At the beginning of May we blogged about how SNH had rejected a 2019 application for a raven cull licence in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire (see here).
This decision followed last year’s fiasco when SNH had issued a raven cull licence for Strathbraan, on what we considered to be false pretences, and which was eventually withdrawn after a legal challenge by the Scottish Raptor Study Group.
A subsequent analysis by SNH’s own Scientific Advisory Committee found the ‘study’ (designed by GWCT) to be ‘completely inadequate’, ‘seriously flawed’ and said ‘it will fail to provide any meaningful scientific evidence’.
[Photo by Dieter Schaeffer]
In response to SNH’s 2019 licensing decision, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has today decided it’s going to have a massive pity party. It’s written a seven-page invitation to anyone that might want to attend: SGAs open letter_Strathbraan raven cull_May2019
This open letter has apparently been sent to MSPs and also to a number of news desks.
Many thanks to journalist Ilona Amos for allowing us a right of reply in this article published in The Scotsman this afternoon.
Sorry to ruin your pity party with a few home truths, SGA. Actually, we’re not sorry at all. The gratuitous slaughter of wildlife that takes place every day on game bird shooting estates throughout the UK is obscene. That predator-hating gamekeepers should ever be given a licence to kill even more wildlife, on the pretext of it being ‘scientific research’, in an area identified as a wildlife crime hotspot, is beyond comprehension.
11 thoughts on “Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s pity party in response to failed Strathbraan raven cull bid”
Thanks immensely for your diligence, skill, patience,uprightness and absolute brilliance RPS-you give hope courage and strength to so many of us who get an immense boost from seeing wildlife- or even signs of it- in the wild
Great last paragraph. Deservedly scathing. If the public knew of the scale of wildlife slaughter that goes on they’d be shocked.
Well reading that letter was like listening to a bunch of six year olds telling you that their mummies aren’t letting them outside because it’s raining and that’s just not fair!! They managed to make references to Wild Justice, Chris Packham (several times) and even the supposed depredations of sea eagles on West coast sheep farming – mind you if they’re having to keep lambs indoors for a bit then the massive mortality they’ve had from exposure and malnutrition should go down, funny how that didn’t seem to bother Sheep farmers but I suppose bad husbandry won’t get you public sympathy or subsidy when claiming eagles take lambs would (e.g remember Gairloch!). The plan to reintroduce sea eagles to the Isle of Wight getting the green light has really pissed off the Tweed set and they’re not missing any opportunity to rubbish them.
The incessant referencing of ‘Undertstanding Predation’ – UP – really underlined why that dreary little project ever happened, a sorry attempt to undermine legitimate science whenever it conflicts with what the SGA and friends want to hear which is pretty much what happens every time legitimate science is involved. So a big deal was made of UP when it started with this in mind, and for me the really shocking thing has been hearing SNH refer to it as if it’s a credible document and viewpoint – if ‘locals’ don’t agree with a scientific report then there must be something wrong with it, because they after all are the ones who are out in the field and see things all the time. The problem with that is that’s what field research does – dedicated observation with the intention to collect specific information, and if informal observations have identified important new phenomena the field research will confirm and quantify it. That’s exactly what happened when Irish gamekeepers noticed grey squirrels disappeared and red ones returned when pine marten moved back, and (unusually) progressive sheep farmers in Pontbren saw that new tree planting redirected flash flooding flowing over fields down into the soil, a very new and important discovery relevant to flood prevention. In both cases subsequent studies very strongly confirmed what the original witnesses stated. There’s absolutely no conflict between valid observations of real phenomena and good science – exactly the opposite they compliment each other beautifully.
Real science won’t support wishful thinking, propaganda, bias or outright lies so the SGA’s not going to be keen on it. They’ve played their hand exploiting an at least subconscious mental image that many people probably have of science and scientists as blokes (predominantly) in a lab in white coats with goggles on holding a test tube over a Bunsen burner – or peering down a microscope – or typing away at a computer. The SGA stresses this by saying how different ‘being in the field’ is to science – which is bollocks because that’s where most of the science takes place. I wouldn’t want to glorify them by saying it’s been their grand strategy, but it’s been sneaky little tactics to help deflect the good science that’s bad for them and also been fundamental to utter shite like the Strathbraan raven cull. They’ve been knocked back very badly indeed over the latter, but I wish we could tear the throat out of the abomination that is ‘Undertstanding Predation’ – it’s the foundation of this whole approach and there’s something very creepy and Orwellian about it.
Great response. Keep calling the swines out every time. They deserve nothing but contempt for their psychopathic slaughter of our wildlife.
Loki, Swine are quite intelligent animals and they don’t kill for kicks.
[Ed: comment deleted as libellous]
How much longer do we have to tolerate the archaic and barbaric gamekeepers for?
They live and belong in the past!
There is a raven predation on red grouse rather than raven predation on waders point here. The SGA’s open letter includes the following: “There had been no need for anyone to control ravens to have grouse on these pieces of land……..as had been amply demonstrated.” That remark refers to the situation in 2017, stated to have been a good red grouse season at Strathbraan, and not to the poor 2018 season. Nevertheless this remark by SGA is worth noting if and when it comes to countering arguments that killing of ravens is necessary in the interests of maintaining the viability of grouse moors.
It really is a simple equation, which the ‘Keepers of Game’ don’t seem to have realised, in that, they have created a surplus of one species; the Moorland Chicken (AKA Red Grouse) and don’t know enough about wildlife (or game) to understand that nature does abhor a vacuum and removing all predators, creates a surplus, which starts to enhance disease, within that surplus. Then, naturally, the ‘saved’ species, starts to show signs of various diseases, in consequence and the ‘Keepers of Game’ then blame the predators, which, naturally, take advantage of the weakest in their target food. All of course, confirming that it is Ravens, Harriers, Peregrines, Foxes aye and even Blue Hares, which are the CAUSE of the problem, rather than a symptom of a very poor management system, with a virtual culture of only one species.
Any school laddie, or lassie, could show the faults in the present ‘game keeping’ system, but apparently, it is beyond the shooting lobby’s ability to come to logical conclusions.
If all these gamekeepers and farmers are such knowledgeable and steadfast guardians of the countryside and wildlfe (as they keep telling us) how come our bird populations are in such decline? They control and manage huge swathes of our non-built environment and it’s in a parlous state. So who’s fault is that?