The country landowner is not some kind of wildlife serial killer.

Both the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association and the Scottish Estates Business Group, which represent nearly 3,000 Scottish landowners or estates, have made their positions abundantly clear – wildlife crime should not be tolerated and should be punished accordingly claims Lord Johnstone.

Lord Johnstone makes the claim that  there are those who do not seem willing to hear, let alone listen to that message. It was therefore depressing, but predictable, to read the latest volley of criticism of landowners emanating from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is now advocating that landowners could face criminal charges for wildlife crime, even if they have nothing to do with the offence. Let me say that I believe any landowner who instructs gamekeeping staff or any employee to use illegal poison or bait should face the appropriate consequences. However, holding landowners responsible for the unilateral actions of others, be they employees or tenants on the land, is not only Draconian but unprecedented.

All landowners, including Lord Johnstone, should keep in mind actions speak much more prominently than words.We accept the bulk of estate owner, both in Scotland and in England, do not instruct their employees to kill birds of prey. What is said very loudly to the gamekeeper is, your job is simply to produce as many game birds as possible each season. We are also well aware huge financial tax- free back handers are given to gamekeepers at the end of each season for achieving what they had been instructed to do, produce game birds in excess simply to satisfy the paying guns.

It is because of a lack of proactive action on the part of the majority of Scotland’s estate owners, many absentee-landowners, that the poisoning, trapping and general persecution of protected raptors continues with impunity in the 21st century in Scotland.

You can read a full account of what Lord  David Johnstone had to say here.






3 comments to The country landowner is not some kind of wildlife serial killer.

  • Victoria

    Congratulations to Lord David Johnstone for speaking out. A great deal of what he says is sound and sensible.

    Unfortunately, however, I’m deeply troubled by the following paragraph in his statement:

    … The control of raptors is a complex and sensitive issue and a huge amount of time and effort goes into getting the balance right…

    What on earth can Lord Jonstone mean? Is he not aware that the control of raptors has been outlawed in the UK for many decades. Birds of prey and their eggs are fully protected by law so the issue is not complex at all. It’s a simple and clear cut criminal offence, just like theft, dangerous driving or worse.

    Regrettably, Lord Johnstone seems to be expecting others to find solutions for him (and those who own similar Shooting Estates), when in fact it is surely they who need to accept lead responsibility here.

    It seems obvious that Shooting Estate Owners are the ones who must adopt change by finding and developing new and innovative ways to revise their current and obviously outdated business models. Models based on incorporating illegal and Draconian practices are no longer acceptable to the vast majority of the UK population.

    I urge Lord Johnstone to read the writing on the wall and to act accordingly. He and his colleagues have a unique opportunity to create positive outcomes from the current situation by finding creative new ways to modify their shooting operations to be far more in concert with Nature, as opposed to being in direct conflict with it.

    However, vicarious liability is only the beginning. If Lord Johnstone and others like him fail to act, they may well find their options rapidly and progressively decrease to an extent that they become engulfed in a firestorm that puts the whole future of the UK Grouse Shooting industry at risk.

  • kevin moore

    Lord Johnstone and his friends think they are above the law, i was not aware that there was any control of raptors on going in Scotland,maybe Lord Johnstone knows something that we all don’t know.

  • nirofo

    The control of Raptors is not a complex and sensitive issue, they are legally protected birds and as such require no control from self centred and biased parties who’s only aim is to be rid of them from their over protected and monocultured Red Grouse moors. These birds are more than capable of controlling their own ecological balance, let’s face it they were doing it for thousands of years before the grouse shooters and their gamekeepers came along and ruined it.

    What’s really needed is a complete rethink on the way the moorlands are managed in general, not just for a single species nurtured in over populated numbers for the strange gratification of a few stuck in the Victorian era shooters to get their rocks off! The moors should be safe a home to many different types of wildlife, not manipulated to extreme for Red Grouse at the expense of other birds.

    It’s high time the shooting estates realised that they are destroying / have destroyed what was once a unique eco system, diverse in many forms of wildlife including Birds of prey. Their grouse shooting interests attract only a small proportion of the UK population compared to the interest in the wildlife of this country. Wake up before it’s too late, people are becoming more and more aware of what you’re doing and how much you’re costing them from the public purse. Return the moors to nature and leave the Raptors alone, it’s going to happen sooner or later anyway, time to take a lead and make a start now !!!