To the utter disbelief of conservationists, statutory conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has issued a licence authorising the mass killing of ravens in a large area of Perthshire (an area identified as a wildlife crime hotspot where six satellite-tagged eagles have suspiciously disappeared in recent years), as part of a proposed five-year experiment, on the basis of ‘seeing what happens’ to wader populations when ravens are removed.
The licence has been issued to a consortium calling itself the Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW) which, according to the licence application, ‘represents some of the local land management (farmers, gamekeepers) and private interests in the area who value wading birds for their biodiversity, social and economic value to the area and to Scotland more widely. The application is supported by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and technical advice and support, notably data gathering and interpretation, is being provided by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)‘.
[Raven photo by Dieter Schaeffer]
The following has been written by a group of Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG) members as a guest blog:
STRATHBRAAN RAVEN LICENCE
The news about the missing white tailed sea eagle disappearing in Glen Quaich on Tuesday 17th April could sadly not have been more timely as Scottish Natural Heritage, (SNH), have issued a licence to several estates in the Strathbraan area in Perthshire, including Glen Quaich Estate, for the killing of 300 ravens in a large scale trial over five years to see if wader productivity and populations can be improved by removing raven predation.
The manner in which the government’s statutory nature conservation agency have conducted themselves has come as a shock and there is grave concern about the mis-application of science, the lack of consultation with key stakeholders, such as the RSPB and SRSG, their choice of estate partners and the lack of transparency, trust and honesty, and even seasoned SNH watchers are aghast.
We have raised our concerns and are unhappy with the response so far and have resorted to writing this blog to make the matters public. Following the “suspicious” disappearance of the white tailed sea eagle and the fact the police are describing this as ‘an illegal act’ we call upon SNH to conduct a review and if the circumstances fulfil what we consider to be the established criteria set out in SNH’s own report then we expect the licence to be withdrawn.
Our concerns focus on three areas, firstly the choice of partners:-
Firstly when selecting a trial area why would you choose an area dominated by driven grouse shooting with a history of illegal raptor persecution? What message does this send out to the many law-abiding estates? Is it that persecution will enable you to ‘cut a deal’ with the statutory nature conservation body? Cynics might suggest this is more about an opportunity to kill ravens in an attempt to protect red grouse stocks and it could also be argued that a licence has been issued to kill one species of bird to enable another bird to be shot for fun.
[Map of proposed cull area in north Perthshire, from the licence application, running from Loch Tay in the west to the A9 in the east]:
Raptor workers over the years have been monitoring the area and can speak with authority on raptor persecution. The Scottish Government’s review of satellite-tagged golden eagles showed that four of these birds have disappeared suspiciously in this area, with a satellite-tagged red kite also disappearing in 2010. In all cases, the tags can be classed as “stopped – no malfunction” as used in the review – ie. highly suspicious.
[Map of north Perthshire showing the last known fixes of five satellite-tagged golden eagles that disappeared in suspicious circumstances. Sea Eagle Blue X also disappeared in Glen Quaich last month]:
In addition, a radio-tagged white-tailed eagle was tracked to this area, but disappeared in January 2012, while a further satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle recently similarly disappeared in Glen Quaich. An illegal clam trap was found in November 2012, while a buzzard was spring-trapped in January 2012. A red kite was found poisoned in January 2015. A raven was poisoned in 2017. In addition, licenced raptor study group members have noted a number of cases of suspicious failure of nesting attempts by hen harrier, red kite and buzzard across the area. They have also recorded a higher than usual turnover of red kites and a loss of breeding pairs at nearby sites. All of which indicates on-going illegal persecution.
Even bearing in mind these detected incidents represent an unknown proportion of actual persecution taking place, this is an area where land management practices have displayed a proven criminal intolerance to protected species, stretching back for many years. All this has been in the public domain so why did SNH press on knowing that their partners in this initiative have such a dubious record, and what level of confidence can we have in their honesty and integrity?
Secondly, science and key questions that remain unanswered:-
- What monitoring is in place to assess that this cull will not affect the raven population status?
- How will SNH be able to differentiate from other factors affecting the decline of waders such as other predatory pressures, the loss of suitable habitat and changes in agricultural practices?
- What criteria will be used to differentiate between breeding and non-breeding birds? This year we have noticed that the breeding season is later than usual.
- What allowance has been made for the immigration of immature flocks into the proposed licence area?
- Why has the licensing decision been taken in the absence of the raven population modelling report, as it was commissioned with the sole, or at least the main, purpose of underpinning raven licensing decisions with sounder background information?
- What is the nature and extent of the independent scrutiny that has been carried out?
- If any raven roosts are located during the period of the licence, can we be assured that any Schedule 1 non-breeding species and other protected species (possibly also using the same roosts) will not be disturbed?
- What safe guards are in place to ensure the numbers killed will remain within that permitted?
Thirdly, the lack of engagement
SNH are always keen to trumpet words such as ‘trust’, ‘building relationships’, ‘shared objectives’ ‘working collaboratively’ but we have seen none of this.
- There has been no communication with SRSG workers who have been active in the proposed licence area and have many years of breeding data on ravens and raptors.
- We understand that not all landowners/managers within the area of licence have been contacted about this licence, contrary to reassurances provided.
- This proposed application was developed outside the much lauded ‘Working for Waders’ initiative and we only became aware of this by accident; hardly working together or building trust!
- Under the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme raven data are submitted to SNH (who is a key partner), yet it seems this information was not included in the licence considerations, (we know this as under the permission sharing protocols raptors workers who collected the information in the first place would have had to have been consulted).
We are deeply suspicious that the lack of engagement was deliberate as SNH knew their proposal was weak and would not stand up to the rigour of an independent scientific review.
We again call upon SNH to withdraw the licence.
It’s well known that SNH issues a number of licences every year to cull ravens where they are considered a ‘serious threat’ to livestock (e.g. see here, here) but these are apparently for a limited cull, not related to game management and supposedly based on sound scientific evidence of a perceived local problem.
It’s also well known that gamekeepers have long wanted ravens to be added to the General Licence (e.g. see here, here) because they are seen as a perceived threat to grouse stocks.
It’s also well known that ravens are routinely demonised in the press, including this outrageous piece published by the BBC (see here, and well worth a read to understand the hysteria whipped up around this protected species).
However, this latest licence authorising a multi-year mass culling of ravens over a large area for spurious reasons (and apparently very little, if any, scientific justification) is unprecedented. That it also happens to be a well-known raptor persecution hotspot just adds to the lunancy of this situation.
If you share the concerns of the SRSG members, please consider sending an email to Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, calling on him to withdraw the licence with immediate effect. Emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE 14.20hrs: Thanks to the blog reader who brought this article to our attention, reporting on the results of a scientific study that dispels many of the myths associated with ravens and wader population declines. And here is the scientific peer-reviewed paper by Amar et al that specifically warns against making predator control licensing decisions without a thorough evaluation of the evidence.
UPDATE 21 April 2018: A quote from SNH Head of Wildlife, Robbie Kernahan:
“We understand the concerns over wildlife crime in Strathbraan, but we are also clear that the granting of this licence is wholly unconnected to the issues concerned.
This licence is about a pressing and complex conservation issue. It is a large-scale collaborative trial which will help improve our understanding of factors affecting key wader species, populations of which are declining at an alarming rate. We are satisfied this licence will not affect the population of ravens overall, and is over a five year period.
The licence places significant responsibility and expectations on all those involved – to be able to show that this approach can work and will help deliver what are essentially shared objectives.
Trust is a key element of this and this presents a great opportunity to develop that trust and relationships with all involved. If it becomes apparent that actions are not being carried out in accordance with the terms of any licence then we will have no hesitation in removing the licence“.
UPDATE 21 April 2018: A quote from RSPB Scotland Head of Species & Land Managament, Duncan Orr-Ewing:
“We are extremely concerned about the likely scale on impact of this research licence on the local raven population in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire. We are also very surprised that SNH have issued such a research licence in the vicinity of Strathbraan, which has an appalling and well documented track record of illegal persecution of raptors, noting also the very recent “suspicious” disappearance of a satellite tagged white-tailed eagle in this very same area.
We, together with local raptor workers who have been monitoring ravens in the area for decades, could have helped SNH with this background detail to the licence application if we had been consulted.
We will be seeking a high level meeting with SNH shortly to discuss. We will be pressing for the research licence to be revoked on the back of the white-tailed eagle incident, and instead consideration given by SNH to removing the use of the Open General Licence in this area, as is within their powers“.
UPDATE 22 April 2018: Raven cull update and what you can do to help (here)
UPDATE 23 April 2018: Article published in The National (here)
UPDATE 23 April 2018: Article published in The Herald (here)
UPDATE 23 April 2018: RSPB Scotland blog in response to raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 25 April 2018: OneKind blog in response to raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 25 April 2018: Chris Packham’s response to raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 26 April 2018: Is the raven cull licence still active whilst SNH review takes place? (here)
UPDATE 26 April 2018: SNH refuses to say whether raven cull licence has been suspended (here)
UPDATE 27 April 2018: Green MSPs seek urgent meeting with SNH re: raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 27 April 2018: ‘No justification’ for raven cull licence, says RSPB Scotland Director (here)
UDATE 28 April 2018: Raven cull licence: SGA evasive on benefits to grouse moors (here)
UPDATE 1 May 2018: Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders: who’s involved? (here)
UPDATE 4 May 2018: Raven cull: next steps to take as SNH blunders on (here)
UPDATE 7 May 2018: “Let’s have more trials [culls] whether it’s about ravens or other things” says SNH (here)
UPDATE 8 May 2018: Parliamentary questions lodged on raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 9 May 2018: Alison Johnstone MSP lodges Parliamentary motion on raven cull licence (here)
UPDATE 12 May 2018: Raven cull: please ask your MSP to support this Parliamentary motion (here)
UPDATE 23 May 2018: Raven cull update: scientific advisory committee not being asked to repeal licence (here)
UPDATE 23 May 2018: Raven cull: Parliamentary questions and answers (here)
UPDATE 20 May 2018: Raven cull: latest update (here)
UPDATE 5 June 2018: Legal challenge to raven cull licence: your help needed! (here)
UPDATE 6 June 2018: Raven cull: legal challenge crowdfunder smashes £10k target on day one! (here)
UPDATE 19 June 2018: Raven cull: a few updates (here)
UPDATE 20 June 2018: #Justice4Ravens fundraising merchandise now available (here)
UPDATE 22 June 2018: Preston man receives warning for raven cull death threat (here)
UPDATE 1 July 2018: Last push on #Justice4Ravens crowdfunder (here)
UPDATE 1 July 2018: #Justice4Ravens crowdfunder target smashed! (here)
UPDATE 5 July 2018: #Justice4Ravens: application lodged for judicial review (here)
UPDATE 23 July 2018: Surprise! Gamekeeper in raven cull area declares cull a success (here)
UPDATE 30 July 2018: Raven cull licence: scientific rigour ‘completely inadequate’ says SNH’s scientific advisory committee (here)
UPDATE 30 July 2018: Voluntary suspension of raven cull is meaningless greenwash (here)
UPDATE 7 August 2018: #Justice4Ravens: judicial review update (here)
UPDATE 20 August 2018: Raven cull: application for judicial review withdrawn, for now (here)
UPDATE 30 April 2019: SNH reluctant to discuss licensed raven cull in Strathbraan this year (here)
UPDATE 2 May 2019: SNH rejects 2019 licence application for Strathbraan raven cull (here)
UPDATE 30 May 2019: Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s pity party in response to failed Strathbraan raven cull bid (here)
UPDATE 10 November 2022: Ravens illegally shot on two Strathbraan grouse moors (here)
336 thoughts on “SNH issues licence for mass raven cull in 5-year ‘experiment’”
What a country we live in – a wonderful species which is the highlight of many a day out in the hills, our prized natural wildlife, set to be slaughtered in mass culls. And they roam over great areas, particularly young birds, per BWP “Study of marked birds in Switzerland showed flocking immature birds move around area as large as 10 000 km2”. What a message to send out to natural history tourists – mass culls of our native wildlife, affecting the whole country, sad and depressing times we live in where rich and powerful get to do what they like to the detriment of ordinary cititzens and our natural heritage…
Unfortunately it’s all driven by money. Grouse moors, unfeeling gamekeepers and the power of the £ makes me sick Same as the hare cull anything which interferes with their money making has to be destroyed and wiped out. Hate hunting of any kind and which it could all be banned
You are so right, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Is there any way that this can be brought to a grinding halt and hashed over,,, How can this be happening? This just can’t be happening!
