Posts Tagged ‘scottish gamekeepers association

07
Dec
20

Grouse moors – ‘a birdwatchers’ paradise’ according to Chair of Scottish Gamekeepers Association

Don’t laugh.

Actually, do laugh.

Alex Hogg, Chair of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, was interviewed last week and he said some pretty baffling things about gamekeeping and grouse moor management, including the fantastic statement, “This is a birdwatchers’ paradise“.

Yep, he really did.

[An illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle, found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park earlier this year – see here and here. What a birdwatchers’ paradise!]

Alex was talking to a presenter on ITV’s regional news programme Representing Border on 2nd December 2020. The programme featured a piece on the Scottish Government’s recent decision to introduce a licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting (here) and it’s well worth five minutes of your time.

The programme is available here (starts at 15.49 mins, ends 22.01).

There was more baffling commentary from Alex, including this unfathomable statement on the effect a licensing scheme would have on gamekeeping:

We’ve done it for 200 years, we’ve kept a balance in the wildlife, and if we, it’s like a three-legged stool, if they take the leg away, we’re gone“.

Eh? I’ve no idea what ‘the leg’ is that he thinks is being ‘taken away’ and why he thinks a licensing scheme means gamekeepers will be ‘gone’. They’ll be gone if they breach the conditions of the licence (assuming it’s effectively enforced) but if they’re not doing anything illegal why would a licence cause them difficulties?

Unfortunately the presenter didn’t follow up on this, or if he did it was edited out. It’s also a shame he didn’t pick up on Alex’s statement about 200 years worth of ‘balancing the wildlife’ and ask him questions about why several species of raptors became extirpated from the UK about 100 years ago? And although some have made a brilliant comeback (with some help), why some populations are still struggling, notably in areas managed for driven grouse shooting? He could also have asked this question of Liz Smith MSP (Scottish Conservatives) who said she didn’t think that “fairly draconian” licensing was needed now!

Other interviewees were much more lucid, including Ian Thomson (RSPB Investigations, Scotland), Claudia Beamish MSP (Scottish Labour) and Mairi Gougeon (Environment Minister), who gave a robust argument for bringing in a licensing scheme now instead of sitting around for another five years doing nothing, including this statement:

There are still persistent problems out there with the illegal persecution of our birds of prey“.

It’s good to see this statement from a Scottish Minister. Can you imagine a similar comment from a Minister at Westminster?

30
Nov
20

Scotland’s gamekeepers are revolting

Scotland’s gamekeepers are apparently very very angry. So angry they’re going to revolt. Well, protest.

But protest about what? Apparently about having to work within the law.

It’s all so unfair.

This is all part of the response to last week’s news that the Scottish Government has finally reached the end of its tether with the criminality associated with driven grouse shooting and has decided to implement a licensing scheme, not just to tackle the ongoing lawlessness but also to reign in the associated environmental damage (see here).

Here’s how the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) reacted to the news, with this statement on its website:

And here’s a further reaction the following day, announcing in a tragic display of victimisation, a series of what it calls ‘localised direct protests’:

You’d think that they’d just been told that gamekeeping was no longer an option and that all their guns, traps, poisons and snares had to be surrendered with immediate effect.

It’s only a licensing scheme, FFS. What’s the problem? Scared that it’ll be difficult/impossible to comply with regulations?

12
Nov
20

SNP leadership faces grassroots rebellion at conference over watered down grouse shooting motion

The scandal that is driven grouse shooting continues to feature prominently in the Scottish media as pressure continues to mount on the Scottish Government to respond to the Werritty Review on grouse moor licensing, a report that was submitted to the Government almost a year to the day (18 November 2019).

Last week The National ran an article on the 25 regional SNP branches who had submitted a motion for debate at the national conference calling for an end to driven grouse shooting in Scotland (see here).

The motion was proposed by councillor Julie Bell of Kirriemuir and Dean (Angus) and seconded by Ruth Maguire MSP. The resulting personal abuse hurled at them on social media from those with a vested interest in maintaining grouse shooting won’t have gone unnoticed by Julie, Ruth or their party colleagues and probably beyond.

