New podcast: Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations RSPB Scotland

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland is never one to mince his words, especially on the subject of the illegal persecution of birds of prey.

Here’s his latest straight-talking podcast with Charlie Moores (a digital producer at Lush) where the discussion includes topics such as the under-recording of wildlife crime, satellite tagging of golden eagles, the suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred, satellite-tagging of hen harriers, the recent outlandish claims that tagged hen harrier Saorsa had been “re-sighted”, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the Revive Coalition, the Werritty Review, General Licences, General Licence Restrictions, and raising public awareness of raptor persecution.

If you have an hour to spare, it’s well worth a listen on the Lush Player HERE

[Ian Thomson, photo by Charlie Moores]

7 thoughts on “New podcast: Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations RSPB Scotland”

  1. An excellent podcast. Thanks for the link.
    Quote about the extrapolation of the numbers of tagged Golden Eagles per annum vanish no trace “30, 40 ,50 … and that’s just Golden Eagles”
    It always staggers me that in Scotland we are allowing this number of Golden Eagles and over 40% of young Hen Harriers to be killed every year.
    We must just keep keep on until the massive deliberate killing of our birds of prey stops. Certainly that is a large part of what I want, but it is still such a distant hope.
    Change cannot come just from the wishes of environmentalists, or even the actions of government, but that must surely come. The shooting industry must admit that it is happening, as scientific analysis has shown, and will continue to be demonstrated.

    1. Alex, they will never admit anything, EVER.
      They have been getting slapped in the face with concrete evidence and scientific fact for decades. I’m sure they still don’t accept that lead is poisonous!

      1. A comment at a recent talk by Mark Avery, when he raised the issue of toxic lead and especially the shot fragments that must be eaten and not noticed. A person that I assumed to be shooter or gamekeeper or shoot owner tried to ridicule the idea and loudly protested at Mark’s comment, shouting rubbish plus other comments.

        The argument that I have heard the shooters use is that, “lead shot kills more effectively”.

        But not quick enough for those that eat the shot game.


  2. I am embarrassed by what I read on this site. Embarrassed, because my associates and I spend a lot of our time organising petitions, signing petitions, mounting small and peaceful actions, making donations to animal welfare and conservation appeals, phoning and emailing our contacts abroad and here, and generally supporting humane causes of all kinds, for we see the persecution and ill use of humans and animals as similar in the endurance of pain and despair. The word “plethora” would be totally and insultingly inappropriate to describe the sheer number of organisations and outstanding humanitarian individuals involved in alleviating the suffering of Life on the Earth, for that word indicates and “excess” of something. There can be no excess of effort and striving to save human or animal from those who have made this planet a Hell for all life forms. They are represented in all countries, and here in Scotland their existence causes me and my kind, gross embarrassment. Why? I have found my fellow humans here most generous and solicitous, when it comes to giving time and money to humanitarian causes, and their generosity has redeemed the situation, but has not solved the problem for effective conservation of the environment and wildlife.

    What baulks my country from becoming pre-eminent and setting a great example to the world, as we have done with our fellow country women and men, who have contributed so much to human progress in many fields, is that we have had to endure a class of people which has dominated the natural landscape, and the power so gained from this take over, to be used to influence the governance and law enforcement of Scotland. The Clearances are testimonial to that egregious abuse of power. Symbolic of this stranglehold, is the persecution of the Golden Eagle by shooting estates or others hired to do the dirty work of Birds of Prey elimination. That illegal affrontery has not been confined to that iconic bird, but all such types of predatory bird, and to defenceless creatures such as the Mountain Hare. When I contact the Botswana Government about the new plan to allow trophy shooting of Elephants, I do so with embarrassment, that I cannot get my own Government in Scotland, to effectively enforce the law with regard to the irrefutable evidence adduced against this irrational persecution of life forms with a right to exist and to enjoy flying high in our skies. Our answer in the UK is to cull anything that may “get in the way” by calling it VERMIN. Up till a decade ago, such a term was a good reason for the general public to support the slaughter of any animal, such as seals, foxes, weasels and stoats, Corvids, mountain hares or whatever, the stalwart gamekeeper thought fit to kill. The world has a new force arising which equates human suffering along animal abuse as being in the same league. The opening up of the human heart and mind through the Internet, and relentless and courageous journalism, has changed attitudes. I am embarrassed when I look at the List of Interests of our MPs, MSPs etc and little presence of environmental and animal welfare causes, and a lack of support for EDMs on those subjects.