This is terrible…an outrage. Just how the hell can anyone justify slaughtering these wonderful, intelligent, beautiful birds. Where I lived in Wiltshire I found a Raven that’d been caught and it’s wings twisted into a wire fence where it was left to die. I managed to release it but dont think it could fly. I told myself at least it experienced a little freedom until being most likely predated that night…..I am not of the same species as anyone who can do such terrible things, or as in this case endorse such cruelty by ‘removing’ certain creatures in this way….when will they understand they cant own any wild thing any more than they could own another human being and as such simply have no right to play God like this. I am angry and upset in equal measure seeing this…..
Please, take the raven to the rehaber next time, it could have survived if given proper care :(
How about we lock up three hundred gamekeepers in an ‘experiment’ to see what happens to wildlife on the moors? This beggars belief!
I think the First World War did that experiment with result you would expect.
Yes a much better experiment. People are losing their minds and they common sense if they had any to start with. Totally unbelievably stupid.
I’ve suggested a similar experiment before.
What?? We keep being told that waders thrive on grouse moors. If that’s the case, then why the hell do they want to cull ravens?
It is true that Curlew and Oystercatcher are present in numbers on moorland and “predator management” may marginally benefit them, but these are not rare birds and do not compare with our iconic birds of prey or even ravens.
One of the problems with comparing managed grouse moors to non-managed moorland is by their very nature managed grouse moors are the most naturally productive moorland. What I mean by this is that managed grouse moors which produce low numbers of Red Grouse, even when managed tend to have low value and are either eventually abandoned as grouse moors, or never selected as grouse moors in the first place. Whereas grouse moors which naturally produce the largest amounts of Red Grouse have high value, were bought by the wealthiest landowners, and more is invested in their management. It is well known even amongst shooters that some moors are inherently unproductive, even when time and money has been invested in managing them, whilst other moors are naturally more productive. The areas of moorland selected to be grouse moors was not random and arbitrary, but was due to the natural inherent productivity of these moorland
Therefore over time a sifting mechanism has been in place, which ended up with the most productive moorland being preserved as grouse moor, and the poorest moorland either abandoned or never selected for preservation as grouse moor.
This factor tends to get left out of comparisons between managed grouse moors and non-managed moors when it comes to the population density of non-grouse bird species, including waders. In other words apples are not being compared with apples. This skews any comparisons, and often the population density of other birds on grouse moors may be nothing to do with the management, but simply because they are naturally more productive moorland, which is the very reason they were selected as grouse moors in the first place. The shooting lobby likes to present this as proving that their management enhances bird habitat, when in reality it was they who selected the sites best for breeding moorland birds.
Any birder, naturalist, conservationist, ecologists knows very well that all sites are not equal when it comes to their natural productivity and the population density of certain bird species on them. The reasons for this are complex, geographical area, soils, hydrological regimes, local climate, especially prevailing wind direction. This can effect invertebrate availability during the critical breeding period, which can be just as significant as predators.
From an ecological perspective, the shooting and landowning lobby places undue emphasis on predators controlling populations. It just doesn’t work like this in ecological reality. It is often the ecological carrying capacity which determines population density, not predation. Most species produce far more offspring that can survive, and up to a certain level, predation does not control the population density of species. This can be especially true of birds, because most of the young except for raptors feed on small invertebrates, and their survival rates depend on food availability in a critical window. Self-evidently it is much more complex than I can explain here, but the problem with the shooting lobby is that they reduce everything to very simplistic terms, because they have a limited ability to effect things through management.
Informative and thoughtful post – thank you
There is nothing natural about a managed grouse moor!
Time for a crowdfunded legal challenge? I am truly sick of pish like this. Such a cover up by game interests. A gun in Plover’s clothing.
Ravens aren’t predators.
Want some photographs to prove you’re wrong ?.
You would be amazed if you knew who encouraged this in Perthshire, unbelievable.
This has set us back years and given gamekeepers oxygen for prolonging the fight, hope you are proud of yourselves you bloody short sighted idiots . You know who you are !!
Go on then
FFS!!! I noticed that Angus Glens Moorland Group has been busy posting images of eyeless lambs and mountain hare leverets – supposedly the work of ravens. Pretty pathetic, and clearly no coincidence. There are ravens near me, I heard one last week just a few hundred yards from my flat on the outskirts of Falkirk. How awful that these birds may now be better off here than in the ‘wilds’ of rural Perthshire. This idea they are so keen to promote that waders are universally thriving on grouse moors and are at extinction’s door elsewhere really needs to be put to bed once and for all, the authors of the ‘Where Have All the Merlins Gone?” report about the Lammermuir Hills also mentioned that there seemed to be a decline of waders too. In fact quite a few have commented that the more intensive the ‘management’ for grouse shooting then the less likely that waders fare well. Then of course there’s all the wildlife that just doesn’t do well on grouse moors which is the vast majority of it. Maybe we should start asking publicly what about bats, pollinating insects, absolutely anything that requires a tree or piece of scrub, aquatic life etc, etc, etc.
>> seemed to be a decline of waders too…
This will all be published in detail in the forthcoming SE Scotland Atlas* – huge decline in breeding waders, Dunlin have all but gone, but we have very modest numbers of Ravens (estimate of 55-65 breeding paris in whole of SE Scotland 2007-13), some of which are shore specialists.
Bloody gamekeepers aren’t bothered about waders. Just another greenwash. Unbelievable. What a bloody country we live in.
This is unbelievable. When will you stop the mass genocide of our wildlife?
When will driven grouse moor shoots be licensed and any raptor persecution result in a five year removal of said license and a suitable fine for the wildlife crime?
Absolutely disgusting where’s the logic?
This is beyond belief. I’ve just emailed the chair and told him that SNH is either not up to the job of protecting our Natural Heritage, or they are in the pockets of vested interests.
Twitter storm tonight I reckon too. This needs to be reported far and wide.
Further upsetting the natural balance. When will these landowners and gamekeepers living in their protected bubble come to the realisation that the “bonny purple-swathed hills” (almost barren to any sensible biodiversity) would be much better rewilded, high sheep-density reduced, preventing future flash-flooding, enabling a return to welcome biodiversity, probably causing benefit to the local economy from folk wishing to see some of the wildlife for which Scotland is world famous.
Instead we have a situation in which Scotland is becoming NOTORIOUS worldwide for their murder of the very golden eagles and hen harriers which should be making them proud. I sit here practically incandescent.
It’s a surreal and unbelievable state of affairs. It won’t last long, though; you’re all digging your own grave by your ineptitude, you rich twits!
Very well said.
Was this decision given the go ahead by the Scottish government?
How is it funded? Grants? Public money?
Who owns the land?
Sorry, these landowners and gamekeepers are not inept, they’re UNeducated about how ecology works and how a healthy one undamaged by humans actually SUPPORTS, incredibly, humans. So, to maintain a healthy biodiversity, and a healthy human race, we have to prevent damage to it for ALL our sakes. Worldwide. What these callous, cruel, murderous landowners and their servants do is endangering ALL our futures. Of course WE all know this, but how can we truly educate THEM??? Is it really just money that blinkers their eyes?
You would be amazed just how many so called conservationists blindly accept the gamekeepers agenda and actively push for it.
Strange how those once so vocal have gone strangely quiet, come on lets hear you defending this.
Tried and failed to find a list of members of this Strathbraan lot can anybody help might well be conflict of interest going on here.
Killing things to see what happens?
Psychopathic tendencies or what?
Plausible deniability because of £££
Email to Cantley sent. Only takes a few minutes. Don’t get angry, get mean, in writing!
The old gods are watching
Utterly disgusting… how dare they ! They have no right … leave these beautiful , intelligent birds alone ! Get rid of the gamekeepers and their employers and let nature thrive you pathetic , cruel individuals!
Any excuse to kill things! Bunch of Throwbacks way behind on the Evolutionary Scale!
So sad, stupid and unscientific. I thought Scotland was leading the way? Instead the SNH seem as compromised as Natural England. I’m ashamed to be a UK citizen. How can we criticise other countries re: trophy hunting, trade in endangered species etc. when our own so-called environmental agencies do this? Perhaps call for a judicial review as Mark Avery & RSPB have done for HH brood-meddling?
Leave these beautiful birds alone!
The ball really is now in your court Ms Sturgeon…just how many votes to you get from Perthshire estates…?
tell your man John Swinney MSP Perthshire North to mention that all public grants may be cut where raptor persecution is obviously taking place….as we all know annually. Many thanks Nicola for your help, be brave make a difference for once… Bill
How about a 5 year experiment with no grouse shooting / no gamekeepers to see what happens to hen harriers?
wonderful idea Diana. I mistakenly added my name to SNH mailing list for their mag a few yrs back but stopped pretty soon after, as I came to conclusion they were more intent on protecting shooting industry interests than preserving our wonderful wildlife
To any ‘conservationists’ reading these comments….perhaps you would explain how you can justify calling yourself such, when your conservation efforts always seem to be in favour of one species to the detriment of another, often erroneously and based on prejudice and myth rather than actual fact. If you support the killing of an entire species to try to help another, to my mind you are merely a tinkerer at best, playing God at worst. Do try to see Nature in it’s entirety, otherwise you might want to choose another descriptive. !
ASHAMED TO BE A PART OF THIS NONE HUMANE WORLD!!!!
Why can’t humans leave wildlife ALONE , the natural world works so well, let the creatures be free to live a natural life.
What’s going on here, first we have Police Scotland in the area acting like the Keystone Cops, now we have SNH issuing licences for the most spurious reasons and rewarding the criminals with the legal means of massacre. Of course both these bodies are answerable to the Scottish Government. I’m sick of their hollow promises.
Scottish National Heritage ………. Conservation of birds by killing birds to aid others kill more birds.
Is there any way of stopping this?
SNH is not neutral, this has been shown over recent years and their engagement with these groups on a formal and informal basis has been shown here before. But then again, this is how these things work, lobbying and behind closed doors agreements between old pals.
