(Deliberate) misinformation about welfare of satellite-tagged raptors

The Honorary Professors of Idiocy at the Angus Glens Institute for Critical Thinking are at it again.

Not content with embarrassing themselves with the laughable critique of the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review earlier this year (see here), they’re now on a mission to further detract attention from the damning evidence of illegal persecution being revealed by these satellite-tagged raptors.

[Photo of a satellite-tagged golden eagle that was caught in a trap on an Angus Glens grouse moor, suffering two broken (almost severed) legs, and then transported in the middle of the night several km north and dumped in a layby and callously left to suffer what must have been an excruciating death over several days. Photo by RSPB]

The Honorary Professors’ claim this time is that satellite-tagging raptors is “cruelty at its worst” and that those involved are “medieval practitioners of torture” (a claim made without the faintest hint of irony).

The evidence they’re using to whip up this hysteria and contrived concern comes from a scientific study that demonstrated awful lesions on the bodies of four red kites, caused by badly-fitting tag harnesses. The Honorary Professors suggest that this is evidence “they do not want you to see“. ‘They’, presumably, being anyone drawing attention to the ongoing persecution of raptors as demonstrated by the tag data from satellite-tagged golden eagles and hen harriers.

Hmm. Researchers went to real extremes to cover up these findings – so much so that the study was written up and published in a scientific journal that is freely available on t’internet for anyone to read. Damn those researchers, concealing their findings like this!

Here’s a copy of the freely available paper that the Honorary Professors suggest has been covered up:

Peniche et al 2011 Vet Record red kite harness

It’s well worth a read. It’s indisputable that those harnesses on those four red kites caused serious damage and that they likely contributed to the death of at least some of those four kites.

The Honorary Professors are suggesting that despite this shocking evidence, raptor workers are continuing to fit satellite tags using harnesses and therefore the researchers “don’t care” about the birds’ welfare and that it’s these poorly-fitting harnesses that are killing the raptors, not criminal gamekeepers.

One of the more stupid Honorary Professors even claims “The stats for birds affected by sat tag lesions [four red kites] seems to correlate with numbers of vanishing eagles [41 and counting]”. Er, no, not quite. That’s as idiotic as saying ‘the number of sausage rolls on display in the window of Greggs seems to correlate with numbers of patients admitted to Dundee Royal Infirmary with gastroenteritis’.

You see, what the Honorary Professors have failed to notice (or have chosen to deliberately exclude from their argument) is that the paper by Peniche et al (2011) detailing the lesions found on the tagged red kites was considered in great detail in the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, as part of the authors’ assessment on whether satellite tagging was causing harm to golden eagles (Chapter 7). Here’s what they found:

So, the type of harness used on the red kites in those early years of tagging has not been used on golden eagles in Scotland (and if you read the Peniche et al paper you’ll see that as a direct result of the findings, the licensing authorities have now issued a specific post mortem protocol for harnessed birds to enable the detection of any further problems – gosh, they’re such an uncaring lot, aren’t they?); the problem with the red kite harness was likely attributed to one person improperly fitting harnesses, rather than a more general problem with tagging; and that there has been no evidence of harm being caused by tagging after post mortems of 28 dead tagged birds in Scotland, nor in the wider context of similar harnesses fitted in Europe and the USA.

Sorry, Honorary Professors, your claims are wholly unfounded. Again.

We really must pay tribute to the criminals whose persistent killing of satellite-tagged golden eagles led the Environment Secretary to commission the sat tag review; the superbly comprehensive and forensic analyses undertaken by the review authors (Dr Alan Fielding & Dr Phil Whitfield), amusingly still being described as “crap science” by one of the Honorary Professors, and the consistent efforts of the Honorary Professors of Idiocy for providing us with ongoing opportunities to keep drawing attention to this review’s findings, over a year after it was first published.

