Parliamentary Question: is public money being used to promote wildlife criminals in Scottish shooting sector?

scstg-logoLast week it was announced that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) has plans to boost the value of game shooting, stalking and fishing to the rural economy by £30 million, via its new ‘Game for Growth’ strategy.

The Game for Growth strategy document can be read here: sctsg-game-for-growth-strategy-document-dec-2016

It’s a pretty turgid read, full of tedious marketing soundbites, but basically it sets out how the industry plans to promote Scottish country sports over the next four years to reach a wider national and international market. This will be achieved mostly, it seems, by claiming the industry is sustainable with fabulous conservation benefits and ignoring the vast environmental damage and wildlife crime associated with some activities within this sector.

visit-scotland-1Interestingly, VisitScotland (the national tourism agency linked to the Scottish Government) has apparently committed to boosting the country sports tourism sector and has announced a matched ‘Growth Fund’ to help SCSTG develop its marketing strategy and increase its online presence.

We’re not the only ones to raise an eyebrow at this. Andy Wightman MSP has lodged the following Parliamentary Question about it:

Question S5W-05930: Andy Wightman (Lothian, Scottish Green Party). Date lodged: 22/12/2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of the recipients of financial contributions from VisitScotland to the strategy, Game for Growth Strategy – Country Sports Tourism in Scotland 2016; what information it has regarding how each recipient will use this; what action it has taken to ensure that no money was provided to the owners or managers of landholdings on which crimes against wildlife have been committed; whether it will publish the strategy on its website, and what aspects of this it is supporting or plans to support with public money.

Expected answer date: 19/01/2017

These are legitimate questions, and especially when you take a closer look at the SCSTG website, which has been developed to connect potential visitors with various country sports providers across Scotland. For example, if you want to pay money to shoot mountain hares in Scotland, you can use the website’s search facility and a number of sporting agents/estates who offer this ‘sport’ will be highlighted.

We used the search facility to look for various ‘sporting’ opportunities and were very surprised to find that sporting agency Dunmhor Sporting was being promoted:

Why the surprise? Well, Graham Christie of Dunmhor Sporting was convicted in December last year of being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who had used an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard on the Cardross Estate.

Why is the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group promoting an agent who has a current conviction for wildlife crime? And why is VisitScotland providing match funding to an organisation that is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal?

19 thoughts on “Parliamentary Question: is public money being used to promote wildlife criminals in Scottish shooting sector?”

  1. Lord bless you folks for picking this up. A COMPLETE lack of transparency in most of what these agencies get up to.

  2. This feels like the landowners are secretly buying off these government agencies, I hope I am wrong but the Scottish government seems impotent as far as this is concerned. Mind you look what happened with Trump and the Menie sand dunes.

  3. Is there any way the people on our side could develop some sort of industry standard that verifies sustainability and wildlife friendly practices that would at least warn unsuspecting people not to support businesses who they would not want to give their support to. I think we need to step up our actions so the PR spin of the opposition is not left unchallenged.

  4. Sickening. Let’s see what happens to Andy Wightman’s question before we decide what to do next. By then Christmas and Hogmanay Fever will have died down and people will be more aware of what is going on. At the moment their minds will be on other things.

  5. So it looks like Scottish Government might be persuaded to hand over public funds? Where is the public benefit? How will it be validated?

    One can only assume that they don’t see wildlife tourism as a valid option? If they do then how do the grouse estates excuse themselves from the illegal raptor persecution?

    Sorry about naive questions / assumptions, but beggars belief? Then again look at their counterpart in the grand palace that is Westminster?

    Massive respect to Andy Wightman & RPUK, keep up the campaigning on the back of the excellent research.

  6. Explains why the reluctance by Scottish Government, SNH , police, copfs,etc etc to investigate and prosecute persons commiting wildlife crime……… unless you are poor of course.

  7. Deeply disappointing to see Scottish Natural Heritage listed as one of SCSTG’s partners. Who exactly in SNH thinks that this is a good idea? Reminds me of their Scotland’s Larder fiasco, another PR disaster.

    1. Have you been reading this blog recently? SNH is up to it’s neck in collusion with the country ‘sports’ industry

      1. I hadn’t realised that I needed your approval before posting on here. Answer my question then, if you think you know so much about SNH.

        1. Oooh, touchy. No-one said anything about permission. But read the posts from the last year to see how frequently SNH meets with the SLA, SGA etc. See the posts about mountain fare culls, and the cosy relationships

  8. Well visit Scotland is a public body…. it therefore has a Biodiversity Duty… and it must publish a report on how it complies with this duty… I wonder what it will say?

    I suppose that we should also remember that SNH has Biodiversity Duty too and has to report too…if it does anything…..

  9. Money Speaks – as does vested interests. There needs some digging into who is connected to whom and what, as there is a distinct bad smell about this.

  10. This might be slightly off topic …. BUT .. the incidence of Lymes Disease in Scotland
    has increased by 1,000 per cent between the years of 2005 and 2015. This coincides with the vast increase in pheasants that are now released by the shooting industry. A study concluded that pheasants are reservoir competent for Lyme borreliosis spirochetes and potentially play an important role in the maintenance of B. burgdorferi s.l. in England and Wales. This being so then why are the Scottish Government both financing and promoting a sport that relies on introducing a non native bird which is known to be an effective agent in the spread of a very serious tick borne illness i.e. Lymes Disease?

    1. I write as one whose life has been changed by Lyme Disease. That’s Lyme Disease, sorry if I seem picky. I’d like to ask where this information comes from, as I haven’t seen it elsewhere and I feel it needs wider circulation.


  11. Couldn’t agree more with Maureen Green. At least we have got the ‘other side’ (I am being deliberately polite here) to break cover and reveal exactly who we are dealing with – and obviously we have formidable opponents to defeat. Interesting point raised by George M too. l always find it amazing that in the hysteria regarding ‘alien’ species, the Ring-necked, Golden, Reeves and Lady Amherst Pheasants, not to mention Red-legged Partridge, Chukar and many other ‘game birds’ and wildfowl sit serenely on the British List as decreed by the BOU. I wonder why? (No I don’t! I am being facetious!).

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