And organisations like GWCT know the language to use to promote their pseudo-conservation credentials. They are nothing ,ore than a pro shooting lobby group.
SNH is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped
They are part of the echo system. A natural part. Leave them alone.
Why is this awful thing being allowed to happen. Ravens are amazing birds, highly intelligent and rather than killing them they should be studied and we should be learning about them. The human race had always got the idea that we can destroy other species to suit our own ends and the earth is being destroyed because of it.
Its called greed and ignorance Julie…these folk are not interested in wildlife at all just profits and so called fun shooting at the expense of Natural wildlife….Bill
Judging by the response when I shared this to a big Osprey group on fb, SNH could be in for a bumpy ride
Unbelievable ignorance shown by SNH.
Nature is the best controller, leave her alone and she will do her job perfectly. Nature does not need any interference from man. All man seems to be able to do is KILL, you disgust me and this is not a good example to set for our future generations.
Very big backward step for protecting our birdlife, very sad situation, what an absolute mess, theres some on facebook who appear to be just about popping champagne corks over this, its just kill kill kill, theres no need for it with Ravens, they are special. Man is the most destructive creature on the planet, everythings going to rat shit. Too little too late, come on step up.
What an idiotic thing to do. The unknown repercussions of doing this could unbalance the wildlife in the area. The re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone have caused huge unforeseen improvements to the wildlife and habitat. Wolves were wiped out without mercy. People should stop ‘managing’ wildlife and let nature do her own thing. Only people unbalance nature with their persistent interference.
Nature has always managed these matters very well on it’s own, man’s interference can only lead to extinction, something we’ve sadly seen too much of in the past. Surely with all the education freely available on any media forum nowadays, this type of interference should itself be extinct.
IS THERE A PETITION TO TRY AND STOP THIS??
Experimental culls on these intelligent birds are unacceptable, there is a whole lot of trouble heading to SNH. Tullos Hill deer cull left major devastation to the herd, grey squirrels culling never prevented the spread of disease nor has it made the advances that that they claimed. Truth is they just love to play GOD! and its time someone put a size 9 up there ‘proverbial’ bottom and took them down a peg or two!
It is obvious this is nothing to do with wader numbers and everything to do with allowing gamekeepers to kill yet another bird with a curved bill.Ravens get blamed for killing lambs and yet what farmers are often observing is a Raven feeding on afterbirth and dead or dying lambs so they are villified unnecessarily.
What the hell is going on with S.N.H,do they not realise this will be a P.R disaster?
Recall Raeshaw/Corsehope claim they despatched “294 rooks and 706 jackdaws” in little over one month in summer 2016*, this info is normally not available but in this case was required to be reported to SNH under the terms of the individual licence they were awarded when their General licence was removed in response to alleged raptor persecutions crimes. These have no impact on grouse, and very dubious to claim they are agricultural “pests” in that area. Presumably due to their reputation for mass exterminations GWCT then singled them out to be recipients of their auction prize the following summer**.
Did you consider starting a petition, maybe including well known figures like C Peckham?
There are certain elements of our society that would be better removed. [Ed: rest of comment deleted]
Time to round up those who have no respect for the natural world….. Lock them up in a purpose built ‘world’ where the experiment is to see how THEY cope with surviving with all Mother Nature’s creatures destroyed….
Given that we hear so much about how managed grouse moors are havens for waders why is this study going ahead? Surely the waders are sufficiently protected already.
Disgusted…an absolute surrender to ignorance and prejudice..as far as Im concerned this is the last nail in the coffin of SNH. Totally unfit for purpose.
Horrible! No words.
Shocking and disgusting decision. Forbids are highly intelligent indigenous wildlife and derserve appreciation and conservation not being shot on a whim. Disgusting.
‘Forbids’ if I may say so is a very very apt Freudian slip. :)
WHAT how dare these lovers of death even consider this? ARE THERE no people in Scotland who will stand up to these killers of our natural world , of our highly intelligent and wonderful corvids? NO NO NO/ THIS JUST CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. WHAT DO THEY, IN THEIR STUPID LITTLE MINDS EXPECT TO FIND OUT. For GODS sake , Scottish people , get up off backsides and stand up to these people and tell them this is CROSSING THE RED LINE. These wonderful birds are part of all our lives. they make our boring , often tragic lives, bearable when we look . They give us joy and make us think to carry one. If we cannot stop this then we are just a bunch of sad old gits.
A travesty! A decision such as this is absolutely nonsensical.
INSANITY! Killing off one bird species in mass numbers in order to help other populations of a different bird species to have a better chance of increasing their population so that they can then be hunted by humans for sport? What a world we live in. This sickens me.
Utterly disgraceful. Totally unscientific. Stop this now!
What right do you have to cull thousands of sentient birds just to see what would happen ??? Did you drop your brains in the bin ???
They are an essential part of the eco system and if you feel their numbers are high ask yourself what predators you have culled ??? The only problem with the planet is stupid human beings thinking they can do what they want – nature will always prevail
I am so disgusted with you
Disgusted…cull everything eh that happens 2 b near grouse estates…all about money eh..
So sad. Amazing creatures. We are the ones messing up nature. A scandal.
I think we have been seriously misled by shooting interests. Especially from the 1970s onwards, the shooting industry portrayed itself as now enlightened and that it no longer had the attitude of the old shooting industry which wiped out species, especially predators and reduced them to tiny remnant populations. The shooting organizations changed their names to add a “conservation” or “wildlife” into their title. So WAGBI became the BASC, and the Game Conservancy Trust, became the Game, Wildlife and Conservation Trust. This was part of a PR blitz to present themselves as enlightened conservationists. Something which unfortunately too many actual conservationists fell for and took at face value. Particularly they made false claims that they no longer saw raptors, Ravens etc, as a problem which needed to be controlled by their persecution.
However, in the 1970s onwards, when shooting interests engaged in this PR blitz many raptors were at a low ebb because of a combination of past persecution, especially by shooting interests and the effects of pesticides like DDT. Common Buzzards, and of course Ravens tended to be confined to remote upland areas that were not managed for shooting, even though naturally they they are perhaps more adapted to lowland areas i.e. their distribution had been shaped by shooting industry persecution. Red Kites had been confined to a tiny area of mid-Wales.
Unfortunately, now these species have started to recover, we see the self-styled conservation mask of the shooting industry slipping, and we see underneath the same old Victorian shooting industry face, which wiped out vertebrate predators across so much of Britain. It was easy for the shooting industry to pretend that they no longer viewed raptors, Ravens etc, as a problem, when they were confined to remote places with no managed shoots, and Peregrines, etc, were much rarer. Now that these species have recovered and started to attempt to recolonise areas where managed shoots exist, we see that the shooting industry does indeed see them as a problem, and wants to use old fashioned Victorian methods to get rid of them. The whole conservation label, was a sham, and utterly disingenuous.
Above all else conservationists must understand just how disingenuous shooting interests are. They know that potentially the public will disapprove of what they do, so they carefully craft their public presentations into what they think is socially acceptable. They deny killing raptors despite the massive evidence, and rationalize killing Ravens etc. on the disingenuous pretext that they are trying to protect waders. Think also how Lesser Black-backed Gulls were massively culled in the Forest of Bowland under the disingenuous pretext that it was protecting water supplies. You see I’ve known shooters over a long period of time, and I know how they speak amongst themselves. They are scathing about non-shooters and especially conservationists who they dismiss in a derisory way as “bunny-huggers”. Sure they don’t say it to their faces, but this is what they sneeringly refer to them as behind their backs.
Given how self-evidently disingenuous, and often just blatantly dishonest shooting interests are, conservationists need to take everything they claim with a huge dose of salt. Because conservationists took what shooters said at face value i.e. that they were now conservationists, many shooters seem to think conservationists are stupid and gullible, because they were lying to conservationists, and they took what they said at face value.
Thanks for your excellent contribution. The mask of conservation indeed.
Clearly this is a test of political will and intent. If Mike Cantlay’s head does not roll for the profound embarassment this is going to cause the government and the country at large then I am sure that the shooting interests can safely conclude that there is nothing to be feared from all the noise and outrage over raptor persecution.
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s Office can be contacted at the following address: Nicola.Sturgeon.email@example.com
There is a direct email to the first minister at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Haven’t you got anything better to do than go round killing things !
These are beautiful intelligent birds and have just as much right to life as you do ,your supposed to live with nature not against it .
Greed and a complete disrespect for wildlife shows your ignorance
Just got home from Raven nest monitoring and found this. It stinks to high heaven. Surely SNH don’t believe they can get away with this unscientific, random, rubbish. If there’s a legal challenge you can count me in for £100 – for starters
Me too – and I’m English, in England.
That’s the best news in a long time culling the ravens they cause havoc during lambing time picking the eyes out of lambs as they are being born and the tongues then they can’t suck milk the cull can’t come quick enough great work snh
In which case you will presumably have evidence to hand – anything peer reviewed? If you are talking only anecdotal I am more inclined to believe Jack Snipe’s “evidence resulting from close observational studies of Ravens interacting with lambing ewes” covered in this previous thread:
Also more inclined to believe Iain Gibson’s experience on same which can be found on the facebook page “Calling for Raven control”…
friend who farms in Perthshire very quick to respond she finds ravens are a benefit to farmers far more than a threat.
I believer the appropriate phrase here is “evidence or shut the f*** up!”
During my years of researching interactions between Ravens and lambing ewes, I closely observed (by telescope) over 600 lambs being born in open fields attended by Ravens (and Carrion Crows and Foxes). Not once did I observe any Raven attack a healthy lamb, and certainly not even attempting to peck their tongues out. That only happens when a lamb is stillborn or has died of other causes, usually weather related. I have also looked at dozens of videos on the internet allegedly showing Ravens attacking fully grown sheep or lambs, and they are all unconvincing. Just like the presenter on a recent BBC Landward item saying to a shepherd, upon watching a Raven casually walking past a ewe with its lamb, “that was a terrifying sight to see.”
Some evidence would be good ………. times ….. dates …… location (s) ……. photographs ……. numbers affected ……. action(s) taken ……. ?
Yes, please provide some evidence for your claim, Kenny.
I find it strange, that in this age of mobile phone technology, and widespread digital camera usage, that no evidence has been forthcoming that would prove all of this ‘havoc’ raven are supposed to be causing.
So, any chance you would be prepared to provide some independent evidence?
Kenny, you must have evidence of this to make such a statement otherwise nobody will believe you. I certainly don’t.
I have lots of evidence of this we are busy lambing just now and we get a lamb pecked by ravens most days had a lamb get its tongue pecked out yesterday and today while a ewe was lambing the ravens pecked her eyes out the full can’t come quickly enough
You do realise that those are just words, and don’t count as evidence?
If you have any footage of Ravens carrying out attacks on lambs and ewes, please alert us as to where we can find it, and we can judge for ourselves.
I’ve scrutinised at least 100 photographs and videos claiming to show Ravens ‘attacking’ lambs and adult sheep, and not one of them showed any such thing. Some farmers and gamekeepers appear to suffer from vivid imagination.
What a load of b******ks!
Please do not cull these intelligence creatures. It would be a crime.
What is wrong with you people.
