Licensing of gamebird hunting in Scotland: petitions committee to hear evidence this morning

SRSG logo2In July 2016, the Scottish Raptor Study Group launched a petition calling for the state regulation of gamebird hunting in Scotland. We blogged about it here.

This Scottish petition differs from Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting because (a) it calls for licensing rather than a ban and (b) it is directed at ALL types of gamebird hunting (e.g. grouse, pheasant, partridge), not just driven grouse shooting.

This morning, the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will take oral evidence on this petition from Logan Steele (the petitioner, on behalf of the Scottish Raptor Study Group), Duncan Orr-Ewing (Head of Species and Land Management, RSPB Scotland), and Andrea Hudspeth (Tayside Raptor Study Group).

This evidence session can be watched live on Holyrood TV (starts at 9.45am in the Mary Fairfax Somerville Room [Committee Room 2] – here is the link). UPDATE: archived video link available – see below. A transcript of the session will be available later.

We will be blogging more about this petition after the evidence session, and will be scrutinising the written evidence that has been lodged (so far by RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Scottish Countryside Alliance). There’s a lot to say about that!

More later.

UPDATE 11.40hrs. The archived video of this evidence session is now available HERE (starts at 40:08 mins).

22 thoughts on “Licensing of gamebird hunting in Scotland: petitions committee to hear evidence this morning”

  1. Interesting to watch it and sounds a bit hopeful that more people are realisng what is going on,although we know that there will be lots of attempts to prevent change. Come on Scotland-show us the way!

  2. An outstanding performance by Logan Steele, Andrea Hudspeth and Duncan Orr-Ewing. Authoritative, evidence-based, passionate and compelling. The Petitions Committee was clearly moved. Blog coming later….

    1. So much genuine feeling, honesty and commitment came through there from all three – bet the tweed twits are worried. Yes the MSPs looked as if they’d taken this to heart (how could they not), my MSP, who had signed up for the ‘Gift of Grouse’, didn’t sound as if he was standing up for the estates and slipped in a comment about deer management in this country, referred to several times, not being very successful in actuality – well done Angus. Impressed by Duncan speaking about pheasant shooting too, surprised and pleased. Andrea made the excellent point about eco tourism being undermined by raptor persecution, and of course Logan was brilliant – articulate, eloquent, passionate throughout. Baynes, Botham, Burnett don’t compare. This was excellent, can’t see how it could have been better and were any of the estates’ friends at the parliament too scared to show face and bat for their side? Has made my day..looking forward to the RPUK blog on this.

  3. Perhaps the North Scotland Red Kite report published today will aso help focus their minds. 1500 potential pairs reduced to 70. 70! By killing. We want our red kites!!

  4. Does it strike anyone else as strange that the petitioners couldn’t or didn’t answer the first question from the chair? I would have asked exactly the same question. (Not criticising them otherwise, it was brilliant).
    What they avoided saying but which seemed to be the logical conclusion of the statements by the petitioners was that the type of licensing they are promoting wouldn’t be a ban on driven grouse shooting but the end of driven grouse shooting which couldn’t survive obeying the law and the lower burden of proof of those laws which licensing would require.
    It is interesting and i have never seen it in that light. It is getting rid of driven grouse shooting through the back door. Perhaps i’m just very slow at picking up this point.

    I am worried by the outcome of the meeting and look forward to other’s views on that.

    Sorry RPUK for my time error. Strange, maybe they edited the start time.

  5. The main worry which occurs to me, and I’d be interested to hear any contrary argument, is that if this petition is successful, it virtually removes the possibility of Scotland following any gain achieved by a successful campaign to ban driven grouse shooting in England. I honestly believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot, and the ultimate reason for this is a strategy developed by RSPB to be seen to be taking some action which is not prevented by the infamous clause in their Royal Charter. A compromise, a fudge which I cannot imagine resulting in any reduction in raptor persecution. It also ignores all the other negative aspects of game shooting, especially the wider ecological and environmental harm caused by grouse moor management. The misdemeanours for which licences could be suspended are already criminal acts. If the shooting industry can successfully avoid prosecution through the former, with just a bit more caution they could easily escape having their shooting licence suspended. I find it beyond credibility that any estate would lose its licence completely, and remember there is also the considerable logistical hurdle to overcome of them being financially able to deploy the best legal advocacy. Not to mention the bias normally shown towards them by the legal system. At least Mark Avery’s proposed solution, supported by well over 120,000 who have signed his petition, would put an end to one aspect of the way in which we mistreat our wildlife and the environment. If I’m proved wrong and Scotland does indeed follow any success in banning grouse shooting, I’d be very happy, but certainly can’t imagine that happening in my lifetime, except perhaps if the proposed licencing system is rejected by the Scottish Government. I don’t want to wish for that either.

