Nicola Sturgeon socially distancing from grouse shooting ‘exemption’

In recent years barely a week has gone by without grouse shooting being in the news for one reason or another.

More often than not it’ll be negative press, usually associated with the illegal killing or suspicious disappearance of yet another bird of prey. But the unfavourable coverage this industry has attracted this last week has been phenomenal, ever since it was announced that the Westminster and Scottish Governments were providing a special exemption for grouse shooting from the new ‘rule of six’ Covid restrictions.

The bad press was included in the mainstream media as well as on social media, and as Mark Avery pointed out,

It has captured the public imagination and it really hasn’t done the shooting industry any favours. It’s seen as another example of the Conservative government being completely out of touch with normal people, or worse, in the pockets of a small number of landed gentry (and nouveau riche non-gentry)‘.

Here are some examples of that coverage, which has included elements of ridicule and anger:

Cartoon by Ralph Underhill (@CartoonRalph) in The Canary:

Cartoon by Peter Brookes in The Times:

This issue prompted parliamentary questions in both Westminster and Holyrood and the responses from the respective Government leaders was quite telling.

In Westminster, Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson whether grouse shooting was his ‘top priority’ (you can watch the video here). Boris Johnson avoided answering the question.

In Holyrood, Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whether it was fair that ‘shooting parties are permitted to load up their shotguns and head to the hills’ when others are having to make personal sacrifices to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

The discussion went like this:

It’s interesting that Nicola Sturgeon focused more on semantics than anything else because in essence the exemption is still in place, whether it was considered ‘specific’ or not. But it’s also interesting that she didn’t offer any supportive comments about gamebird shooting either, but instead went on to talk about ongoing reviews about ‘which exemptions are or are not appropriate’.

Will there be a review of whether the grouse shooting exemption from Covid restrictions is appropriate? Don’t hold your breath….we’re still waiting, ten months on and counting, for the Scottish Government’s response to the Werritty Review, despite cross-party political pressure to get on with it (here) and the news that yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier has ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on yet another Scottish grouse moor (here) whilst the Scottish Government looks the other way.

33 thoughts on “Nicola Sturgeon socially distancing from grouse shooting ‘exemption’”

  1. I think the description of the grouse shooting exemption as an “unintended consequence” is quite telling. Not a word of support for grouse shooting here. Their days are numbered, not as soon as most of us might want, but numbered nonetheless.

  2. That the grouse shooting exemption from the “Rule of 6” has attracted so much mainstream and social media attention can as you suggest only be a good thing from a seriously bad decision. Let’s maintain that momentum :)

    Politicians may well be able to dodge providing a response to the Werrity Report but that shooters (and there are reports of hunts also) being able to carry on regardless is offensive to many who have suffered loss of loved ones and responsible law abiding people who want to see an end to this unfortunate crisis through consistent application and adherence to rules.

  3. So, it seems that our FM and Scot Gov have not actually thought too much about this anomaly i.e. that groups of people may go minglin (sic) on Grouse Moors but not in small family/friendship groups. Let’s hope that they do some thinking about this soon and drive forward a ban on DGS ! Get on with it please Nicola – help protect the fragile Upland environment and Scotland’s Biodiversity.

    1. That’s a laugh they are being asked to follow the guidelines and shoot responsibly, these swines can’t even abide by the laws of the land. The one good thing to come out of this is that they are being found out now by ordinary people on social media and once that takes off they are finished, people power will bring them down not weak politicians like sturgeon and Johnson

  4. Nicola Sturgeon is only interested in her own political career and steering Scotland out of the UK.

    Should Nicola Sturgeon succeed in her plans to take Scotland out of the UK, then trust me, she will have problems far greater than a few parrots – as she sees it all.

    I’d suggest that the problem which most of these supposed welfare Groups have is that the peer-reviewed papers, or all that I’ve ever read, unbiased and clearly seeking a sustainable path, are in favour of the current management and protocol structures being left where they are.

    The UK system of sustainable and controlled Heather Burning is being taken up successfully by those who manage the relatively small areas of Continental Moorland – – – –

    – – – – and there’s a supportable and sensible premise which draws from the realities that we have the population of birds of prey which we have, because of a plentiful food supply – supplied by those who promote Fieldsports.

    Nicola Sturgeon has bigger fish to fry – trust me on this, and if you look to her for support, she will have her own Harriers perched on her shoulder encouraging her to take another path.