The attitude in Scotland ( & parts of England) seems to be if it moves, & encroaches on the correlation between how many birds you can shoot & Penis size, then cull it, name it, trap it or illegally kill it..
For god’s sake guys, it’s 2018, not 1818. Get a grip!
Ravens today and god knows what 2morrow – the bloodlust of these people knows no bounds. Made all the worst as it appears SNH wants to reward the same types whose properties are the scene of ongoing wildlife crime of the most destructive and despicable sort
These beautiful creatures have the intelligence of a 7 yr. old child, they stay with their families , and greive when one dies, the ignorance and offensive cries of those involved in this is Truely astounding😟
Create a petition and make it viral-spread the word and use many voices to make them listen.
Until people have seen first hand the damage that these birds cause in high numbers at lambing time, then I’m not sure they have a right to complain. It is common to see day old lambs with eyes pecked out whilst still being alive. If a lamb is slow to get onto it’s feet after birth, ravens feed on them as if they are already dead. And to deny the damage they do to waders during nesting time is bordering on ignorance.
Yeah, we’re not real cuntrymen.
Do you know just how insulting this is? I’ve actually done lambing in an upland area. We’re not half as ill-informed as you wrongly presume. I’d suggest before accusing others of ignorance, that you attend to the plank in your own eye.
>> And to deny the damage they do to waders during nesting time is bordering on ignorance.
I presume you are familiar with the peer-reviewed publication Rae, R., Weston, E. & Duthie, E. (2011) “Numbers and breeding success of Golden Plover and Dunlin in an area frequented by Ravens”, Scottish Birds 31:98-106 The conclusions of this paper are at odds with your assertion, so can you please enlighten us on evidence to the contrary, i.e. as a peer reviewed publication relevant to Scotland, not anecdotal claims?
Thanks for your knowledgeable responses.
Thanks Gates for the admission that this cull has nothing to do with waders.
lived for a few years in household of a v alert sheep farmer in England who had a national and international prize winning flock of sheep, had farmed sheep for 70 yrs and his breeding rams went as far as Australia and Argentina. He abhorred fox hunting and respected ravens for the intelligent birds they were
and the shepherd/landowner/farmer is …………. where?
and any suggestions as to what is happening where there are wader declines in areas of low raven population?
farmer/ landowner/former chair of county council and magistrate in a Tory heartland
Scottish National Heritage ………. Conservation of birds by killing birds to aid others kill more birds to show how clever they are with guns. Who profits? Wealthy landowners? Plus ca change. God help the ravens.
Where does David Attenborough stand on this he has a lot to say about other countries killing wildlife. Not a peep about this country.
Sir David Attenborough has spoken out against Badger culling, and presented the initial State of Nature report, so you’re mistaken in your belief that he says nothing about conservation etc, in this country.
What are you trying to achieve. One of the smartest birds created. This is disgraceful.
What is wrong with people animals should be left alone not if it moves and has fur or feathers or any kind of hide shoot it or club it to death. This world gets worse by the day.
Culls do not work. This is not management it is a money oriented slaughter of a highly intelligent species of bird that mates for
life. It is wrong on every level. We have no right to decimate another species for any reason let alone monetary gain and profit. It is disgusting and just goes to prove that we are hardly evolved from our ignorant forefathers. Might as well go back to living in caves.
Leave the Scottish wildlife alone
I would encourage making a formal complaint to SNH. This is unnecessary,unjustified and all about preserving grouse through the back door.
Specific licences are handed out in large numbers to kill ravens to preserve livestock without any real research or evidence.
Now a licence to kill ravens for “research”
We are undoubtly heading towards including ravens on the open general licence.
Hang your heads in shame SNH.
I am ashamed to live in a country which has fallen to the level of Japan on this issue. This is our equivalent of the Japanese hunting whales under the pretext of research which everyone including the International Whaling Commission, knows is a sham.
N.B. I am only criticising Japan on this issue, not in a general sense.
Do any senior SNH folk shoot?
This is so wrong on so many levels! Please do not do this! These birds along with other animals are beneficial to life, and were here long before people. I am sickened from this!
What! Leave the ravens to get on with their lives-leave them alone
Absolutely ridiculous. Destruction of a spectacular and charismatic bird which will have little or no impact on wader populations. SNH you have lost the plot
Email sent to the first minister. She can’t say she does not know.
Shame on you.!!!!
Leave the Ravens alone!
‘Culling’ ravens? Really? This is beyond crazy and cruel! This cull, nay murder, has to be stopped before it even starts! This is an utter disgrace !
Disgusting. Stop this NOW. Insanity.
No Wolves, no Eagles, just asshole humans like those organizing this – you terrorize us.
This is sick. STOP this license NOW.
Your definition of conservation is to wipe out large numbers of Ravens, you are the reason for the situation Pathetic.
Good to see such a strong response, a virtual outcry, over this appalling decision by Scottish Natural Heritage. Words almost fail me, having been trying for years to convince SNH that the hearsay reports, about “serious damage” being done to livestock by Ravens, are completely unsupported by scientific evidence.
Has the SNH top ornithological adviser never read “The Raven”, an authoritative work by the late, great Derek Ratcliffe, who must at this moment be turning in his grave? Within that great work he would find a detailed account of the feeding strategies of Ravens in relation to the alleged predation of lambs. I myself carried out similar private research into the behaviour of Ravens in lambing fields, mainly between 2001 and 2007, which involved many hours in total carefully watching and noting the behaviour of Ravens associating with lambing ewes. I observed not a single shred of evidence that the Ravens were harming healthy lambs, and they tended to wait patiently until any sickly lambs died before scavenging the corpses. Scavenging dead lambs and ewes was a significant source of food, but the core interest was in “cleaning up” afterbirths shed by the ewes during lambing. Where larger flocks of non-breeding Ravens(up to 113 birds) concentrated, this was interspersed with periods of foraging in adjacent rough grassland, apparently for field voles.
Being intimately aware of the true nature of the Raven’s interaction with livestock, I find myself utterly appalled, horrified and almost in disbelief that SNH can so casually permit the pointless slaughter of any Ravens, and to licence the so-called experimental cull in Perthshire is astonishingly incompetent. I am well aware of the internal politics within SNH which has led to this and other highly questionable decisions. I know that most of the poor quality and shockingly uninformed advice comes from one individual advisory officer specialising in ornithology, but unfortunately for obvious reasons am unable to whistleblow the identity of that officer.
Thank you very much for this informed and intelligent comment.
thank you Iain for giving us benefit of your expert knowledge on this topic, and a little insight into how this terrible, appalling, utterly shameful and Dark Ages decision by SNH may have happenned
Welcome back! Thanks for your wonderfully researched responses.
THIS IS THE PLANET OF LIFE.
EACH LIVING BEING HAS THE BIRTHRIGHT TO A NATURALLY LIVED EXISTENCE. IT IS THE DUTY OF EACH LIFE TO PROTECT ALL OTHER LIFE.
THE HUMAN SPECIES IS THE ONLY SPECIES EVER TO KILL AT WHIM, TO POISON AND CAUSE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EARTH, COMING NIGH UPON THE DEATH OF THE ONLY PLANET OF LIFE.
RAVENS ARE NOT TO BLAME.
HUMANS ARE THE CULPRITS.
The licence is for 300 over 5 years. In “keeper think” this means open season all the time. They will kill as many as they physically can as quickly as they can. There will be no monitoring of the cull. Keepers will be trusted to report how many they shoot each year when they submit a licence return. They will report that they shot either 99 or 100 Ravens each year. Each year they will shoot as many as possible and as long as they are never caught by the police with 101 dead ravens in the back of their quad they will get away with…. well…murder.
This “community group” needs to benefit from a few mass visits… around the twelfth of August.
This “community group” needs to come under scrutiny…. membership, constitution etc SNH surely looked at these things when considering the group licence application….so an FOI should be possible.
Senseless, evil and a stupidity that beggars belief. Have we learned nothing from our disastrous attempts to control nature? These beautiful beings must be protected from the big money land owning hunting fraternity.
To the SNH.
Please reconsider the above cull. At the very least while more consultation is carried out. Take to those whi know like tge RSPB etc and other scientific and environment bodies.
It seems that this is just pandering to the wealthy few (as seems the norm in todays world) while the masses are ignored and i think here more importantly the environmental impact.
Never rush in to making a decision that could have an impact for many years to come.
That’s just rubbish… I don’t even live there and I find that such a travesty… Shame…
the usual excuses. lambs is one. Any decent farmer breeding lambs should protect them. same argument comes from fox hunters. I’ve watched foxes trot up calmly through ewes with lambs. The ewes show not one iota of concern. fox might well take a dead lamb so when the farmers find carcas near earth they think the fox took it. In any case, its now becoming obvious that meat eating needs to be stopped.. 70% apparently, of our land , is used to grow crops to feed farm animals.the culprits are the landowners and their horrible game keepers. Plus they receive grants- this must be stopped.
I totally agree with you…I too have seen a Fox wander through a flock of sheep, with young. All parties seemed unconcerned……none of the so-called ‘blood lust’ lazy shepherds would have you believe. On the other hand I have had to contact the aforementioned on numerous occasions because sheep were left with no water supply in hot exposed places and because sick Ewe had been left dying and unattended for almost 48 hours and on other occasions. All his animals seemed to have sore feet….The man changed his number in the end so as to be uncontactable. He stopped the public from walking on legitimate footpaths and shot everything that moved. So much cruelty, and why I became vegan many years ago. !
What the hell did I just read. The human race deciding that a life of a wader is better than a life of a raven. This must be a sick joke. How can killing innocent creatures even come up in a scientific experiment? They are highly intelligent, akin to small children. Would you get away with that? Maybe you should propose culling domestic cats as they kill a lot of birds? You wouldn’t because of the outrage, yet its OK because it’s a bird. Just to see if it makes an effect. This is abhorrent.
to ‘conserve’ is to protect. The wader population is in decline and many bodies, including RSPB, have agreed that predation is a significant factor. This is not a proposed wipe out of the Raven population. Bells on cats and no bird table.
The RSPB suggests that predation could be a factor in localised populations, but there are also many other issues that are contributing to the declines – habitat loss, unfavourable habitats, weather, etc.
Here’s a wee piece about another survey, showing that predation takes many forms, some of which the shooting lobby and farming industry don’t seem too concerned about. The study also xxxxxxx xxxxxxx [some] gamekeepers are a truly dishonest bunch, and will resort to lies and misinformation xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx, but that won’t come as a shock to many.
Of the 34 nests that were able to be monitored throughout, the total failures amounted to 13 nests. Of those, one was abandoned, one failed due to corvid predation, one was predated by a pet dog, one was predated by an unidentified mammal, two each to Badger and Hedgehog predation, but by far the greatest culprit was the lowly sheep, which accounted for two nest trampling incidents, and three to actual predation!
So there we have it. Pet dogs are as much an issue to upland wader survival as corvids are, raptors are not an issue whatsoever, but by far the greatest threat to wader populations comes from sheep!
Full report here https://www.bto.org/research-data-services/publications/research-reports/2017/monitoring-breeding-waders-wensleydale
THOU SHALL NOT KILL!!!
Easy to see the way things are heading;
Special Constables brought in to investigate vanishing eagles.
Gamekeepers being used by Police for wildlife crimes.
