‘Eagles are being slaughtered as part of serious organised crime’

Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform held its first ever fringe event at a party political conference yesterday, at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee.

The event was chaired by Claudia Beamish MSP and three speakers from Revive joined the panel (Dr Ruth Tingay of RPUK, Max Wiszniewski, Revive Campaign Manager, and Dr Craig Dalzell, Head of Policy & Research at Common Weal) with another coalition member (Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland) in the audience.

[Photo by Louise Robertson]

Each speaker gave a ten minute presentation followed by approx 20 minutes of questions from the floor.

It was brilliant to see a number of journalists in the audience, resulting in some good coverage in the papers today.

The Herald focused on the illegal persecution of golden eagles and hen harriers on or close to driven grouse moors and journalist Alistair Grant got the message loud and clear that, in our opinion, the extent of this persecution on many driven grouse moors is such that it amounts to serious organised crime. [Definition by the National Crime Agency: ‘Serious crime planned, coordinated and conducted by people working together on a contuining basis. Their motivation is often, but not always, financial gain‘]

Here’s the text from The Herald article:

GOLDEN eagles and other protected birds of prey are being illegally slaughtered in what amounts to “serious organised crime”, a leading expert has said.

Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK said birds are being killed on or near grouse moors across Scotland before the evidence is then removed to avoid prosecution.

She spoke out during a fringe meeting at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee.

Claudia Beamish MSP, the party’s environment spokeswoman, said it backed strict new rules for estate owners – including a total ban on the use of lead shot and the large-scale cull of mountain hares.

She said: “In order for grouse moors to continue, if indeed they do, there needs to be very robust licensing.”

Labour delegates heard grouse moors cover almost a fifth of Scotland, with estates handed more than £300,000 a year in public subsidies.

Revive, a coalition of organisations calling for change, insisted estates should be stripped of this cash as part of a crackdown aimed at encouraging radical land reform.

It said the intensive land management associated with driven grouse shooting causes environmental damage.

Meanwhile, there is evidence scores of birds have been illegally killed on or near estates, it said.

Dr Tingay, a leading raptor ecologist, said: “My argument is that what we are seeing here – not just with golden eagles but with other birds of prey, particularly hen harriers, which are also persecuted on driven grouse moors – is serious organised crime.

If the Government accepted this, we would see a lot more resources coming in to deal with this issue.”

She said some estimates suggest 50 eagles a year are disappearing.

Revive is made up of Raptor Persecution UK, Friends of the Earth Scotland, animal charity Onekind, the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and think tank Common Weal.

Craig Dalzell, head of policy and research at Common Weal, said estates should be opened up to other uses.

He said grouse moors in Scotland had an annual economic impact of £32 million and were responsible for around 2,640 jobs.

In comparison, forestry boasts an annual economic impact of £973m and creates 26,000 jobs, he said.


The Press & Journal also covered this fringe event and journalist Tom Peterkin headlined with this:

Here’s the text of the P&J article:

Labour has said there should be robust licencing of grouse shooting amid claims that illegal wildlife killing on sporting estates amounted to “serious organised crime”.

The call was made by Shadow Environment Secretary Claudia Beamish at a Labour conference fringe meeting where she cast doubt on the survival of the pastime in the long-term.

The meeting was hosted by Revive, an organisation campaigning for the reform of the country sport and whose agenda includes stripping grouse moor landowners of public subsidies.

Speaking at the meeting, Ms Beamish said it would be “valid” for a licencing system to take into account issues raised by Revive.

Ms Beamish said: “I think that in order for grouse moors to continue – if indeed they do – there needs to be very robust licencing and robust monitoring.”

Ms Beamish made her remarks after campaigners claimed grouse moors only supported 3,000 jobs on an average salary of £11,500 despite accounting for almost one fifth of Scottish land.

Ruth Tiingay of Raptor Persecution UK, drew attention to golden eagles killed on Scottish moors, arguing it was “serious organised crime”.

Max Wiszniewski of Revive said his organisation was “not going for a ban” on grouse shooting “however understandable that would be”.

Rather Revive’s focus was to reform it as much as possible, including an end to government subsidies, heather burning limits, a lead ammunition ban, a ban on snares and more action against wildlife crime.

He said: “The question may come about if the industry can’t survive after the necessary reforms, it possibly has to reflect on itself.”


This was a very worthwhile event. Revive signed up more supporters to its pledge for grouse moor reform (you can sign online here if you haven’t already done so), it was an opportunity to interact with a number of politicians who were keen to learn more about the Revive campaign and the media was interested in what we had to say.

Well done to Max (Revive Campaign Manager) for organising this event and many thanks to Claudia Beamish MSP for her interest and support.

Revive will be at other party political conferences later this year.

12 thoughts on “‘Eagles are being slaughtered as part of serious organised crime’”

  1. Great, you all made an impact! So very pleased that the utter crapness of Grouse shooting as a contributor to the rural economy is underlined, it’s truly pathetic. Well done!

  2. I particularly like that Scottish media was present and based articles upon the subjects. It has been all too easy for estates to issue upon a clear criminal act taking place which xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx. The Scottish media so far have been all too helpful in publicising these PR puff pieces, whilst ignoring the truth, again fro instance, issued by the RSPB.
    Unfortunately a similar incidence is likely to occur all too soon. I hope at least some in the media will make clear on a repeat that they will not fall for such a trick again. This is worse that lazy journalism. It is assisting serious organised criminals, or possibly participating in serious organised crime.

