Gamekeepers ignore ‘voluntary suspension’ of burning as Scottish grouse moor set alight

It’s been just five days since the landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates called on land managers to voluntarily halt muirburn activities on grouse moors to ‘reduce the strain’ on the fire and rescue services during the coronavirus pandemic (see here).

Today, at 15.39hrs, this photograph was taken showing smoke rising from a grouse moor in Stirlingshire. So much for the grouse shooting industry’s ability and willingness to self-regulate, eh?

This is an area of grouse moor a few miles west of Stirling:

It’s an interesting area, close to where a three-year general licence restriction was imposed on a grouse moor in 2015 (see here and here) following a number of confirmed raptor persecution incidents, including the poisoning of a red kite, the poisoning of a peregrine and the illegal trapping of a red kite.

This fire is yet another example, of hundreds if not thousands, of why this industry can’t be trusted to do the right thing and why the Scottish Government needs to get on with introducing statutory regulations without further delay.

31 thoughts on “Gamekeepers ignore ‘voluntary suspension’ of burning as Scottish grouse moor set alight”

  1. These people are selfish, arrogant monsters who think laws and responsibilities beyond their own sick world are for other people……ban the bl**dy horrible business I say. !

  2. Massive fire on the sidlaw hills just north of dundee again this afternoon the wind was blowing from the north so the thick smoke was covering the village of tealing. Witnessed 2 fire engines heading up towards the fire.Its an absolute disgrace.

    1. Would a FOI request to the fire brigade requesting the location and cause of the fire, number and type of vehicles and number of crew called to the scene be useful in generating provable publicity about this?

  3. Nobody should be surprised at the obvious ignorance of gamekeepers and the arrogance of their employers…..arrogance based on the knowledge they are well protected by the law and the law makers.

    1. The whole industry needs to be shut down now,these actions should be a thing of the past in this day and age.

  4. Similar in the Southern Uplands around Peebles: looking south this afternoon from my local hill in the Pentlands, multiple muirburns were billowing smoke into the sky.

    1. It certainly begs the question whether anyone actually has any influence over the idiots who are doing this.?

  5. I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to say this without loads of crosses appearing, but I am familiar with an estate within or close to the marked area. Here I go…. [Ed: rest of comment deleted as libellous]

    1. Would the deleted section still be libellous if it were sent as a private message and read only by the recipient? Actually I don’t care, I just want to know what is considered libellous in this respect.

  6. Not suprising for an industry that has always considered itself above the law – and is indulged in this by so many government agencies

  7. Why exactly aren’t estates – and even more sontheir owners named here ? There was no such reticence over who was getting tax relief in the Flow Country in the 1980s – in facrbitvwas possibly the most effective tactic in the whole dispute. Is it that these very rich people will try and use litigation noone can afford to face as wasvthe case with NE and Walshaw Moor ? The wholecsituation speaks volumes about a section of soviety – the very richest – who seem to feel their money exempts them from civilised,mresponsible behaviour.

  8. The fact that only five days ago the Scottish Land & Estates called upon land managers not to undertake any further muirburn, which now appears to have been ignored by various land mangers across much of Scotland is testament to a shooting industry totally out of control.

    The various shooting and moorland associations have time and time again refuted calls for government imposed regulations; claiming that the grouse shooting industry can be controlled through self regulation.

    Clearly, at a time of national emergency when the whole of the UK society has gone onto a “war footing” in order to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
    For estate mangers to ignore the guidance from their own associations, put the fire service at risk of unnecessary callout, and undertake actions which clearly demonstrate a total disregard for acting within the spirit of The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, not only beggars belief, but is clear evidence that the only way forward is now for the Scottish Parliament to pass the necessary legislation to impose strict regulations on the entire shooting industry and management of grouse moors.

    Failure by the Scottish Parliament to act in the face of such appalling behaviour by these land managers would be a disgrace, and a complete disservice to the people of Scotland; especially when those people have seen virtually all their free movement of travel restricted, and a suspension of many of their basic civil liberties.

    Hopefully this will be the “wake up call” politicians need to realise that if they want to represent and serve the population of this country, then they can no longer listen to arrogant voice of the few “self entitled” rich landowners, who only have their own self interests at heart.
    Sadly I expect the smoke from the muirburns will so cloud and fog the politicians view, that they won’t be able to see the truth that stands before their very eyes!
    “Wilful blindness” caused by the smoke of raging muirburn!

  9. This isn’t that very far away from where I live in Falkirk and just goes to show how prevalent grouse moors are in Scotland, but we aren’t aware of them because they provide next to nothing for us so they aren’t part of our lives. I got a big shock a few months before Fred ‘disappeared’ when I was told that there was grouse shooting in the Pentland hills, I’d spent fifty years ignorant of that fact. I’ve driven past that hill/moor in Gargunnock several times and it always struck me how particularly fecking bleak and miserable it looked (it’s really AWFUL) so this has come as no great surprise, more of an explanation why. Even in the central belt many of us aren’t that far away from driven grouse shooting and consider how very much better ecologically, recreationally, environmentally, economically these would be if they weren’t grouse moors? Conservation working breaks, targeted tree planting for flood reduction and firebreaks, pony trekking, walking, community led rewilding initiatives (imagine giving the public an opportunity to help get beavers back where they’d really help other wildlife and to keep homes dry) etc, etc. All of this possible in not just the Cairngorms or Angus Glens, but also in the Lammermuirs, Pentlands, Stirlingshire, South Lanarkshire and thereby a fair bit closer and more accessible to millions of people.

    The vast majority of the British people have absolutely no idea how much they’ve missed out on because significant parts of our country were appropriated to be grouse ranches, many of which should have provided the very best chance to have something other than industry, intensive farming or housing estates in their lives. Instead we got vast expanses of artificially imposed bleakness that could bring on depression just by looking at them, thank feck I’ve never had to actually live next to one. The loss of birds of prey from the hills is absolutely bloody awful, but even then that’s still the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what those of us not addicted to shooting birds have missed out on, ignorance certainly hasn’t been bliss in this case just emptiness at a national scale.

    1. Les-
      A very apt and very true description – there are grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales which are equally devoid of all life except artificially reared grouse.
      All bio diversity has gone- there is just a silence, a bleakness, a sense of death- so much so, I have named them the “killing fields” or the “valleys of death”.
      A sense of utter despair descends on me when I am in them, a presence of evil, malevolence in the air, – almost as though nature is sending a stark warning of the horrors that await all who dwell in such a place too long, and a reminder of the utter disregard and destruction of life capable by some who call themselves human but lack humanity!!
      Where I should see life- I just see gloom and desolation, and it makes me angry…..angry enough to want to fight for justice for those creatures that inhabit the wild, a habitat which should be theirs, and where they should be able to live without mans destructive interference!
      Fortunately there are many others who feel like this, and hopefully by working together we can bring about change for good- but it is a battle I fear mankind has been waging on itself, ever since it stood up on two legs, and expressed itself to the world….before sneaking off into the shadows to decide what to kill next!!

      1. Aye they’re bloody soul destroying places even from a car. When I was a kid we used to drive between Falkirk and Gloucester several times a year and I always remember us going through south Lanarkshire and being utterly appalled at how empty the moors were you just knew something was wrong. That part of the journey always depressed the hell out of me and I still remember that from forty plus years ago. The hill behind Gargunnock is exactly the bloody same. Closer acquaintance with grouse moors reinforces the impression. I know Yorkshire too and grouse moors certainly don’t enhance it very much the opposite. Driven grouse shooting is definitely not getting the cosy treatment in the media it used to and I often wonder if behind the scenes those involved in it are getting really nervous. At what point might this manifest itself as a panic to divest themselves ASAP of grouse moors as a political and economic millstone around their necks and they keel over like dominoes? Maybe we’re a lot closer to that point than we might think which is a cheering thought, but one way or another it’s coming sooner or later.

    1. The Sc. Gov. has many years experience of dealing with wildlife crime.

      During that time it has developed an inexhaustible ability to make paltry changes to legislation that do not address the problem.

      We can depend on the government to provide every possible assistance short of actually being of help.

  10. If we can all write to our MPs and SMPs that might enlighten them to the problems and solutions surrounding muirburn.

    My MP has ignored several letters I’ve written but if enough people contact their MPs then this behaviour will be less likely.

  11. Quel surprise. Gamekeepers enter the “profession” in the full knowledge that they will be routinely required to undertake illegal activities in the course of their duties and are, presumably quite sanguine about it. A voluntary ban would be a complete irrelevance to them and their employers.

  12. Has anyone or will anyone report all these fires to the relevant Govt Dept? Soon? Another relevant question is What action should observers of muirburn take? I’d suggest take video and report to relevant Emergency Service ie Police if affecting roads or Fire as early warning and
    ask them to record.

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