Wheelhouse responds to latest raptor killings….by doing nothing

Paul-Wheelhouse-MSP Earlier today we blogged about the latest poisoning victim to have been uncovered in Scotland….a dead buzzard that was found in Fife in April (see here).

This evening, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has issued the following statement:

I have been hugely angered to learn about another case of a poisoned buzzard following on from a separate incident involving the illegal death of a hen harrier in Ayrshire. I have made it very clear that I will not tolerate these criminal and selfish acts and this form of criminality has also been roundly condemned by parliament in a recent debate.

These crimes are not the actions of people who value Scotland’s wildlife and natural environment and I encourage anyone with any information on these despicable crimes to contact Police Scotland on 101.

My officials are working on a pesticide disposal scheme to rid illegal substances from our countryside and I hope to see this up and running very soon while the implementation of changes to the General Licences is in the process of implementation.

Our ongoing review of wildlife crime penalties is due by December and these latest incidents only add to the evidence supporting a toughening of sanctions and penalties on perpetrators.

We don’t doubt that he’s “hugely angered” – we all are – but we most certainly do question his commitment to taking meaningful action against the raptor killers.

A year ago, give or take a few days, the Minister introduced a series of what he described as ‘further measures’ to combat raptor persecution (see here). Since then, not one of these measures has yet been fully implemented. Also since then, we’ve seen examples, over and over again, of how these crimes are still taking place right across Scotland. Here are some of them:

June 2013: Shot buzzard in the Borders (see here), later revealed to also have been poisoned (see here)

July 2013:  Buzzard shot in the throat in North Ayrshire (see here)

August 2013: Red kite found shot at Leadhills (see here)

September 2013: Poisoned buzzard found in Stirlingshire (see here)

October 2013: Langholm hen harrier ‘Blue’ disappears (see here)

October 2013: Half-made raptor trap discovered in Angus (see here)

December 2013: Buzzard died of ‘unnatural causes’ near Tomatin (see here) [we now know it had been shot]

December 2013: Golden eagle ‘Fearnan’ found poisoned on Angus grouse moor (see here)

January 2014: Man reported for hen harrier death in Aberdeenshire (see here)

January 2014: Dead bird (species unknown) & suspected poisoned bait found in South Lanarkshire (see here)

February 2014: Poisoned peregrine found near Leadhills (see here)

March 2014: 22 poisoned raptors (16 red kites + 6 buzzards) found in Ross-shire (see here)

April 2014: Man arrested for alleged attempted raptor trapping in Aberdeenshire (see here)

April 2014: ‘Illegally-killed’ peregrine found near Stirling (see here) [we now know it had been shot]

April 2014: East Scotland sea eagle chick ‘disappears’ on Aberdeenshire grouse moor (see here)

April 2014: Gamekeeper charged for allegedly shooting, bludgeoning & stamping on buzzard in Dumfries (see here)

April 2014: Poisoned buzzard found in Fife (see here)

June 2014: Allegations emerge of ‘coordinated hunt & shooting’ of a hen harrier in Aberdeenshire last year (see here)

June 2014: Hen harrier died “as result of criminal act” near Muirkirk (see here)

These are just the ones that have been made public – we expect there to be a number of others that have not yet been revealed to the public.

Each time, we’ve asked Wheelhouse to act. Each time, he’s told us we need to ‘wait’ for the new measures to take effect but he has adamantly refused to give a time-frame of how long that wait should be. It’s crystal clear, even to a child, that The Untouchables are out of control and waiting for them to stop of their own accord is ridiculous.

The Minister’s response this evening is simply not good enough. A ‘poisoning amnesty’? It sounds good, but the truth is it’s been done before and with no effect. Carbofuran has been banned since 2001 – that’s 13 years ago! Does he really think that these disgusting poisoners are going to hand over their private stashes of poison when they know full well they can continue to use them without fear of consequence? The whole industry denies that poisoning is even happening!

We think the amnesty is being implemented so the Government can be seen to be doing ‘something’ but actually it’s just a bit of cynical window dressing in an attempt to delay taking the proper action that is needed. It’s just another excuse to do nothing.

And actually, this amnesty hasn’t been announced as a reaction to the recently-reported killing of the buzzard and the hen harrier. He announced his intention to launch an amnesty in his speech at the Police Wildlife Crime Conference several months ago. So what has he actually announced in response to the poisoned buzzard and the illegally-killed (probably shot) hen harrier? Absolutely nothing.

The Minister says he “won’t tolerate these criminal and selfish acts“. Sorry, Minister, but that is exactly what you’re doing.

If you feel strongly about this and agree that this government is still failing to address the widespread persecution of protected raptor species, we’d encourage you to email Mr Wheelhouse, cite the list of crimes (above) and demand he takes meaningful action or resign his position as Environment Minister. Email: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

15 thoughts on “Wheelhouse responds to latest raptor killings….by doing nothing”

  1. Aye, another pathetic response from a useless minister, perhaps the most inept man to hold office in the reformed Scottish Parliament. This man cannot even be bothered to respond to emails, leaving it his equally useless lackeys, and once the going gets tough for the useless lackeys, they stop responding as well.

