Political maneuvering in build up to publication of raptor sat tag review

Over the weekend, there was some extraordinary media coverage centred on accusations that the RSPB is “openly ignoring” PAW Scotland protocols in relation to what should happen when a satellite tagged raptor ‘disappears’.

It all stemmed from a leaked letter about wildlife crime, written by the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee, addressed to Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham. That letter has now been published and you can read it here: ECCLR letter on Wildlife Crime to Environment Secretary_26March2017

This letter was leaked to the press last week, prior to being published on the Scottish Government’s website. That in itself is extraordinary – who leaked it, and why?

The press ran with this story and several pieces sought to portray RSPB Scotland in a poor light (e.g. BBC news article here). What was even more extraordinary was that this subject was also included in the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, with interviews from Graeme Dey MSP (convener of the Environment Committee) and Ian Thomson (Head of Investigations, RSPB Scotland). The programme is available on iPlayer for the next few weeks here.

Why was this extraordinary? Well, what with the imminent triggering of Article 50 for Brexit, and the SNP’s push for a second independence referendum, you might think that a political current affairs programme had slightly more pressing issues to discuss.

Ah, but wait a minute, the much anticipated review of raptor satellite tag data is due to be published in the very near future, and is expected to expose some pretty uncomfortable truths for our friends in the grouse shooting industry, which could (should!), finally, lead to some enforcement action by the Scottish Government.

May be the timing of these accusations against RSPB Scotland is purely coincidental, but may be it isn’t. We wouldn’t be so foolish as to underestimate the power and influence of the landowning grouse shooting brigade.

To cut to the chase, we thought it’d be interesting to ask blog readers whether they agreed that RSPB Scotland had “openly ignored” the PAW Scotland satellite tagged raptor protocol.

Here’s the scenario for you to consider:

A satellite-tagged golden eagle, whose tag had been functioning perfectly well, suddenly and inexplicably ‘disappears’ off the radar in an area where there is previous history of confirmed raptor persecution.

Follow the PAW Scotland protocol flow chart and decide whether the RSPB has breached the protocol by immediately contacting Police Scotland, but NOT the landowner, about the ‘missing’ eagle.

25 thoughts on “Political maneuvering in build up to publication of raptor sat tag review”

  1. Comment deleted

    [Ed: Jim – before we’ll publish an accusation like that, and all your other previous accusations, you need to provide evidence to support it. And please note, we will not allow this blog to become your platform for promoting anti-windfarm propaganda. There are other sites for doing that, but this isn’t one of them. Cheers]

  2. It looks to me as if the RSPB have done exactly the right thing. It seems to be the case that if you throw enough mud some of it will stick and it’s the usual propaganda nonsense coming from those with something to hide.

  3. You could add the new oilfield to the news items which really required the attention more than this mudslinging. Some of us may remember, about three years ago, the YES signs on ordinary houses and small businesses, the NO signs on the big estates and large farms. Perhaps the SNP have forgotten who their friends are?

    1. As far as the SNP are concerned, your vote is in the bag, so they can ignore your concerns. Worst case scenario is you switch to the Greens, who’ll do whatever the SNP tell them to do, so that’s no loss to the SNP. They are more concerned about winning over, or at least not alienating any further, those on the other side of the debate.

      The SNP have more faces than the town hall clock, and it’s about time people started to realise it.

  4. From that flow chart, the RSPB have to make a judgement about the circumstances. That is a requirement of the process so how can they be accused of following the wrong protocol. If a tag signal suddenly stops, that is suspicious by definition.

  5. The RSPB have followed the protocol to the letter. Only a criminal, or someone with criminal intent would disagree.

  6. Protocols like this one only exist because of pressure [in the 1990s] from the shooting lobby when things were getting a bit hot for them. There was never any evidence [ie it never happened] of an investigation being compromised by RSPB not contacting a landowner – there is however plenty of evidence of evidence being removed when someone made the mistake of contacting a landowner!…The hypocrisy of the shooting lobby complaining about RSPBs actions in investigations is absolute.

  7. What a surprise the BBC published this. We need some investigation to find if some one with editorial powers at BBC Scotland is associated with shooting interests…

    1. The BBC are guilty of nothing more than sloppy, lazy journalism. If they’d bothered to read the Protocol they’d have realised that there were questions to be asked about the anti RSPB narrative of Dey’s letter. So they missed the important journalistic angle.