Meanwhile, the motion appears to have been watered down considerably, despite being ‘the most backed resolution this year’, and as a result, Ruth Maguire MSP has lodged an amendment. The National ran an article on this yesterday, as follows:

THE SNP leadership faces a grassroots rebellion at this year’s conference over plans to end grouse shooting in Scotland.

The prospect of a vote on the subject has upset the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association, who warn that the party risk alienating the countryside.

An initial motion to conference calling for an end to “unsustainable practices on grouse moors including the snaring, trapping and killing of hundreds of thousands of animals, muirburn and mass outdoor medication” was popular with members, being the most backed resolution put forward.

However, it was missing from the conference agenda. Instead there was another resolution which called for Scottish Government to continue its work “on regulating sporting estates in order to protect our biodiversity, native species and peatlands.”

MSP Ruth Maguire said this didn’t go far enough. Backed by her Holyrood colleague Christine Graham and a number of branches, she’s now submitted an amendment which urges the party to back the licensing of all shooting estates, and “move away from driven grouse shooting towards more sustainable and diverse land uses”.

Maguire said: “The original motion submitted to conference appears to be the most backed resolution this year showing the strength of support within the party for tackling Scotland’s grouse moors.

“For the huge swathes of Scotland they use up, driven grouse moors are one of the most destructive land uses in Scotland for our wildlife and environment, offering little economic benefit compared to other land uses.

“As recent polling shows almost three quarters of Scots are against grouse shooting and the SNP membership want the chance to put the party on the forefront of public opinion. This amendment, like the original motion, seeks to end the unsustainable practices of grouse shooting and in line with land reform, make our land work better for our people, our wildlife and the environment.”

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “The SNP, down the years, has enjoyed strong levels of support within working gamekeepers, their families and extended groups in rural constituencies.

“These are ordinary, hard-working individuals and families who vote for people and parties they feel will represent the interests of their communities.

“Recent policy decisions have left them alienated. Land working people, just now, are angry.

“They feel the Scottish Government is no longer listening or supporting them, despite the many benefits their work brings to the Scottish countryside and economy.”

ENDS

Funny, the so-called ‘strong levels of support’ for the SNP that I’ve seen from the SGA’s members and supporters over the last few years has consisted almost entirely of vile personal misogynistic abuse.

Here’s a short example targeting Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham in March 2018 after she spoke to campaigners outside Holyrood about the mass slaughter of mountain hares on grouse moors (thanks to the blog reader who’s been compiling this material):

Roseanna hasn’t been the only target – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has received ‘special attention’ as has Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon. And it’s not just female politicians in the SNP who have been at the receiving end of this disgraceful behaviour – politicians in the Scottish Greens and Labour have also been targeted, as have campaigners, bloggers, researchers, journalists, scientists, police officers, lawyers, raptor workers, tv presenters, bird ringers, satellite taggers, funders, charity workers, in fact anyone who dares even hint that driven grouse shooting is a Victorian throwback with huge environmental costs has been a victim of this abusive and targeted harassment.

There’ll be more on this subject shortly.

16
Jun
20

Scottish gamekeepers desperate to keep slaughtering mountain hares on grouse moors

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has come out all guns blazing to try and prevent the Scottish Parliament from voting to protect the mountain hare in tomorrow’s debate on Stage 3 of the Animals and Wildlife Bill.

Scottish gamekeepers are terrified that they’ll no longer be able to enjoy what everyone else sees as a grotesque bloodbath.

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg has penned a typically deluded letter to MSPs in which he claims to be ‘a representative of the people of all of Scotland‘ (eh?) and how stopping the mass slaughter of mountain hares on grouse moors ‘will affect human beings’ lives’ (er…) and ‘worsen the conservation status of the mountain hare‘. Really?

Oh, and further justification for the slaughter is the protection of walkers, ramblers and mountain bikers from the perils of Lyme disease:

Of course, it’s not the first time the SGA has been accused of making ‘misleading’ and ‘greatly exaggerated’ claims’ about mountain hares (see here and here).

Meanwhile back on planet humanity, support is growing for MSP Alison Johnstone’s amendment to increase protection for the mountain hare that would effectively end the mass killing on grouse moors (see here and here).