    For all the good Wheelhouse does, the parliament would be better off not having such a ministerial post.

    Ah well, here comes yet another email.

  2. The SG ministers are no doubt under orders not to do or say anything remotely controversial in the run up to the referendum. It’s appalling but I would not expect mr useless to do anything that might rock the ship. The only way way we will get their attention is to make it a referendum issue. Maybe we should be asking them how the poisoning sits with their commitment to the EU and it’s directives and the drafting of the proposed Scottish constitution. Will there be a right to see hen harriers in the new Scotland……especially if we are freed from the dead hand of the House of Lords and absentee land owners.

  3. Tired of waiting Mr Wheelhouse. You’ve made your statements of intent, act now or step down and give someone with balls to do the job.

  4. With regard to circus maximus. I would try and leave the Independence Referendum out of any comment on this site, as I would hate to see it become a battleground over the next couple of months, with contributors vying to claim that changes would come from a reformed staying together, and an independent Scotland. Let us face it, conservation of our wildlife and the environment is very much decided by the magnates who own the landscape and the shooting estates; the farming and meat supply companies; fish farming industry; trawling and its harmful methods of fishing; badly sited wind farm developers, and a host of other vested interests in fighting off challenges to the way the operate, and thereby affect our wildlife and quality of the countryside.

    Look at the promises made to label meat items showing the origin of the contents. Nothing has happened. I have a Friends of the Earth publication showing deep concern over the failed promises of our successive Governments, in failing to heed the deep and ethical concern of many MPs over the conduct of UK companies operating abroad. In 2001, Linda Perham, MP, tabled a Corporate Responsibility Bill, which was promoted by the The Corporate Responsibility Coalition, representing many active organisations, active in the human and environment arenas. How can we expect Paul Wheelhouse to break ranks and do any more than issue weak platitudes to placate the naive, and those who still believe in Santa? In the far past, I stood in the streets of Glasgow and elsewhere, giving out leaflets on a host of humane causes, and the people with me were old stalwarts who never gave much credibility to what politicians would promise. Today, we have an army of well-informed and determined people from all walks of life, who are impatient with front men like Mr Wheelhouse and the cyphers in Government organisations dealing with the environment. There is a global crisis for wildlife survival and environmental degradation taking place just now – a massive extinction that could leave the world without Elephants, Rhinos, the Great Cats, Whales and Dolphins, Rainforests and other rich habitats and the genocide of tribal peoples along with the forced removal of whole human communities to make way for mining and plantation developments. Scotland has its part to play in this blatant disregard for the survival of its wildlife and environment, due to the iron grip that will prevail no matter what the result will be on 18 September. The Devil does not discriminate as to whom is in power. Answer, stop squabbling and hugging your own wee corner of the protest community, and join forces and begin a committed and long campaign to get rid of the mob killing our birds of prey and holding back progress elsewhere.

    1. Have disagree a bit! The SNP have treated the natural environment as an inconvenience which gets in the way of economic growth. They have been looking for growth as evidence that Scotland could stand up on its own two feet. They keep an eye on what is populist and try to appeal to everyone, that is why they survived in the last minority SG and did so well in the last election. It is our fault that WE have not forced them to treat the environment with the respect it deserves. WE have been too quiet. That’s in the past but it is how they still operate. In the run up to the referendum they simply will not do anything that could be construed as controversial. Indeed I’m not sure, but in the run up to the referendum they may actually constrained from doing anything which could be construed as campaigning.

      I do believe that the apparent offer in their draft constitution to build in protection of the natural environment provides us with a tool to get them talking about the issues we face. To be clear, I would not be intending this to be in any way a pro or anti independence discussion. I am simply pointing out the real political situation and suggesting that we use it to get our issues noticed and on the agenda. Have a look at the consultation on the draft constitution and see if it will do enough for hen harriers?

  5. We need both a carrot and a stick to prevent the indiscriminate use of illegal poisons in the countryside.

    I presume the logic is that an amnesty will lead to poisons “innocently” left at the back of the cupboard since before 2001 being handed in. Very forgetful. Thereafter those having illegal poisons in their possession have no excuse for holding them.

    If there is an amnesty, then it should be linked to an increase in the penalties for possessing illegal poisons otherwise it is meaningless. There should be the introduction of a mandatory prison sentence for those found guilty of having illegal poisons in their possession post an amnesty?

    1. And vicarious liability for the land owner / employer and the removal of shooting licences and the right to hold commercial shooting on the said land.

      Then the gamekeepers will find another method but hopefully more difficult.

      1. I was under the impression that vicarious liability for wildlife crime is in place now in Scotland?

        1. It is, although it’s only applicable to SOME wildlife crimes, not all.

          It came in to force on 1st Jan 2012. Two and a half years on we’re still waiting for the first prosecution…although the Env Minister has said it’s currently under way….

          1. This is interesting. Are there any ideas on the actual prosecution that is underway? Or the area that it is in?

  6. Reminds me of a toothless dog, all bark and no bite and no one takes it on, might as well have a toothless dog as it would cost a whole lot less

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s