    What I have stated, concurs with what Alex Milne has stated about why we, the humane, must keep promoting the scientific evidence to show that our case of deliberate persecution of Birds of Prey by shooting estates and their minions, is water tight, and will have to win out in the end. To do this, we should link our concern for our own flora and fauna, with that which is being relentlessly destroyed world wide, and if seen that way by our politicians, then that should focus their minds to stop being lackadaisical in addressing conservation and wildlife abuse in Scotland. To be honest, it appears that the whole UK political scene has plently of “duds” holding back progress on many humane issues, by being the apologists for those who want their interests in many areas, to be unaffected by legislation, usually ineffectually compiled or enforced. Can we rouse enough people to join in a mass movement, to make sure that the political scene has to be more open and accountable? So many are frustrated and feel impotent that social and environmental change are essential, if the world and its over crowding load of humanity is going to survive, in a civilised way. Scotland is microscopic relative to the planetary situation, but has the latent human infrastructure, if installed, to create a better managed environment and a much better rural economy. Meanwhile, we have to put up with a dullard run and repressive regime of various status quo interests.

    1. Mr. Greer Hart, I agree with your comments but confess to my wish to rid the UK where possible of invasive species, which is something which I can assist with without having a huge drain on my available time. I do not know if you support such enterprises which inevitably involve killing of wildlife, but I see them as necessary to allow native our wildlife to survive.
      You may be interested to read my petition submission for it’s second hearing, still subject to amendment if it does not meet the government requirements, which is published as it stands on my website which can be found in my signature. I have taken 2 months to get this ready, and will take some time to reflect where to go from here in my endeavours to get justice for our wildlife in Scotland. I am also pursuing an activity I started 2 years ago, in respect to the decision by the Crown Office Prosecution Service to drop some wildlife crime cases, by continuing an attempt to seek information from them, as suggested via my MSP by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Land Reform and Climate Change Roseanna Cunningham. This so far has not borne fruit, but may yet do so. Even so I have alternative plans if that continues to fail. My latest effort is also discussed in part on the website. Again, I am prepared to wait a while, but I am persistent and not short of ideas as to how this may be further advanced. These plans are in preparation but not yet ready.
      I find it really disappointing that, although there are many in the Scottish Parliament ready to join the 21st Century, that it will take so long for Scotland even to move into the 20th Century as far as caring for our environment and biodiversity is concerned.

  3. Good comment Greer Hart…that link between attitudes to wildlife and fellow human beings isn’t made often enough…there’s a chicken and egg situation here, in order to get the political dullards to sit up, take notice and initiate action against the killers in our midst, we have to demonstrate that a huge number of voters want that to happen……and in order to get through to the public we need the political dullards to tell them that the killing is going on…..That also applies to the media, who in my experience quickly tire of wildlife based stories [the joke at the end of the news] but somehow never tire of “real political stories”….No one working in wildlife conservation should be afraid of shoving dead eagles, harriers, peregrines, buzzards..and yes, kestrels…in front of the media’s cameras…let the people see what is happening… I strongly believe the only way the persecution issue will ever be sorted out, is from the bottom up – voters getting angry – in my lifetime there have been dozens of government and police initiatives/protocols/working groups/scientific studies but we are really very little further on than in the 1970s. The killers are still making the agenda.

    I used to get annoyed by many of the folk commenting here..because of their lack of knowledge of the detail of shooting/estate management/bird ecology….but I now feel heartened by those showing passion…thats what will get change. Ban Driven Grouse Shooting…no meally mouthed half measures.

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