“Very little proof” of raptor persecution, says Scottish Land & Estates

There was a radio debate on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme today, with RSPB Scotland Director, Stuart Housden and Scottish Land & Estates’ Moorland Group Director, Tim Baynes.

If anyone still needs evidence that the grouse-shooting industry is in hopeless denial about the link between driven grouse moors and the illegal killing of raptors, this was it.

denial 2

The debate centred on whether there was a ‘need’ for the introduction of a licensed regulatory system for driven grouse moors, as recently called for by the RSPB, both in England (here) and in Scotland (here).

According to Tim (Kim) Baynes, the RSPB’s data on raptor persecution are “out of date” and there is “very little proof” of raptor persecution. In Tim’s world, driven grouse moors are great because waders do a lot better on them than they do on moorland managed by the RSPB. Unsurprisingly, he failed to acknowledge that if you kill every predator that dares to even look at a driven grouse moor then of course waders (and grouse) are going to thrive but at a significant cost to the wider biodiversity, such as that that you’ll find on an RSPB-managed moor. He also tried to use the woeful rate of criminal convictions as evidence  that persecution wasn’t happening, and ignored the massive pile of scientific papers that tell a different story. Oh dear.

It’s astonishing that such a PR-savvy organisation such as SLE has not yet grasped the idea that the recent up-swell of public interest and anger against driven grouse moor management is largely thanks to the shooting industry’s failure to accept that there is an issue.  Ah well, never mind, you keep denying it, Kim – you’re doing wonders for our cause!

Well done Stuart Housden for not guffawing out loud on national radio.

The radio debate can be heard here (01:52:08) for the next seven days.

15 thoughts on ““Very little proof” of raptor persecution, says Scottish Land & Estates”

  1. did he account for the huge number of raptors which have been found in illeagal traps, dead from illegal poisons which tend to be found in the posession of so many gamekeepers, or indeed full of lead shot from shotguns, in any way at all, or was he simply saying that they were a figment of everyone elses imagination?

  2. This makes me so angry, of course it happens. There are too many people in positions of power that believe this sort of killing is ok.

  3. How long is a piece of string? There may be little “proof” of precisely who does it, which is what counts in court, but there are buckets loads of evidence that it goes on. Dreamland.

  4. Stuart lacked bite, conviction and focus. He allowed Baynes to patronise him with the ‘Mr Reasonable’ line, the classic Establishment approach, pooh poohing the problem and wondering why you won’t just come up for lunch to sort it all out. He should have cut through that and been much more forceful about the future of an industry which depends on criminal and unsustainable management. Too narrow a focus, as ever, on tedious lists of bird species, no effective personal challenge to Baynes disingenuousness, and an unnecessary and spurious acknowledgement of the value of grouse moors instead of a challenge to their existence. As the lead organisation in fighting persecution the RSPB can be just a little limited in its scope.

  5. The truth is that they know exactly who is responsible for the slaughter of Scottish raptors, but how could they ever admit it when they support those that the finger is pointing at. The RPS photo above that goes with this blog says it all.

    It is a tactic that has been used by people like this for years, if they just keep denying the truth, even if the evidence clearly contradicts what they are saying, then they hope that eventually the story will just go away. They are a spineless arrogant lot who will always want their own way, even if it is to the detriment of the environment and the protection and welfare of wildlife, protected by law or not.

  6. My view is that law abiding estates and their staff generally are badly served by representative bodies, both SL&E and the joke that is SGA. (I assume there are some decent law-abiding keepers!).

    Its not that there are one or two bad apples in the barrel, the rot is all through the barrel and what SL&E should be doing is creating a credible new barrel that the good apples can get into. Instead they persist in the position that peer pressure will fix it. Decades of ‘effort’ has shown no progress. One end of the spectrum of moorland management is even getting more intensive.

    You’d have thought they (SL&E) would have learned the lesson of the Land Reform Act – laws are enacted to deal with the worst miscreants. Denying there are any more than one or two flies in the face of the biological evidence and they should be bright enough to see that policy and lawmakers can see that.

    If I were the manager of a sporting estate, I’d be resigning from SL&E, seek a refund of my subs and use the money to fund credible raptor monitoring on my estate!

  7. He damned well SHOULD have guffawed out loud. I heard the discussion this morning and it was deeply disappointing. It seems that almost every opportunity we have to stand up to the industry that kills raptors, to really challenge them in public, is thrown away and wasted. Why do “our” spokespeople approach the whole subject in such a weak manner, time after time? No wonder the killing fraternity are just laughing at us. It’s a joke.