      1. It’s the latest in a long line of articles and programs from BBC Scotland that are either pro-gamekeeping/land management and anti-RSPB or at least give that impression. Landward, Out of Doors and Good Morning Scotland have all been guilty of promoting SLE/SGA/NFU views

  8. One interesting comment pads 60 ” The Committee believes that wildlife crime is
    everyone’s problem and while it welcomes the public condemnation of
    such crimes by the SGA and others it is of the view that more must be
    done by all concerned in terms of reporting to and co-operating with
    Police Scotland. The Committee sees PAWS as an important vehicle in
    helping encourage and enable such a positive approach and wants to
    see its protocols being followed by all those involved.”. Strange that the RSPB is accused of breaching protocols!

  9. A vacuous performance by Graeme Day on Sunday Politics, waffling about ‘not taking sides’ as if there is some parity between criminals and the public he is supposed to represent.

  10. Carry on the great work and analysis of Driven Grouse Estates and Wildlife Persecution. Perhaps the Scottish Government can present its future legislation at the yearly #MoyGames just for balance.

  11. I cannot understand where the idea has been spread that the RSPB is not following protocols. In item 43 the RSPB did not say they did not follow protocols. This can only be derived from the “leak” and Graeme Dey MSP.
    If there is tension within PAW it is not surprising if the BBC, the leak source and Graeme Dey talk like this.
    There should be no compromise with criminals, in particular these organised and well connected criminals, who can leak lies into the BBC news and other media outlets.

  12. Surely the force of the Committee’s submission on this matter is here:

    46. As chair of the PAW Scotland Executive Group, the Committee
    would welcome an update from you on whether you consider it is still an
    important tool in fighting wildlife crime and if so, what can be done to
    strengthen its work and resolve conflict between partner organisations,
    particularly as it appears it has not met since late 2015. Also, in relation
    to its voluntary protocols, are these sufficient to ensure effective
    working or do they need to be made mandatory?

    The leak was probably motivated and its use biased, but actually overall this is bad for the shooters – alongside other recent PAW stuff.

  13. The protocol is a complete sham and has been written clearly for police to appease landowners.
    Given the poor police track record on wildlife crime i am not surprised that there is little or no confidence in their abilty to recover tags within a reasonable timescale ot thereafter be transparent with the data.

    Lets not forget the shambles associated with the tags that have gone missing in the Angus glens in the past.

  14. The simple solution to all this is that the shooting estates that are, “fully against raptor persecution and other wildlife crimes”, tell the police who is doing the crimes.

    But despite their fine words of, “they love wildlife and “protect” all raptors, improve habitats for all” (grouse!!!). They fail to drive out the criminals or inform against them.

    The shooting industry knows who does the crime!!

    Although, telling the police about all the criminals would surely decimate the shooting industry!!!!! I don’t think there would many left, if such a clear out was possible.

    It is also clear that they cannot be reformed into law abiding citizens.

    So, they will not do that. Will they?

    They would rather keep their cosy little club of country louts and wildlife killers. They hate any person or organisation that knows what they are up to and wants to stop their age old and obsolete practice.


  15. This is rich coming from Mr Dey, how do these people land these positions (convener of the environment committee indeed) I could write on the head of a match what this man knows about wildlife and the environment . Remember it was him who fronted that 81 and flying pack of lies from the Angus mob. What happens when you get a populist politician in charge of some thing he knows nothing about he calls for “all sides to come together ” Why because he has to say something and he doesn’t have the knowledge ( or the will ) to make measured judgements. But this present system this gets his big baa face on the telly , win win for Mr Dey money for nothing and fame as well.

  16. Another abysmal attempt to smear the RSPB. You know they must be doing something right as they are seen as “the enemy” by the criminals and their apologists.

    How many shooting estates have even reported a suspicious disappearance, let alone adhered to the protocol? How many estates and gamekeepers have actively engaged in getting to the bottom of a disappearance? How many estates have handed over any of their staff as engaged in teh disappearance of a tagged raptor? When that happens I might believe that they are not all criminals and that the odd one is sincere in wanting raptors to survive and thrive. I won’t hold my breath.

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