The RSPB has published a good blog in support (here), as has animal welfare charity OneKind (here), and the signatures on the Scottish Green’s petition calling for support has now passed 12,000 in just a few days. If you’d like to sign it, please visit HERE.

Please keep writing to your MSPs – we know that mail bags have been inundated on this topic and it’ll be of great interest to see who votes in support of this amendment in tomorrow’s debate.

 

16
Jun
20

Parliamentary questions on lead ammunition & medicated grit on grouse moors

The Scottish Greens just keep piling on the pressure.

Some interesting Parliamentary questions from Mark Ruskell MSP on the toxic hazard of lead ammunition and the use of medicated grit on grouse moors:

Question S5W-29820, Date Lodged: 09/06/2020

To ask the Scottish Government what proportion of the active ingredient in the medicated grit that is used on managed grouse moors is excreted by the birds. [Expected answer date 24/6/2020]

Question S5W-29821, Date Lodged: 09/06/2020
To ask the Scottish Government what assessment SEPA has made regarding the wider environmental impacts of the medicated grit that is used on grouse moors. [Expected answer date 24/6/2020]
Question S5W-29822, Date Lodged: 09/06/2020
To ask the Scottish Government what testing is carried out on the levels in the human food chain of the active ingredient in the medicated grit that is used on grouse moors. [Expected answer date 24/6/2020]
Question S5W-29823, Date Lodged: 09/06/2020
To ask the Scottish Government when it expects the use of lead ammunition to be entirely phased out on (a) public and (b) private land. [Expected answer date 24/6/2020]
Question S5W-29824, Date Lodged: 09/06/2020
To ask the Scottish Government what level of lead from shot gameboards [sic] is present in the human food chain, and what regular analysis it carries out of this. [Expected answer date 24/6/2020]
The Scottish Government is going to struggle not to look completely incompetent and/or wholly unconcerned about the unregulated toxic hazards that feature on driven grouse moors. This can be stated with confidence because the answers to Mark’s questions are already known.
The active ingredient in medicated grit is Flubendazole, a drug that has been identified as ‘an emerging environmental contaminant of acute and chronic toxicity’ and has been shown to be particularly toxic to aquatic organisms. Previous Freedom of Information requests submitted by this blog have revealed that the Scottish Government is not monitoring the impact of medicated grit, even though it’s known that some in the industry are using a super-strength dose up to twenty times the original dose! Surveillance undertaken by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), responsible for the national (UK) monitoring of veterinary drugs in food products, has been woefully inadequate, and that’s being kind. In a country that shoots an estimated three quarters of a million red grouse each year, the VMD proposed to test just ten birds in 2018 (see here).
The use of lead ammunition to shoot gamebirds in the UK is unregulated, despite the well-documented high toxicity of this metal and the consequential health implications of consuming it. With most of the previously significant sources of lead in the environment now having been eliminated decades ago (e.g. lead-based paints and leaded petrol), lead-based ammunition is the most significant unregulated source of lead deliberately emitted in to the environment. It’s a poison, it’s as simple as that.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the most jaw-dropping revelation is that all gamebirds (including red grouse) appear to be exempt from statutory testing for lead shot, in sharp contrast to other meat types destined for human consumption. Research (here) has shown that shot red grouse destined for the food chain may contain excessive amounts of toxic poisonous lead (over 100 times the lead levels that would be legal for other meat)!
Talk about vested interests! The law makers of the day clearly put their own pleasure and convenience above the health and welfare of the general public and the environment. It’s an absolute shocker that this continues.
The game shooting industry knows that time is up on this issue and earlier this year we saw a high profile media campaign suggesting that the industry supported a ‘voluntary ban’ on the use of lead ammunition (yeah, because this industry’s adherence to voluntary restraint is legendary, right?) and wanted to see it phased out within five years. Unfortunately, not everybody in the industry was singing from the same hymn sheet and it turned in to a bit of a car crash when the Scottish Gamekeepers Association refused to sign up (see here).
It’ll be interesting to see how the Scottish Government responds to Mark’s questions.
For those who want to find out more about the use of medicated grit and lead ammunition, download fully referenced summary report (here) from Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform.
UPDATE 13 July 2020: Disingenuous parliamentary answers from Scot Gov on toxic hazards of grouse moor management (here)
16
May
20

Scottish Government denies ‘negotiating’ with gamekeepers on new offences for trap damage

In early May we blogged about a claim made by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) that it was ‘negotiating with Government for a new offence to be created for damage to legal predator control tools‘, i.e. traps and snares (see here).

