Last Friday we published an update on golden eagle Fred, who ‘disappeared’ from the Pentlands on the outskirts of Edinburgh in highly suspicious circumstances in January.
There have been some predictable responses from certain quarters who probably expect everyone to believe that this is what happened to Fred (many thanks to @gill_lewis for this brilliant cartoon):
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s response to the latest news on Fred was this:
Hmm, where to begin. Let’s start with some facts, a concept the SGA seems to struggle with.
First of all, on the accusation that our media coverage has been “shambolic” and that this case has made a “total mockery” of the investigative process for dealing with wildlife crime. Let’s just be clear. We haven’t published any details of this investigation without the express agreement of Police Scotland.
In the SGA’s original press statement on Fred (see here), we were accused of “walking away after presenting judgement to the media“. We didn’t “walk away” at all – we presented further evidence to the police and were asked not to publish it until the police’s special technical analysts had been given an opportunity to examine it. Although we were obviously eager to publish as soon as possible, we fully adhered to the police request as not to do so could have compromised their investigation. There is still information that has not yet been released.
In the meantime, SGA Director Bert Burnett was busily writing outrageous and borderline libellous commentary on social media. He wrote the following on 22 February 2018:
Which leads us on nicely to another statement in the SGA’s latest press statement:
“The SGA has not joined in with theorising on blogs or private social media accounts“.
Really? So how does the SGA explain the following social media posts?
Posted 19th February 2018:
Posted 23rd February 2018:
That seems to be pretty conclusive evidence that the SGA, via its Director, has been quite busy “theorising” about this case, doesn’t it? And not only “theorising”, but also trying to whip up unfounded hysteria by accusing Chris Packham of ‘calling for the wives and children of gamekeepers to become homeless’ and Bert then, ironically, calling for people to lobby the BBC to sack Chris!
‘Ah, but he’s no longer a Director‘ will argue the SGA. That bit, at least, is true – according to documents lodged at Companies House, Bert resigned his Directorship of the SGA on 26th February 2018. However, his social media comments were published prior to the 26th, when he was still an SGA Director. Perhaps this explains Bert’s ‘resignation’? Whatever, who cares.
So after falsely accusing us of commenting inappropriately on a live investigation, the SGA then argues that “…all the evidence in this case should be presented in the open so the truth can be established…”. A good bit of muddled thinking there.
For us, the most revealing section of the SGA’s press statement is this:
“The fact that SNH published a paper on satellite tagged eagles between 2004-2016 has nothing to do with any case happening years later, in 2018.
To suggest otherwise is to institutionalise prejudice against a community of people: Scotland’s gamekeepers. We will not tolerate this and are extremely disappointed and angry that this attitude appears to be at large within some sections of our parliament“.
Sorry, SGA, but the 2017 review on the fate of satellite-tagged golden eagles has EVERYTHING to do with this case. The circumstances of Fred’s disappearance mirror the suspicious circumstances of the other 42+ ‘missing’ golden eagles who have ‘disappeared’ on or near to a grouse moor and whose tags suddenly and inexplicably stopped working despite having a proven reliability rate of 98%. The report demonstrated that tagged golden eagles in Scotland were 25 TIMES more likely to ‘disappear’ in suspicious circumstances than anywhere else in the world where these tags have been deployed on eagles.
It’s no use the SGA now pulling out the victim card and falsely claiming “institutional prejudice”. The facts are clear and have been available for a long, long time to those willing to see.
What’s really interesting is that the SGA’s angry response came just hours after Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s damning condemnation of the criminals within the grouse-shooting sector who continue to kill birds of prey, including golden eagles. We suspect the SGA’s furious reaction about Fred is more to do with the embarrassing fact that Fergus, the SGA’s long-time cheerleader and main political ally, has spoken so openly and frankly about the ongoing persecution of raptors on grouse moors. The significance of Fergus Ewing’s statement should not be underestimated.
The walls are crumbling and the SGA knows it. It’s just a matter of time…..