    1. Nicola Sturgeon will have as many problems as England will have leaving the EU except that she has the benefit of current and long term energy and water self sufficiency. “and there’s a supportable and sensible premise which draws from the realities that we have the population of birds of prey which we have, because of a plentiful food supply – supplied by those who promote Fieldsports”. Maybe you could support that premise with some evidence given that the populations of our eagles and hen harriers (which hover on the edge of extinction) are the inverse of the people and the estates that you claim support them. Trust you ? You can not look reality honestly in the eye, it is the key ingredient of trust, and you cheat in that aspect. How do you keep on parroting this line when there is no evidence to support your case and claim that you deserve trust ? This argument survives only through the privileges of self interest power and class. You are deceiving yourself and simply not telling the truth….I can not trust you at all and actually you can not trust yourself.

      1. Peter Hack – your argument was making real progress, that I accept, and then you decided that;

        ‘This argument survives only through the privileges of self interest power and class……..’.

        I would remind you that this Group – with it’s claimed intent, focuses on the well being of our resident population of Birds of Prey, rather than an imagined class struggle where cap-doffing serfs are kept in their place.

        When I suggested that you trust me, I should perhaps have simply offered you an assurance – trust takes time to build and as you have made no mention of Wildlife Management apart from in a cursory sense, and as you quite clearly see this Raptor Persecution UK Group as a platform to support your bizarre political views, I wonder when you will return to the point of protecting our wildlife management.

        1. Pointing out the demographic which appears instrumental in granting them give them privileges as far as blood sports go — think of the very different approach given to badger baiting, cock fighting etc., ,,, is simply a statement of fact .
          It is you who led the conversation into class politics an no one else.
          It’s suits no one more than those wealthy sources of wealth and power who linger in the shadows while pulling the strings that their role is minimised, due to it’s centrality as regards the situation as a whole.
          Most accept that any solution will be political in nature and the fact that the power they employ behind the scene sis obviously affecting the outcomes of political initiatives involving our Uplands (and Lowlands) is there for all to see.

  5. This is a disgrace all the world think the obsessed with killing wild creatures and who can blame them if we cannot vlean up our own act what is the ppint in bleating about rainforests amd elephants etc more and more people are becoming aware of the cruelty involved with shooting and the fact that foxhunting is still happening the long term affects on Boris and his cronies WILL be shown in time.

  6. It is So easy to pick on the shooting fraternity. Why don’t you research and do your homework properly before you print JUST opinions. Interview landowners, gamekeepers, men and women shooters and the employment it creates. Without shooting the countryside would be a bland place, shooting supports a rich and diverse population of wildlife and woodland and growing thousands of acres of food laden game crops for game birds and native birds and wildlife. Shooting attracts people from All walks of life into a healthy countryside pursuit.

    1. How much of the thousands of acres of food you talk about is left for the native birds when the 45 million plus pheasants and the 6 million redlegs .. which make up more than the total biomass of all native birds .. have had their fill? I haven’t mentioned the amphibians, invertebrates etc., that pheasants affect negatively when present in that numbers, nor the negative and inadequate approach in existence when it comes to addressing and eradicating wild life crime on or around their territory.

    2. Same old same old from those who can’t find anything positive to do with their lives but abuse wild animals for fun. Nobody here’s taken in by your garbage.

  7. This should be taken to Judicial Review surely?

    It has the same hallmarks as the Dominic Cummings visits to Durham and Barnard Castle. One law for them and another for us. It is time the old Etonian set were brought into the 21st century. Either that or let them become extinct the same way they treat our wildlife.

  8. Nicola Sturgeon, among others, has the same problem that befalls all who say one thing, but do another (or do nothing). People simply stop believing her utterances.
    Her government, and it’s predecessors, have continuously made false promises about tackling wildlife crime whilst tacitly doing the opposite.
    When governments are mendacious they eventually arrive at a point where they can only escape their predicament by doing something so dramatic that, at a stroke, they subdue their critics. NS is faced with the choice of taking severe action that sweeps away the wildlife criminals or being tarred forever as being a wildlife criminal sympathiser.

    Re Frances post at 9:11 on 21 Sept. “This should be taken to Judicial Review surely?”

    Really ……… how many decades have we got to spare whilst the Judiciary faff about with that and run up eye watering costs.
    E.G. trams enquiry is lasting so long that by the time we get a result tram car transport will be obsolete.

  9. As far as England is concerned, I can well believe that Gove expressly wanted shooting to be included in the list of exemptions, because he is/was a shooter himself. But the list of exemptions for outdoor pursuits in England is very wide-ranging and does not really lend itself to claims of favouritism:

    “3.16 Can I still participate in sport and physical activity in groups of more than 6?

