Game-shooting industry displays zero credibility in fight against raptor persecution

The game-shooting industry continues to bang nails in to its own coffin with its latest magnificent display of zero credibility when it comes to tackling the ongoing illegal killing of birds of prey across the UK.

Have a look at these responses from the major game shooting organisations to last week’s news of a reported raptor persecution surge during lockdown. For those who missed the news, see here, or for ease have a look at this brilliant infographic published on Twitter by @RobThomas14, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University:

First up, a letter in the Daily Mail from Amanda ‘pass me the Brasso for my neck’ Anderson of the Moorland Association (which is a carbon copy of the statement published on the MA’s website):

In a similar display of denial, delusion and detraction, here are some others:

They just don’t seem able to comprehend how utterly ridiculous they look. It’s the digital equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and dancing around singing ‘I can’t hear you, la la la’ while increasingly well-informed members of the public stand and stare at them in disbelief. You just need to have a glance on Twitter to see the public’s reactions to these statements of denial and it quickly becomes obvious where public opinion is heading.

And once the details of these most recent crimes become public (i.e. when the police have reached a stage in their investigations when it will be appropriate for such detail to be released), we predict public opinion will be further enraged, causing significant difficulty for those in the industry who continue to shield the criminals.

There was one notable exception amongst the responses from the game-shooting industry to the news of the raptor persecution surge, from an unexpected quarter. Paddy Galbraith, the Editor of Shooting Times has seen the writing on the wall and tweeted this:

No denial, no delusion, no detraction, no attempt to shoot the messenger, just an open acceptance of what everybody already knows is going on, and what looks to be a sincere plea to bring it to a halt. Good for him.

UPDATE 29 May 2020: RSPB provides update on raptor persecution surge during Coronavirus lockdown (here)

21 thoughts on “Game-shooting industry displays zero credibility in fight against raptor persecution”

  1. Zero tolerance say both the MA and NGO, am I right in thinking that the MA have just elected as their new Chair the owner of Swinton Estates wasn’t a keeper form this very estate convicted for setting a pole trap in 2014? Why one asks are Swinton still members of the MA after all they expelled the Van Cutsem owned Mossdale Estate when a keeper committed the very same offence in 2016. Surely it is the very grouse moors that the MA are representative of where 70% of sat tagged harriers disappear or are there another host of grouse moors who are not members where these harriers died? Haven’t a lot of harriers gone missing presumed killed since the MA claimed to be totally intolerant of persecution and didn’t Swinton Estate refuse to have last years brood meddled chicks back for release and wasn’t one of those dead harriers found there not long after a man with dogs and a gun was filmed in a harrier roost there or did I get that wrong too?
    I thought the NGO resigned from RPPDG or did I get that wrong too and aren’t the vast majority of folk convicted of raptor persecution gamekeepers?
    As to the letter of Gilruth it is just so much hot air and hogwash. BASC, is that British Association of Sand Contractors because they seem to have their heads firmly in that commodity?
    If they cannot face the truth what chance of a genuine change within game shooting one wonders? Patrick Galbraith has it right (not sure I expected that)

    1. Hi Paul,

      A note of clarification – the Mossdale Estate wasn’t expelled from the Moorland Association – it was allowed to ‘resign’. See:

      Also interesting to note that the Whernside Estate wasn’t expelled either, even after their gamekeeper was convicted of shooting and burying two short-eared owls. See:

      Zero tolerance? Aye, right.

      Interesting note about the National Gamekeepers Org crawling back to join the RPPDG after they’d flounced out and resigned when Nick Lyall tried to balance up the number of conservation orgs on that ‘partnership’. Priceless!

      1. We know Mossdale and Swinton were/are members of the MA do we know that Whernside is/was?
        By its acceptance of membership of estates that have a staff member convicted of Wildlife crime are the MA pretending this didn’t happen or that employers are not generally responsible for the actions at work of employees? Silly me we don’t have that for grouse moors in England just all the other types of employer under the Shops, Offices and Factories Act, I wonder why grouse moors were exempt? Still it makes their claims of zero tolerance look rubbish. Wonder how Amanda sleeps at night?
        Thanks for the corrections.

          1. The Moorland Assoc

            shoot the messenger
            shoot birds of prey, despite the laws of this country
            shoot imported partridge by the million
            shoot imported pheasants by the million
            shoot from the hip
            shoot red grouse (but only in the North)
            shoot their mouth off
            shoot themselves in the foot, regularly

            As an organisation I think they are shot!

            PS. 40 to 50 million pheasants and partridge are released annually to be potentially shot each year. Against this incredulous figure we are supposed to be grateful that 250,000 raptors of all shapes and sizes have managed to survive the attention of people with guns, usually on large estates, who kill all sorts of birds for profit.

            You couldn’t make it up.

            1. Be grateful that speeding is down (never mind if road deaths are up).
              Pickpocketing is down (never mind that armed robbery is up)
              etc etc, the choices of comparison are endless when comparing apples with oranges
              They know they are deliberately misleading the public. That seems to be perfectly acceptable to them, it is their job description. They treat the public as fools and unfortunately they are right in that it works because the public don’t know the details. Spin doctors are succeeding i am afraid. We are still losing the information wars. Thank goodness for the likes of Chris Packham who have such a large audience.

