Scots landowners call for licence to kill birds of prey

[singlepic id=212 w=537 h=434 float=centre]

A group of landowners is calling on the Scottish government to allow them to kill some birds of prey to protect stocks of grouse and other game birds. The Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA) said similar arrangements were already in place for farmers.

The call comes in a BBC documentary looking into the illegal trapping, shooting and poisoning of birds.

The RSPB Scotland has described the call as “bizarre”.

Every year up to 30 protected birds are found dead, including rare species such as Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers.

Existing powers allow ministers to sign off on the killing of some birds of prey by sporting estates, but the powers have never been used.

Now landowners want to be granted licences that would allow the targeted cull of more common species such as Buzzards and Ravens.

The owners of some sporting estates have argued that without careful management, stocks of game birds can be wiped out by predators.[singlepic id=182 w=200 h=268 float=left]

Illegal slaughter

Farmers and other land interests have been allowed to kill some protected birds in the past.

Doug McAdam from the SRPBA, which represents many landowners, told BBC Scotland that he wanted to see the same principle applied to sporting estates. He said: “The government has seemed reluctant to grant licences in this area and that is regrettable, and I would hope that the new administration would really grasp this nettle because it can only help the problem.”Legal management tools always help and clearly where there’s areas of criminality, we have got to look at what are the causes of those crimes, and undoubtedly in some cases there may be frustration. “I think all the game industry is asking for is to be treated on a level playing field with other industries, this can only help the problem.” [singlepic id=80 w=400 h=300 float=left]

Responding to his comments, the RSPB said any legal killing would be wrong while the illegal slaughter of birds of prey continued.

Duncan Orr Ewing, the charity’s head of species and land management, told the BBC: “I find this particularly bizarre and I think this is holding society to ransom.

“What people are effectively saying is ‘you know we will obey the law if you give us the right to kill protected species’.

“Society has decided that these birds need protection and are vulnerable.”

Conservationists believe that the real scale of the killing is much greater than the official figures show and point to recent scientific evidence that seems to suggest there are fewer birds of prey around some grouse moors than would be expected.[singlepic id=242 w=199 h=297 float=right]

The BBC Scotland documentary, called ‘Fair Game? Scotland’s Sporting Estates’ looks into the illegal killing of birds of prey and examines claims that the law is being flouted across Scotland.

It also features allegations that estates are the victims of an organised campaign and that dead birds are being planted on the hills to incriminate them.

Scotland’s Shame – another persepective from OneKind, a Scottish Wildlife Charity..http://www.onekind.org/news_blog/blog_article/numbers_game_scotlands_shame

Correction

Jock Scott is correct, the programme will be broadcast TONIGHT on BBC Two Scotland at 2100 BST on May 11. The documentary will be available on iplayer shortly after transmission for those outside of Scotland. Thanks Jock.

 

Related Stories

 

 

20 comments to Scots landowners call for licence to kill birds of prey

  • paul williams

    Hasn’t this been happening for years illegally

    • TerryPickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

      Perhaps all law-breakers should now contact their MP’s requesting them to consider legalisising the illegal actions they carry out to ensure these people are not prosecuted for what they do?

  • Mike Price

    Dear Government,

    I have been looking for a way to deal with people who are illegally killing protected wildlife, at the moment its illegal for me to kill them so if you could just grant me a a licence to carry out this service then we will all be happy

    Regards

    Mike Price

  • jock scott

    I don’t think this documentary has been broadcast yet.

    Fair Game? Scotland’s Sporting Estates will be broadcast on BBC Two Scotland at 2100 BST on May 11. The documentary will be available on iplayer shortly after transmission for those outside of Scotland.

  • This is what we are up against people who feel the law should be changed to suit there interests, I have heard all the arguements for and against and at the end of the day what came first, raptors on our moors or people shooting across them. They should all realise laws are in place for a reason, I don’t like looking at my pay cheque with all the taxes but I still pay them because I use the NHS or drive on tarmac roads. Why can’t these people understand that killing things for personal gratification is not the answer. What does it prove or help? All it brings about is extinction! This is why the government need to stand up say no this will not happen so you all better start talking and coming up with ways to work together! I’ll elaborate my thoughts on my blog.

