Parliamentary reception for group promoting wildlife criminal

Yesterday we blogged about the launch of the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group’s new initiative, Game for Growth, aimed at promoting the value of country sports to the Scottish economy (see here).

We mentioned that Andy Wightman MSP had lodged a Parliamentary Question asking whether public funds (via VisitScotland as part of the Game for Growth initiative) had been given to the owners or managers of landholdings where wildlife crime had taken place.

We also mentioned our surprise that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group’s website is promoting a sporting agent with a current conviction for raptor persecution.

What we didn’t mention was that the launch of the Game for Growth initiative took place at a prestigious parliamentary reception at Holyrood on 20 December 2016, with wide media coverage.

This parliamentary reception was hosted by Edward Mountain MSP (Conservative, Highlands & Islands) and included speeches from Malcolm Roughead, Chief Exec of VisitScotland, and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP.

Here is a photo of some of the attendees: (L-R: Tim (Kim) Baynes from the Gift of Grouse, Malcolm Roughead from VisitScotland, Edward Mountain MSP (host), and Sarah Troughton from the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group).

The revelation that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group is actively promoting a convicted wildlife criminal will probably be a surprise to Edward Mountain MSP, and undoubtedly a source of deep embarrassment; he surely wouldn’t have hosted them had he known. It’s reasonable to assume he didn’t know because his expertise appears to be in fishing rather than gamebird hunting. Sustainable sport fishing does bring in millions to the rural economy and it isn’t underpinned by wildlife crime, so it’s easy to see why he would lend support to the Game for Growth initiative.

Unfortunately for Edward, as well as the sport fishing industry, the Gift of Grouse is also prominently involved with the Game for Growth initiative (check out that banner in the photo) and this isn’t the first parliamentary reception they’ve been involved with that has led to awkward questions being asked.

We await the Scottish Government’s response to Andy Wightman’s Parliamentary Questions about public funding for wildlife criminals with great interest.

16 thoughts on “Parliamentary reception for group promoting wildlife criminal”

  1. “Sustainable sport fishing does bring in millions to the rural economy and it isn’t underpinned by wildlife crime,” Ask a salmon river bailiff what happens to otters, mergansers , and cormorant then. Not to mention the usual suspects that keep bringing up “population control” (i.e. culling) of osprey. It might not be so comprehensively underpinned as driven gamebird shooting, but let us not pretend they are lily-white in this regard.

    1. aye, ask them about introducing beavers onto the Tweed? Good to see on BBC’s “The River” how bailiffs operate in tackling crime and how the riverbank is so well managed by strimming it to within an inch of its life.

      1. Indeed. Not that I can say I support people breaking the law (not if I don’t want the string of Xxxx and a note from that Ed guy, anyway) but if a van with some beaver for illicit release fetched up on the banks of the Tweed then I would not shed any tears. Or the Nith or the Irvine either, come to that. I know that I shall patiently await the plan from Holyrood as to how to legally establish beaver south of the M8 corridor, however long it takes, and not support measures to force their hand and override the wishes of the bailiffs and keepers in keeping their industrial catch rivers as clean and natural as any factory floor.

  2. Fishing seems to be undergoing some changes, modern science based thinking is starting to replace the “good old fashioned country” thinking.
    The river managers are starting to undo the stupid damage that has been done to the river ecosystems in the past…. there is the fundamental realisation that the fish are part of an ecosystem and that the fish populations will be healthy if the ecosystem is healthy.

    I think the last of the old ways is manifest in their loathing of fish eating birds… science tells them that they are being daft but the illogical hatred has not gone yet…

    1. Of course most of those positive management changes are a direct result of implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Another example of what those “pesky, interfering, faceless bureaucrats” at the EU actually did for us. And another reason to pressure your MP to keep the same levels of environmental protection post-Brexit, otherwise we’ll be back to the good old fashioned country thinking!

