Surprise! Gamekeeper in raven cull area declares cull a success

Here is a fine example of the sort of idiotic reporting we’re up against.

A gamekeeper who works in Strathbraan, the area where SNH authorised the licensed killing of ravens earlier this year on the basis of ‘seeing what happens’, has declared the cull ‘a success’.

Of course he’s declared it ‘a success’. He’s got a vested interest in wanting SNH to issue more and more raven cull licences. He’s a committee member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, an organisation that has been lobbying for licences to kill predatory birds since the turn of this century.

Incredibly, on the basis of this gamekeeper’s word alone, and without any scientific analysis, evidence or justification whatsoever, the press has regurgitated this nonsense. It’s no coincidence that this half-witted ‘news’ broke shortly after the announcement was made that the Scottish Raptor Study Group had lodged its application calling for a judicial review of SNH’s decision to issue the licence in the first place.

Here’s a headline from the Daily Record on 10th July 2018:

The Daily Telegraph has now also joined in with an article published this morning. At least this journalist had the good sense to include the phrase ‘has been a success’ in inverted commas and also includes a quote from RSPB Scotland dismissing the gamekeeper’s claim as “meaningless“:

There’s an interesting meme doing the rounds on Twitter that seems appropriate to include here:

Meanwhile back in the real world, SNH’s response to the judicial review application is keenly awaited (it’s due very soon) and we also await with great interest the report of SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee who was asked to consider the scientific basis of the raven cull licence. It’s our understanding that the report was given to SNH’s Board at the end of June. Interestingly, SNH has not yet put it in the public domain.

To read all the associated blogs about the Strathbraan raven cull, please see here.

23 thoughts on “Surprise! Gamekeeper in raven cull area declares cull a success”

  1. As SNH didn’t bother to ensure that they had a set of decent starting conditions any suggestion of success from them or anyone else would only reinforce my opinion that they are completely out of control.
    Note the difference between this study and that of the well advanced study by the RSPB of help for waders also using lethal control.
    Chalk and cheese does not even start to highlight the difference and the appalling – don’t really care about waders- ‘trial’ and the properly conducted research by the RSPB.

  2. Has the gamekeeper been asked what his success criteria are? I suspect it is based on the number of ravens killed rather than anything to do with biodiversity

  3. I’ve been making this point on the Angus Glens Moorland Forum and SGA facebook pages for a while now, ‘people who wanted cull say it’s a success’ – so barefaced and ridiculous that you have to take time to think if you’ve missed something, but no they really are scrapping the bottom of the barrel. I’d love to relocate that BTO report that showed how bad gamekeepers were at assessing wader numbers – felt there was a bit of dis ingenuity about their results rather than just straightforward incompetence.

      1. Cheers Marco!!! Have now saved to my memory stick too. I just had a very quick ‘flick’ through and read the bit about the eggs in three nests being predated by sheep!

        1. It’s an interesting document, Les!

          It would appear that nest predation/ destruction by sheep, is a far bigger issue than we believe, which is why, if SNH were doing their proper job, the removal of sheep from the Strathbraan area should have been trialled before any Raven cull took place.

  4. Abslutely monstrous…..utterly cruel and wrongheaded. Those poor birds. I despise humanity with it’s constant tinkering and we know best attitude.!

  5. It’s no good tryng to persuade gamekeepers to have empathy for wildlife, because they are like the people who slaughter livestock all day long. In other words, they can’t help it because they are psychopaths. Look at the two thugs that tried to kill two hunt monitors, and left them for dead in a ditch and has to be saved by helicopter ambulance.

      1. Aye, posing for vanity shots with these young chicks. Is that not the same thing that RSPB and SRSG ringers have come in for criticism, from those involved with the shooting/killing community?

        1. Sorry to throw a spanner in here as I am as opposed to this cull as any but unless I missed something and Curlew has been added to Schedule One you don’t need a licence to handle the chicks. Unsound, unethical and reprehensible it may be without very good reason but illegal? Most unlikely.

          1. That’s not true, it’s illegal to take any wild bird unless they are exempt such as game birds or geese.

            Schedule 1 adds an additional offence of disturbing a schedule 1 bird or its young during the breeding season.

            1. Correct. Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act provides blanket protect to all wild birds, their nests and eggs, even species widely regarded as pests.

              Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, S1 Protection of wild birds, their nests and eggs.
              S1 “Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally—

              (a) kills, injures or takes (captures) any wild bird
              (aa)takes, damages or destroys the nest of a wild bird included in Schedule ZA1;]
              (b)takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built; or
              (c)takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird,
              he shall be guilty of an offence.”

              Schedule 1 is a list of wild birds that receive an additional level of protection when they are nesting.

              SCHEDULE 1

              Species listed on Schedule 1, Part I are given special protection all year round.

              Those species listed in Schedule 1, Part II of the 1981 Act are afforded special protection when the official killing season is closed because they are very rare breeding birds. However, when the killing season is open they are only provided the same level of protection as other wild birds.

              Whilst S1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, in theory, provides protection to all wild birds, there are ways in which people can legally kill or capture wild birds.

              Schedule 2 Part 1 (also commonly known as ‘quarry’ species) lists species of birds that can be hunted in the open season (with the permission of the landowner) and anyone wishing to kill them does not need to use, or apply for, a licence to kill them, because these species are numerous in winter with large numbers migrating to winter in the UK.

              SCHEDULE 2
              Birds which may be Killed or Taken

              A person or organisation wishing to kill any other bird (or protected mammal) can only do so if all legal, non-lethal methods of resolving the problem are ineffective or impracticable and they have first obtained a Wildlife Management Licence. Wildlife Management Licences permit the killing of named species of birds or mammals for specific purposes. The methods of killing and other terms and conditions under which a licence is granted are set out in the licence.

              There are three classes of licence:


              The following link provides helpful information:
              “Guidance: Wildlife licences: when you need to apply”

              1. All depends on your definition of take. I for one do not accept that to pick up and then release without harm in the same place is taking but others may see it differently. Lizzie it is rather pointless to quote long sections of law that most of us are quite familiar with, particularly when they are written in parliamentary legal speak and open to a whole range of legal interpretations.

          2. ‘Taking’ – which for a live bird means capturing, however temporarily – is a simple criminal offence. Schedule 1 is mainly concerned with disturbance to a small number of breeding species and is a bit of add-on protection for these rarer species.

  6. I thought that the licence had clear conditions on how the data would be collected and handled …

    I think that every counter had follow the survey protocol (well not so much protocol, more sort of loose guide)( no field notes and write it up the night before its handed over), multiply by two then hand data on to the coordinator.

    The coordinator then transcribes the data rounding up as appropriate.

    They then pass it to GWCT. GWCT understand that only half of the data will actually have been collected so they will double up the final tally. (This is known as the dodgy baseline calibration).

    And what do you know, it turns out there are enough curlew chicks to fill a shed (Big Archie rounded em up and stuffed them into the poison shed to corroborate the count). Remarkable.

    They can now compare these data against the control counts……oops.

    SNH should know that if they conduct a poorly designed experiment the results are completely useless, not transferable.

  7. At the weekend we watched two ravens flying round, they came very close to us, magnificent birds, highly intelligent too. SNH have really got it wrong on this one, but they’re getting a lot of things wrong at the moment.

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