‘Out of control’ buzzards need culling, says sporting estate landowner

It seems barely a month goes by without some idiot with a vested interest in game-shooting spouting off about the need to kill the plague of buzzards that has infested the countryside.

An article in yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that buzzards in Scotland are ‘out of control’ and ‘need culling to protect other wildlife’, according to David Hendry, the owner of Cardney Estate in Perthshire.

It’s no surprise that Hendry is at the centre of this latest claim. This former Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association has been calling for licensed raptor culling for over a decade, to include buzzards, sparrowhawks and peregrines (e.g. see here, here, here and here).

This time his justification for wanting a buzzard-killing licence was because he’d witnessed a buzzard eating red squirrels on his estate. Fortunately, his licence application to SNH was turned down because, surprise surprise, there was no evidence linking predation by the buzzard with a decline in the red squirrel population.

If we applied Hendry’s logic across the board, we would see requests for licences to kill golden eagles and a whole other suite of generalist predators whose diet may sometimes include red squirrel. It’s what predators do, Mr Hendry – they eat stuff. Get over it.

According to the article, Hendry’s desire to get a buzzard-killing licence was supported by Alan Stewart, the former Tayside Police wildlife crime officer who now works for the National Wildlife Crime Unit and who apparently has been mates with Hendry for years.

However, Stewart has written on his own blog that he was ‘mis-quoted’ in the Sunday Times article – apparently he wouldn’t support a ‘general cull’ of any bird of prey, but he would support a licence application to kill this particular red squirrel-eating buzzard, especially “since I knew the landowner concerned would not have abused any licensing privilege agreed“.

Good god. So a native bird eating a native mammal is cause for the bird to be killed??! Thankfully, the National Wildlife Crime Unit has no role whatsoever in the objective and scientific decision-making process concerning the granting of raptor-killing licences.

It’s bizarre that both Hendry and Stewart think that a buzzard is having such a detrimental impact on the estate’s wildlife that it needs be killed. According to Stewart, Cardney Estate has “an absolute wealth of wildlife” [despite the out-of-control buzzard, eh?] and Hendry’s pheasant and partridge shoots both seem to have managed just fine, with 677 birds shot on just one day in 2010 (see here).

Thanks to the contributor who sent in the following copy of the Sunday Times article:


Hendry 2

19 thoughts on “‘Out of control’ buzzards need culling, says sporting estate landowner”

  1. Never seen a Buzzard “ravage” pheasants and it’s a good job that the Red Squirrels aren’t seen to “ravage” his pheasant eggs as they might like to do under normal circumstances.
    These guys are sadly beyond arguing with – they don’t get nature and never will because they are fixated to using their guns on anything they can get away with and more – it’s a cultural and backward trait that needs to die out, just as burning women with black cats thankfully has!! The theme is that if someone doesn’t control the predators then their way of life will end but in reality most farmers round these parts lose far more pheasants at the expense of the motorist than will ever get “ravaged” by Buzzards.

    1. Hear hear. After all you’d have to be a pretty damn nimble buzzard to catch a healthy red squirrel ! These people seem to have lost all their common sense, when will they ever learn that a healthy ecosystem demands healthy predators. We’ve systematically removed so many of them (lynx, wolf, bear) that now they get all scaredy-cat when we reintroduce a few nice raptors. Wish they’d grow up and get a life.

  2. Wouldn’t it be far better to live capture all the nasty wildlife persecuting gamekeepers and their employers, (clam traps and Larson traps are permitted, no snares, gin or fenn traps please) and ship them all to America where I am sure they would not be warmly welcomed.

    1. Whoa Neddy!! You’re right, we don’t want them over here on this side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, cultural changes to a society do not always happen quickly. It reminds me of a quote by Max Planck about science that could probably be said equally about culture:

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

      Hopefully a critical mass leading to a collapse of the current culture of persecution can happen more quickly.

  3. These flat earth types will never change. Sad to think such a backward Victorian mindset appears to be still widespread among the tweed brigade

  4. Both David Hendry and Alan Stewart need culling! I am totally disgusted with Alan Stewart – some wildlife crime officer he must have been.

    Certainly around the Aviemore area Buzzards aren’t “out of control” in fact, I now see far fewer than I did just a few years ago.

  5. I may have gone ‘over the top’ in condemning Alan Stewart. I have since read his blog and come to the conclusion that he is mainly ‘on our side’. I also now remember having correspondence with him a few years ago regarding the illegal killing of birds of pray. My apologies Alan.

  6. Approximately one mile from the entrance to Cardney Estate you find the SWT Loch of the Lowes Visitors Centre. One of the star attraction for the thousands of visitors passing through the centre every year are red squirrels.Sparrowhawk hunt regularly at the feeding tables just outside the viewing area, never known one take a red squirrel yet in seven years of volunteering there. That being the case I genuinely doubt that a buzzard is going to fare any better at catching red squirrel. Also never heard of the SWT calling for a raptor cull to protect the red squirrels there that pull in so many paying visitors.

  7. What on earth was the total number of pheasant released on Cardney estate in that year if they are blasting the life out of 677 birds in one day? According to Alan Stewart’s blog this estate is small at 2’000 acres. One can only imagine the impact that such enormous numbers of non-native birds, suddenly released into this area, will have on the environment, not to mention the huge amount of toxic led shot that now and continues to contaminate that piece of land.