No additional powers for SSPCA.
Licence to cull ravens in areas associated with wildlife crime.
Police discussing how to exclude RSPB in leaked emails.
The public have little or no trust on the establishment.
Scotland kills it’s most precious wildlife!
Please don’t do this!! Ravens are also a part of the ecosystem.
As are Carrion Crows, Hooded Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws, Magpies and Jays, all ruthlessly persecuted by gamekeepers and some farmers. Unfortunately all these species can be shot and killed under the terms of the Open General Licence, which demonstrates the antiquity of our wildlife protection legislation.
Have we missed the fact that Curlew for example are Red listed. I don’t believe the Raven is. Surely the data provided regarding the Raven population in that area has made it a credible application to effect a reduction in order to benefit breeding success of wader species. What are the alternative methods to apply for the improvement in numbers of these vulnerable species?
Correlation is not the same as causation (decline of curlews versus presence of ravens). Much more evidence is needed. As for the licence, I would be surprised if gamekeepers are not already killing ravens, so it might not make much difference.
I await some alternative proposals for the improvement of breeding success. It’s all very well decrying this proposal but it is widely noted that predation of chicks is an issue. Scottish Government fund predator control measures through AECS, within 1500m of a lek, site designated for breeding waders or site known to be of considerable importance for breeding waders. So, what are your alternative proposals for the improvement of breeding success. Where is the data to dismiss this as definitely nothing to do with predation. Surely time is of the essence for these species if good populations with ideal habitat can achieve
breeding success then there will be surplus population to spread.
If humans step back and stop interfering eventually the natural world would find it’s natural balance again. so much interference over such a long time has caused these survival issues for some species. It isn’t up to humans to decide which species should live and which should not.
Unfortunately the boom and bust would wipe some iconic species out.
‘What are the alternative methods to apply for the improvement in numbers of these vulnerable species?’
Increase wetland habitats, less drainage, less monoculture, more habitat mosaics, less muirburn, more rewilding more nature reserves for starters.
Ok, large scale wetland tends to have dense rush dominance which ends up having too much cover and detracts from nesting habitat for certain species. Habitat mosaics I agree and numerous farms and estates are managing habitats with grazing regimes appropriate for maximising nesting success. So I believe the habitat is largely there. Define rewilding please and tell me which nature reserve has an outstanding number of waders and doesn’t do any predator control. I am overwhelmed by the number of people who think that by doing nothing everything will just be ok. Time is short, numbers of some wader species are critically low, areas managed for upland farming and as sporting estates have appropriate habitat and have good numbers of breeding waders but chick survival must be optimised so that there is a sufficient population increase to spread out with those areas. I welcome any sensible alternative theories which do not include Walt Disney!
Hard for anyone to judge in the case of this licence when we have seen no real information on the proposal or on wader trends around Loch Freuchie. And this is not just about science. A proposal of this kind generated by an industry which has no integrity and no credibility is always going to be suspect and is, quite rightly, never going to get the benefit of the doubt. They have nothing to contribute to conservation.
I beg to differ on your comment re their ability to contribute to conservation, having just done wader counts on local estates. Think this is being a little blinkered through a dislike of the gamekeeping community. Are GWCT also untrustworthy and unscientific? There has been a lot of data gathering for this application and I would suggest that the land managers are upping their game by taking a professional and practical approach. Still waiting for a sensible non Disney answer beyond the lets just rewild it all and have some blocked drains for wetland. Please give your practical suggestions for increasing breeding wader success without predator control. I keenly await….
A little naivety surely in asking question ‘are GWCT not to be trusted’ ? I would think a resounding answer on this site and from general public on that one
I get that general feeling Carol. However, I am still waiting for a non Disney ‘everything needs to live’ answer from someone that explains a better plan for increasing the breeding success of red listed wader species and please don’t give me a link to a paper, I want a practical, on the ground, what are you going to do now right now to resolve the issue of declining numbers where breeding success is not at a sufficient level to permit the spread of population. I don’t think the suggestion is to kill all the Ravens but if they are reduced in that area to a level that allows an excellent breeding season, let’s also hope the weather i in their favour, then is that not a practical solution?
JennyMcCallum, we’re all entitled to our opinions, but I see rather a lot of irony in your criticism of comments which you describe insultingly as Disney-esque. In fact it is yourself who is showing a considerable degree of naivety, with apparently little insight to the biology and feeding behaviour of Ravens. I suggest you read up the published scientific research, as well as the late Derek Ratcliffe’s book “The Raven” (published 1997). Your apparent belief in the credibility of the Game & Wildlife Conservation [sic] Trust explains your misunderstanding of the known impact on breeding wader populations by Ravens. That organisation’s answer to just about everything is to ruthlessly control natural predators, verging on an obsession. In response to your received wisdom on Ravens and their effect on breeding waders, I’d like to ask how would you explain the fact that breeding waders are declining at least as much (possibly more so) in areas where Ravens are not present? The Raven is not ubiquitous throughout the UK, and the location of wandering flocks of immature non-breeding Ravens is influenced by a separate factor, unrelated to the presence of high densities of breeding waders, or even sheep farms alone. Does your wisdom extend to identifying this factor for us? I suspect not.
Yes Iain I was getting a bit frustrated by the run of comments where ‘everything will be fine just leave them to it’ was the theme. I think that certain wader species may not survive that. I agree that no two areas will be the same and there are numerous factors affecting the breeding success of waders with availability of habitat and weather conditions high up there. But, where management of habitat is in hand and grazing regimes adapted to lower stocking rates or exclude stock to reduce nest trampling, includes grazing management to prevent their degradation through under grazing and increases feeding areas and Ravens are noted as being a significant cause of predation what is wrong with providing the data, having it considered and then getting a licence to manage that population of Ravens over an area with a collaborative approach? Surely if that is a significant factor for that particular area then why not address it?
Sorry Jenny but you’re wrong, Ravens are NOT a significant cause of breeding wader failure. I suspect you got that particular “fact” from the GWCT! Too many country people still believe the outdated folklore about Ravens – are you a member of the Countryside Alliance by any chance?
No I am not a member of the Countryside Alliance as it happens. I am not saying that the demise of the wader falls at the beak of the Raven, what I have actually said is that there are numerous factor affecting breeding success. In certain areas where there may be for instance a large transient group of juveniles, there could be a predation pressure. Habitat may well already be optimised and no one can change the weather. Is it therefore just a case of sit and wait to see whether they make it through or is it acceptable, where there is a recognised pressure to try an alleviate that to some degree.
It is difficult to conclude that your justification for an experimental cull is founded upon either science or common sense. The problem is your very superficial and limited knowledge of Raven ecology. Perhaps you are trying too hard to convince us otherwise, or do you really believe yourself? I don’t mean to be insulting or derogatory, but you should listen to the real experts, not the pretend experts embroiled in the shooting business. I can accept that you didn’t create the reputation afforded to Ravens, which is a result of historical ignorance, and a touch of outdated superstition which has somehow persisted into the 21st century. As for your rationale concerning the problems affecting waders, you seem to have a fixation that weather is partly to blame, with Ravens up there somewhere too. Why pick on Ravens? Or is it simply another species in addition to raptors, crows, foxes and mustelids to eliminate or reduce to vulnerable population levels? I would argue that Ravens are natural scavengers and predators which in no way harm the ecosystem or its associated prey species. This isn’t a biased personal opinion, it is the result of carrying out years of intensive rational observation and research on my own part, and perhaps more importantly the lack of any scientific evidence that can justify exercising any control over the species. Let’s be honest, the driving factor is the hunters’ obsession with attempting to wipe out any predator they see as competition with their antiquated and sordid sport. Ravens aren’t evil, some people are.
Oh well, let me bow to your superior knowledge and will just have to agree to differ on this one.
I am sure that most of the breeding wader damage is down the destruction of habitat. The draining of bogs that reduces food sources and burning heather that reduces cover.
Dougoutcanoe, not all waders species are seeking cover, in fact some habitat degradation can come from lack of grazing and encroachment of rush which puts them clean off. Many wetland habitats in old agri environment schemes were left with stock exclusion and were ruined as a result. An open mosaic of cover is better.
Using words like Disney is not an argument. Please cite which peer reviewed academic research you are using to ignore this study. If you can’t please stop concern trolling
Waders existed along with predators for millions of years so predators aren’t the problem, we and our management and control of the environment are. Your solution is always more control and management i.e. killing, which results in the eradication of predators from grouse moors. My solution is to try to get the environment back to where it was before we fucked it up. It is obviously possible as there are millions of years to prove it. This isn’t fantasy it is a fact.
There may be a case for predator control as a last resort for endangered species in small areas. The wader status in the uplands of Scotland are not that. If predator control was needed as a temporary and part measure to save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper then who could object but the species will not be saved by predator control alone. It needs habitat protection and the cessation of hunting and trapping. If predator control is needed indefinitely then the species is already lost.
Your solution is the equivalent of exterminating foxes, and raptors in the tundra so hunters can keep killing Spoon-billed Sandpipers on their stop-over and wintering grounds. Obviously you don’t agree with that but perhaps you can see the long term solution is about habitat not predators.
You refer to the hundreds of comments as fantasists but can you not see that you are, to most people, playing god. That you (or rather your methods) are the problem not the solution? I guess not.
Here is a screenshot of the RSPB report (1994–2014) of raptor crimes in the area whose gamekeepers you see fit to trust.
If that doesn’t work here is the direct link https://i.imgur.com/Idrwudw.png
If you would like to see how low GWCT has fallen in the eyes of a conservationist i suggest reading Mark Avery’s blog and search for GWCT.
Well said, anandprasad!
I don’t think that extermination of all predators is the proposed outcome. Habitat management is currently widespread in my local upland area and we do have control of foxes and crows, which has never led to their extermination over generations.
If 300 Ravens is not extermination, i don’t know what is.
300 is a bare minimum unless you live in a fantasy world where the gamekeepers in this raptor black hole can be trusted.
Why are you avoiding the evidence of raptor persecution in this area?
The RSPB are advocating a general Licence Restriction here.
There are surely grounds for a subsidy withdrawal.
Has anyone been prosecuted? If someone was prosecuted then there would indeed be cross compliance implications. If it is the fact that birds of prey have gone missing but there is no evidence then wildlife crime is not proven. I have no doubt that you would like the blame to lie at the feet of the keepering and farming community but if the evidence is insufficient to convict then I am not prepared to assume that this is the case.
Ah JennyMcCallum, so you doubt the SNH report on satellite tagged Golden Eagles and raptor experts in the area. Thanks for finally nailing your colours to the mast. Now who is living in Fantasia.
A selection of recent crimes in this immediate area:
4 highly suspicious satellite tagged Golden Eagles ‘disappeared’ in SNH and RSPB reports
highly suspicious radio-tagged White-tailed Eagle ‘disappeared’ in January 2012
satellite-tagged White-tailed Eagle similarly disappeared in Glen Quaich this month
An illegal clam trap was found in November 2012
Buzzard was spring-trapped in January 2012.
suspicious satellite-tagged Red Kite ‘disappeared’ in 2010
Red Kite was found poisoned in January 2015.
Raven was poisoned in 2017.
