Wildlife Crime by Dave Dick-Well Worth Reading.

[singlepic id=456 w=213 h=301 float=left] Whittles Publishing

ISBN 978-1-84995-036-7

2012 – £18.99


I think it is best to suggest that you are not put off by the forward by Sir John Lister-Kaye as this book really paints a picture of a truly wild and a beautiful landscape of Scotland which for 200 years has been destroyed by many land owners who want to kill 2 species of game bird without the problems of Birds of Prey. Yes, it is mainly the game keeper that Dave speaks about catching, but will the future see these same land owners taken to court for adding and abetting [vicarious liability]!

The start of the book sees a colourful man change from a band member/busker to monitoring Birds of Prey and geese as an RSPB contract field worker. Days spent sleeping in vans and walking over wide landscapes was part of the work. Even sleeping on boards in a derelict croft with the smell of sheep to keep you company! Dave was involved with the national Peregrine surveys as well as the Golden Eagle surveys. Winter contracts on Islay brought him into contact with land owners while counting the Barnacle and Greenland White fronted Geese on their land. This all changed in 1984 when Dave excepted the permanent post of RSPB Investigations Officer based in an office in Edinburgh. This makes up most of the book and where Dick’s problems really began.

Poison, traps, egg collectors and some falcon thieves are all talked about. Court cases, sheriffs, police, wildlife liaison officers and farmers all get a mention. Some become friends, some are not what you call close but you have to work with them and many end up in court because of the evidence brought against them by Dave. The amazing detail on failed court cases with so much time and energy going into them are well worth the book alone with keepers often walking away ‘Scot’ free!

The amazing tale of Greenshank eggs been found thrown to the ground by an egger due to them beginning to hatch and the next day the adult Greenshank was seen brooding 2 of the chicks could leave you in tears for the right reason; where a pit of dead animals and poisoned eggs all laid out to kill fox and crows should make your blood boil.

Dave’s experience even saw his expertise being used abroad in countries like Malta, India and Thailand. From educating police to surveying vultures on remote cliff faces or to looking for endangered parrots in a market in Bangkok, this was all in a day’s work for Dave.

The sheer cost to nature over these long years is well captured by a cartoon by Keith Brockie in the book where a gun-man is aiming at Red Grouse over a pile of dead wildlife species. The strain on 2 replaced knees [I have just had one!] and Dave’s heart meant that he retired from the job in 2006 knowing that the whole killing was still going on. It is hoped that this book is read by many who in the end could wake up to this ‘blood bath’ we call the countryside and finally do something about it. I am sure you will be with me as we wish Dave an enjoyable retirement hopefully being able to return to some of his colourful youth!

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Review by John Miles.

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