  • Vorobyey

    “Farmers and other land interests have been allowed to kill some protected birds in the past.”

    Level the playing field – make all shooting of protected birds illegal.

    “The owners of some sporting estates have argued that without careful management, stocks of game birds can be wiped out by predators.”

    But game birds have not been wiped out so /careful/ (but illegal) management is taking place. Of course the management is careful – they don’t want to be caught and prosecuted.

  • Circus maximus

    Well just watched the show….I think it did a fair job of exposing the problem…until it gave oxygen to Steve Repath’s, “if we make it legal to kill them- then they will stop illegal killing” argument(I can see how he rose to the rank of Professor).
    If he is so keen to find a compromise, why could he not just suggest that the keepers, owners and shooters need to accept that they will only be able to blast 300 grouse rather than 900?

  • John Miles

    Most Shooting estates are no better than drug dealers. The law does not matter. ‘All we want is maximum numbers of Red Grouse and we are going to get them as we own the law any way.’

  • John Miles

    Here is Steve Redpath’s email if you would like to send him a nice little letter!
    s.redpath@abdn.ac.uk

  • John Miles

    here is mine – It is true. A student is only as good as his/her teacher. Poor Bastards. Shooting estates want maximum return at any cost. Sadly you do not know what you are talking about. 98% are killing birds of prey – Your words! The habitat is totally man made and shit. New work at Geltsdale shows this. Enjoy your day.
    John Miles

    • Skydancer

      I don’t know why anyone should be surprised at the lack of openness and honesty from conservation organisation and those like Dr Mark Avery, Stephen Murphy and Prof. Redpath, they all have a job to think about and families to feed. These individuals all have one thing in common, protecting their livelihood is more important than telling the truth. Their own self interests come first and the birds second.

      In my opinion it was significant when Mark Avery was leaving the RSPB for greener pastures and had nothing to loose, he began to tell the public the truth about hen harrier persecution by gamekeepers. It was also the same with past RSPB managers who were instructed by their employer to keep quite about the persecution taking place on Bowland’s moorland’s, including the United Utilities estate. As soon as they left the employment of the RSPB these people began to sing like canaries spilling the beans when it was far too late to make a difference.

      I have a great deal admiration and respect for the North West Raptor Protection Group. At least their members were always prepared to tell the truth and stand up for their principles. Without the work these individuals have undertaken throughout Bowland during the last four decades no one would have been any the wiser of the scale of raptor persecution taking place. What has happened this year is not only disgraceful it will certainly result in an increase in the persecution of raptors in this location which now no one will know about. By restricting access to nests by people who had such valuable knowledge and experience and an unrivalled ability to detect illegal activity, Natural England have played into the hands of those criminals responsible. The question I think everyone should all be asking now, is just who are Natural England protecting; clearly it’s not the birds.

  • My partner works with horses and rides out for a few families who enjoy going up to Scotland grouse shooting. For the last couple of years my partner has come home mentioning how such a family have come back having a bumper year of grouse numbers because of high grouse numbers. How is the grouse population doing, must be ok going on these comments and the number of raptors that still get persecuted?

  • falco subbuteo

    Skydancer, as the saying goes “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” The difference between these people and the members of the North West Raptor Protection Group is that the Raptor Group carry out their work for the genuine love and benefit of the birds. Whereas Avery and Murphy together with a few more pompous individuals I could mention do it for financial reward, but are then unwilling to rock the boat in case they upset the wrong people.

    I must also add my congratulations to the North West Raptor Protection Group for having the courage to speak up for raptors, well done and keep up the good work for many more years to come.