In addition, licensed raptor study group members have noted a number of cases of suspicious failure of nesting attempts by Hen Harrier, Red Kite and Buzzard across the area. They have also recorded a higher than usual turnover of red kites and a loss of breeding pairs at nearby sites. All of which indicates on-going illegal persecution.
Did you look at the map i gave a link to of confirmed raptor persecution incidents in Scotland, 1994–2014?
These are CONFIRMED crimes not just suspected.
Did you read the paper on raven and wader population dynamics?
As you haven’t responded to the paper here is a quick read.
Apologies I haven’t really got time to read your links right now, were there convictions? I don’t know this area.
There are virtually never any convictions so i doubt it. What is your point? There are hundreds of raptor crimes logged by the police in Scotland but very rarely a conviction. There has never ever been a Golden Eagle killer conviction but hundreds of eagles have been killed. This is a fact accepted by the Scottish Government. I could give you the science but you don’t have time to read it. Hen Harriers are killed on a massive scale, hundreds per year but the total number of convictions ever, can be counted on one hand. Again i can give you the scientific paper but you don’t have time.
Not sure you realise but driven grouse licensing is extremely likely to be implemented in Scotland in the very near future, hopefully within a couple of years.
If the driven grouse licensing had already been in place these estates would be at a risk of having their licence revoked for the continual raptor crime and suspected raptor crime in the area. After the change in the law i can’t imagine they would be eligible for this mass raven cull. The burden of proof for the removal of a licence is going to be much lower than for a criminal conviction. So your support of this mass cull is outdated and will most likely be redundant very soon. This is the situation in the real world not the gamekeepers Fantasialand.
This is my last reply because there is no point in discussion with someone who is admitting not even reading at least the summary of the linked paper or the newspaper article on Raven and waders.
Briefly, as I seem to have already irritated you with my lack of time to read you stuff, a suspected crime, unproven is not a crime. A crime must be proven for there to be a consequence. That appears to be how our legal system works across the board. I disagree with you on licencing and think the industry is quite regulated already. Licensing as you describe is open to people hell bent on the removal of same industry by devious means.We’ll leave it there and agree to differ.
Can you not read or is this a bad case of wilful blindness? If so RPUK is the cure.
I listed above these crimes in this area. Real crimes not suspected crimes!
An illegal clam trap was found in November 2012
Buzzard was spring-trapped in January 2012.
Red Kite was found poisoned in January 2015.
Raven was poisoned in 2017
The map above shows location of real crimes not suspected crimes.
Licensing is coming whether you like it or not.
[Ed: You’re probably wasting your time trying to get Jenny to acknowledge the extent of wildlife crime on driven grouse moors, Prasad. Here’s what Jenny does: https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news-feature/1391629/reality-of-rural-life/ ]
“Briefly, as I seem to have already irritated you with my lack of time to read you stuff, a suspected crime, unproven is not a crime. A crime must be proven for there to be a consequence.”
Really? Perhaps that’s what the shooting industry teaches its followers, and perhaps this belief is practiced by those representing that industry, but I have an inkling that you are wrong.
Let’s test that theory, shall we?
This was recently shared on the Scottish Gamekeepers Association Facebook page, from an original post by the Grampian Moorland Group on their own Facebook page, using #vandals and #ruralcrime;
“A hiker was witnessed running around the hill vandalising traps. Unfortunately the keeper couldn’t get a good picture of the individual as he made off across the heather when he saw his quad bike. We would like to remind people that such damage to legal property is a criminal offence!
This individual and incident had been reported to the police and wildlife crime unit.”
What is your opinion on this piece, Jenny?
The event wasn’t proven, so was a crime committed? Or has the Grampian Moorland Group misinterpreted the actual situation, lied about it, and wasted police time, with the SGA equally as guilty for propagating the lie?
I’ve had this discussion with you before, Jenny, and my answer will be the same as before – captive breeding programmes.
It’s a simple solution, used in various parts of the world, in order to boost vulnerable populations.
Why has the shooting industry, and its supporters, repeatedly failed to consider this approach? Why? Because they have a kill, kill, kill approach to everything, and cannot change from this attitude.
Surely, if the shooting industry, and the farming industry for that matter, were so concerned about wader populations, they would offer some financial support for the establishment of captive breeding facilities? And think about those valuable job creation opportunities for rural areas!
It would be a win-win situation for all, so I am a tad confused as to why this approach is never considered by the industry.
You are, here and elsewhere, getting ahead of yourself. The cull is not proposed as a wader conservation measure; it is, officially, a research proposal. You seem to have decided the outcome in advance. You are also employing the kind of diversionary straw man arguments popular with the grouse lobby. The opposition to the licence is not about rewilding or generalised opposition to predator control in wader conservation, the latter having been employed already by such as the RSPB. You ignore the context of the licence which is the criminal nature of the industry involved and the fact that the proposal fits with its prejudices and its diversionary wader PR, all of which justifies scepticism, at the very least. You ask for practical suggestions for increasing wader breeding success without predator control as if anyone considered it an ‘either/or’ question and as if there had been consultation which would have provided the information specific to the proposal allowing any judgement to be made.
I think that may be the point of our difference in opinion. I don’t see this as a pandering to an unlawful group of people. I see this as, yes perhaps a trial or experiment to see whether this will increase breeding wader success. It’s all very well hypothesising but perhaps it is worth trying this out in this area where the circumstances here have pointed to the Raven population having an impact. Its a practical action taken. As with a lot of trials in land management there are numerous factors involved and pin pointing what creates a successful outcome may be difficult to pin point in real terms. It will be interesting to see if there is a trend attributed to the Raven control but am under no illusion that it will be clear cut when considering other factors such as weather ply an even bigger part.
If a trial .. or experiment – whichever you choose …….. what controls are the results to be compared with …… and how ……. An unscientific exercise to be paid for by whom …….. ?
The shooting industry offers no benefits to wildlife.
Managed moors are deserts for many species, especially when gamekeepers (who may be following orders) eradicate predators legally or not, burn heather, drain bogs, remove shrubs, add medication and have marauding crowds shouting, whistling and waving flags just to chase birds to their destruction by a few folk, too idle to get off their backsides and hunt the game. I suppose in their sick way they have, “A jolly good time boasting about the many brace they downed.”
Prehistoric man hunted like this but they had a need.
Then most of the corpses are buried, burned or put into stink pits laced with snares to catch yet more unwary animals including domestic. Some even illegally fly tipped on roadsides. The corpses are unfit for human consumption because of the lead they are laced with. It doesn’t take much to poison a human but perhaps that may explain why these people continue with this archaic practice.
Lead ingestion impairs brain function! Which could account for a lot of strange behaviour on and around the shooting industry.
Add to that the many tonnes of lead scattered over the acid peat where it decomposes into poisonous soluble compounds to pollute our water ways. Every cartridge discharged put another 30 grammes or so in the environment, it soon mounts up!
Now ravens are officially on the hit list with no scientific evidence to support the cull.
Does the shooting industry have any intact brains left?
Predation is natural. Before we ever adopt a knee-jerk reaction and act like the game industry killing off “evil” predators, we need to thoroughly investigate why breeding wader species like Curlew, Redshank and Lapwings are vanishing across our countryside. This phenomenon is occurring in many areas whether Ravens are present or not. In my part of the UK, west central and southwest Scotland, Curlews which used to breed productively have all but vanished from the hayfields, simply because the vast majority of farmers have switched from hay to silage production, which involves 2-3 cuts during the bird breeding season. The resulting failure of Curlews to produce broods in the lowlands was followed by a decline on the moors and uplands, suggesting the possibility that upland populations were previously sustained by recruitment from the more productive lowland breeders. As for alternatives to predator control, if we wish to treat conservation of breeding waders seriously, we need to work out how to restore farmland to become more suitable for them. Of course this is easier said than done, and requires bold government decisions to produce a radical and sustainable strategy for the conservation of biodiversity.
Thanks Iain, management options under AECS (Agri Environment Climate Scheme from Scottish Government) compensate for altering grazing patterns for protecting areas used by nesting waders and for managing mown fields in a certsain manner. The problem with the mown option is that stock must be excluded from 1 April which isn’t useful if you need it as a lambing park. The grazed option also need to have an enhancement such as cutting patches out of rushes or creation of wader scrapes. We certainly have a significant area here now managed as habitat for waders and also for Black Grouse and we have an excellent returning population of the former. It’s now about increasing their success. The weather obviously cannot be controlled but their survival from predation can to a certain extent. Reducing the crow population and foxes is an obvious start. Raven issues would depend on how many move in to the area in Spring. A collaborative approach to this is sensible as the mobs of juveniles in this area will move around the whole Strath. It seems that the disquiet on this page is largely due to the rift with game keepers and the perception that they can have no other purpose than protecting their grouse chicks. Will pop my head above the parapet for a second and ask, if there was no grouse shooting and therefore no game keepers employed, who would pay for the management of the habitats and current predator control that occurs as a result and benefits other ground nesting species? The management of species in any way obviously doesn’t sit well with some members of this group but if the Curlew as a prime example is in decline what should be done to rescue it from the brink if habitat management is already being employed?
Pointing the finger at predators is lazy thinking.
Where i live land mammal predators are virtually non existent (except one which was introduced by man) but according to anecdotal evidence the Curlew is in decline as is the introduced Mountain Hare. It is always the raptors which are blamed. In the kill all solution, logically they must be killed. That is the predator control solution taken to its logical conclusion. Kill everything and if you can’t change the law so you can.
Farmers and shooting estates don’t seem to ever look at their own land management as being a problem.
I have heard one farmer blame the disappearance of the Corncrake on walkers, ignoring the fact that Iona one of the tourist hot spots in Scotland has both tourists and Corncrakes and ignoring any of their own land management changes. No one seems to ask what did their grandfather’s do which was different? Maybe we are doing something wrong.
The picture for me becomes much cleared when you look at other species, particularly plants. Is the massive decline in plant species, even in areas never sprayed with chemicals, the fault of predators?
I can only speak for the area that I am based in and some further areas that I have compiled agri environment plans for. I agree land management practices particularly agricultural have been to the detriment of habitat, some by over production and some under production. Seasons, weather and mechanisation all contributing. The waders are here in good numbers and if they can have a successful breeding season would be good to think that a boost in the population would allow a spread or higher numbers to move into emerging habitat improvement. We are working on collaborative wader counts and lek counts to monitor annual differences. We are also doing predator counts to run that data alongside. Would have to add that there are golden eagle, white tailed eagle, a very strong population of red kite, hooded and carrion crow, badger, raven , buzzard, fox, hen harrier and merlin. The last three slightly less easy to spot but the former all commonly visible from the roadside with little effort., so certainly not eradicated. There are also easy opportunities to see brown hare on the low ground fields, a black cock by the roadside with his pal, a cock pheasant (for the second year in a row) and mountain hare in abundance. Sikka, red and roe deer also easily found. This is an active upland farming area with numerous sporting estates and is certainly not a wildlife desert.
You shouldn’t have mentioned a cock pheasant! The twitchers will be swarming onto your local patch.
Can’t miss the pair, usually beside the road at 3pm same place most afternoons! second year together, I would suggest hybridisation….had they not both been of the male persuasion lol!!