    2. Yes it is changing…very slowly, and even people who know better are keeping their traps shut so as not to offend the ignorant loudmouths that still dominate so many angling clubs. There is a direct conflict between fishing and the grouse shooting that requires extensive muirburn. Leeds University’s EMBER report didn’t have a good thing to say re what burning heather for grouse shooting did to water quality or aquatic life, but angling organisations were strangely quiet about that, funny how they all club together even when rank and file anglers could be affected. Although for some the salmon is up there with the red grouse, in reality it’s a second class interest, otherwise how can the deafening silence over EMBER be explained?

  3. This, along with other recent initiatives, is a clear response to the pressure which was brought upon the shooting community by Mark Avery’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. In terms of publicity and influencing the politicians they appear to be quite successful. Which begs the question, where do we go next? I’m assuming the hiatus in proceedings is the lull in the storm following the failure to ban driven grouse shooting. RPUK can continue their steady and informed campaign, but am I the only one who feels that alone will be increasingly ignored by those in power? The hunting and shooting brigade are on the crest of a wave just now, buoyed by the ongoing success of right wing politics in governing the country. You can feel it in the air and sense it in the smug expressions of the representatives photographed in the company of senior politicians. I find it hard to believe that most supporters of SNP are also supportive of the merciless killing of Scotland’s wildlife, but how do we capitalise on this more effectively to bring about change? It’s hard to resist asking the same question of RSPB, SWT and all the other conservation bodies who seem to have so little to say about the serious problem of wildlife crime by shooting enthusiasts, and their gamekeepers in particular.

      1. Sorry AlexHC, I’m sure the promoters of the proposed Scottish licensing system were perfectly well intentioned, but I for one don’t see it making any material difference to the status quo. The only significant change imaginable is that gamekeepers will be even more careful not to get caught. Raptors and other wildlife which were unfortunate to be born as predators will continue to be slaughtered, legal or not. A deep-rooted subculture cannot be banished as easily as some seem to believe. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it – we need some positive ideology and action from the RSPB and all the other pious nature conservation organisations.

  4. SNP obviously are promoting business and rural economies at all costs and this includes failing to protect the environment.
    Roseanne Cunningham is a let down and fast becoming a complete failure.

    SNP should be very careful……..Lots of people in Scotland value their wildlife and natural history.
    The Greens could benefit from this. I am seriously thinking of switching from SNP to the Greens…..,if things continue in this way.

    1. That would be a good move Muriel, for several reasons….SNP seem to be all over the place when it comes to both environment and land reform [which any reader of this blog knows is the same problem]…the biggest problem to any credibility SNP have in this area is Fergus Ewing, the keepers pal, who keeps turning up at these events – he was also cosy with Buccleuch Estates during the recent coal gas extraction debacle at Canonbie. None of our political parties have made any inroads to the wildlife crime problem during the short life of the scottish parliament – and our great hope here, Andy Wightman the Land Reform campaigner is already being threatened with legal action.There you have it writ large – the countryside establishment is alive and well and dominating both our courts and parliament. Vote for any party which will actually stand up to them – at the moment its only the Greens.

  5. I have been an SNP voter since I was 18, I am 68 now but if SNP don’t help to protect our wildlfie then I will stop voting for them, most likely would vote for the greens if not them I would destroy my vote. I would never vote for the Tories or Labour who are a complete waste of a vote in Scotland now. I think SNP should look to the green nature vote, if they helped wildlife in Scotland they would regain a lot more votes.

  6. Could this be SNP attempting to get the Scottish economy on track in preparation for indy ref 2.

    If it is then I can understand what they are thinking but let’s not destroy our natural history in the process.

    SNP must avoid the tartan Tory label or face losing voters to the Greens.

    Well done Andy Wightman.

    1. ‘Could this be SNP attempting to get the Scottish economy on track in preparation for indy ref 2.’


      It’s the SNP doing what they do best, trying to be all things to all people. They are trying to win over the shooting industry lobby, having calculated that they won over as much of the other side as they are ever going to. And if they loses some antis in the process they are no real loss as they will switch to the Greens who are also committed to independence.

      Meanwhile the Scottish economy flounders, as does health, education and everything else they are supposed to be dealing with.

      And still no news on extending the powers available to the SSPCA.

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