[A spring (Fenn) trap set on a log, designed to catch and kill any animal that stands on the trigger plate. Gamekeepers argue that traps like these, and others, are routinely damaged by members of the public. Photo from the Untold Suffering report published by the Revive Coalition last year. NB: It is no longer legal to use Fenn traps for killing stoats in the UK as they have been ruled inhumane – new trap designs have recently been approved (see here)]

This claim led to Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell posing two Parliamentary questions earlier this week, asking the Government for details of these alleged ‘negotiations’ (see here).

Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has now responded and her answers are hilarious:

Mark Ruskell MSPTo ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association regarding creating offences and sanctions in relation to animal trap damage, broken down by (a) date and (b) location of discussion. (S5W-28828).

Roseanna CunninghamThe Scottish Government has not had any recent discussions with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association about creating offences and sanctions in relation to animal trap damage.

Mark Ruskell MSPTo ask the Scottish Government how it plans to change the law in relation to the wilful damage of animal traps. (S5W-28829).

Roseanna CunninghamUnder existing legislation and common law a person interfering with a legally set snare or trap may be committing one of a number of possible offences.

The Independent Review of Grouse Moor Management report which was published in December recommended changes to legislation on the use of animal traps. The Scottish Government is currently considering all of the recommendations in the report and will publish a response in due course.

So, in essence then, no, the Scottish Government is not involved in ‘negotiations’ with the SGA as the SGA has claimed, and no, the Scottish Government does not appear to be considering new legislation for the provision of a new offence for alleged trap damage.

Roseanna Cunningham mentions the Government’s ongoing consideration of the recommendations made in the Werritty Review but that review did not include a recommendation for the provision of a new offence for alleged trap damage. What it did recommend, however, was new legislation for trap operators to have to undertake mandatory training before being allowed to set traps!

This begs the question then, why did the SGA claim to be ‘negotiating with Government’ when apparently it is doing no such thing?!

If the SGA could put aside its delusional posturing for a second it’d do well to be spending some time reminding its members of the current legislation on trap use. According to the RSPB this week, ‘the police are following up several raptor persecution cases and multiple reports of illegal trap use on grouse moors‘ (see here). Let’s hope that none of those traps alleged to be being used illegally, belong to an SGA member.

02
May
20

Scottish Gamekeepers Association ‘negotiating with Government’ for new offence of trap damage

News emerged this week, via the Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s (SGA) e-newsletter for members that it is currently ‘negotiating with Government’ for the creation of a new offence relating to trap damage:

This is really quite interesting. The SGA, with others, has been arguing for several years that legally-set traps have been ‘tampered with’ or damaged by members of the public and these claims usually occur just after an illegally-set trap has been discovered and reported in the media. A recent example of this was the male hen harrier that was found in considerable distress with its leg almost severed in an illegally-set trap on Leadhills Estate (see here).

[Male hen harrier found with an almost severed leg, caught in an illegally-set spring trap next to its nest on Leadhills Estate (see here). Nobody has been prosecuted for this barbaric crime but the estate has had its use of the General Licence restricted by SNH as a direct result of this and other offences (see here)].

The implication of such claims has seemed clear – instead of accepting that some gamekeepers continue to break the law (e.g. by setting illegal traps), the shooting industry would rather deflect the blame on to so-called ‘animal rights extremists’ who are accused of ‘setting up estates’.

During a cross-party RACCE committee hearing in 2013, then Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread trap tampering/damage by ‘activists’ (see here) although it emerged that BASC was undertaking a survey to assess the extent of this alleged problem.

A couple of years later in 2015 that BASC survey revealed that trap tampering/damage did take place but according to industry evidence, it couldn’t be described as being a ‘widespread’ issue (see here).

