RSPB Scotland has just published its latest report, The Illegal Killing of Birds of Prey in Scotland in 2011. You probably won’t be surprised or shocked by the content, especially if you’ve read the previous 17 annual reviews. In fact, when you read this 18th review, you might get a strong sense of déjà vu.
It opens with a Foreword by Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland. Apart from the new photo, this foreword looks like a cut and paste job from the 2010 report, with a few words or sentences added or adjusted. To be fair, not much has changed since the 2010 report was published so perhaps he felt justified in repeating what he’d written the previous year.
Then there are RSPB Scotland’s strategic recommendations for addressing raptor persecution. Again, these show a remarkable similarity to the recommendations made in the 2010 report, and also in the 2009 report. The recommendations were / are still good and to see them repeated again is a useful indicator of how little progress has been made by those with the power to push them forward.
Next come the tables showing the confirmed and probable persecution incidents recorded by the RSPB during 2011. It’s these tables that the game-shooting lobby usually object too – they’re especially reluctant to accept the ‘probable’ incidents although to date, they’ve failed to provide a convincing argument to account for any of them.
The data in the 2011 tables demonstrate once again that illegal raptor persecution is widespread, with incidents reported in Perthshire, Angus, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries-shire, East Ayrshire, Borders and Inverness-shire. We counted 15 very familiar-sounding locations within these regions, although there are a few notable absentees this time. Have they stopped their criminal activities or have they just got better at covering up? Time will tell.
Just focusing on the confirmed incidents, in total 17 incidents of deliberate poison abuse were confirmed during 2011, involving 20 victims: 7 buzzards, 4 red kites, 1 golden eagle, 2 peregrines, 2 ravens and 4 other bird species. Sixteen other illegal incidents relating to shooting, nest destruction, and the use of uncovered spring traps or cage traps were confirmed. The victims included 8 buzzards, 2 peregrines, 1 goshawk, 1 sparrowhawk, 2 kestrels and 1 short-eared owl. As in previous years, not all of these incidents were publicised at the time they occurred. It’s a continual disappointment that several years have to pass before the public learns of these appalling crimes.
Once again the occupations and interests of those convicted for illegal raptor persecution crime have been analysed (data from 2003-2011 inclusive). 87% of them were gamekeepers (7% pigeon racers, 3% pest controllers, 3% farmers).
The report includes an interesting case study of poisoned raptors that have been found in recent years on the Glen Kyllachy and Farr Estate near Inverness. Very little of this information has been previously published and certainly this is the first time these photographs have been published. It’s a shame it’s taken several years for the info and images to reach the public domain but nevertheless it’s very encouraging to see RSPB Scotland highlight these cases, especially as Northern Constabulary hasn’t bothered.
All in all the report makes for grim reading, but nobody should be surprised by that. We all owe a large debt of gratitude to the RSPB’s Investigations Team for meticulously collecting these data and especially for making them publically available.
TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE REPORT CLICK HERE
Here’s some media coverage:
RSPB Scotland press release here
BBC news article here
STV news article here
Herald Scotland article here
Scottish Gamekeepers Association: statement here
Scottish Land and Estates: nothing yet
@SNHMedia: “SNH report finds vast majority of gamekeepers highly qualified”. Link to this.
PAW Scotland: nothing yet