    [Ed: Thanks for your comment, Flash. One slight edit has been made because we’re sure you hadn’t meant to infer that Tim Baynes was a raptor killer!]

  8. Its a bit like denying the link between smoking and lung cancer. Anyone with an ounce of commonsense knows what going on and no amount of blather and BS from the likes of SLE changes that

  9. SLE using the same tactics as those that deny the holocaust ever occurred.
    Anyone who has any knowledge what so ever of this topic will know that even the SLE don’t believe the rubbish of Tim Baynes spin.
    The worry is that anyone who hasn’t any knowledge on this topic may not see through it and this is because Stuart played the safe, political angle and did put his case over in a more robust manner and let Baynes of the hook.

  10. I think that this is the time in our history, to at last break the power of those who have seized or bought the landscape of Scotland, and, if unchallenged would have massacred every creature that may have threatened game birds. I was on the phone yesterday, to a well-known petition group, and explained the situation in Scotland about how powerless the wildlife conservationists are in the face of the hegemony that confronts them. I explained that a coming together of all concerned about our birds of prey, should be organised, and the purpose would be to plan a National Petition along with an appeal to the rest of the world for help, in demanding a whole change in the way Scotland’s countryside is being used, and for an impartial body to be appointed, that would investigate the conduct of those empowered to enforce the law governing the killing of our birds of prey.

    I have signed petitions online to save wolves, bears, butterflies, whales, and countless other creatures, along with demanding protection for tribal peoples being evicted from their lands by corporations financed, sometimes, by our own banks. Where there has been gross injustice, I have joined the millions who are angry over individuals and families being maltreated. Yet, here we have an anomaly in Scotland, which has existed for centuries, whereby a small group of very well-connected people can dominate the land mass, and thereby deprive the vast majority of Scots a right to demand an end to the slaughter of part of their heritage. One great effort guided by determined leaders, could begin this battle to reclaim the natural landscape, and forever put an end to the corrupt system that has made this shocking disrespect for the law, and for the majority opinion, possible.

    The RSPB and the other big conservation groups have had to be cautious and polite up till now, but they will have to concede that the kid gloves have to come off, and we will have to finally take on the Police, Fiscal Service, Judiciary and those politicians, who have patently kept the lid on this scandal for far too long. As a nation, we have fallen foul of the propaganda and lies of the estate owners and their gamekeepers, that they have managed the countryside for centuries, and have done a wonderful job by creating great diversity of life. Those estates and landowners who waken up and see the light of what could descend on them, if they do not dissociate themselves from the organisations that represent their interests, and come aboard a more humane way of running Scotland’s countryside, then they may lose control of their land. A new order has to come into existence, one that has a big input from all who use Scotland’s scenery and environment for recreation, tourism conservation, farming and hunting, the latter in a less destructive way. Come on, stop just using this site as a talking shop, and take back what has been lost to us.

  11. Tim Baynes = Legend

    [Ed: Hmmm, perhaps in his own lunchtime or to gamekeepers like you in Tomatin and other notorious blackspots!]

    1. That’s out of order. I don’t think you should be posting peoples details. I don’t see anybody else’s details being made public. Now can you take it down.

      [Ed: What details? We haven’t identified you as an individual, although we are quite within our rights to do that and might well do it if you continue to come on this site just to cause trouble. What makes you think you can dictate what gets posted on our blog? If you don’t like it, piss off and write your own blog].

      1. It is a public blog and he is allowed to post his opinion as long as it is not in breach of copyright, defamatory etc. You as the blog owner can not threaten the release of his private information. Under the data protection act of 1998 it requires that you use information “fairly and lawfully” and only for the purposes for which it is gathered. I’m afraid blackmail is not regarded as fair or lawful. I suggest you think about your actions and maybe next time welcome a debate instead of threatening opposing views

        [Ed: Hmm, wrong on all counts. Are you also a gamekeeper working on a notorious estate in the Tomatin area?]

  12. Gamekeepers and their killing estate owning masters, are indeed the scourge of our countryside. The Moy and Tomatin area is most certainly a black spot, otherwise Red Kites would have dispersed from the Black Isle down to Aviemore by now. Also where have all our Buzzards from this part of the Highlands gone?

  13. Yes Chris there are a lot of black spots alas in Scotland, particularly on grouse moors. The fact that they continue to be in denial only goes to prove that they have no intention of ceasing there ruthless & barbaric illegal persecution of some of Scotland’s iconic & specially” protected” species.

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