VIP guests attend Scottish Raptor Study Group conference

The Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG) held its annual conference last weekend – a day of fascinating presentations from a series of expert speakers on the latest developments in the field of raptor research and conservation, and a chance for SRSG members from across Scotland to catch up with one another.

This year the SRSG welcomed five MSPs who had given up their Saturday to attend the conference and meet informally with raptor workers. As Species Champions for several raptor species, some of these MSPs were already familiar with the SRSG’s huge voluntary contribution to raptor conservation in Scotland (estimated to be worth approx £1.8 million if Scot Gov had to pay consultants to do the same work!) and it was an excellent opportunity for them to learn in more detail about the successes and on-going threats to Scottish raptors.

Thank you for coming along Alison Johnson MSP (Scottish Greens, Species Champion for brown (and mountain!) Hare); Andy Wightman MSP (Scottish Greens, Species Champion for Golden eagle (and Mountain everlasting); Claudia Beamish MSP (Labour, Species Champion for Forester moth); John Mason MSP (SNP, Species Champion for Kestrel); Mark Ruskell MSP (Scottish Greens, Species Champion for White-tailed eagle).

[Photo by Logan Steele]

Also accepting an invitation to the conference was Charlie Everitt, Police Investigative Support Officer from the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), standing in for Chief Inspector Lou Hubble, Head of the NWCU who was unable to attend due to a prior booking.

Another senior police officer attending was Supt Nick Lyall, the Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG). Not only was Nick supposed to be on annual leave, but he also made a 14hr round trip to attend this conference. His committment to the subject of tackling illegal raptor persecution is outstanding. (As was his rapper coat, for which he tolerated some good humoured stick!).

[Nick Lyall chatting with Kelvin Thomson, Patrick Stirling-Aird and Logan Steele of the SRSG, photo by Ruth Tingay]

The benefits of having senior police wildlife crime officers attending a conference like this are many, not least to help develop ongoing partnership opportunities which haven’t always been maximised in the past. With new faces and a renewed sense of determination, things have been changing and we look forward to seeing continued progress on this front.

6 thoughts on “VIP guests attend Scottish Raptor Study Group conference”

  1. Great to have something really positive happening. I won’t fall into the trap of bemoaning the absence of a Conservative MSP on the day. How can we engage with a Champion from that quarter? It would be great to get someone on board.

    1. That’s kind of you Dave – but we miss your presence as the originator of this Conference back in 1991.

      1. Well Patrick I always said that attendance should be restricted to those actively monitoring raptors – my hill activities are more in the way of birdwatching nowadays…and it all seems tremendously bureaucratic..not my idea of fun!..Best of luck to all of you..I do watch whats going on through sites like this.

  2. That Supt Nick Lyall took time out of his annual leave and made a 14 hour round trip to attend this conference reminds us how fortunate we are to have such a dedicated, active and engaged officer at the helm of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group. If he can’t make substantive progress in tackling wildlife crime and the illegal persecution of raptors then nobody will!

    1. Putting in such effort to attend the conference surely places Supt Nick Lyall along with all of the volunteer raptor workers by giving of his own time. It shows the mark of the man but let’s not kid ourselves he will be under pressures from the dark side which we will be unaware of.

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