Scottish Government dismisses SGA’s attempt to discredit Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review

Last week we blogged about the Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s (SGA) feeble attempt to undermine and discredit the findings of the damning Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review by commissioning an opinion from a lawyer who, as far as we can tell, has no scientific expertise or qualifications (see here).

This is the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review that demonstrated, with “exemplary and thorough” scientific rigour according to actual scientists, that almost one third of satellite-tagged golden eagles had ‘disappeared’ (almost certainly illegally killed) on a number of Scottish grouse moors over a number of years, in the same areas that had contemporaneous records of illegal raptor persecution (i.e. known wildlife crime hotspots).

[Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘Alma’ who was found poisoned on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. Photo by Scottish Raptor Study Group]

In response to the SGA’s attempt to erode confidence in the Sat Tag Review, Mark Ruskell MSP (Scottish Green Party) lodged the following parliamentary question:

S5W-19641 (date lodged 26/10/18)

To ask the Scottish Government what its response [is] to the legal opinion that has been published by the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, which disputes some of the conclusions of the Scottish Natural Heritage-commissioned report, Analyses of the Fates of Satellite Tracked Golden Eagles in Scotland, and, in light of this, whether it plans to review the report’s conclusion that the disappearances of some satellite-tracked golden eagles and other birds of prey were “suspicious”.

This question was answered by Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on 7/11/18 as follows:

The Scottish Government is satisfied that the Scottish Natural Heritage report, “Analyses of the fates of satellite tracked golden eagles in Scotland”, was produced and peer-reviewed in line with accepted scientific standards. The Scottish Government has no plans to review any aspects of the report.

That’s a parliamentary equivalent of sticking up two metaphorical fingers.

Nice try, SGA, but no cigar.

Well done and thanks, Mark Ruskell MSP.

They can hide the tags. They can hide the bodies. But they can’t hide the pattern“ (Dr Hugh Webster).

13 thoughts on “Scottish Government dismisses SGA’s attempt to discredit Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review”

  1. I have worked with Barristers during public inquiries – someone will have advised him about the ecology etc but I fear it was the SGA and the QC is a mouthpiece to give it credibility. Unfortunately anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge can pull holes in their arguments – I quite like the sound bite you can hide the tags hide the bodies but cannot hide the pattern !

  2. I believe that this episode shows that there are people in more than one party who are very supportive of the wish to have an honest attempt to ensure that those who commit unlawful acts are brought to book when there is clear evidence of crimes by an individual. I agree that this is not yet true in Scotland, and it may yet be frustrated by those who would prefer to see the present situation continue for as long they can succeed in delaying what is inevitable. I’m sure we can all agree that the government in Scotland, and most MSPs, are far more prepared to commit to ensuring justice is done than any of the MPs or ministers in the UK government’s party who do not bother to conceal their attitude to wildlife crimes.

  3. Well done to Mark Ruskell MSP for asking the question.
    An inequivocal answer from Roseanna Cunningham.
    Cigars all round!

  4. Surely their intent to discredit this rigorous research should be noted in the forthcoming Werritty review. These acts of wilful attempts at sabotage can only undermine their position further.

    1. Ian, this is an excellent idea which could be made to work in our National Parks or under grouse moor licensing. As a condition of license ALL vehicles driven over grouse moors and anyone carrying a gun would need to be take a tag. That would then give the special constables recruited by the NPs something to do – they would check people out on grouse moors with vehicles or guns had a tag. Where not, the license would be removed immediately. This would give licensing a lot more teeth.

  5. The likes of the SGA’s policy of insulting peoples intellegiance on such matters will be part of their downfall

  6. The major flaw in the gatekeepers position is the lack of science to support their arguments.

    Game bird shooting is fundamentally harmful to the environment and unsustainable.

    This is compounded by an industry that are committing serious wildlife crimes and a reluctance by the industry to admit the extent of the criminality and put measures in place to reduce it.

    The so called ” men on the hill” have little real expertise other than rearing a very few species of game birds and eradicating perceived pest species.
    Many behave as nothing short or tweed clad hill apes.

    The shooting industry is rapidly being exposed and losing public and political support.

    Police and SNH are also falling foul by a continued reluctance to implement any real enforcement and worse still side with the land owners and the shooting industry.

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