  2. The guy from shooting times probably represents the views of most ‘hobby’ shooters. It’s the industrial production/corporate shooting interests that have the ‘game at all costs’ attitude.

    1. That’s really interesting because I come from an avid shooting family (never wanted to do it myself) and I recently heard from one of my brothers that he’s given up for exactly that reason. He said he was sick of the gratuitous slaughter and feverish addiction to ‘high kill’ days. He stopped liking or feeling he had much in common with the kind of people coming out to his rural area to do it. I thought this may be a one off but maybe you’re right. Maybe there’s something uncomfortable brewing in the bowels of a significant section of the shooting fraternity. I hope so. We’ll see…

    2. There is something in what you say. I get the sense that a lot of “hobby shooters” are in two minds about continuing to tow the line or distancing themselves. But their problem is that a “hobby shooter” must become a cap-doffer and lackey to the big boys and a pal of the keepers if he wants to secure any permissions, even just a little bit of rabbit shooting. This is because in most of the English uplands the big boys own and/or control pretty much everything to do with any type of land use.

  3. Years ago I recall the Shooting Times always did throw up a surprising bit of realism from time to time. One of it’s likeable contributors for many years (under the pen name “Rusticus”) was the author Brian P. Martin who wrote quite passionately (and I always believed genuinely, but who knows I may again have been kidding myself) about protecting birds of prey and enjoying grouse shooting. I haven’t read the ST for years myself so don’t know if anyone still holds the same ground in these current days where the intensity, coordination and determination of raptor persecution is even worse.

  4. After having been given a shoeing by some of their members for finally accepting the science around their poisonous ammunition, it seems like the shooting organisations (all together of course) have found a way to atone.

  5. The good thing about the GWCT spin doctor’s lack of subtly, which could be because he is incapable of anything else but he is definitely playing to his audience, who may not be capable of understand anything nuanced, is that it shows us quite clearly the mindset of that audience. It would be infinitely better (and that is no exaggeration) if instead he supported the law fully and really condemned the criminals instead of vice versa.
    Statements like that from Paddy Galbraith are encouraging and show that there is some conscience amongst them.

    1. Thanks, Peter, that’s interesting.

      Virtually the same odds of a raptor being persecuted as a human aged between 45-64yrs dying from Covid19 (1 in 4,388 according to MD in latest edition of Private Eye).

    2. Of course the real numbers killed are very much higher, just as the number of burglaries solved is very much lower than the number of thefts of this kind committed. That is why it is important to have the widest possible range of sources of information. Among these the distribution maps which show empty areas in the UK where hen harrier habitat exists but is not occupied. Take away bad vole years, poor weather etc and you still have a pretty graphic illustration of the rarity or more accurately absence of Hen Harriers in many places where you would expect them to breed. The correlation of empty or dead zones and grouse shooting is powerful evidence of systematic persecution. Also significant is the failure of brood meddling, hailed by the shooters as evidence of their determination to conserve the species. The more I read the more I am convinced driven grouse shooting should be banned. For more proof of the difficulties inherent in simply licensing shoots rather than banning them see Wild Justice’s reponse to the RSPBs review of the charity’s approach to this issue. the total fatuousness of self regulation comes up time and time again and leads to only one possible solution. An outright ban.

  6. I expect the Shooting times will have a new editor soon, shame he speaks for what is probably a.silent majority of normal shooting folk that are being lead by these organisations

  7. The starkest confirmation of the rottonness of the UKs institutions is found in the politics of the government, DEFRA, the NFU and the Shooters’ Organisation. They all regularly represent the causes of the rich and powerful few and neglect the interests and rights of the poor and the masses.

  8. In this country we have always had 1 law for the rich another for the poor this will never stop until we get a determined government and there is no hope of that.
    As we all know this country is going into a deep slump caused by the pandemic and can ill afford HS2 what does the government do ?
    It takes advantage of the lockdown to destroy ancient woodland at a crucial time… the breeding season whilst at the same time condemning countries in South America for the destruction of the rainforests bloody hippocrites

  9. Just occurred to me how truly informative the above “infographic” would be if displayed next to those patronising AONB and National Park “info-boards” that are in the car parks and laybys. Or even better, an enlarged version that tells the whole story i.e. Pane 1 an image of that moors bag for the season – say, a 1000 brace of dead grouse at the feet of a few grinning toffs. Pane 2 – a very large panel needed for this one – images of oh, say…a dozen foxes, ten badgers, thirty crows, magpies and ravens, a hundred stoats & weasels, twenty buzzards, a few SEO’s, plus other assorted raptors including a harrier or goshawk in a good year, plus a couple of domestic cats, a dog and an perhaps an otter for good measure. Not forgetting a thousand or so rabbits and a few unlucky hedgehogs, along with a two or three lambs and a roe deer that bit the dust in snares. I can just see the faces around the table at the AONB stakeholders meetings! haha that has amused me this morning…

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