Anand, not sure where you live, however I believe the Mountain Hare to be native to mainland Scotland, not introduced (only on Orkney and Shetland)
It has been introduced for shooting to some parts of Scotland to some islands and some parts south of the Highlands.
Some of those introduced Mountain Hares were definitely Irish stock..
Thanks Anad for your enlightenment
I should have written ‘hunting’ not ‘shooting’.
“Will pop my head above the parapet for a second and ask, if there was no grouse shooting and therefore no game keepers employed, who would pay for the management of the habitats and current predator control that occurs as a result and benefits other ground nesting species?”
Well, the RSPB, along with a host of other conservation organisations, are somewhat reliant on shop takings, membership, volunteers and other supporters, that enable them to carry out the necessary work to manage and create habitats.
Surely, if the shooting industry, its gamekeepers, the land managers, and all of its supporters had such care for the natural world, they would take a similar approach used by environmental charities?
It would appear, from your statement, that if there was no grouse shooting, the shooting industry, its gamekeepers, the land managers, and its supporters, would allow the habitats to disappear, resulting in a loss of breeding habitat, and perhaps the local extinction if some wader species.
Not much love for waders after all, is there!?
Jenny, The industry that you clearly support is rife with criminals that illegally kill raptors (the ones with curled beaks and talons) as relic of uneducated times. Times that so much of the shooting industry is stuck in. They destroy moorland habitat with burning, draining and native forest clearance. (I’m sure you may have tripped over the ancient stumps left from almost 200 hundred years of felling. If you ever walk the moors without a gun.)
Before man and woman could ever kill so many birds (for fun?), the habitat survived and the creatures that lived there thrived. It didn’t need managing until some idiot came up with the idea of killing hundreds of birds at one sitting and making a lot of money in the process.
Humans have brought about a lot of misery and destruction. The shooting industry and its thugs continue to do so.
I have seen the work of gamekeepers and it is mostly destructive to anything other than the game birds the estate want to shoot.
Reading all the comments it’s obviously townies that don’t have a clue to the country way of life
Habitat, habitat, and more habitat.
Iceland for example has great numbers of ravens and also internationally important numbers of breeding waders (also, arctic foxes and raptors such as merlin and Gyrfalcon – all predation pressures). The difference between here and there is that Iceland has got so much suitable habitat.
Predation control my deliver results in the short-term, but it’s not the sustainable option.
Taking my local patch as an example, the south shore of Lough Neagh, where very little, if any, predator control takes place, and yet there are simply fantastic numbers of breeding lapwing, snipe and redshank. Why? because the habitat is there in suitable quantity.
You’ve stolen my thunder, Jim. Greenland has huge populations of very many types of waders and large populations of ravens, even in the northernmost parts. Ravens, like kites, aren’t raptors, they don’t predate on birds unless those birds are dead.
This is actually discusting, we should leave mother nature alone, such an amazing animal will be killed on a larg scale, fu** you humans.
I was watching 2 ravens the other night, defending themselves against lots of seagulls, all after the same food. It was fascinating. They tag teamed perfectly and seemed to be covering each other. They are highly intelligent creatures, and this cull is extreme and money driven. I would love to know what the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London feels about this. I’m fully against the cull. Let nature be.
Two quotes have been added to the foot of the blog.
One from SNH Head of Wildlife (Robbie Kernahan) & one from RSPB Scotland Head of Species & Land Management (Duncan Orr-Ewing).
Well done RSPB!
RP – thanks again for this expose. The disgraceful depraved conduct of SNH and their gamekeeper / shooting partners seem to know no bounds. It’s despicable and sickening. Unfortunately I fear lots of people will not have read the updates you have here and the contact info you’ve included later. A separate blog might help enlighten people and spur more action. Your work really us outstanding.
On the SNH website they quite clearly contradict the idea that “seeing what happens” is a good enough reason for a cull. There is absolutely no scientific basis for what they’re doing.
“Scottish Natural Heritage can also issue individual, specific licences to control other species – including predatory protected species.
We must be satisfied that:
– a cause and effect link exists between predation and significant declines in the population or distribution of the prey species
– there’s no satisfactory alternative to lethal control”
This is absolutely disgusting and should not be allowed at all. There is absolutely no justification in your actions and I 100% condemn this.
Please do not cull the ravens.
All of nature and all of life is sacred.
As SNH are a Scottish Govt funded body, is there a route to trigger a debate in the Scottish Parliament via an online petition? (as there is in Westminster)
I think that this is a cruel and unnecessary practice. Please don’t!
Yet again driven by the shooting industry. Why destroy our wildlife. They say “a higher level of trust is required” we know this doesn’t work just look at what is happening to the mountain hares.
More senseless murder of beautiful creatures , because of our greed and manipulation of the countryside, no doubt the revolting gun sector are involved here ! Please help nature in a positive way !
This should be stopped !
They have as much right to be on this planet as human beings. The greed of humanity is insatiable we are taking over the habitat of wildlife for profit and polluting the environement making many places depleted of life forms.
We all have to do what we can to speak out about this and we finally need all the wildlife NGOs and those politicians who really do care to finally act. It is no good running scared of the right-wing press and their chums-we need to fight back hard and by involving the public so that they can see the truth of what is happening. The story-telling and false claims need to be exposed for what they are and if the SNP is serious about tackling persecution it has to reverse this decision. This is part of a bigger picture that is allowing vested interests to call all the shots and we need more than ever to fight back for our birds and our wildlife.
Barbaric tactics absolutely disgusting natural selection in nature with out our interventions sad times
utterly disgusting, i cannot believe anyone would want to kill our wildlife do we not have a responsibility to look after this world? i think the culling of humans would be more appropriate there is enough scum in it
What the hell? Surely if ravens are predating waders then when the number of waders declines to a certain point the number of ravens will also decline thus allowing the wider population to recover. It was always thus. It’s our interfering like this which muddies the eater
I am shocked, sickened and disgusted to hear this about SNH. Surely they must be answerable to the Scottish government and the Scottish public. Landowners, with their money worship, are a seriously corrupting influence. I will be sending an e-mail to them, and to my MSP, Roseanna Cunningham.
it would be helpful to see the experimental design and the baseline populations datasets of the various waders and ravens….oh and grouse numbers. Seems likely to me that un-naturally high grouse breeding densities attract generalist predators like ravens into an area where they can then support themselves on grouse chicks, while picking off the waders breeding in lower densities.
This is utterly disgusting!
No wonder people prefer animals over people.
Poor birds. This licence needs to be revoked and people need to wake up and stop these so called ‘experiments’
Whatever happened to protecting our wildlife?
Stop meddling and leave them to live in peace! This makes me so angry and upset.
Am utterly horrified to hear this. Raptors are such intelligent animals. I sincerely hope you will reconsider
Absolutely discusting behaviour from people who are in a position of supposive conservation 😡.
Obviously £££speaks stronger than morality.
Is there any way of making our feelings known? Petition, emails etc
Yes, please email the Chair of SNH, Mike Cantlay and ask him to revoke this licence:
This is sickening and not up to you or anyone to decide what is Nature’s fate this needs to be left alone in these animals need to be free.
Hands off our wildlife!
That shouldn’t be happening :(
This is crazy!!!
Whilst this proposal is quite appalling, I’m actually rather optimistic that it will backfire spectacularly on those involved. It seems to me that the whole project is more about lending spurious credibility to the “conservation” element in “Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust” and the claims that gamekeepers are the “real conservationists” than saving waders; at its heart, it is a highly political move. I’m sure shooting interests are already braying about their success and the cosy relationship with SNH but within their bubble cannot see how it will look to others. Doubtless, those involved will try to smear critics as ‘not caring about waders’ and so on but I am confident that, deftly handled, the public will be quick to see through this transparent nonsense. The historic and continuing antipathy towards Ravens by game shooting interests makes gamekeepers and those involved in the ‘sport’ wholly unsuitable for carrying out any ‘research’. The absence of any consultation with scientists already involved in relevant research and other relevant bodies is telling. The obvious conflict of interest is damning. It also shows an untoward level of influence by the shooting lobby on the SNH which is supposed to protect nature not connive in unscientific culls which so obviously reflect the Victorian attitudes of their new found co-workers. To pretend that the reputation of the area as a “wildlife crime hotspot” is irrelevant is, at best hopelessly naive and at worst …. well, I suspect RPUK will censor what I’d like to say. The (unprecedented?) number of posts here (and elsewhere) on this issue suggests that the proponents of this scheme have badly misjudged public sentiments on the issue. A petition on this cull (https://www.thepetitionsite.com/675/529/264/stop-the-mass-culling-of-300-ravens-in-scotland-now./?taf_id=55188701&cid=fb_na#bbfb=683531451) has already gained over 1,200 supporters before, as far as I am aware, the matter has been widely reported in the media.
Fully agree; a point of interest is the SNH ‘conniving’ here – there are a lot of good scientists working at SNH but clearly on occasion they come under political pressure to engage in initiatives founded on very poor science; a case in point which caused great consternation 10 years ago was the Sparrowhawk translocation trial, which Michael Russell initiated and decided to squander ~£15k of tax payers money on, due presumably to pressure from the racing pigeon community*. Despite solid advice from RSPB scientists that the results were going to be statistically meaningless, and criticism from SNH scientists themselves** (and incidentally, advice from amateurs like me that the Sparrowhawk breeding season is in fact already underway by March-April, when they planned to be removing adults [extract from plan: “and it is intended that the research phase will commence at the >>>beginning of March and run into the middle of April<<< 2008. This will ensure that the trials do not interfere with the breeding season for sparrowhawks, and that we are ready to meet the report deadline of May 2008 set by the Minister."]) they still proceeded, due to politics, and the results came back exactly as it was predicted before the trial started: "Due to the small sample of lofts from which observations were returned, there was low statistical power, and none of the comparisons between treatments showed a statistically significant result. The available data were not adequate to test whether the use of mylar tape or Sparrowhawk translocation altered attack rates."* So our tax payer money was essentially wasted, as we all said before it started, and the government demonstrated that they were quite happy to put politics above doing something properly and scientifically, getting SNH fully embroiled in that.
The one consolation for me was the fascinating result that one translocated ad f Sprawk found its way back from South Ayrshire (nr Straiton) to its home patch in West Lothian (nr Armadale), a distance of 87km, twice, the first time in between 10 and 32 days (2/2-07/3/09), but the second time in a maximum of 5 days (07/3-11/3/09), thus demonstrating learning (and also the futility of translocation strategies for this issue). A very expensive way of proving homing in the Eurasian Sparrowhawk…
Thanks for that and links too!
Absolutely fascinating. Thanks.
What can be done about it ?
There is work going on behind the scenes by RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Raptor Study Group.
In the meantime, please consider sending an email to Mike Cantlay, Chair of Scottish National Heritage, and ask him to revoke the licence.
Given the proximity of this area to Comrie/Crieff I think it would be sensible to copy Roseanna Cunningham into the communication….surely this wont have happened without her knowledge…
This is disgusting and I sincerely hope someone will come to their senses and change this. It is very wrong to cull such an intelligent and beautiful bird. I think it is time the ignorant humans amongst us, that deem any chosen species of animal fair game for a cull dependant on current popular dislike, were deemed appropriate for cull. We are by far the most cruel species on this planet and simply do not show enough respect for other animal life. It is wrong! Stop it! We need to live with the animals on this planet, it is theirs too.
