Questionable commitment as Scottish Ministers ignore barbaric raptor persecution crime

Look at this.

It’s a personalised card, crafted in gold, pleading with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take action following the recent news that yet another two satellite-tagged golden eagles had vanished in suspicious circumstances on a Scottish grouse moor, shortly after a satellite-tagged hen harrier had been found dead on another nearby grouse moor with an illegal leg clamped to its leg.

This exquisite artwork was sent to Ms Sturgeon by Jackie Morris, co-creater of The Lost Words.

It’s one of many that have been sent, inspired by a drawing by children’s author Gill Lewis, including drawings by seven and nine-year old boys, all sufficiently motivated by the loss of these eagles to want to ask for their protection (e.g. see here).

And there have been even more:

And it’s not just drawings. We know that many of you have been emailing the First Minister ( asking for action, following the example of Andy Wightman MSP, the golden eagle species champion who wrote to Ms Sturgeon the day the news broke that ‘his’ golden eagle, Adam, was one of those that had vanished.

The response from the First Minister, the Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon? Complete and utter silence.

That was two weeks ago.

Then yesterday came the news of the sadistic trapping of another hen harrier on another Scottish grouse moor, with a graphic video showing the extent of this bird’s injuries and suffering. It was sickening viewing, made all the worse by knowing that the traps had been deliberately set to target this bird at its nest. This was no accident. It was a brazen, brutal and ruthless attack and because there were no witnesses, the perpetrator hasn’t been identified and is likely to escape justice, just like so many others on so many other occasions.

The public outpouring of shock and disgust on social media, even from many within the shooting community, was instantaneous. These were the responses of decent human beings, with a visceral reaction to the distress of that traumatised hen harrier.

The response from the First Minister, Environment Cabinet Secretary and Rural Affairs Minister?

Total silence.

It is utterly baffling why these three intelligent, thoughtful, decent and normally dynamic people have refused to comment on such barbarity. It’s not because they’re on holiday (they’re all still tweeting about other stuff) and it can’t possibly be because they don’t know what’s been going on.

No, this is clearly a political decision – but why? Who’s advising them?

Is it something to do with the Werritty review? Who knows, and to be quite frank, who cares? We don’t need to wait for the findings of yet another review (already overdue) to know that change must come and it must be led by these senior politicians. But even if they are waiting for Werritty to report, that still shouldn’t prevent them from condemning these ongoing crimes and committing to addressing the issue, once and for all. This silence is what we’ve come to expect from Westminster politicians, not those in Holyrood.

What can they possibly gain by remaining silent? If anything, their refusal to comment must actually be pretty damaging – it looks like they just don’t care and to be honest, I’m tired of making excuses for them.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Dr Martin Luther King.

22 thoughts on “Questionable commitment as Scottish Ministers ignore barbaric raptor persecution crime”

  1. I have sent two polite emails to the first minister. So far no response. Really saddened that she is not prepared to stand up for Scotland’s amazing wildlife.

  2. If a demo was organised for outside the so called parliament now given the loss of Adam and Charlie and this latest barbarity wouldn’t it get at least as many people there as the protest at the mountain hare cull did? I’m sure orgs like FoE Scotland could be persuaded to send at least one rep. I think there’s a very good chance the media would cover it. How would Mairi get away with not coming out to say hello when she’s the species’ champion? Would Extinction Rebellion come along if asked…they wouldn’t need to take any direct actions! No matter how bad things get it seems to make no difference it’s going to be business as usual because that’s what’s happened before. Everybody seems to be bracing themselves for the Werrity report being another false dawn.

    1. I agree Les !!! Let’s do something physical, let’s get people down to Holyrood, where, a Kestrel soars !! Get tweets out, organise a demo !!! THEY CAN NOT REMAIN SILENT on this anymore !!!

      1. I’ve just had a look at the formal process for staging a demo at the Parliament, not at all difficult. I’m going to start making phone calls.

          1. Due to parliamentary recess THEY AREN’T BACK UNTIL SEPTEMBER THE 2ND!!! Been reliably informed it’s best to hang fire just for now. Will do so, but still up for a demo when the time’s right.

    2. Les, I have believed for a long time now that we are just not getting this issue out there. Politicians and the courts are more than happy that only a relatively small number of us understand what is going on. Ours is a nation of animal lovers. If CPs video was aired on prime time it would cause uproar. But how to promote this with the media fully on the side of the governing bodies due to their own ownership of grouse farms is a truly vexing question.
      Several reports in the media on the Walk for Wildife last year mentioned a march of 500 people when the police estimate was in excess of ten thousand.
      If a protest could be organised as you say, we would definitely try to make the trip up from Lincolnshire and I’m sure we would not be the only English who would do so. And yes, it would have to be reported in the media. The problem would be that they are bound to play it down again.
      I am now of the opinion that only direct, albeit peaceful, action is the answer.
      Although no longer with us, I think Benny Rothman can still show us the way.

      1. Cheers Paul, I think a big march when it’s appropriate to do so is part of the answer. There was a fairish number for the mountain hare cull demo given the utter disgust at the wildlife slaughter, legal and illegal, for driven grouse shooting it really shouldn’t be unrealistic to have a few thousand at Holyrood with enough time, preparation and support from other bodies. Like you I keep thinking of what a game changer the Kinder Scout Trespass was – don’t we need something like it now? The KST also shows the real ‘cultural’ contribution grouse moors have made towards civil society, a negative one that had/has to be fought. The Edinburgh Festival and driven grouse shooting both start next month and it amazes me the latter has never been a subject in the former, what does DGS say about the human condition after all? What a fantastic opportunity to take the issue to a broader audience and how many foreign visitors would be supportive of bringing our wildlife back as opposed to incinerating our hills to kill it? If the Arts community in Scotland got behind this what a great help that would be.

  3. Like I posted in response to the previous blog – time to call for the Cabinet Secretary’s resignation. Her hands must be squashed flat by now, she’s been sitting on them for so long.

  4. It’s about time this government governed, but I suspect the First Minister is far too busy for such trivial matters, she’ll be planning her next foreign trip like the true Statesperson she’d like us to believe she is.

    [Ed: Let’s not turn this in to a personal abuse-fest, please. Just stick to the lack of action on raptor persecution]

  5. How can the Scottish Government sit by and watch as the country’s reputation is trashed by these criminal thugs who think they can destroy the nation’s heritage for their own selfish interests?

  6. You are SO right about this. Let’s face it, the World is smothered by clear examples of wildlife atrocty of all forms, much of which is perpetrated by people who regard themselves as elite. In all those places we see governments either condoning the activity or letting it pass.
    On gun law around the World, things only happen when enough of the community say to their government “DO SOMETHING!” Think Australia after their human massacre, think New Zealand after the mosque massacre.
    Politicians are somehow comforted by the “norms” of the World.
    We need to start with telling ScotGov that the elites who ACTUALLY own and run the country need to be put under control because we’ve had enough of their selfish agenda and the lies of their agents and servants.

  7. Personally I think we are wasting our time talking to the political class. They are in politics because the are unemployable, who in the outside world would employ them?? Mass trespass on these estates during the grouse season is the only way to hit them where it hurts in their pockets.

  8. “It is utterly baffling why these three intelligent, thoughtful, decent and normally dynamic people”

    In light of recent events, it’s time to review the above. These are the (in)actions of people who are completely self serving. The SNP continue to utterly fail Scotland’s wildlife.

  9. As their chief representative at Westminster, Ian Blackford, keeps banging on about ‘the people of Scotland’ maybe the SNP are only interested in people and not the iconic wildlife of Scotland!?

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