    Let us be very clear about this, we have TWO people condoning the killing of raptors in this story. David Hendry, a land owner of a shooting estate and former Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, who has been calling for licensed raptor culling for over a decade. We also have an ex-wildlife crime officer, who continues to carry out work for the NWCU and who believes that it is OK to kill a species, protected under law, if that animal, in this case a buzzard, dares to consider preying on another protected species. The deliberate killing of raptors is abhorrent to Project Raptor, legal or illegal, and we believe that one license is one too many.

    Our team has many years’ experience dealing with people who have a passionate interest in killing animals for fun and profit. We know how cunning they are and how they use other causes, such as conservation of environment and species to further their personal interests in blood sports. We here on this blog site, who have a genuinely honest concern for the protection of wildlife, will never be fooled by such people and we will continue to grow in our number and defend these species from those who continue to demonise them at every opportunity with the sole purpose of gaining public support so they can legitimise their slaughter, a slaughter which is happening, unlawfully, on our hills and in our forests today and one which we must continue to uncover and expose at every opportunity.

    We fear that even before the new year has properly begun we shall hear of more sickening crimes against raptors, crimes which will again demonstrate that this criminal attack on birds of prey throughout Scotland is truly out of control. It’s time to give the SSPCA more powers, it’s time to carry cases, with hard evidence of raptor persecution, through to court instead of dropping them on the grounds that the person obtaining the evidence didn’t seek permission from the landowner to gather the material. We think that It is time for change!

    We also believe it’s time to talk custodial for anybody who is caught committing such crimes. Evidence suggests that this is the only way they will begin to think before they kill.

    Can Project Raptor take this opportunity to thank RPS for all their hard work this year in bringing to this site the facts and figures of an issue which if Government doesn’t begin to take more seriously then we shall see raptors in further decline than they already are, as well as an increase in areas of Scotland where populations of raptors have stagnated when they should be flourishing. These sites are of course often near to or on shooting estates.

    To everybody else on here who supports and works for the conservation and protection of raptors and all wildlife, merry Christmas and a happy new year!

  8. In biological terms the relationship between two species is commonly symbiotic providing benefit for both. This case is a good example of this.
    I am of course referring to the relationship between Alan Stewart and David Henry!

  9. “Out of control buzzards need culling they are killing all our Reds” what a coincidence, just under 3 years ago Shooting Times ran an article with exactly the same theme, it was referring to an expanding Buzzard population on the Isle of Wight and demanding that action be taken to control the population of Buzzards before it was too late and the Red Squirrel disappeared from the Island, the expert they spoke too predicted without any action to control the Buzzards the Squirrels would be gone in two or three years, no action was taken against the Buzzards and guess what, Squirrels are still there, you can actually still go on Squirrel safari’s on the Isle of Wight. The “EXPERT”? got it WRONG!
    It never fails to amaze me how someone who calls themselves a country person can tell you why it is necessary to cull deer because they have no natural predators, its to remove the injured, diseased or starving from the herd yet move the conversation to natural predators and they cant grasp that these do exactly the same job, not every living Red Squirrel is in perfect health, if it reacts to slow to avoid a Buzzard its probably not 100%, it could be carrying a disease, injured or maybe starving, in any of the instances the Buzzard is benefiting the rest of the Squirrel population by removing the individual. This is basic predator prey relationships Key Stage one for seven to nine year olds.

  10. I recently saw a buzzard near the centre of Glasgow. It was wearing a string vest and drinking buckfast….but it still seemed to be more in control than the landed gentry of Perthshire!

  11. Buzzards can Kill Red Squirrels but shooting estates kill hundreds if not thousands through out Scotland. Try watching an estate’s tunnel traps. While working in forestry I saw hundreds of squirrels dead in tunnel traps. What is worse are the new ‘ditch’ traps where a plank is placed over a drainage ditch and wire netting is placed around the plank with a fenn trap inside. The width of this netting can be enormous allowing even cats and otters to be killed.

  12. Fen traps litter the Scottish countryside. They are supposed to be a killing trap, but not all animals will die instantly. They don’t legally require checking every twenty four hours like other traps found in the countryside, but they must be covered and restricted to prevent non-target animals getting caught in them. Stoats, weasels and rats are supposed to be the main targets, but I have found evidence of birds, rabbits and squirrels which have been caught.

    If anybody comes across one of these fen traps and it is either not covered, the entrance into the trap is big enough to let a rabbit in or it is not restricted at all then contact the SSPCA or a police wildlife crime officer and report it. Try to get a grid reference for the location (you can now download smart phone GPS grid reference finder apps which are pretty accurate and often free). If they are set and not covered then it is likely that they have been set for a raptor or predator mammal such as a fox or badger. This is of course illegal and so again contact the SSPCA or police. Whoever you call to report what you believe may be an illegal trap then make sure you get an incident number or some kind of report ID so you can check back up with them a week later to see if any action has been taken.

  13. What about goshawks they prey on red and grey squirrels quite a lot and there is a few pairs in and around this particular estate,would alan Stewart see a goshawk killed

  14. Interesting there is no doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for shooting estates Buzzards over the last 15 years would never had fared as well as they have. I’m a birder with a shooting past but no longer and presently beat on a shoot in the Perthshire Highlands where the owner has a policy of no raptor persecution and consequently have seen Golden eagle, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzards. And I mean buzzards plural one day in September I saw 24 in the sky at once. This isn’t normal this is because they have a large supply of partridges to feed on. The golden eagle that breeds behind my house its main prey is partridges. So I can see why some misguided landowners feel that they are a menace

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