More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes

We’ve all learned by now how Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group, likes to spin the facts; we only wrote about it last week (see here).

Here’s another well-spun article. We missed it when it was published in the Scottish Sporting Gazette (Summer 2016) but someone has kindly sent through. It’s classic Tim (Kim), pretending that illegal persecution is no longer an issue and also pretending that most conservationists (apart from us so-called ‘extremists’) now support the idea of some form of raptor ‘control’.

“The last few decades have seen a grinding controversy over birds of prey, with incidents of illegal killing linked to sporting estates often in the headlines. The good news is that the underlying situation is now hugely improved, but that has galvanised social commentators to try even harder to keep the controversy alive. Social media is their tool of choice, but the facts can become seriously distorted. The problem now is that all the positive work by land managers risks being derailed by a small number of committed activists, particularly those who are anti-grouse shooting.

The facts are that a number of long-term changes have come to fruition in the last five years. Scotland has pioneered new approaches, particularly through the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS) – of which Scottish Land & Estates and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association are committed members – with awareness training and tightening up of legal sanctions.

The Scottish Government now publishes official data on police-recorded persecution cases which enables national assessment of the problem each year, and that has shown a marked decline in bird of prey incidents – particularly poisoning, which is down to single figures. The police believe that wildlife crime generally is now under control and, for example, there have been no police-recorded raptor incidents in the whole Cairngorms National Park for the last two years. Recently, there have been as many reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded birds of prey to the vet as there have been keepers being prosecuted!

Alongside this, most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland, as evidenced by the BTO Bird Atlas, and on many sporting estates they are in rude health. An example is the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project where there are now 68 pairs of breeding raptors. There was a national census of golden eagles in 2015 which is expected to show an increase, and 2016 sees the latest national survey of hen harriers.

Three surveys of managed grouse moor estates in 2015 showed the presence of 10 raptor species, including breeding eagles and harriers. However, there is ongoing concern that these two Schedule 1 species could be doing better in some areas and Scottish Land & Estates are working closely with PAWS partners in two national initiatives – Heads Up for Harriers and the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

With this background and the recent publication of the year-long scientific study ‘Understanding Predation’ by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, the real debate over birds of prey is now moving onto more positive territory, with focus on the ecological impacts, not just the incidents of persecution. It is now accepted that key prey species such as waders, black grouse, and grey partridges are in serious decline while some predators including buzzards and ravens have increased significantly. The project has fostered real cooperation among groups of stakeholders with traditionally opposing views, and it is hoped that the new Scottish Government will now back practical action to address this problem. It is now up to the extremists to give that cooperative approach their full support and not jeopardise progress”.


We could spend all day pointing out the spin in Tim’s (Kim’s) claims, such as there being no police-recorded raptor persecution incidents in the Cairngorms National Park for two years (not quite true – see here), or that there are more reported cases of gamekeepers taking wounded raptors to the vets than there are of gamekeepers being prosecuted, implying that gamekeepers are no longer committing alleged offences (not quite true – see here), or implying that eagles and harriers were successfully breeding on three surveyed grouse moor estates in 2015 (not quite true – see here), or that most bird of prey numbers have increased all over Scotland (not quite true – see here, here, and incidentally both these scientific papers were published before Tim (Kim) wrote this tripe), or implying that all stakeholders, with traditionally opposing views, are now supportive of backing what Tim (Kim) calls ‘positive action’ against raptors (what he means is licenced ‘control’) – again, this is not true. Name one conservation NGO that doesn’t have a vested interest in game shooting who supports this idea?

One year on from Tim’s (Kim’s) world of fantasy, and our so-called ‘extremist’ claims that illegal persecution is still rife on many driven grouse moors has been validated by the findings of the recently published golden eagle satellite tag review. It is now apparent even to the Scottish Government that illegal raptor persecution continues, albeit very well hidden (apart from if the targeted raptor victim happens to be wearing a satellite tag) and on the basis of this overwhelming evidence, we are finally set to see some action.

Thank goodness the policy makers haven’t listened to Tim’s (Kim’s) distorted point of view.

UPDATE 22 June 2017: Retired Police Wildlife Crime Officer Alan Stewart has blogged about this article here

10 thoughts on “More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes”

  1. Tim Baynes is well established as a complete joke, clumsy peddler of spin and all round idiot but what amazes me is that SLE continue to allow their credibility to have haemorrhaged beyond recovery. The continuing saga of DGS denial. Give them enough rope…

  2. As I said in a previous blog I spent about 5 hours walking on the driven grouse moors around Wanlochead on Saturday past and there were no predators to be seen.

    Muirland species which they brag about resulted in seeing one pair of Golden Plover and one Curlew. No Lapwings to be seen.

    So much of the for the large numbers of waders on our grouse moors. It is a joke.

  3. If my eyes don’t deceive me that’s a Marsh Harrier scudding along the lower margin of photo of heather moorland – things must be grim if they couldn’t even find a photo of Hen Harrier to use ….

  4. John, I think you’re giving them too much credit, do you really believe they know the difference between a hen & a marsh harrier?!

    1. Not being able to read the caption I thought it wiser to give them the benefit of the doubt but given that Sparrowhawk vs Linnet seemed a challenge for Tim Bonner, you may well be right.

  5. A lesson to be learned here is that education is the only real tool to counter this sort of rubbish.
    When the UK public understands that the major threat to their upland raptors is the grouse moor keepers they will not be fooled by these articles.
    We’re not fooled & never were so there is a major job to be done to spread the truth.

    Keep up the pressure !

    ps I just picked up on the news item relating to the killing of Spanish Imperial eagles in Extremadura.
    Looks like real justice is to used against the guilty individuals ……. UK judiciary & law enforcement please take note…..
    I hope the story is highlighted here……..

    1. Although wildlife crime remains a big problem in Spain and the hunting lobby is still very influential, they are certainly more robust in their approach to punishing those caught than we are in the UK.

  6. The real problem with the tripe that Baynes and his ilk come out with is that there are people out there who swallow it hook line and sinker. That of course is why he does it, we all know the man is a complete charlatan but as long as one person believes him his campaign of deliberate misinformation works. It is to use a current phrase fake news.

  7. Hopefully England may soon be joining Scotland in the net starting to close in – DGS has squandered the political cover it had when the Conservatives were in real power – the time any policy maker knows is crucial to reaching the compromises needed when the wind (as it inevitably does) changes against you and now goes naked into the conference room – with the prospect of massive changes to farming support further threatening subsidies that support persecution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s