  • Richard Barnes

    The call to licence the killing of birds of prey should be seen for what it is – a licence to increase their scale of raptor killing but to make it legal. May be the response or concerns about the proposal for vacarious liability that has the landowners a bit concerned.

    • TerryPickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

      Richard, there is no doubt about that at all, they are all concerned.

  • Mal Taylor

    Skydancer and Falco
    Whilst you are right that politically it is often difficult for individuals to speak out or rock the boat against the wishes of those organisations that employ them, you are certainly wrong that they don’t do their jobs out of the “genuine love and benefit of the birds”. You only have to read Mark Avery’s blog to appreciate his passion. In his senior role as Conservation Director he has always spoken out against raptor persecution. The RSPB and birds in general, are all the poorer for his leaving. Having a pop at him in particular seems to me misguided at best.

    I have met Steve Murphy on many occasions and I know that he too is passionate about birds and of course Hen Harriers. He certainly doesn’t do it for the money! Working for the RSPB, Natural England, SNH etc, are poorly paid occupations in comparison to what these individuals could earn elsewhere.

    We all get frustrated sometimes at the lack of any actual improvement being made against the persecution of raptors, but taking a stance in opposition to the likes of the RSPB and Natural England is detrimental. Whether you like it or not, real change is made by the political lobbying of such organisations who are generally much better equipped to lend the ear of those in power than individuals are. Of course they make mistakes, and on an individual employee basis they may make many, but without them we would be much the poorer. You would expect the likes of the RSPB to be far more outspoken than Natural England and SNH who are meant to be unbiased in their position as Government advisory bodies. We have to remain realistic however and work with them not against them.

    Progress appears to being made in Scotland where the advice of Raptor Study Groups, the RSPB and SNH seems to have had a positive outcome. The ‘WANE Bill’ is at least a step made in the right direction by Scottish Government in making landowners accountable for the actions of their employees via vicarious liability. Whether we will ever see any landowners brought to court however will be debateable. Even if they are I can’t see their chums in the judiciary, who will be responsible for their sentencing, taking the appropriate action. It demonstrates though what can be achieved by working together.
    Personally I agree with Mike Price’s viewpoint but I can’t see any licences for controlling rogue gamekeepers being issued in the near future. What a shame!

  • Coop

    Excellent post Mal.

  • Circus maximus

    I would agree with most of what you say Mal, except the claim that CCW NE and SNH are unbiased. They struggle to be as unbiased as they can get away with- but the truth is that they are paid by government to do what government wants. There are layers of truth altering filters working away to make sure that only the correct advice gets into the public domain. If you want real influence, you need to win over politicians (and if that does not work get some “pictures”, nudge nudge.)

  • Paul williams

    It is also detrimental to take a stance against those (NWRPG members) who only have the welfare of birds of prey at heart.

  • KEITH SMITH

    ALL THE COMMENTS MADE BY THOSE WHO SEEK TO JUSTIFY THE KILLING OF ANY BIRDS, OF ANY SPECIES,HAS TO BE PUT INTO THE CORRECT CONTEXT,AND MUST NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.ONLY THE SICK,OR SELFISH AMONGST HUMAN SOCIETY WOULD SEEK TO JUSIFY IT.FOR EXAMPLE FANCY HAVING AN ORGANISATION SAY LIKE SCOTLANDS SPORTING ESTATES LOOKING TO FIND A REASON TO MAKE LEAGAL THE SHOOTING OF RAPTORS JUST SO OTHER SICK OR SEFISH PEOPLE CAN GO OUT AND SHOOT HAND REARED GAME BIRDS, SET FREE, FOR THEIR PLEASURE.LIFE NEVER CHANGES.THOSE WHO LOVE TO SEE WILDLIFE PROSPER WILL ALWAYS BE UP AGAINST THOSE WHO WISH TO DESTROY IT FOR THEIR OWN SICKNESS,OFTEN DESCRIBED AS PLEASURE.SAY WHAT YOU WISH YOU OUT THERE, ITS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH OF THE MATTER