Parliamentary questions on Scottish Government’s grouse moor management review

Following the announcement on 24 November 2017 that the Scottish Government’s Grouse Moor Management Review Group had been formed (see here), a couple of Parliamentary questions have recently been lodged about how this group will function:

S5W-14019: Colin Smyth (Scottish Labour, South Scotland) Date lodged: 23/1/2018

To ask the Scottish Government, further to its announcement on 24 November 2017, what progress has been made by the independent group for ensuring grouse moor management practices are sustainable and legally compliant; what the remit of the group is, and what timetable it is working to.

Expected answer date: 6/2/2018

S5W-14020: Colin Smyth (Scottish Labour, South Scotland) Date lodged: 23/1/2018

To ask the Scottish Government, further to its announcement on 24 November 2017, what plans are in place to engage (a) stakeholders and (b) the public in the work of the independent group for ensuring grouse moor management practices are sustainable and legally compliant.

Expected answer date: 6/2/2018

Colin Smyth has also lodged another Parliamentary question, related to those above, which is pertinent to this week’s media attention on mountain hare culls on driven grouse moors:

S5W-14021: Colin Smyth (Scottish Labour, South Scotland) Date lodged: 23/1/2018

To ask the Scottish Government what efforts it has made to prevent large-scale culls of mountain hares this winter.

Expected answer date: 6/2/2018

For those who missed it, mountain hare culling featured on Countryfile on Sunday evening (28th Jan), where they filmed a cull on a grouse moor in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The programme is available on BBC iPlayer here for 27 days. The name of the estate wasn’t given but there were gamekeepers from Edinglassie Estate and Candacraig Estate. Whoever advised the Grampian Moorland Group that it would be a good idea (presumably to get the public onside) to showcase gamekeepers shooting mountain hares in the face made a big PR blunder. There was a huge backlash on social media and also in the national press (e.g. Daily Mail article here).

The programme also peddled the usual propaganda from the grouse shooting industry, claiming that all the shot hares would be sold for meat, which one of the gamekeepers claimed ‘showed the respect gamekeepers have for hares both in life and death’.

That’s not quite true though, is it? Here’s a pile of shot mountain hares, left to putrefy in a rotting heap on an Angus Glens grouse moor:

Harry Huyton (Director, OneKind) also featured in the programme to give an opposing view on mountain hare culling. He did a good job, and he’s also written an interesting blog about it (here).

The Countryfile episode was designed to coincide with the publication of a new SNH study which examined different methods of counting mountain hares. One of the fundamental arguments against the mass slaughter of mountain hares on grouse moors (apart from the questionable ethics) has been the issue of nobody knowing the status of the mountain hare population and thus the unknown impact these culls are having on the species’ conservation status (although we understand a forthcoming scientific paper, not yet published, will demolish the grouse shooting industry’s claims that the culls have no negative impact). The results of the new SNH study on mountain hare counting methods  can be read here.

UPDATE 13 February 2018: News on Scot Gov’s grouse moor management review & mountain hare culling (here)

10 thoughts on “Parliamentary questions on Scottish Government’s grouse moor management review”

  1. Way back in the 90s [thats the 1990s in case anyone gets confused when talking about Victorian practices], myself and fellow colleagues and police officers spent an afternoon collecting a couple of dozen dead mountain hares off a managed grouse moor in the eastern Cairngorm – they were all found to have been baited with a particularly deadly poison. Where does that measure in the respect scale then??…

  2. I like your pointed understatement regarding the killing of mountain hares being ethically questionable. I feel that the public has still not been fully informed about the real reasons why this slaughter takes place, which the estates can’t resist for some added income, and to satisfy the lust for killing by gamekeepers. It keeps them busy and entertained at the same time, enhancing job satisfaction. That might sound like a rather simplistic interpretation, but I believe it to be true. Another more serious and insidious purpose in Scotland, well known by raptor workers, is to suppress Golden Eagles, whose numbers would be boosted by a thriving population of mountain hares. Deer culling and recreational shooting also serve a similar purpose in reducing the number of carcasses for eagles to scavenge on the hill. Supplementary feeding in winter to maintain unnaturally high levels of deer justifies the real reason for culling and the exploitation of deer for ‘sport,’ with venison almost as a by-product. These activities, combined with illegal persecution, are designed to reduce the status and impact of eagles on grouse numbers. It is part of a wider cultural urge by the hunting and shooting community to eliminate natural competition.

  3. Who ever agreed to this will be getting their arse kicked , and I don’t think that head keeper will be appearing in front of the cameras any time soon, total own goal by the killers. Really interesting however the effect it has had on the general public when they see actual shooting taking place , and this was a very sanitised view .Imagine the effect if they were shown the whole bloody process.
    I wish the representative of Onekind ( and by the way that’s a real step forward – the ultra conservative British Brainwashing Corporation and Countryfile in particular asking some one from a pro active forward thinking group like Onekind to appear) had asked where all the natural predators of the hares were? and picked the head keeper up on this rubbish about overgrazing, respect, hares going into the food chain and Iain’s point above re. reducing hares available to Eagles. Perhaps he did and it was edited out.
    Anyway I am usually shouting at the telly, and searching for the complaints email address after one of these Countryfile “expose’s”but this time I had a wee warm glow. Wonder if anyone at the BBC will be getting their retrospective arse kicked as well ?

    1. Yes, I saw that – but it’s not even a proper survey where the hares are counted and recorded in a systematic method, it’s asking gamekeepers and shooters to complete a questionnaire saying where and when they saw hares. To base any kind of conclusions on the populations and management from this would surely be so dishonest.

      1. O come on, the way gamekeepers will count hare will be by far the most accurate, just count the number of (dead) hares in the back of the pick up truck and multiply it by the number of trucks.

  4. I was repeatedly gritting my teeth throughout the segment even in spite of it not exactly painting the best picture of the ‘sporting estates’ and their knuckle dragging cohorts. Again and again the standard pish came up about grouse shooting being a vital component of the rural economy – says who exactly? I’d love to see the evidence for that – when you’ve got vast sweeps of land that are ‘managed’ just to keep grouse numbers at a ludicrously inflated level then there’s not that much else that you can do and see apart from sickly grouse and a horrible patchwork of burnt and unburnt heather, didn’t that estate look terrible? Driven grouse shooting is driving away rural jobs as much as it is wildlife – yet they get off with this lie. When I drew up PE1663 – the petition to get a proper independent and comprehensive study of the full costs/benefits of DGS I made sure that I contacted every Moorland Forum, representative organisation and media outlet I could think off for DGS to ask them if they genuinely believed that it was good for rural jobs to sign and promote the petition. I got one request for my email address from a Moorland Forum that was never used and that was it total silence. Although many of the people prominent in fighting DGS signed I never saw one single signature from a rep from the other side and I’m pretty dam certain not a single rank and file grouse shooter signed either. The gauntlet got thrown down and they ran away wetting themselves – not surprised when the estate shown had a mere five employees. Well later in the year there’s going to be another government petition for a proper study, to compliment the Scottish one, for Westminster. At least so glad Tom Heap underlined the lunacy of killing one animal to have more animals to kill for fun – point out it doesn’t even have the poor excuse of being good for local communities and DGS has had it.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: