Scottish Government commissions research on gamekeepers’ “rights & aspirations”

While we’re all waiting for Scottish Ministers to turn twenty years’ worth of hollow promises in to tangible and effective action against the rampant criminality still all-too evident on many grouse and pheasant-shooting estates, the Scottish Government has decided to invite tenders for some new research in to the ‘rights and aspirations’ of gamekeepers.

Yes, it’s easy to see why this would be a priority for the Government. Those poor, misunderstood raptor haters, who do so much in their role as custodians of the countryside….

[Pie chart from RSPB Birdcrime report: The occupations/interests of the 176 individuals convicted of bird of prey persecution-related offences 1990-2015]

Does this look like the actions of a Government ready to crack down on criminals in an industry known to be heavily involved in the illegal killing of birds of prey?

Although to be fair, the new research isn’t just about gamekeepers. The full title of the research contract up for grabs is this:

To fill gaps in existing knowledge on the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and to better understand the rights, benefits, attitudes, working conditions and future aspirations of gamekeepers.

This has come about following the publication earlier this year of the Government-commissioned Socio-economic and Biodiversity Impacts of Driven Grouse Moors in Scotland. That research identified a load of gaps and this latest research opportunity aims to fill some of those gaps as well as to look at the game-keeping profession, as Roseanna Cunningham had indicated way back in 2017 when she first announced the Werritty Review in to grouse moor management.

The invitation for tender can be found here with a closing date for applications at midday on 7th July 2019.

The research contract is worth £80,000 and begins on 24th July and ends on 20th December.

The tender document can be downloaded here: Research to assess the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors

Most of the detail is dull and tedious and only relevant to those submitting a tender, but this short summary of what is expected from the work is useful:

Sarcasm and irony aside, some of this research is actually long-overdue and should make a significant contribution to the discussions about the so-called benefits of grouse moor management, assuming there are sufficient and reliable data sources available. However, the usual caveat applies – it all depends on which organisation wins the tender and whether they are sufficiently independent and robust for the research to withstand scrutiny. If it’s anything as bad as the GWCT’s research proposal to kill ravens in Strathbraan (described as “completely inadequate” and “seriously flawed” by SNH’s own Scientific Advisory Committee) then we’ll be no further forward.

The timing is interesting though. This research will clearly feed in to the long-awaited Werritty Review, which was supposed to have been submitted by now but we understand has been delayed due to ill-health. For how long remains to be seen.

10 thoughts on “Scottish Government commissions research on gamekeepers’ “rights & aspirations””

  1. You’ve illustrated this blog with the wrong pie chart. The Scotland-specific chart from the same report shows the percentage of raptor persecution criminals who are employed as gamekeepers to be a whopping 86%.!

  2. Another fudge in dealing with the ‘real problem’ on grouse moors that affect our birds of prey. More research, more delay and as you rightly say the final report will much depend on which organisation/person/persons get the contract.

  3. I’d suggest that a fascinating research project would be titled “Psychological profiling of game management course students”. I often wonder what goes on in the heads of young people signing-up for a course in the full knowledge that killing wildlife will be a key part of their future duties and that, during the course of their future employment, they will expected, indeed encouraged, to break the law.

  4. Well if I was planning to shut down driven grouse shooting it would be useful to know how many gamekeepers and their families were going to be turfed out onto the moor and left to fend for themselves by their former caring masters. Defining their ‘rights and aspirations’ would be a good first step in making sure that did not happen.

  5. I aspire, along with many others, to see Hen Harriers wintering in their former numbers in his home county and the right of everyone to see this magnificent raptor gracing the skies protected. Perhaps we can have a grant to research that topic!

    1. Oops – that should read ‘my home county’ which is Kent. The number of wintering HH has plummeted disastrously in the county over the last few decades. Gone are the days when a dozen or more could be seen roosting at Stodmarsh where 2-3 birds are now the norm. Fewer regular wintering roosts too.

  6. How about comparitive research on the attitude of successive governments towards the rights and benefits of the unemployed coal miners, steel workers and shipbuilders of Scotland?…that is compared to the rights and benefits still enjoyed by the heavily protected [even after they get caught, no they dont all get sacked by any means!] grouse moor gamekeepers….

  7. To promote the growth of exceptionally long grass…

    Do a study…find out its incomplete… a study….find out its incomplete….do a study….find out its incomplete….do a study….find out its incomplete….do a study….find out its incomplete….do a study….find out its incomplete……………………

    When the decision is finally made it will be political (no mater what the science says) so if the will was there, they could make the decision now.

  8. Sounds good, as a newspaper headline, as no doubt the results would be made to show in a similar headline. But, as you say, depends who does it, and how they frame the questions. Plus, will the truth be told in answer to those questions?! Likely the nearest to the truth would be listening to the craic in the local pub, on the quiet!

  9. Let’s hope the Victorian attitudes of some owners shown towards their staff and families are within scope such as notice periods, tied houses, nods and winks towards raptor persecution, pressure from sporting agents and owners, tips and bonuses. This is in part a driver to the persecution of raptors.

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