landowners’ condemnation of raptor persecution exposed as a sham?

On 21 May 2010, this blog reported on the news that over 200 landowners (members of the Scottish Rural Property & Business Association – SRPBA)  had written a letter to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP, condemning the continued practice of illegal raptor persecution on Scottish sporting estates.

This letter has now become available for public viewing: SRPBA LETTER MAY 2010

On close scrutiny of the signatories to this letter, it is now apparent that on 23 of the estates listed, wildlife crime incidents have been recorded, and on seven of them, estate employees have criminal convictions. Here they all are in their full glory:

Careston Estate, Brechin: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Dochfour Estate, Inverness: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Invercauld Estates, Braemar: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992; Three Buzzards and a raven found poisoned by Carbofuran 2005; Gamekeeper convicted for illegal use of spring trap 1997.

Balmanno Estate, Bridge of Earn: Buzzard found poisoned by Carbofuran, illegal gin traps and egg collection – Gamekeeper convicted 2003.

Haystoun Estate, Peebles: Gamekeeper filmed allegedly removing Peregrine chick from nest – evidence ruled inadmissable in court (a legal technicality) – but keeper convicted of firearms offences 2003.

Haddo Estate, Aberdeenshire: Gamekeeper convicted for  laying poisoned baits and illegal traps and fined £2,600 in 1989.

Dunachton Estate, Kincraig: Buzzard found shot 1990; Buzzard found shot 1992.

Dougarie Estate, Isle of Arran: Eagle found poisoned by Chloralose 1991.

Rosehaugh Estate, Black Isle: Buzzards found poisoned by Mevinphos 1991.

Dinnet & Kinord Estates, Aboyne: Gamekeeper convicted for firearms offences and trespassing on neighbouring estate while carrying a firearm 2006; Golden eagle found poisoned 2006.

Straloch Farm, Blairgowrie: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1992.

Lothian Estates, Jedburgh: Osprey found shot 1993.

Glenfeshie Estate, Kincraig: Golden eagle found poisoned by Carbofuran 2006.

Islay Estates, Islay: Raven found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989; Buzzard found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989.

Dunecht Estates, Aberdeenshire: Buzzard found shot 2007.

Coignafearn Estate, Tomatin: Poisoned bait found 1983; Golden eagle found poisoned 1988.

Roxburghe Estate, Kelso: Buzzard found poisoned by Mevinphos 1989.

Seafield Estate, Strathsprey: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1991.

Innes Estate, Elgin: Dead Buzzards and crows found dying after poisoned by Carbofuran – Michael Royan (head gamekeeper) convicted of firearms offences and possession of illegal poisons 2007.

Carbeth Estate, Stirlingshire: Buzzard found poisoned by Chloralose 1989.

Wemyss & March Estates, Longniddry: Managers of the Barns Estate in Peebleshire, where gamekeeper was convicted of poisoning 20 raptors, described at the time as “Britain’s worst wildlife crime” 2004.

Alvie Estate, Kincraig: Golden eagle found poisoned 1980.

Aberarder Estate, Strathnairn: Eagle found poisoned 1993.

One has to ask, why are these estates still allowed a membership of SRPBA? Doesn’t their continued membership ruin any credibility of the SRPBA’s public pronouncements against illegal raptor persecution? Indeed, it seems to go against the SRPBA’s very own Code of Practice: 

Although of course, we should point out that some of these Estates may have changed ownership/staff since some of these incidents occured – we should probably give them all the benefit of the doubt because after all, the SRPBA has ‘repeatedly condemned the illegal poisoning of wildlife’ and of course we should all accept that their members are all above board and not engaged in criminal activities.

The SRPBA is also a fully-fledged partner in the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) – as a commited partner, I’m sure that the SRPBA has expelled any members that are associated with wildlife crime. Otherwise, what is the point of SRPBA being a partner in PAW Scotland? No point, other than paying lip-service to raptor conservation in a feeble attempt to protect their public image. But we are giving them the benefit of the doubt, aren’t we.

At the latest PAW Scotland meeting  that was held on 25 May 2010, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP apparently congratulated the SRPBA on their letter. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt too and assume she hadn’t read it yet.

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