Langholm Project winding down prematurely

Langholm moorFollowing the news last month that Langholm Project head gamekeeper Simon Lester was resigning (see here), the project directors have now issued a statement about what will happen for the duration of the Project’s final 18 months:

Undertaking a review of structure and activity over the final year and a half of the project, the LMDP Board Directors have confirmed the project will continue until October 2017, with important changes to the management of the moor.

Directors acknowledged significant project successes in recovering heather habitats, stimulating black grouse numbers and demonstrating the role of diversionary feeding in reducing hen harrier predation on red grouse broods. The many and varied visitors to the project have illustrated the contribution of LMDP to demonstrating good moorland practice. The hard work of the keepering team was central to these results, with valuable support from the project science and volunteers.

However Directors agreed that with no realistic chance of reaching the target grouse density necessary for driven shooting, game keepering should be wound down, ending fully by April 2016. As well as the cessation of traditional keepering activities, there will be no diversionary food provided at the harrier’s nests or further novel habitat restoration. SRDP funded habitat management measures will continue through Langholm Farms.

Importantly the project will carry out another full year and half of monitoring, tracking habitat quality, numbers of moorland birds and the breeding success of the hen harriers over the 2016 and 2017 breeding seasons. This gives the project time to gather further information on the beneficial effects of moorland management, while the project scientists finalise a variety of reports for the Directors to review before publication.

A detailed review of the project’s achievements is available in the 7-year review. A Question & Answer paper, covering the next steps in more detail, will be available on the website soon“.

So, as predicted (here), it looks very much like this project is being set up to be seen as a ‘failure’ by the grouse-shooting industry, based on the claim that red grouse density has not recovered sufficiently to enable driven grouse shooting to occur. That’s a highly contentious position, as the data have shown the red grouse population at Langholm has recovered sufficiently, without the need for raptor culling, to a density which previously supported driven grouse shooting activity (see here, here and here). For some (as yet unexplained) reason, the target density for red grouse in the current Langholm 2 project has been set absurdly high at 200 birds per kmsq, rather than the standard 60 birds per kmsq that has been touted for years by the grouse-shooting industry as being the suitable target density required for driven grouse shooting to take place.

We already know that one of the project directors, Mark Oddy (representing Buccleuch Estates), wants “lethal control” [of raptors] at Langholm (see here); can we expect to now see further calls for raptor culls on grouse moors, based on the ‘evidence’ (ahem) of Langholm 2? We’d put money on it.

The petition to ban driven grouse shooting is doing well – please sign HERE

18 thoughts on “Langholm Project winding down prematurely”

  1. Keep up the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting pressure – using the mass of evidence of criminal activity surrounding this unsustainable land use…..this is no time for compromise.

  2. Dave Dick’s right. The last decade or more of jaw-jaw has effectively been one long compromise whilst far too many on the “other side” went on propagandising, killing and breaking the law. It now seems that the whole process has been manipulated to pave the way not only for ‘brood meddling’ but also, one fears, a well funded and connected campaign to introduce the legal use of lethal force to ‘control’ raptors.

  3. But what means ‘game keepering should be wound down, ending fully by April 2016’? Apart from what they say, what are the other ‘important changes to the management of the moor’? Looking forward to the Q&A paper.

  4. It’s a interesting ploy; perhaps others will have a better handle on the situation but I suspect any efforts to legalise ‘lethal control’ in Scotland will end driven grouse shooting there faster than anything else. In England I’m less certain of the outcome but I have no doubt it will move a massive section of public opinion towards supporting a complete ban, and the RSPB’s current position will, obviously, also become completely untenable. Hubris is the word that springs to mind.

  5. For almost forty years now I’ve been aware of the horrendous ‘legacy’ of predator killing in Scotland, and knew that it had never really went away, but hoped like egg collecting it was at least (very) slowly dying. Well wasn’t I bloody well wrong, the fact that in 2016 people can openly, and without irony, call for the killing of birds of prey because they think they kill other birds they want to shoot for fun just shows how deeply entrenched this form of mental illness is. Songbird Survival, You Forgot the Birds and now this bit of subterfuge – time to get rid of driven grouse shooting like the nasty tumour it is.

    1. Spending so much of my youth in the Peak District, that was my hope as well Les. In the 1980’s and ’90’s raptor persecution by the grouse industry was always an issue, though the nest protection measures of the time were often described as being more about stopping thefts by egg collectors and falconers, and less about thwarting grouse moor keepers. The level of persecution was bad but low enough that Goshawk populations remained firmly established, Peregrines were starting to fully recolonise, and our substantial Hen Harrier roost could be openly publicised. Reasons for hope, there was talk of keepers and landowners, perhaps, becoming more ‘enlightened’. That all changed, very abruptly, at the start of the millennium; . Things have not improved since, and now successful prosecutions are countered with threats of ‘zero tolerance’ for raptors (like that would be anything new). Positive change isn’t coming, the industry is making that very clear. So no more time wasting, just ban it now.

    2. Who are they trying to kid with their fancy words? It’s obvious really. No feeding of hen harriers – they will hope that grouse numbers will take a nose-dive from the previous years figures. They will then blame that on the harriers and lobby hard – really hard – for lethal ‘control’. The current lame-duck Environment Minister, who appears so cosy with this shower of villains, will, I am sure oblige with not much more than a prod. Let us all pray that she is discarded for someone with a little more savvy, someone less naive, when parliament is reformed. Time for everyone to get in touch with their MSP to lobby for her replacement. However, as a postscript, I note ‘..As well as the cessation of traditional keepering activities…’. Is this to mean that NO destruction of raptors will be permitted?,

  6. So now they are going to run Langholm without “overt” keepers and no grouse shooting. The moor is going to need monitoring like its never been monitored before. I have no doubt that the “covert” keepers will turn up to ensure the desired balance.

    Maybe there is a chance that their attention will be drawn away in the direction of defending hunting with dogs as their illegal activities have been exposed by the BBC and to the review of hunting with dogs.

  7. Does this decision not just confirm that you can have driven grouse shooting or you can have hen harriers, but you can’t have both?

    So if one has to go, which is it to be?

  8. Can anyone offer an explanation for Buccleuch Estates and SL&E supporting the scheme to reintroduce Golden Eagles to the south of Scotland other than that they hope eagles will displace other raptors from grouse moors?

  9. The present Scottish government appears to be in the pocket of the little tinpot duke who owns nothing and has at least three surnames, That is how strong they are.

  10. We all know that grouse could and should have been shot at Langholm in the last two seasons but they were not presumably for political reasons.
    Yet we had a head keeper complaining of a high rate of winter predation, had the grouse been shot they would not have available to predators. With a decline in grouse density there would probably have been a decline in wintering predators too.
    Now of course if the grouse decline significantly it will be harrier predation, if the harriers decline ( for what ever reason) it will resurrect that old chestnut that harriers need keepers. We all know that’s bollocks but the gullible among the political classes may swallow it .

  11. I fail to understand the pleasure that the shooters get from any driven shoot, whether it be grouse, pheasant or partridge. It was a method employed by our stone age predecessors to feed their families and certainly not for fun. If the owners of the moors and the shooters have anything like a brain, they know it is wrong! But for the owners it is easy profit, especially with the excessive subsidies they receive (another gift to the rich from the Tories).

    Despite all the comments from gamekeepers about being the protectors of the environment, they are frequently proved to be criminals fulfilling the Victorian ideals of their trade.

    I do remember hearing the Simon Lester interview on BBC radio and it was clear from what he said that the project was frustrating and non-practical. I’m sure that his resignation is to escape the close observation from so many pro raptor types. He must have been very uncomfortable!

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