SNH rejects 2019 licence application for Strathbraan raven cull

Good news! Ravens venturing on to the grouse moors of Strathbraan in Highland Perthshire this year will NOT be the victims of an SNH-sanctioned kill-fest ‘just to see what happens’, as they were in 2018.

The so-called Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW), also known as gamekeepers, submitted a revised licence application to SNH on 18 March 2019. We haven’t yet seen this licence application so we don’t know how many ravens they wanted to kill this year.

However, in an FoI response we received last night, SNH confirmed that the licence application did not meet the recommendations of SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee and so SNH has rejected the application.

[Raven by Dieter Schaefer]

Full details about this year’s licence application, as well as the details of the Scientific Advisory Committee’s recommendations are due to be released to us by SNH on 10th May. It’ll be an interesting read and we’ll share relevant information on this blog.

Very obviously, we’re delighted that ravens will not be killed gratuitously (albeit under licence) on the grouse moors of Strathbraan this year and we’re also delighted to see SNH take its licensing responsibilities seriously, in stark contrast to last year.

However, just like last year, SNH has not been keen to communicate openly and transparently. It’s taken a bit of work to drag the news from SNH about its decision to reject this year’s licence application. Earlier this week we blogged about a series of FoI emails where we argued that SNH was withholding information unreasonably (see here).

There has been further correspondence since then, as follows:

From SNH, 30th April 2019:

To SNH, 1 May 2019:

From SNH, 2 May 2019:

Many thanks to our legal team Sindi Mules (Balfour & Manson) and Aidan O’Neill QC (Matrix Chambers) for their continued support of this case.

Thanks also to all those who supported the #Justice4Ravens crowdfunder last year – there is still money in the pot and it’s being used to pay for on-going legal advice.


23 thoughts on “SNH rejects 2019 licence application for Strathbraan raven cull”

  1. Well thats one in the eye for the fake science that was concocted up as a figleaf for last years fiasco! Thank goodness for the real scientists that SNH bring in as a check on their politically driven staff.

    I hope that we will be able to see the assessment documents to find out where the sham application was deficient. Remember… there was no scientific justification behind the targeting of ravens, there was no baseline data, no control areas and no approved methodology. Just shooting ravens to see if they die aka gamekeeper science.

  2. Is it just me that thinks that the application date of 18th March is ridiculously late. It gives no time for a proper decision to be made and Ravens are already nesting at that time. They obviously just thought it would get accepted without an question in spite of it being rejected last year.

  3. P.S. Very good news. I thought their lack of transparency was a sure sign they had allowed the cull. Weird they would be shy of announcing the correct decision

  4. Great to hear this news and well done again to you for your persistence in chasing SNH for details..

  5. This is brilliant news!!!! Last year’s decision was an incredible blunder by SNH, even a non scientist like me could see it was a sop, a PR exercise for the shooting community it had absolutely zero credibility or worth as a scientific trial. Given that over 30 million pheasants are released into the countryside each year and that they’ve been observed eating wader chicks isn’t it way past time research was directed at their ecological impact across the board? SNH got their fingers badly burned last year, the petition against the raven slaughter was phenomenally popular and the review of the decision to grant the licence blasted them. I would imagine they want the whole issue to go away, and perhaps not rock the boat too much with the shooting community – this is a blatant rejection they won’t like. Isn’t that wonderful!?!

    BTW BASC have now produced a (mis)infgographic about the need for predator control. Admittedly it’s very pretty, but otherwise laughable. The ‘facts’ sound like incredibly desperate cherry picking to me – jays responsible for 46% of blackcap nests being lost, crows doing the same with 63% of nightjar nests etc. The latter figure was of particular interest because the RSPB partnered with Forest Enterprise had a very successful nightjar conservation project in Dumfriesshire. On checking according to the RSPB they only carried out habitat management work for the ground nesting nightjar, no predator control what so ever and it’s very unlikely Forest Enterprise did any – it’s voles, rabbits and deer that are a problem for them not crows, foxes or stoats. The conservation organisations really need to counter the anti predator guff that’s been directed at magpies, jays, crows, ravens, cormorants, mergansers, goosanders, foxes, pine martens, badgers, otters, buzzards, kites, sparrowhawks, stoats, weasels, seals and even bottlenose dolphins. They need to do for predators the sort of thing BASC is trying to do against them with crap like this –

    1. Les,
      Of course Jays and Crows eat eggs and nestlings (don’t know anything about the veracity of the percentages quoted though) just as Song Thrushes eat snails and Kingfishers eat fish and Blue Tits eat caterpillars. The question of course is does this have an effect at the population level and think the answer is probably not.

      1. Exactly, and there’s an urgent need to look at other issues that aren’t natural factors like predation which the birds have always had to deal with. The Woodland Trust is starting to highlight that our woods being smothered by non native plants like rhododendron, cherry laurel and snowberry is crap for native wildlife and is a bigger problem than was thought. I’ve cut down loads of cherry laurel and where it’s thick it’s a wildlife desert. And where did a lot of the infestations start from? Well would you believe it a lot of these species have been used as cover for game! I recently came across a nursery that was selling cherry laurel and snowberry for that specific purpose and claimed they were good for wildlife too which was incredibly idiotic. Reported it to SNH who got in contact with the nursery who ‘advised’ the nursery not to do it. I suspect an awful lot of non native game cover plants are still being planted out although this may actually be illegal, it’s certainly a conservation disaster.

    2. Thanks for the link Les. Most amusing stats / fake news there. … Losses of £1,000 a Day — Wages in the Pest Control industry must have really shot up since my years working in that industry & also, I have no doubt that Keepers up & down the country really are lying awake at night worrying about Blackcap numbers on their beat! :-)

    1. Well said, Les. RT deserves an OBE (if it wasn’t dispensed from an establishment that does nothing to stop the killing of our raptors…).

  6. I wonder if the precipitate capitulation of Natural England, rather than face up to the Wild Justice inspired judicial review potentially finding that they have acted unlawfully for decades, has had a knock-on effect on these other agencies? It would be good to see a domino effect on them, removing the necessity to go after them directly, wasting time and money and the continued quasi-legal slaughter of our birds.

    Not that it will stop the criminal activity – but the criminals won’t be able to hide behind a piece of paper.

  7. Excellent development. Well done RPUK and all involved. This shows that a practical difference can be achieved by ordinary folk.

    I suspect I speak for many supporters in saying that until NE and SNH prove that they can be “open and transparent” with the general public then financial support and resources, via crowdfunding etc, will always be forthcoming in an effort to help them maintain their integrity.

    Keep up the good work, we are right behind you.

  8. Ravens are not even raptors, just omnivores, who enjoy starting the day on an egg, just as we do. They’re also among the rare species on earth who share, with man, upper primates and dolphins, self-awareness (cf. Konrad Lorenz – ‘King Solomon’s Ring’). It could be argued that wantonly killing them is a kind of murder, or would be, if our society were a little more evolved.

  9. Great news Raptor Persecution UK and congratulations for your dogged perseverence – but now you have to win the PUBLICITY battle, to get the message across to the widest possible audience that the culling of Ravens in Strathbraan has been stopped, and explain the relevance of this in the context of the whole of Scotland. It is only through publicity that we will win the hearts, minds and support of the majority, and make it impossible for slippery eels like Scottish Natural Heriage and the Scottish Government to override the will of the people where wildlife welfare and protection is concerned.

  10. Great news! How those bastards can kill these magnificent birds is beyond me. Can’t we set about dismantling the SSCW now? It’s been exposed for the sham it is. Fucking bastards – I despise them!

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