What right do you think you have to decimate nature, it is not your responsibility to change the way life evolves, look at the destruction man has brought on planet earth, leave life as it is and let mother nature take care of our planet you have no right to do this.
The SNH Head of Wildlife, Robbie Kernahan talks about trust. I trust that he simply resigns. SNH is not fit for purpose!
These birds are not yours to kill or experiment on. They belong to all of us. How dare you decide to cull them to see what happens. Stop immediately! What you are doing is cruel, irresponsible, and arrogant. If you do this, you will prove you have no humanity and should have no political power.
Why is this even a necessary experiment?
What methodology supports potentially dangerous alteration to an otherwise protected animals population?
What do you hope to achieve?
Disgusting unscientific and reckless behaviour!
What if it was an application of common sense where a Raven population is currently successful and the wader population requires some help to succeed to the point that it gets lifted out of crisis…..perhaps, there were people on the ground there that knew the numbers of birds in their local area and were aware of the population movements and dynamics because they are there on the ground and saw it year on year. How long will the scientific papers take to save the red listed species? I still await the alternative practical method suggestions for increasing breeding wader success to the point where they can spread and flourish in a wider area…..this is not a Disney story!
I already answered your question. You could add to that list: bring climate levels back to pre-industrial levels and donate to the RSPB to restore the Flow Country.
Your support of this cull and obsession with control and management (i.e. killing) of predators, at the expense of the whole ecosytem, to the point of the eradication of a whole species, is really showing your true colours.
This isn’t about waders this is an attempt to wipe out a whole species from a massive area. This isn’t conservation it is eco-genocide hiding under the pretence of a conservation experiment. So what if waders are shown to do well, what happens next? Do you want to exterminate Ravens from all upland areas. Since the uplands are almost entirely dominated by either farming or shooting there would be no habitat where they would be safe. See Carbo’s cartoon in the next post. You do realise that Ravens were extinct in the Borders until quite recently?
Be honest do you really think these gamekeepers and farmers care about waders, do you really believe their priority is waders? Do you really believe there is no connection to the raptor crimes in this area? If so you are either fooling yourself or you are trolling. Your post leads me to believe that your claim of concern for waders is concern trolling.
I have followed your comments and detect the conviction that wader population success (and that of grouse and sheep too) can only be achieved by managing the predators. In this instance , having attended to all of the other more obvious predation it comes down the list to the raven. There are many factors influencing wader populations of which a negative effect from ravens is both unproven and likely to be minimal. Only if you have a dogmatic mind set based on playing God and controlling any species which heresay suggests may be impacting on waders (and grouse etc) does one persist with this view.
Your assertion that the lack of proven legal cases supports this license in this area shows that you have missed another key concept aired on this blog, that the dice is so heavily loaded against getting successful raptor persecution cases that it is remarkable that there have been successes. The predominance of game keepers being the guilty party is proven. In the area where this license has been granted there is already a track record which suggest a conflict with keepers being part of the experimental method. How could SNH be so naive, unscientific and politically manipulated?
This is a ridiculous move by SNH which will surely leave blood on the tracks.
I am absolutely horrified to read this. How cruel and ignorant, the attitude and underhand action taken against this most intelligent and social bird is quite appalling and the work of inhuman vandals. Please withdraw your licence , SNH.
Ravens are just vermin and the sooner the townies realise the damage they do the better farming folks know the damage they do and support the cull
Kenny, that is utter crap. I’m not a townie, have been studying Ravens in great detail for many years, and have never known them to do anything harmful. The anecdotal myths generally come from the rural alternative to townies (xxxxxxxxx?), who believe the gossip of their ancestors. The Raven is very much a scavenger (a flock can dispose of a sheep carcass in 24 hours), rather than a predator. They have no significant impact on breeding waders, and the so-called experimental cull is a cover-up for the blood-lust brigade to express their ignorance and prejudice by massacring an innocent bird which has been historically vilified.
Thanks Ferries for letting us know in writing how much you are concerned about waders.
Why is Scotland allowed to get away with breaking all the laws and killing so many amazing species unlawfully or by crooked licence for the stinking gamekeepers who are basically helping their rich bosses get richer?How much more evidence is needed to revoke these licence’s and start prosecuting someone for all the known birds of prey being murdered never mind a friggin cull!
I believe SNH must have had their wires crossed. For all it’s criminality the area is astonishingly rewarded with a 5 year raven cull, when I’m sure justice should have served a 5 year grouse shooting ban.
Unbelievable discrimination against raptors
Revoke their license
Don’t mess with Mother Nature. We’re all part of an intricate balance, each part having some essential role in supporting the balance. Efforts like this are often misguided and have sad, irreversible effects. The best way for human beings to improve the ecosystem is to step back. We’re not as wise as some would like to think.
One Of my favourite birds, what’s wrong with the world, leave nature to do it’s own thing.
One of my favourite birds, what’s wrong with the world, leave nature to do it’s own thing, ecology will sort its self out
Ravens are spiritual birds. You fools don’t know what you have done.
Once again killing is seen as the answer to a perceived problem. When will we ever learn? It’s obscene to entitle it an ‘experiment’. That always means justification for unjustified mass killing. Other options are available.
Please speak on my behalf to argue for the kindly care of raptors over game birds. Thank you
This is absolutely shocking.How can this be Legal ! Yet more power granted to the shooting fraternity to slaughter
another species conceived as a threat to Gamebirds let’s be clear about this ,it as nothing whatsoever ever to do with Waders,it’s just another charade by the powerful shooting fraternity . Does the SNH really believe People are that gullible,to accept this cull on the basis of an experimental trial !! Surely the legality of this must be challenged !
This cull must not happen. Ravens are intelligent birds. What next? Perhaps xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx Wildlife are not here to be executed by mindless humans!
[Ed: Violent threats not tolerated here]
Stop animal abuse and cruelty!!
Reading all the comments it is fairly obvious most correspondents feel that grouse shooting and money are the culprits and with a lack lustre politically controlled organisation like the SNH this will turn out to be a disaster. Just been reading about Isabella Trees farm which has been turned over to nature and allowed to go its own way with no interference from man, maybe this is the way many areas should be “set free” and see what happens instead of the usual “culling”. Probably I am being a bit naïve but most moors I have visited seem so bleak and virtually lifeless.
Rewilding is indeed a significant way of allowing nature back into areas unsuitable for crops or livestock, or the driven grouse moors. Here’s hoping change comes soon.
Sounds as if SNH, supposedly a nature conservationist body, is merely in league with the land-owning, grouse-shooting fraternity to make this kind of decision. Why weren’t the RSPB and Raptor group, the folk that really care about wildlife, consulted? Change this ruling unless you want to forfeit all public belief and support.
Since forever Ravens and waders have co-existed in this habitats. This looks more like the countryside thugs have run out of raptors to kill and have found an alternate. Just ban big business Grouse shots.
Please do not kill the ravens. They are an important part of our ecosystem!
Emails sent, this is a move which can only inflame the dire situation which already exist and highlight the complete incompetence of SNH.
Don’t do this!
Some very serious and valid points raised here. Thanks for sharing this.
If this has not already been suggested – could one of the organizations opposing this or local people get an online petition going so thousands of people can sign if addressing it to the SNH, your local Political representative, we call them MLA’s in Canada and Wildlife Conservation and Minister of Environment etc. The more people are informed of the facts you have presented here the power to stop this. Flood the office of politicians and community representatives that can have an influence on stopping this. Just some thoughts
This is terrible we can’t let it happen
Awwww, junk science at it’s worst. How many beans are ya getting paid for the slaughter? Assholes.
astonishing and barbaric – and utterly indefensible
STOP THIS CULL
What has the Ravens supposed to have done killed the birds that are missing i doubt it,why don’t these people talk to the RSPB and wildlife trusts of the area who would know more about the area than people sitting in offices they should of got together and talked the matter through and see if there is any evidence on the matter Not put out cull for Ravens for 5yrs that is a bit steep .
WTH IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!? You have no right to the genocide of wildlife any more than you have to humans. The Earth, being stripped of most of its natural resources already, not to mention the mass extinction of several species of wildlife, needs to maintain the eco balance by KEEPING what it has left! Natural Heritage? Who’s? Ours or theirs?
I have a question – exactly what wader species are the Ravens supposed to be effecting the population of?
Should those species of waders exist in that area naturally?
I am aware that there are now a few petitions. I started one a couple of days ago and now have 10,000 signatures. Please sing if not done so already – and share Many Thanks
[Ed: Hi Alison. Well done for starting a petition & raising awareness. But you seem to have targeted RSPB as the petition recipient, instead of SNH? RSPB Scotland, along with the SRSG, is at the forefront of challenging this outrageous licence!]
Thank you – sorry I thought it would be RSPB that would have the power to stop this. I would accept your advice so should I change it?
If you’re able to change it, that would be good! Thanks
Yes I will do, thank you for your help
This a shocking and disturbing approach to wildlife management. Your group should seriously consider drafting a Care.org petition, directed at the appropriate authorities. Care petitions have been highly successful in bringing change and addressing issues like this one. Here is the link ( http://www.care2.com/ ), and you will see in the upper right corner the link to start your own petition. I thought of doing it, but know that you would be far more authoritative in wording such a petition. Hoping this can somehow be stopped. Ravens are amazing birds who should not be culled to promote (it appears) sport killing of another species. Thanks for sharing.
A disgusting abuse of the environment yet again. So fed up of seeing this S**t. Leave the Ravens alone you monsters.
Surely these beautiful birds are a protected species?
This is appalling!
Do the RSPB know about this?
No No No
This is shocking! Killing birds to line the pockets of greedy landowners by supposedly increasing the numbers of Grouse to be slaughtered by people with nothing better to do with their money. Shame on you .
Jo, the utter irony of all this is that culling Ravens will NOT line the pockets of greedy landowners, simply because Ravens do NOT significantly predate grouse eggs or chicks. Nor do they habitually kill healthy lambs.There is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up the claims that they do either; such beliefs are based almost entirely on folklore passed down through generations of farmers and gamekeepers. It might be said that the greedy landowners are actually wasting money employing ‘keepers to cull Ravens, however there is another psychological motivation, especially from the gamekeepers’ point of view. Most individuals love their job for two main reasons – one is the romantic image and the camaraderie with fellow souls, but the other is their lust for killing wildlife. I don’t care to go deeply into the psychology behind this, but believe quite firmly, again through association with local ‘keepers, that they hate all predators irrationally, because they see them as a deadly enemy to their trade. This despite having no evidence, only generations of hearsay and superstition, in this case about a bird which was formerly heavily associated with death. Those of us who have had the time and enthusiasm to study these amazing birds intimately, know that their ‘evil’ reputation is entirely undeserved. This ridiculous experiment needs to be stopped in its tracks, otherwise, what will SNH agree to next?
Wonder if the gamekeepers actually have other agendas ? More lucrative birds protected for them to also end up dead after a gun shot that’s paid for ? Am I synical just asking🧐
I suggest we conduct a further ‘experiment’ and cull the SNH. Needless, pointless and mindless destruction on the part of a group who are supposed to conserve not destroy! Devastating and despicable.
Breaks my heart reading this! Ravens are amazing! Please stop this outrage!