Illegally set traps on Glendye Estate grouse moor, Aberdeenshire

Have a look at this blog. You’ll see a series of photographs, taken yesterday (17 January 2017) on a grouse moor at Glendye, just beyond the famous Clachnaben hill, which is part of the Fasque & Glendye Estate according to Andy Wightman’s always useful website Who Owns Scotland. This area looks like it’s the area covered by the Glendye Grouse Syndicate who apparently took on a 20-year lease of this moor in 1997.

We’re not allowed to reproduce the photographs here so you’ll have to click the link if you want to see them. And you really should see them.

Three of these photographs depict illegally-set traps. They are all ‘bridge traps’ – comprising a Fenn spring trap fixed to a log across a burn or gully and designed to catch so-called ‘vermin’ such as stoats or weasels. This type of trap is legal if the trap is covered either in a natural or artificial tunnel, but the three traps photographed yesterday are definitely illegal.

One is covered with wire mesh but the entry and exit holes are wide open. This is illegal. These entry/exit holes are supposed to be partially closed to minimise the risk of catching non-target species. This trap in the photograph could easily catch a non-target species, including protected Scottish wildcats, otters and pine martens.

The other two spring traps are totally uncovered except for a single wire loop above each trap. A wire loop is not going to protect any species from standing on these traps and thus both traps are illegal. These two traps are effectively pole traps – if a bird or mammal stands on the trap, the trap will fall from the log, with the animal attached (probably by the leg), and the animal will dangle, suspended below the log, until it dies a slow, miserable death.

We don’t know whether the photographer has reported these crimes to the local police. We would hope he has – he understands that the traps are illegally-set (the safety catch is not on – we’ve looked) so we’d expect him to have provided grid references and photographs to the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer. In case he hasn’t reported them, we’ll do it for him, although by now the individual who set these traps has probably been alerted and is probably out on the moor removing all the evidence as we speak.

The local Police Wildlife Crime Officer is Doug Darling. Here’s his email address:

Ask him for a crime reference number so we can follow up what action he has taken to identify the individual(s) responsible. This is important because after his investigation, we expect him to alert SNH to these illegal traps. Why? Well, because these illegal traps should result in the withdrawal of the General Licence on this grouse moor. According to SNH guidelines, evidence which may be considered by SNH in any decision to impose a General Licence restriction includes:

Illegal placement, design or use of traps or methods that are not in compliance with the requirements of the General Licence‘.

However, the evidence must be provided by the Police. So, just in case the Police ‘forget’ to tell SNH, we’ll notify SNH as well so they can’t then argue they haven’t been informed. Emails should be sent to Nick Halfhide, Director of Operations: 

To be fair to SNH, they are probably awaiting the findings of the Raeshaw Estate judicial review before they impose any more General Licence restrictions. That’s fine, they can just add this case to the others they’re currently sitting on and hopefully they’ll be in a position to take action in due course.

And, if you’re in the mood for writing emails, you might also want to alert the Environment Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, to these illegally-set traps. The information will be very helpful as she ponders the issue of introducing state-regulated licensing. These photographs confirm that law-breaking continues, despite the grouse shooting industry’s fervent claims to the contrary. Emails to: and mark it FAO Roseanna Cunningham.

We wonder what the grouse shooting industry’s Gift of Grouse project has to say about these illegal traps? We wonder if Glendye is part of the Grampian Moorland Group, which in turn is part of the Gift of Grouse propaganda campaign? That’d be interesting…..

UPDATE 17 March 2017: Update on illegally-set traps on Glendye grouse moor (here)

32 thoughts on “Illegally set traps on Glendye Estate grouse moor, Aberdeenshire”

  1. I have sent an e mail to Roseanna Cunningham suggesting that she may finally wish to take this matter seriously.

  2. I have had a reply referring me to use another e mail address,saying the above one is no longer in use.

    [Ed: Thanks Peter. Which email address is no longer in use, and what is the new address please?]

  3. Hi RPUK,
    I have an update on CAP payments to East Arkengarthdale Ltd. Can I email you or do I post it here as a comment?

    [Ed: Hi Grey Sage – please could you email it to us at: raptorpersecutionscotland[at] Many thanks!]

    1. I have too, I think it says ‘Up Yours!’. If they don’t have to, they won’t. What a waste of space

  4. His blog was doing very well till I got to the very end…when he mentions “ringing/monitoring disturbance”. Unless there has been some recent radical change in the strictly regulated and self – regulated monitoring and ringing of wild birds in Scotland, by Raptor Study Groups, the BTO and SNH …then that final statement could have come from such as the SGA or other conservation bashing organisation. Not helpful.

    1. Dave – if you read some of the author’s earlier blogs you will perhaps understand where he’s coming from.

    2. And also this;

      “One of many …… no traps were disturbed, active traps although unlawful were left untouched as found”

      If I had found a number of illegal traps, I would have ensured that they were triggered shortly after photographing them.

    3. Dave, Monitored and verified by who? Can you point me in the direction of anyone who independently verifies the ringing, including, where, when, how many, how long and success rate the following year?