In 2017 the SGA again complained of a so-called ‘escalation’ in trap damage and again attributed this to ‘activists’ but as we reported at the time (see here), yet again the evidence was lacking.

Let’s be clear here though. It is quite evident, just looking through social media, that some members of the public are indeed deliberately damaging traps to render them unusable, either because they have an ethical objection to the killing of native wildlife to increase gamebird stocks, or because they’ve become so frustrated with what they perceive to be a lack of enforcement action against the criminal gamekeepers, or because they believe the trap to be illegal. The legislation on trap use is complicated and many members of the public are simply unaware of what is legal and what is illegal. (For a basic introduction have a look at this from OneKind and this from Revive).

To be honest, we’d welcome some clarity on what constitutes ‘tampering’ or ‘damage’. At the moment it is not at all clear and trap tampering may not always constitute a criminal offence. For example, the SGA’s lawyer, David McKie, wrote in a 2013 edition of the SGA’s members’ rag:

As a matter of law, there is a significant difference between interference and vandalism.

Vandalism would involve the breaking of a crow cage trap by someone punching or kicking a hole in it, for example, or the deliberate smashing up of a Fenn trap. It would also include the cutting of snares.

Interference does not necessarily involve a criminal offence….That can involve the removal of traps from their set location, the release of decoy birds or the pulling of snares.

The police can probably not charge the individual with interference’.

In some cases there may be a legitimate defence to causing trap damage – e.g. if a trapped animal is seen to be injured inside a padlocked crow cage trap and needs urgent veterinary attention, but the location is remote and there’s no phone signal to call for help, it might be considered reasonable to cut the trap wire to extricate the wounded animal. Much will depend on the individual circumstances of each incident.

Another example might be the discovery of what is obviously an illegally-set trap. Is it an offence to disable it if there is absolutely no question that it’s been set unlawfully? As an example, here’s a pole trap that was photographed on an estate in the Angus Glens. It’s been an offence to set pole traps for over 100 years!

[An illegal pole trap, photograph by RSPB]

It’d be kind of ironic if a member of the public was prosecuted for disabling such a pole trap, when the person who allegedly set it (a gamekeeper was filmed by the RSPB attending the trap) had the prosecution against him dropped by the Crown Office because the video evidence was deemed inadmissible!

So, yes, regardless of the extent of trap tampering / damage, greater clarity is certainly required on what constitutes an offence. However, given how long we’ve been waiting for the Scottish Government to bring in new legislation to tackle the persistent illegal persecution of birds of prey on sporting estates, that’s happening at such a scale it’s known to be affecting entire populations of some of these species, the trap tampering offence that the SGA claims to be ‘negotiating’ should be way down the list of Government priorities.

UPDATE 12 May 2020: Parliamentary questions on proposed new offences for trap damage (here)

UPDATE 16 May 2020: Scottish Government denies ‘negotiating’ with gamekeepers on new offences for trap damage (here)

31
Mar
20

More evidence of grouse moor burning in defiance of national emergency

Which part of ‘please stop burning the grouse moors to ease pressure on the emergency services while they try and cope with a national respiratory virus pandemic’ do they not understand?

Here is further evidence that some moorland managers in Scotland are ignoring the plea for voluntary restraint that was issued six days ago by Scottish Land & Estates.

Why is this still continuing? Because presumably some people think that maximising the number of red grouse available for shooting parties in the autumn is ‘essential’ and because it is still legal to light these fires up until 15 April (and astonishingly, in some cases up to 30 April with landowner’s permission, despite the presence of breeding birds) and because a request for voluntary restraint can easily be ignored.

It could be argued, and indeed it already has been, that these are not deliberately-set fires but are the work of (a) arsonists, (b) out of control BBQs by members of the public ignoring the lockdown and enjoying March picnics in the snow, (c) anti-grouse shooting activists wanting to set up shooting estates, (d) spontaneously combusting heather during this winter heatwave, (e) spontaneously combusting imaginary wind turbines, (f) in fact anything other than the bleedin’ obvious.