    1. I have to disagree. Licensing is a necessary first step towards a ban. I’d like us to be able to get a ban all in one go, but the general public is very (small c) conservative and such a big change to something which is embedded in the popular Highlandism view of Scotland is something that will be very hard to sell in one go. Every step must be given every opportunity to fail. We’ve given voluntary self-regulation that chance and now we are talking about licences under severe financial penalties, and when the general public see that the people who buy the licences flout those too (and they will flout them, of that I have no doubt) then they will warm to a partial ban or shortening of the shooting season, and when that doesn’t work then a total ban is something the general public will accept wholeheartedly. Mainly because the usual suspects will become ever more obnoxious and high-handed with each restriction, the pro-shooters are the anti-shooting lobby’s biggest ally in the battle for public opinion. But is all about steps necessary to bring public opinion over from pro-shooting leaning neutral to being anti-shooting and that is still going to take a lot of time.

    2. I dont think that anyone really expects to Mark Avery’s petition to result in a ban straight away. The best we can realistically hope for is that it leads to change. The first step in that change would probably be a licencing system. So Scotland is hopefully just ahead of the curve.
      We will have to argue over the introduction of the system and the attached conditions etc…. then the implementation,,, then the monitoring and enforcement….. before common sense eventually says just ban the thing.

  6. Thank Heavens for such a gallant and determined group of people, standing up for beleaguered Birds of Prey. They give voice to the many who have been aghast at the excesses of the bird shooters, and their minions, who act according to their instructions to wipe out, from our wild area skies, the Harrier, Kite, Hawk and Eagle. The sheer number of those creatures and Mountain Hares slain, can only described as a hecatomb, as it can only be so described, as a ritual, to appease some unquenchable urge to kill creatures in large numbers. Indeed, my experiences have shown dreadful large deaths of bears and wolves in the USA, with huge dumps of treacle, past sell-by date pastries and other sweet foods, placed throughout the landscape for hunters to satiate their bloodlust on those animals attracted to such lures. Packs of ravening hounds are unleashed to chase escaping bears, e.g. Wisconsin is particularly noted for this “sport”.

    Peter Shearer’s comment above, about, “Come on Scotland – show us the way!”, will fall, mainly on deaf ears among certain of our politicians, as they have had within their powers to act more decisively on this issue and related ones. I monitor their LIST OF INTERESTS, and do not find many among our politicians and councillors, who support animal welfare or conservation of species and environment causes. Yet, we have some of the finest organisations working in those fields of humane activity, but are hindered by the repressive hierarchy or elite, that jealously guards its control over Scottish/British landscape. By their controlling interest, they stop Scotland from becoming a model for other nations to emulate. Malta and other Mediterranean islands and mainland southern Europe, could then be leaned upon more convincingly, to stop their egregious shooting of migrating birds, which is now endangering many species. We should be encouraging those in politics to become a member or supporter of the organisations concerned with the survival of our wildlife. The usual subjecs congregating in the heads of politicians, are Politics, Philosophy and Economics, but where in any of these, is a mention of concern made for the natural environment and the creatures with whom we share the planet?

  7. Well done to Duncan, Logan and Andrea – I was impressed by how [after all these bloody years of evidence!] this group of MSPs seemed to have got the message. ….but dear me its a long long slow business.

    1. Dave, thanks for the feedback, we are after all matching down the same road that you began all those years ago. Hopefully we are nearer the end than the beginning! Regards. Logan.

  8. Intelligent, inspiring, factual, hopeful–everything that the Westminster petitions committee for Mark’s petition wasn’t . What an incredible contrast and it leaves me thinking there is some hope for our wildlife. Absolutely fantastic presentations by Logan, Duncan and Andrea.

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