards website (here). These awards are viewed as the game-shooting industry’s most prestigious, giving recognition to those ‘who do most to help our flora and fauna, by improving biodiversity and developing better land management‘.

The 2012 Purdey Award winners were recently announced. We were particularly interested in the ‘Highly Commended’ category:

Brian Kaye of Redmyre Farm Shoot of Invergowrie, near Dundee, has been highly commended for his work in creating a high quality farm shoot and for enhancing the landscape and natural environment. Mr Kaye has not only dramatically improved the habitats and biodiversity for a wide variety of game birds and plant life, but has also demonstrated how shooting goes hand in hand with conservation. The award is made in recognition of outstanding work over 20 years in establishing an exemplary shoot over 320 acres of the Sidlaw Hills“.

Surely not the same Brian Kaye who owns Redmyre Estate near Invergowrie (according to the East of Scotland Association for Wildfowling and Conservation: see here)? Nah, it couldn’t possibly be. A gamekeeper on Redmyre Estate was convicted in 2010 of shooting dead a buzzard and for possession of the banned poisons Carbofuran and Alpha-chloralose (see here, here, and especially here).

Other ‘greats’ that have been celebrated with Purdey Award wins include:

Geoff Eyre, the sporting tenant on Howden Moor (2005 Purdey Gold Award). In 2011, the gamekeeper on Howden Moor was convicted of a series of wildlife crimes (see here).

Jimmy Shuttlewood, the head gamekeeper on Snilesworth Estate (2005 Purdey Special Award).  In 2008, Shuttlewood and two other gamekeepers were convicted of a series of wildlife crimes (see here).

Lochindorb Estate (2008 Purdey Gold Award). In 2010 a dead sea eagle that had been found on the estate mysteriously disappeared just before the police arrived (see here). In 2011, the trial against two Lochindorb gamekeepers began, accused of illegally snaring mountain hares. The case against one gamekeeper was dropped earlier this year; the trial against the other gamekeeper will continue in January 2013 (see here).

01
Dec
12

Lochindorb Estate hare snare trial: case continued!

Mountain hare (Photo: Neil McIntyre)We were expecting a verdict yesterday on the Lochindorb Estate hare snare trial, but Sheriff Abercrombie had other ideas.

The case has now been continued until 29 January 2013.

Clearly the sheriff recognises the significance of this test case and wants extra time to consider all the evidence.




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