Hen harriers and gamekeepers – ‘damning evidence’ soon to be published

Following the blog posts of December 18th and 24th 2010 about the delayed publication of the long-awaited Hen Harrier Conservation Framework report, one of our readers emailed the Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham. Thank you Mike Price for sending us the government’s response:

Thank you for your email of December 24th, to Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, regarding the Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers. I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Scottish Government.

We are aware of the report and of the delays that it has experienced on its way to publication. Although my understanding is that SNH have arranged meetings with stakeholders to go through their scientific concerns, I appreciate that this is frustrating for those who have an interest in raptors in Scotland and are waiting for the report’s conclusions to be made public.

We have been assured by SNH that the report will be published before the Parliament has completed consideration of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill and will be made available to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee. While I can’t comment on the content of a report that is yet to be published, I assure you that the Minister and her officials look forward to reading its conclusions with great interest.

Kind regards

Catherine Murdoch

Natural Resources Division

Rural and Environment Directorate

The Scottish Government

Phone: 0131-244 7140

Mail: 1-D North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

For information on wildlife crime and PAW Scotland, please visit http://www.PAW.Scotland.gov.uk

Meanwhile back in Gamekeeper World, the SGA has announced it is conducting a national wildlife survey on sporting estates, focusing on birds. SGA Chairman Alex Hogg says on his blog: “We know from extensive scientific studies that land which is managed by gamekeepers has some of the most prolific wildlife in the country“. Hmm, we also know from extensive scientific studies that land which is managed by gamekeepers is where raptors are persistently and illegally persecuted. The forthcoming Hen Harrier Framework report provides very clear evidence that the land where hen harriers are absent (despite it being apparently suitable breeding habitat) also just happens to be land that is managed as grouse moors. What an amazing coincidence! In fact, isn’t that also what the Golden Eagle Conservation Framework reported in 2008? Yes, I think it is. A cynic may conclude that the SGA’s national wildlife survey is simply their latest public relations offensive in an attempt to bury the devastating evidence of hen harrier persecution on Scottish sporting estates that will shortly be published for all to read. And yes, we have read the report – and it most certainly does contain damning evidence. We’ve considered posting it on this site but we will wait and hope that SNH keeps its promise and publishes the report sometime this month.

Alex goes on to encourage SGA members to participate in the forthcoming bird survey, and tells them that the survey form will only take “a short time” to fill in. Is that because most of the native birds have been illegally poisoned, or shot, or clubbed to death after being caught in a trap….?

Alex Hogg Blog here: http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/content/gamekeepers-conduct-national-wildlife-survey

10 thoughts on “Hen harriers and gamekeepers – ‘damning evidence’ soon to be published”

  1. Mr Hogg is right, the estate wildlife survey form will take no time at all to fill in. It might look something like this –

    Red grouse – 5,385
    Hen harrier – 0
    Peregrine – 0
    Golden eagle – 0
    Sea eagle – 0
    Red Kite – 0
    Goshawk – 0
    Buzzard – 0 (unless you’ve applied for a licence to kill them, in which case the number will be more like 467 breeding pairs)

  2. I cannot wait to read their important report, perhaps it is already written and they need only to fill in the survey forms to support their story. No doubt it will get the green light from their countryside friends both in and out of government. No delays in getting that to the press. Think I’ll start writing my review now. That’s it finished….Utter Crap!

    The poisoned kite.

  3. Its taken more than a century for the science of ornithology to get to the point where a scientific survey of an area or habitat can be done with any real accuracy – using carefully tested methods and trained workers.

    All of that can be ignored however by Mr Hogg and his SGA bird survey, which will no doubt give us the real facts – which are also, no doubt, being deliberately hidden by these know nothing boffins.

    Wait for the shocked surprise that some prey items [small passerines and waders] occur in larger numbers when you have removed [killed] all the predators. Marvel at the large numbers of profitable game birds in their artificially maintained habitats….

    Oh yes, another complete waste of time, to show us all what is already known in great detail.

    Q. If killing birds of prey produces more game birds….meaning higher profits for the gamebird industry…..and birds of prey are protected due to society’s laws saying that they are more valuable to society than reared and artificially protected game birds…..why do we still have a gamebird industry?..

    ..If as we are told by the likes of SGA, that a game industry cannot survive without killing protected predators…..

    a. why is it still surviving?…is someone illegally killing predators?…surely not!!!
    b. why hasnt it gone the way of all our other indigenous uneconomic industries – coal, steel, ship-building?

  4. Maybe their wildlife survey should include mammals as well as birds, just to bump up the figures. Oh hang on a minute, aren’t there reports in the papers this week that they kill a minimum of 25000 mountain hares on estates in Scotland EVERY YEAR. Think about that. Twenty five thousand slaughtered every single year. The SGA calls it a “harvest”. Interesting choice of words. I’d call it a massacre. Pete.

    1. Didnt catch the recent mountain hare report…but Ive seen the blood stained sacks going out through Edinburgh Airport…mainly Italians who go for that “sport”. Wonder if they have them stuffed, sitting up on their hind legs and baring both sets of fangs?

      Now, why do they want rid of all those hares?….because they compete for food with grouse and are alleged to be a source of louping ill – which weakens or kills the grouse.

      and what kills hares [apart from fat italians driven up to the hilltops from their hotels or luxury winnebagos}?…..predatory birds and animals!…what a surprise….Golden Eagles, Harriers, Buzzards, Foxes, Wild Cats, Goshawks – all kill hares or leverets…

      So what do you get if you kill all the predators?…too many hares. [Ecology 101]

      Still, nice little earner…and something else to blame dwindling grouse numbers on….on your totally artificial grouse moor.

  5. Thanks Happy Snapper – very informative. At least the pressure – such as forcing snaring of mountain hares to be a licensed activity…..seems to be leading to some scrutiny and possibly close season controls under the WANE Bill.

    Left to their own devices, thanks to the Shooting Lobby we would still have early 19th century Game Laws in force….oh look, thats exactly what we have got!?

    WANE Act is a good century late…

  6. It will be very interesting to compare the SNH report to the Gamekeepers report one will be factual and scientific while the other will be pure fantasy. (No points for guessing which one is fantasy) I would say to the owners of this site,that if SNH don’t publish the report this month then you do so. There are to many secret reports out there.

  7. Given that gamekeepers are so busy trying to protect their largely alien charges from native predators or are involved in the shooting days themselves its marvellous that such dedicated chaps are able to find time to do the surveys to provide the data for this new report. Then on the otherhand they will almost certainly do what they have always done fix the results to suit their purposes and hope to create enough confusion over genuine figures that weakens any case against them. This is what they have always done in the past, and it worked. Be on your guard there may be crooks, criminals and buffoons but those advising behind the scenes them are not .


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