    [Ed: Alex, some of your comment had to be deleted as its libellous. Even though you didn’t name the estate, the estate is still identifiable].

    1. You are right. It was identifiable, as were the many media sources which printed it with little or no qualification. I’m still mad, as well. Thanks for not revealing my statement which may possibly allow me to say this.

      [Ed: Hi Alex, yes, the name of the estate was printed in many media sources at the time, but the difference was they didn’t accuse the named estate of having committed “a clear criminal act”!]

      1. If I did say that I should not have done. I do admit that the sentences flying around in my head are not always reflected correctly in the words on the page. They might need correcting or even removing as you have done.

  3. Yet another excellent initiative and opportunity taken. It keeps the issue in the public eye. Drip, drip, drip! One day we’ll get there.

  4. I am proud to be associated with such gallant, humane, ethica and determined people, who have consistently challenged a group of callous law-breaking “sports people”, whose activities over the past few centuries, have inflicted a dreadful slaughter of wildlife in Scotland, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Scottish and other peoples of these blessed isles, have moved on to becoming a very aware and concerned part of humanity, with not just an interest in protecting our own native flora and fauna, but that of the rest of the world. There is a war of attrition on against the natural world and its full complement of very diverse and wonderful life forms. Only a philistine of contemptuous nature would wish to blast birds and other animals, for some form of perverted pleasure, as where shooting is for the practical purpose of food for the table, and provided by a law-abiding estate, we have a cruel and intolerant conspiracy to eradicate all that it may think is vermin.

    There is no excuse for anyone to cling to spurious arguments for the industrial rearing and killing of game birds. Minds and hearts are now open in our society, as to what is good and what is bad behaviour. The media has brought the severe threats to wildlife and their habitats into all homes, resulting in millions of pounds pouring out to support a wonderfully varied number of charities, employing young and eager people, motivated to save endangered species, and to bring the long sought for inclusion of animal welfare into the conservation processes.

    What some of our politicians, especially ones in Ministerial positions, such as Fergus Ewing, have to appreciate that Scotland/UK has to play its part in saving the Earth’s natural environments of terrestrial and marine worlds. Instead of winning these struggles to conserve and to treat humanely, the battle is being lost due to governments allowing trophy shooting, poaching and inappropriate developments to rule the roost. We are seeing it emerge in Namibia and in Botswana, and in the latter a serious threat to its Elephant population has emerged, with its government having been approached by the rich trophy shooting mob, and others who want the ivory, to begin the “harvesting” of Elephants. Botswana is the country that had “problems” with the Bushmen, who have been on that land for the past 40,000 years plus, to get out of the way of safari tripsters and for diamond mining. This type of alternative use of land and what is on that land, is often put forward in arguments to justify some damaging development or to continue with one that has become ethically wrong. Scotland has its Birds of Prey and a “vermin” list of other species, all adduced for the case of game bird shooting to continue on its horrendous way, as being a strategic and contributive part of the Scottish and elsewhere, economies. Being a person whose ancestors were miners and shipyard workers, I find all this twaddle to support such an industry insulting, as I have never seen any of the grouse shooting brigade campaigning for workers’ rights in those industries, where thousands were losing their jobs, and in today’s world with the vulnerable shop, car, bank workers losing their jobs on a daily basis. Yet, replies from MSPs and MPs, all compiled by some biased civil servant, rant on about it being important to support shooting estates for their role in rural employment and to the economy. In the past, that tripe was effective in silencing concern, but not today, as the information is out there, for everyone to see for themselves, about the state of economies and the bad management in many areas of this country and in others.

    Finally, thanks must go the Scottish Labour Party for declaring last year to support more fully, issues relating to conservation and animal welfare. I would like to thank the Greens for their support, and to individual politicians from the other parties, who stand out for their ethical support. What we now need, is a set of restraints on those forces in the public service which allegedly has individuals, who favour lack of humane progress when it comes to shooting estates, and who have become a “bowel” blockage in the drive to make Scotland a model for conservation. We need the right people in Ministerial office, and not anachronisms perpetuating bad and harmful practices. The Birds of Prey issue is part of whole concern for the Scottish environment, and the undemocratic behaviour by some in decision-making, for example, Coul Sands; the cutting down of Scots Pines in the Cairngorms to make way for a development; the spraying of Forestry Commission woodlands with possibly cancer causing chemicals, to the detriment of various species of harmless insect and possibly to human health. We require a more inclusive and sensitive decision-making way of dealing with the environment, and one without cronyism and favour of particular environment damaging activities. The cap is there to fit!

  5. Eventually the grouse farming industry is going to realise that it will have to clean up its act, though sadly before that happens a lot more raptors are going to have to die first. I think the sooner tougher penalties and monitoring are put on the statue books, the sooner this will happen.

  6. Morning thankyou for all the work your org does -ive signed .Will you be at SGP Spring Conference in April ?I hope so .

  7. These brutal anti wildlife activities must all be BANNED. The grouse shooting industry have been asked nicely to stop killing birds of prey, to stop burning the moors which spews out toxic stuff for miles and milesbut, just like the pheasant shoots, the hunters of deer and foxes and hares, they wrongly believe its their right. what all these hunters and brutes do is unacceptable. there is only one way to get these destructive horrors under control and that is to b ring in a Labour Party. The Tory party are systematically destroying many aspects of this country .

  8. I beginning to think it’s time for a wifi cam to be added to the trackers, something light which can be accessed remotely. With this, and the Tracking data, police should be able to get to the birds, and the perpetrators much quicker.

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