Environment Minister visits Cairngorms National Park to discuss raptor persecution

You may remember last May, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) wrote to the then Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to tell him that the continuing incidents of raptor persecution and ‘disappearing’ birds in the eastern part of the Cairngorms National Park “threatens to undermine the reputation of the National Park as a high quality wildlife tourism destination“. The Minister was invited to a meeting of ‘stakeholders’ to discuss ways to address the on-going problem (see here).

Eight months on, the current Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod attended that meeting earlier this week. Here’s what the CNPA press release said about it:

The Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, visited the Cairngorms National Park yesterday (19th January) to chair a meeting with landowners.

Meeting in Ballater, landowners, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) discussed how best to collaborate to deliver landscape scale benefits for objectives including moorland management, raptor conservation, woodland expansion and peatland restoration.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said “I was pleased to meet with land owners in the Cairngorms National Park yesterday. The Cairngorms National Park, one of Scotland’s best places for nature, should be at the forefront of demonstrating an integrated approach to management that tackles some of our longstanding challenges, including raptor persecution, habitat diversity and carbon management. I very much welcome the positive collaboration shown yesterday between the National Park Authority and land owners and look forward to seeing a real difference on the ground”.

Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years and a shared determination to ensure no return of incidents connected to sporting management.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the CNPA said: “The Cairngorms is an outstanding place for nature and an internationally renowned tourism destination. We must all work to prevent the recurrence of raptor persecution, and focus on what we can do to enhance raptor conservation. This discussion helps take forward practical action on the ground, bringing together sporting management with wider priorities such as woodland expansion, peatland restoration and raptor conservation.”

Tim Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates said: “Moorland managed for sporting is the largest scale land use in the Park and we are pleased to be working with the Cairngorms National Park Authority to bring a number of estates together in a moorland management initiative. We see real opportunities through this very practical approach to show how management for sporting objectives is integrated with delivering diverse habitat and species benefits, and ways in which that can be taken further as science and national policies develop.  This builds on the Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation scheme developed by Scottish Land & Estates which now covers 20% of the entire Park area”.

Moorland Management was one of the subjects at a recent CNPA board meeting, more information can be found at http://cairngorms.co.uk/media/news/taking-a-lead-on-moorland-collaboration-in-the-cairngorms


The press release doesn’t really tell us a great deal, other than these people met and talked. Unfortunately there’s scant detail about what they actually intend to do.

We did note the sentence: ‘Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years and a shared determination to ensure no return of incidents connected to sporting management‘. What progress is that, then? Had there been any, presumably the CNPA wouldn’t have felt the need to ask the Minister for ‘action’ against raptor persecution within the Park.

The CNPA and its landowner ‘stakeholders’ are quite big on ‘action’. Who remembers the launch of ‘Cairngorms Nature’ in 2013? We blogged about it here. It’s an ambitious five-year ‘action plan’ which included the following ‘actions’:

ACTION: Restore the full community of raptor species.

KEY PARTNERS: SGA and SLE to trial innovative techniques to increase raptor populations.

Wonder how that’s going? What are the ‘innovative techniques’? Stop poisoning, shooting & trapping?


KEY ACTIONS: SLE, SGA and SNH to work with moorland managers to manage mountain hare populations for the benefit of golden eagles.

Wonder how that’s going? Not terribly well by the looks of these photographs, taken in February 2014 near Glenshee, in the southern part of the National Park. Is this what Tim (Kim) Baynes means when he says “management for sporting objectives is integrated with species benefits“? We counted at least 150 dead hares, presumably killed during one session….Aren’t our National Parks great?

16 thoughts on “Environment Minister visits Cairngorms National Park to discuss raptor persecution”

  1. Initially when I saw the heading assumed that she was going to give the landowners bit of a bollocking re disgusting incidents of prersecution..but no it seems another talk shop pretending everything is actually nice and friendly, the gamekeepers and land owners are really keen on conservation blah, blah ad nauseum. Seemed to be just a bit of predictable saccharine at first, but coming to think of it as really offensive and dishonest now. More public condemnation required I believe, can’t be too much of it obviously.

  2. Quote:
    “KEY ACTIONS: SLE, SGA and SNH to work with moorland managers to manage mountain hare populations for the benefit of golden eagles.”

    They must be killing all the Hares to provide easy meals for the Eagles, maybe they put them in the stink pits to attract them in. Lets hope they don’t become “accidentally” contaminated with banned poisons on their way to the feeding stations !!!

  3. When I saw that heading I thought great, something is at last going to be done about the persecution of our birds of prey. Unfortunately it appears not so. As far as we know all that happened was a cosy get together, to once again try and appease the ‘sporting’ estate managers and ask them “please don’t keep getting caught with regard to ‘vermin’ control, as it looks bad for the Scottish government”. When are we going to see positive action and not just words.

    Our country, the whole of the UK including Scotland, is just a joke with regard to protecting, enhancing and living with our wildlife. Those pictures of our native hare says it all. Why isn’t something being done about that blatant slaughter?

  4. Further to my comments above, I live in the Cairngorms National (development) Park and have not seen a raptor of any kind for many months now, whereas I used to see the odd buzzard but not anymore. In fact the last bird of prey I have seen in the park was March 2013, when a sparrow hawk was in my garden feasting on one of my pigeons!

    1. I hate to say it again Chris but you are either visually impaired or an out and out liar! I frequent all the areas of the park and see dozens or raptors on a daily basis! Your blatant inability to tell the truth doesn’t help any of the parties involved in raptor debates.

      1. The only mistake I made in my post was the date that the Sparrow hawk ate my pigeon, it was March 2014 not 2013, I was forgetting we are now in 2015. As for the rest Grouseman, I assume you are also in the park, so perhaps you can tell me where to see all these raptors. I admit that I am not a ‘birder’ looking for them all the time however, a few years ago I often, casually, saw the odd buzzard flying overhead but no more. The last time I saw a golden eagle in the park was many years ago.

        Against that in Florida last year I saw literally dozens of American eagles and buzzards – the sky was full of the later and the former we saw in trees literally yards from us.

        Likewise in the Chilterns you can see so many red kite as to lose count, yet again, you are lucky to see one up here. All because of ‘killing’ estates and their gamekeepers.

  5. To say the least, Doctor McLeod hasn’t actually hit the ground running. Doesn’t even sound like she’s been briefed properly.

  6. It is a sad sight I think, but no different really than any other bag of a similar number of grouse, rabbits, duck, red legs, or pheasant , I would not like to take part in a hare shoot, they scream like babys if they are wounded or frightened, a horrible horrible scream.Theres a lot on some of the ground because the foxes are much reduced. Google goose shooting in Iceland and see similar, sad sad sad, one or two for the pot yes, but photos of 60 geese destined to come to Britain for the winter no, very sad. Its all down to guiding and makiing money out of it. And what about the poor old woodcock, coming in across the Seas, to be greeted by an ounce of no 6, shot here in their hundreds every year. Talk about Malta pah

    1. Let’s hope the heart breaking sight of so many murdered dead Hares makes her sick enough to do something about it.

  7. Images like this bring it home so well, and we know what’s going on! How about a poster campaign to bring it home to the public at large?

    1. Maybe a montage poster of all the worst atrocities photographed and published on this blog would have quite an impact, it would certainly show up the shooting estates and their owners up for what they are, sadistic killers who don’t give a damn about wildlife.

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