This photograph was taken yesterday afternoon and shows a fire on Garrows Estate in Strathbraan, Perthshire (photo by Keith Brockie and yes, he did have a legitimate reason to be driving through this area):

This photograph was taken today. It is the same location as the fire we blogged about yesterday (here) on a grouse moor in Stirlingshire:

Here are some more fires from across Scotland, all recorded since the call for voluntary restraint was made on 25th March:

It’s interesting to note that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association hasn’t made any public statement about asking its members to stop burning. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as any surprise given this organisation’s reaction (here) to the shooting industry’s recent u-turn calling for an end to the use of toxic lead ammunition.

The SGA seems to have other things on its mind just now, moaning about what it sees as ‘unfair criticism, particularly over climate issues’ (yes, really!), and the Scottish Government’s decision to exclude some fieldsports businesses from claiming a Covid 19 support grant. This SGA video is quite something:

 

08
Jan
20

Scottish Gamekeepers Association silent as Government report confirms increase in raptor crime

Yesterday we blogged about how the Scottish Government’s latest annual wildlife crime report (2018) had shown that raptor persecution crimes have more than doubled since the previous year’s report (see here).

And despite the Government’s decision to publish this report when everyone had already packed up and gone home for Xmas, it still drew a headline in The Scotsman on Xmas Eve:

This reported increase in raptor persecution offences won’t have come as a surprise to blog readers – the relentless crime wave had already been reported by the RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report, back in August – see here.

The media coverage of the Birdcrime report was good, both in England and Scotland, and, unsurprisingly given the occupation of the majority of convicted offenders, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) was asked by the Independent to provide a quote about the crime increase. It included this little gem:

So, the SGA refused to comment on the increase in raptor crime because the RSPB’s figures were somehow ‘unofficial’ – despite the RSPB being the only organisation in the country to compile these figures and rigorously categorise them using a three-tier classification system which is scientifically legitimate and provides a clear indication of interpretation limitations.

Not that the SGA would be concerned about scientific legitimacy – remember this is the organisation that lobbied the Government about the so-called threat posed by sea eagles to babies and small toddlers. No, the SGA just didn’t want to acknowledge that raptor crime had doubled in the last year and if there was an opportunity to have an unveiled dig at the RSPB at the same time then all the better.

So here we are, several months later and the Scottish Government’s own report – the ‘official’ statistics – show that reported raptor persecution crimes did indeed more than double in a year.

And the SGA’s response to this news?

Silence.

Just what you’d expect from an organisation purported to be a fully signed up member of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime, eh?

16
Dec
19

Scottish Parliament evidence session on proposed wildlife crime penalties increase

Raptor Persecution UK was one of a number of organisations giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee last week on the proposed increase in penalties for wildlife crime.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on 30th September 2019 (see here for associated docs) and will, amongst other things, increase the maximum available penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences.

See here for an earlier blog on this subject.

The Bill is currently at Stage 1 and the ECCLR Committee has been taking evidence from a wide range of authorities and organisations. Last Tuesday saw representatives from the grouse shooting industry, conservation organisations, Police Scotland, SNH and the Crown Office sharing their opinions in an informal round-table discussion:

The transcript can be read here: ECCLR report_10Dec2019

The archived video can be watched here

We’ll come back to some of the detail of this discussion in further blogs, particularly about some of the claims made by BASC in relation to the supposed effectiveness of general licence restrictions, where the evidence simply doesn’t support some of the assertions made.

We’ll also be considering the claim from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association that “A five-year jail term will mean that more people will go to jail than has been previously the case“. Really? Why’s that, then? Are more gamekeepers at it than are currently being caught? Surely not. And how will an increased penalty mean more offenders are jailed? You’ve got to catch them first and then have sufficient evidence to get them in to court.

This Bill is very welcome as it stands, but perhaps more importantly it also has the potential to include some pretty useful amendments as it progresses through Parliament. Of particular interest to us is that increased powers for the SSPCA is back on the table. Given the complete failure of the Scottish Government’s alternative course of action (Police Special Constables in the Cairngorms National Park – a scheme that failed to report a single wildlife crime), it seems the timing is just right.

Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon will be giving evidence to the ECCLR Committee tomorrow and will no doubt face questions about some of the proposals already heard.




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