      [Ed: surprised to see you back here, Alan, given you think we’ve got ‘extremist’ views and the ‘blog is a has been and not worth reading’. Ah well, suppose everyone is entitled to change their mind. Re: your questions about ringing – suggest you have a look at the BTO website, there’s plenty of information there. It’s a legal requirement for bird ringers to be licensed. To get that licence (which has to be renewed annually), they have to undergo years of training. Once qualified, they can trap, ring and release birds. Now, compare that level of training with that of gamekeepers, who trap, and then kill, birds. There’s no legal requirement for the gamekeeper to undergo training, no individual licence required, and no effective monitoring of their activities. Amazing, eh? Oh, and if ringing is so bad, why is the SGA pushing the Cairngorms National Park Authority to support gamekeepers’ applications to ring birds? Wouldn’t be anything to do with trying to prevent licensed raptor workers from visiting dodgy estates, would it?]

      1. Monitored and verified by who? Can you point me in the direction of anyone who independently verifies the ringing, including, where, when, how many, how long and success rate the following year?

        Hi Ed, thanks for submitting and not censoring my comment this time.

        A lot of words there , but absolutely none actually responding to my question re verification.

        Yes, I do think this site is run by extremists. The censorship here demonstrates it to me.

        The last comment you censored was in response to where your selves stated that you had never said invermark was bad for raptors and I simply asked if that meant that Invermark was actually good for raptors?
        No idea why that would be sensored unless you are preaching an extremist view that all estates are bad.

        It would be nice if you were to quote all my sentence and not just cherry pick, as an extremist would do.

        My whole sentence went along the lines that whilst In principle this should be the kind of site I like, the extremist views ruin it.
        The 2nd part of the sentence was that I come on here to hold some of the claims to scrutiny.

        Last year, there were some incidents reported as crimes with no evidence what so ever. Has anyone ever confirmed if there was poison in the dead buzzard reported early last year?

        The fact is, im not a shooter, just a person with strong passion for birds including raptors, who cares about illegal prosecution.
        And yet, I find this site frustrating with its one sided extreme views.

        Im not the only one, and I think you are missing a lot of support on the back of it.



        1. Mr Alan, your comment is too vague to discuss in general as don’t see what points you think you are making.
          But ‘Can you point me in the direction of anyone who independently verifies the ringing, including, where, when, how many, how long and success rate the following year?’ shows a lack of understanding on the subject. What does ‘verifies the ringing’ even mean?
          If you think that every ringed bird is re-caught the following year you need to do some more research.
          It is impossible of course to know what RPUK is moderating but from what they and others have written it seems to be only on issues of liability which i totally agree with. I don’t want them shut down for some minor technicality which i have no doubt the grousers are waiting for.

          1. Yes they do and should regulate liability issues.
            But they also often sensor replies.
            They have occasionally censored some of mine which have had no relation to liability, and in my opinion perfectly reasonable, but maybe contrary to their point.
            If there was no hidden agenda, then there should be no reason to not publish these.
            If they are rubbish, it just shows an openness to listen to all and maybe demonstrate im an idiot.
            If they are valid, not displaying them shows a clear bias and agenda.

            Back to the verification issue as brought up by Dave

            “Unless there has been some recent radical change in the strictly regulated and self – regulated monitoring and ringing of wild birds in Scotland, by Raptor Study Groups, the BTO and SNH …then that final statement could have come from such as the SGA or other conservation bashing organisation. Not helpful.”

            My question refers to who independently verifies that the ringing and visiting of raptors nests is done correctly and appropriately and that there are no adverse effects.

            I.E is there someone or some independent body who can review the number of times a year, nests are visited, how long the visits took, who all was there and what if any mortality/abandonment rate and what the following years return rate to these sites are.

            Currently all I see on here is comments on abandoned sites on grouse moors, but no scrutiny on these abandoned sites to anything other than nasty keepers.

            It shouldn’t be hard to do.



            [Ed: Alan, with regards to our moderation policy. We moderate every single comment that is posted on this site, for a variety of reasons. This could include defamatory comments, trolling or simply being off topic – this list is not exhaustive. The bottom line is, if you wish to comment on this site you also have to accept this moderating policy. If you don’t like it, the answer is simple – clear off and publish your own blog.

            Re: nest disturbance. All the data concerning visits to the nests of Sched 1 species, dates visited etc are submitted to SNH through annual licensing returns. The data are collated by the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme – a multi-partner (and award-winning) approach to monitoring the health of species’ populations and the activities of licensed raptor workers. All ringing records are submitted to BTO, also through annual licence returns.

            Occasionally, but very rarely, if a licensed raptor worker is found to not be following the strict monitoring guidelines, their licence will be revoked. It does and has happened.

            Again, we invite you to compare and contrast this award-winning system with that of the monitoring of gamekeepers’ activities. Here’s a clue – gamekeepers do not operate under individual licences and nor are they required to submit annual returns].

