Un-fucking-believable. Yes, it’s a swear word but that’s the least of our concerns. Read what follows and you’ll be swearing in anger too…
The Environment Minister has responded to a letter sent to him by one of our readers (Dave Adam) concerning the appalling death of that golden eagle back in May (see here for details of that bird’s demise). This is the eagle whose satellite transmitter showed the bird went down on a grouse moor in Glen Esk, Angus for 15 hours (an area where another golden eagle had previously been found poisoned in 2009, oh, and a buzzard was also found poisoned there in 2008 although that wasn’t publicised at the time) and then this eagle miraculously moved to a layby in Aberdeen, in the middle of the night, where it was found dead several days later with two broken legs – injuries consistent with being caught in a leg-hold trap. Yes, THAT eagle. According to the Minister, this scenario may not have been the result of criminal activity.
Dave Adam has posted the Minister’s response letter in the comments section of the original post (thank you) but it’s far too important for it to remain there, hence the decision to publish it here.
Here it is in full:
Thank you for your letter of the 25 September 2012 to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Paul Wheelhouse. I have been asked to respond.
I agree that the media reports were a terrible story of the suffering of a young golden eagle. The reports may suggest that the circumstances of this incident were suggestive of an offence however there is no hard evidence and it remains possible that there is an alternative explanation. It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment.
The unlawful killing of any raptors has no place in today’s Scotland and we will continue to work hard to eradicate this criminal activity. We believe that the partnership approach with the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, is bringing the reduction in bird of prey poisoning that can be seen in the statistics in recent years. However we are not complacent and if there is evidence of a switch to other methods of persecution we will take action to bear down on those methods.
The Scottish Government recognises that game shooting generates significant income and employment in our rural economy, often in areas where there are few alternative opportunities. However it is important that these businesses operate within the law, and the Scottish Government recognises that most such businesses do so. However where there appear to be conflicts for example between raptors and highly-intensive grouse moor management, we believe that an approach of seeking to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement while working with partner organisations to isolate those persisting with illegal practices is the best way forward.
Scottish police have a clear focus on tackling wildlife crime cases. Law enforcement’s role in tackling wildlife crime was reviewed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland in 2008, and there was a follow-up review in 2009. As a result there are officers with wildlife crime duties in every police force area and a consistent and professional approach from senior officers.
It is frustrating that it is difficult to detect, prosecute and convict those responsible for wildlife crimes. However while it easy to make suppositions about circumstances of an apparent offence as reported in the media, wildlife crime must be subject to the same standard of proof as any other crime. Police and prosecutors also apply the same stringent procedure for dealing with wildlife crime as for any other sort of crime.
You say that the golden eagle population is threatened by illegal persecution. The Golden Eagle Conservation Framework published by SNH in 2008 did identify persecution in eastern Scotland and food shortages in the west as threats to the birds’ conservation status. It is difficult to estimate the amount of illegal persecution, but we recognise that in the longer term the best measure of success in dealing with raptor persecution will be when vacant golden eagle territories, as identified in the Framework document, are re-occupied.
K. Hunter, Policy Officer, Scottish Government.
Like we said at the top, un-fucking-believable. Especially coming a day after we learn that another golden eagle was the target of criminal activity on a grouse moor, this time being found shot and critically injured and left to die.
What did we say yesterday about needing a strong response from government, and not the usual platitudes about ‘partnership working’?
The question is, what are we going to do about it? And by ‘we’, that means all of us. Angry? You’d better believe it.
If you want to tell him how angry you are, and why (because it obviously needs spelling out) here’s his email address again: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you’ve done that, send a copy to Alex Salmond: FirstMinister@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
These politicians HAVE to understand that we’re not tolerating this any longer.