SGA’s claims about hen harrier Saorsa “completely false”, says RSPB

Further to our lunchtime blog (here) about the Scottish Gamekeepers Association fabricating a story about a supposed “re-sighting” of a satellite-tagged hen harrier (Saorsa) who disappeared in suspicious circumstances in the Angus Glens in February 2018, the RSPB has just issued the following press statement:

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations said; “The SGA’s claims about the hen harrier “Saorsa” are completely false and are totally at odds with what the police have informed us today. This bird has been missing since February 2018, when it was reported to the police. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the claim that it has reappeared, and its tag has not transmitted any data since the date of it vanishing in suspicious circumstances.

The SGA has refused to attend meetings of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime since the publication of the Scottish Government’s review of satellite tagging in May 2017, and has consistently refused to accept the findings of that review. Their repeated baseless attempts to discredit proven technology and question the reputations of respected scientists and Scottish Government reports are entirely due to the fact that the use of this technology is shining an increasingly bright light on the widespread criminality associated with intensive grouse moor management.”


[Hen harrier Saorsa has not been since since she disappeared in suspicious circumstances in the Angus Glens in Feb 2018. Photo by Brian Etheridge]

UPDATE 28 January 2019: More on the SGA’s “completely false” claim that hen harrier Saorsa has been re-sighted (here)

20 thoughts on “SGA’s claims about hen harrier Saorsa “completely false”, says RSPB”

  1. I can now understand how the SGA can say that Soarsa has been seen again. The photograph of Saorsa clearly shows the metal leg ring fitted in Ross-shire when the tag and ring were fitted.
    An SGA member would have no difficulty reading the ring I assume.

    1. Are you sure Alex, all gamekeepers can read! really I am surprised, you will be telling me next they can walk upright, possibly drive and have normal feelings. There was me thinking many , possibly most were just Neanderthals with guns, traps, snares and poison.

    2. Yes i had a possible Mealy Redpoll with a BTO ring on my neighbours feeder. It was important because Mealy Redpolls breed on Tiree and i was pretty sure they were also breeding where i live. So by moving the feeders close to the window (about 4m) and photographing from my friends window with a 400mm lens i managed to get hundreds of shots and by combining the best shots managed to get the ring number.
      So could the SGA, (a gamekeeper?), do this with a tame Hen Harrier flying past Amanda Anderson’s window? Piece of p***. Assuming of course it wasn’t dead, ahh mm.
      [I haven’t read the SGA article]

  2. An excellent riposte from the RSPB. The lies and deceit of the shooting industry, their use of anecdote as opposed to scientific evidence, is very much in the same vein as environmental and wildlife policy has been managed over the last 10 years. When we finally get a government that cares about the countryside we need to see a radical change in the roles of DEFRA, NE, SNH and NRW, i.e. a focus on encouraging wildlife and improving the natural environment for their (and our) benefit based on science and not economics, bias and “tradition”.

  3. This tactic has been used before with sat tagged birds that have been killed and attempts made by gamekeepers to put up a smoke screen.

    A stat tagged golden eagle in the CNP miraculously was seen by a gamekeeper after it’s tag suddenly stopped on a grouse moor……….funny it’s not been seen since.

    Let’s see how often gamekeepers or their wife’s or friends spot sat tagged birds after their tags suddenly stop working on grouse moors in the future.

    #you cannot hide the pattern

  4. For anyone who doubts that Keepers are killing Hen Harriers, I’d just like to say that, having worked as a Keeper myself, I’ll be honest, I never met one who I didn’t believe was killing Birds of Prey on his beat.

    As you might expect, when you are one of them, they talk quite freely about such matters & even boast about them, so I am certainly not fooled by any of these diversionary tactics.

    1. Well said Ptarmy and a valuable view from inside the industry.

      Supports the statement

      “99% of gamekeepers give the rest a bad name”

      Any suggestions as to what might change the current behaviour of those involved?

    2. Absolutely when I used to shoot( before I grew up) I was part of the gamekeeping fraternity. I witnessed unbelievable depths of cruelty ( to all wildlife even their own dogs and often their families, often fuelled by drink) ignorance and arrogance.They would routinely kill anything which threatened their birds then openly bragged about it .The more outrageous the antics the more they were held up as being “hard men”.And these people are often special constables, held in high regard (in general) by the police and allowed to swagger around our countryside with a frightening array of firearms . Something very wrong here.

    3. So if what you say is true why when you were a game keeper did you not report them to the police? Maybe it is the rspb or their friend as who are killing the birds because if they are so rare what are the chances of a game keeper or anyone with a gun actually seeing one and being close enough to shoot it dead in one shot and dispose of the tag when you would not know where exactly the bird was in the first place! Maybe the rspb has more to answer and maybe it is time the taging of hen harriers was put in the hands of a truly independent body not one with a hidden agenda Against grouse shooting.

  5. I I maybe hen harrier are been k8lled by the rspb or it’s supported as the only ones who know the exact locations of taged hen harriers are the monitors themselves.

    If hen harriers are so rare what are the chances of a game keeper or anyone with a guy actually seeing a hen harrier let alone at the same to e carrying a gun and being close enough to the bird at the same time to shoot it dead? Begs the question doesn’t it?

    1. Mike

      Sorry you are either deliberatley misrepresenting the facts, delusional, or so far removed from what is going on that you make these ludicrous and bizarre claims about the RSPB.

      The evidence is overwhelming support that the game shooting industry is systematically killing wildlife including raptors on an industrial scale.

    2. Been studying at the Burnett school of flat earth studies? Clearly bottom of the class! You forgot to recommend the SGA as an honest, trustworthy, independent body…its people like you that are undermining country folk and their traditions.

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