            1. I’ve had my comments censored on both The Angus Glens Moorland and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association FB pages. I accept that those who put the effort and time into producing a Blog have the say as to what is and what is not published so I have never complained nor made it public … that’s just how it is. I have my own ideas as to why they were not published, but who am I to confidently read the minds of others? In addition I am also aware that each Blog has it’s Raison D’etre and the ones which I access where I might disagree with the general thrust of the editorial team and the majority of readers are the ones where I most expect to be censored.

              1. True George,
                However the title of the blog is Raptor persecution, not ban grouse moors and it does alluded to be representative of all raptor lovers.
                Much as im not a shooter, grouse moors can certainly be one of the best places for Raptors, yet this doesn’t seem to be taken in to account here.
                That doesn’t take away the fact that grouse moors are seriously un healthy for Harriers, where they should be at their most plentiful.

                [Ed: You’re unbelievable. What on earth makes you think you’ve got the right to dictate what subjects we blog about on here? As we’ve said before, but we’ll say it in stronger terms this time, if you don’t like it, fuck off]

                1. Yes, Alan, grouse moors can certainly be one of the best places for Raptors but that’s not how it has been for the past couple of centuries. Even after the persecution of raptors was made illegal the killing continued regardless of the promises made but never kept. This is why trust has all but disappeared and it is going to take more than promises which have proved empty in the past to change this. Who is to say that once the heat is off and the energy of the movement has dissipated that the centuries old habit of killing them off won’t re-assert itself? It’s taken many dedicated people and much pain and effort to get this far and let me assure you that the days of empty promises are now history. At the very least a licensing system has to be introduced and a form of policing it with integrity put in place. Those who own and work on grouse moors have had a long time to get their act together but preferred acting behind the scenes and compromising some of those who make up the various bodies dealing with these issues to continue as normal. Those days are coming to an end.

          2. This area is now under threat of a massive windfarm, despite a groundsman for the Estate having pictured Eagles sitting in trees within the proposed development site. What studies have been undertaken to protect our Eagles and other large birds of prey, such as Osprey and Red Kite from the terrible damage the wind Turbines are doing to our natural wildlife ?

  5. Any letter to Cunningham will be answered by a John Gray. He seems to favour shooting as he only knows the figures for the value of shooting not the ones for Wildlife Tourism which the Scottish Government commissioned! A map in that paper shows the decline of Wildlife Tourism in the East of Scotland! Is that not where the majority of shooting takes place!! Sounds a bit like the famous map by Tubbs showing the distribution of Buzzards and the distribution of gamekeepers all those years ago!

  6. Good work here – well done. Wouldn’t hurt to give out the name of the landowner, would it. I’m sure he’s as horrified as we are……. I’d like to offer my sympathy for his embarrassment.

  7. It is time to ban these medieval instruments of torture, snares as well !

    Centuries of persecution and ingrained criminal behaviour from gamekeepers ( instructed by factors and landowners ) continues unabated. I wonder who will be prosecuted, or am I wasting my time, again ?

    20,000 acres of Scotland held for just 6 days of slaughter, surely we can find a better use of our countries land.

    The ONLY way we will see an end to this, is to support Independence, snp or green, and to let the public, and politicians know what is happening, and rigorously prosecute the criminals, so my thanks to the blogger.

    1. if only snares could be banned as in many other european countries. they are used across our land to protect pheasant shoots and I have removed some with the greatest pleasure. As far as I can make out, Scottish wildlife is slaughtered by the huge money making Shooting industry , horrific Shooting tourism.

  8. The internet reveals the name of the head keeper and provides photos. The shoot site says that they only employ fully trained and certified staff! Can the Colleges withdraw qualifications when standards are clearly flouted?
    Bert Burnett, brimming with crocodile tears and buckets of insincerity has confirmed that the law has been broken. Typically most of his sycophantic fan base think he should have covered it up and just had a quiet word behind the scenes!
    Hopefully the wildlife crime officer investigating this case will check all the phone and Internet logs of all involved. No doubt many quick calls were made…. not necessarily to the lawyer.
    It seems clear to me that keepers don’t expect eyes on the hill just now and they feel free to broaden the spectrum of their killing.

  9. To the shooting people who appear to be smoke-screening the issue. The issue is the setting of illegal traps which cause appalling suffering. Why don’t you just Stop It!! The balls in your court on this. Surely you see, with the huge no of nature-lovers getting to know what’s going on, that it will be easier to control the idiots than to deal with bans, legislation and monitoring. Some of you seem to be supporting the idiots; seems like a shot in the foot to me…….

  10. SNH could of course, through the general licence, only permit the use of traps which come as a pre-assembled unit which includes the covers and gates….. but they are happy that they are sold in a format that is easy to modify and use for illegal purposes. Why? In what circumstances would anyone use an open trap?

    1. I’ve seen pre-assembled units which have been modified to enlarge the holes at either end. They are mesh cage ‘tunnels’ where strands have been cut and bent outwards. Maybe this is the type referred to. I’ve also been told by a farmer of lambs getting their feet through the top mesh on this type of ‘tunnel’ and becoming trapped.

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