A recent episode of Fieldsports TV was dedicated entirely to the views of the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association Chairman, Alex Hogg, who, according to the programme’s presenter, wants buzzards back on the ‘vermin’ list. And there was me thinking we were in 2010, not 1910.
What justification does Alex use to support this Victorian attitude? “The biodiversity in Scotland is seriously being threatened by buzzards“. Presumably then, Alex doesn’t view buzzards as a fundamental component of biodiversity! I would argue that biodiversity in Scotland is seriously being threatened, but not by buzzards, nor any other predator for that matter, but by the actions of those gamekeepers who persecute raptors and also release millions of non-native gamebirds into the environment with little apparent consideration for the ecological impact of these birds.
In the revealing interview, Alex argues for the provision of government-endorsed licences to kill buzzards. He then realises that this view probably does not fit with the recent image he has been trying to portray of the gamekeeper, and that his view is probably going to be distasteful to the majority of the general public, so he modifies it by saying, “We don’t need a licence to kill that many – it’s just a few rogue buzzards“. Are these “few rogue buzzards” in addition to the many buzzards (and kites, eagles, harriers, peregrines, goshawks, sparrowhawks, owls) that continue to be illegally persecuted by gamekeepers across Scotland? And how many is “just a few“? In his recent application for a licence to kill buzzards on the estate where he works, he asked to kill 12. Let’s do a crude estimate here – let’s say there are approximately 400 sporting estates in Scotland, and each one wants to kill 12 buzzards a year – that would be a total of 4,800 buzzards killed per year. Hardly “a few“.
If you want to hear more of Alex’s views, the episode is available on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nlcfdmUX4I