We’ll finish with this, taken from the end of Chapter 7 of the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, that points out that even if tagging is harmful to golden eagles (which it hasn’t been proven to be), it still doesn’t explain the geographic clustering of all those ‘missing’ sat tagged eagles that just happen to coincide with areas of land intensively managed for driven grouse shooting, including, er the grouse moors of the Angus Glens:

“They can hide the bodies, they can hide the tags, but they can’t hide the pattern” (Dr Hugh Webster)

17 thoughts on “(Deliberate) misinformation about welfare of satellite-tagged raptors”

  1. Dont worry too much, we knew that already, as you say the paper was out there and specifically reference in the eagle study. SGA spokesperson, good auld Fruit Punnet is just struggling to come up with a diversionary campaign that makes them look like pathetic victims in the run up to un-defendable shaming that now routinely happens around the 12th. You have to remember that they still want relive the glory days when the BBC would put out live coverage of the first grouse being shot, then helicoptered to Fortnum and Masons….. they used to feel cherished. But happily their practices have rumbled, society has moved on and they are fading away to a nasty little stain in the corner of a history book. Grouse moors will be a thing of the past, the biodiversity will return, our landscapes will be restored and the local communities will free of the local bullies.

    1. Unfortunately, I remember the BBC covering the ‘glorious twelfth’ and very pleased that times are changing – it just takes a while for the old buggers to die out.

  2. I look forward with relish to your posts. This is s corker.
    Well done, and please don’t let dark side discourage you. Your blog is a beacon, but only to those who wish to see.

  3. There really is no end to the mendacity of these people. You hit the nail firmly on it’s head circusmaxim.

  4. It would appear to me that their actions are not caused by poor research or a misunderstanding of the facts but simply to provide the raptor killers and their supporters with fabricated reasons to harrass those who wish to stop illegal practises against these birds. Painting themselves as martyrs attempts to conceal the real damage they are trying to inflict to the struggle against raptor persecution. Of course by supporting driven grouse moors they also contribute to the high level of disease now present in red grouse in areas where the density is high.
    I must admit to being a little surprised at how willing they are to exhibit their erroneous manipulations of science to the public in general ….. but, given their history of parochialism, maybe I shouldn’t be.

  5. We should call it as it is, the Angus ministry of Lies, it would be funny if there weren’t people out there who want to and do believe this shite, talk about fake news. Perhaps we should also rename the SGA as BB and the bullshitters.

    1. That’s the tragic thing, you just can’t assume that nobody will swallow this hook, line and sinker because it’s so pathetic. Sadly they do which is why liars do it.

  6. Excellent dismantling of the usual guff from these swines. And let’s not forget that if these bastards stopped killing our raptors, there would be less need to satellite-tag them in the first place!

  7. What have we here. A group of people who love killing birds for fun to the extent that they fork out eye watering amounts of money to do so are now expressing concern for the very raptors that are persecuted by criminals to stop them killing the same birds for food !!!

  8. I seem to remember a recent report about harm caused by harnesses. Let me think… Just after that poor osprey was dropped. Wasn’t it on here? (21 july). Here we go… Game birds accidentally killed by too large harnesses fitted by – gamekeepers! A certain bitter irony to add to the gross hypocrisy

  9. Replying to Alex Milne (4 August, 7:51AM) and more generally:
    your last phrase is the point.
    Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that you can say what you like – however laughable – your devotees will not be moved.
    However often the lies are exposed, those devotees will not get the message.
    It does no good to try to analyse total stupidity, the lies achieve their purpose.
    In my personal acquaintance a farmer with a degree does not care about ‘evidence’, he will side with the gamekeepers.
    The question is how to deal with that?
    Why is the Scottish Government not acting with more urgency?

    John Keith

    1. “Why is the Scottish Government not acting with more urgency” ………………. They don’t seem to be doing anything to change the situation. Very clear cut situation. Either you are for the criminals or you are against them. No prizes for guessing where the gov. stand.

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