Sporting estate ‘yellow cards’ for bird poisoning

Shooting rights on Scotland’s sporting estates will be suspended if persistent evidence of illegal bird poisoning is discovered on them, under radical proposals being voted on by MSPs. An amendment is being tabled to legislation being considered by Holyrood that will allow ministers to issue a ‘yellow card’ to those estates where there is a recurring pattern of wildlife crime. View the full story here.

Additional Comment by John Armitage

Close on the heels of the recent disclosures has come two initiatives that point to the above subject being “kept alive” A question in the Scottish Parliament, raised by R.Gibson (SNP Party), asked for the Minister’s response to a recent letter circulated by the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, which suggested persecution incidents were reducing. The Minister confirmed the assertions had been examined, were a mixture of confirmed and unconfirmed statistics and that they didn’t reflect the true situation.

After the damning evidence of persecution put on record within the last year this was clearly little more than a diversionary tactic to try and put some positive spin on the exposed position, in PR terms, that the sporting fraternity in Scotland find themselves in.

Following this the Daily Telegraph newspaper then revealed that Peter Peacock ( Member, Scottish Parliament ) intends to submit a new amendment for the forthcoming Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland ) Bill that, in effect, would allow the Government to licence sporting estates that persistently poison birds of prey.

Previously, at the drafting stage of the Bill, the idea of licensing any sporting estate to carry out its activities was mooted, but resisted. The latest initiative singles out estates which exhibit a recurrent approach to bird of prey persecution based on a variety of evidence.

I suspect that, even if adopted, such action would be hard to implement and feel even I could itemise the elements around which the debate would circulate. However, what I feel the sporting fraternity are missing at the moment is that they are all being tarred by the same brush, that they, themselves, should be prepared to take “action” against the prevailing minority within their peer group that insist on carrying out persecution and that publicised incidents will continue to harden the public attitude. In other words, the issue is unlikely to go away!!

Some attempt at action would generate respect, however grudging, from current critics and allow their sport to proceed without any criticism. Huffing and puffing on the sidelines is the preserve of grumpy old men with entrenched views, questionable credibility and little more than an expression of impotence of their no longer being mainstream and in a position to influence anything! If such is the case, the view of the majority will eventually prevail, via legislation, the reputation of the sport will be forever tarnished and additional suspicion as to whether persecution is widespread will continue, which is the widely held view at the moment, until such time that the basic opportunity to operate shoots will be withdrawn. The sport may have been spawned in Victorian times but its own attitudes now need to reflect the needs, requirements and values of this Millenia !!

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