    You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6. This can be in any public place – indoors or outdoors – or a private outdoor space like a garden; but not inside a private home…

    This means that there is a broad list of organised sport, fitness activity or licensed outdoor physical activity that you can safely and lawfully do in groups of more than six. This includes, but is not limited to:

    American football
    Canoeing / Kayaking
    Dragon Boat Racing
    Gaelic Sports
    Hunting – some forms
    Ice Hockey
    Roller Sports
    Rugby League
    Rugby Union
    Shooting (including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate license)
    Ultimate Frisbee
    Water polo

    Other sports or licensed outdoor physical activities may also be permitted if this is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and following sports-governing body guidance.”

    So, the implication that shooting has been given some kind of “special treatment” does not really stand up.

    1. Hi Keith, I get what you are saying and what the rules imply in theory…you are right, but it is in practice that modern high-end DGS especially cannot be done within their own guidelines. It is not a case of two or three guys meeting up in a farmyard and pottering along with a gun under their arms. DGS on the well known Estates involves the vehicular transportation of between 40 and 80 beaters, flankers, pickers-up, etc to various locations five or six times a day…never mind Guns, Loaders and WAGs. It really is like a small army moving about, all tightly crammed into vehicles. To stay within their own Covid rules they would need to sacrifice manpower and also utilise a lot more vehicles. I guess their duplicity will only become proven when some paparazzi snaps them at it and shames them…I hope.

  10. It wont matter, it looks pretty much that we will be back in lockdown soon, so the hunters will be back in the box .I just cant believe that the Scottish Government still bows down to the Tory’s but then maybe its me that’s deluded in thinking they hate the Tory’s.

  11. Yet more twisting of the truth. Using a cartoon of people shooting standing right next to each other , what utter BS , shooting butts are 50m apart minimum for safety reasons so why should it not be exempt from the rule of 6 . As for missing raptors , why doesn’t the rspb release the autopsy of the report allegedly found on a grouse moor where it has been claimed the bird had pellets pushed into it with a pen to make false allegations the end the argument or are the claims right

      1. [Ed: Brian, your comment has been deleted. Making an accusation of perverting the course of justice is a serious one and you should take your evidence to the police]

  12. Those that say blood sports support big or medium employment are speaking rot, it employs a few people doing a double job on low pay, and the big shooting estates receive large amounts of money into their own hands and pockets. this is about their finances and egos, not land management.
    And those whom claim burning heather is sustainable land management on the moors are also speaking rubbish, the heather was in existence long before guns were even invented and yet the moors have survived thousands of years without interference,
    However nowadays due to the one direction of this land use there is less diversity on these hill and moors than there used to be, gamekeepers on the instruction from the estate owners kill any predator that may eat pheasant or grouse, or disturb their nests and eggs, be that bird of prey, a stoat or weasel, a dog wandering haplessly, a fox, a hedgehog, or your family cat.
    And do you realise that after a big shoot all the people come together socially for a feast and alcohol, along with some in their flasks.
    They count the birds they have shoot with excitement happy smiles. It used to be in the thousands on good day on big estates.
    This begs the question why do these birds need such protection if they are to be shot in shooting season,
    The supposed culling of deer follows along similar lines.
    Before someone says I do not know what I am talking about, I was married into a gamekeepers family for 24 years, and that family estates were related to David Cameron, and the queen and her family were also there on occasion,

  13. grouse shooting brings in money for local economy and a lot of jobs where there is very little work the same as fox hunting people like avery and packham are just anti shooting why dont don’t they do something useful and protest about hahal meat there is nothing more barbaric than cutting an animal’s throat or are they scared of upsetting some they want to grow up and live in the real world

    1. Another desperate old chestnut…

      “grouse shooting brings in money for local economy”…

      So does the drugs trade, or the more “specialist” forms of pornography.

      And the oft used whataboutery and fake concern for animal welfare…

      ” there is nothing more barbaric than cutting an animal’s throat”

      As opposed to disembowling one with a pack of dogs for nothing more than perverted entertainment.

      P.S. The following are known as punctuation marks

      . , ; :

      Literate people find they come in quite handy, even when typing a load of old shite!

    2. In 1999 Dr Douglas Macmillan from the University of Aberdeen conducted a study on the economic impact of a ban on fox hunting with dogs.
      The conclusion was that there would be a very limited economic impact on rural economies or rural jobs.
      The Burns report, which was set up by the UK government to look into fox hunting, came to a similar conclusion.

      However this is besides the point, as fox hunting was made illegal in 2005.
      I hope from your comment, that you aren’t suggesting that rural economies are propped up by the criminal activity of fox hunting??

      As regards your comments concerning halal meat.
      If you find the prospect of slitting of an animals throat barbaric.
      Then surely, you will be even more outraged at the thought of of a pack of dogs tearing another animal apart; and will want to join those people in campaigning to ensure fox hunting remains banned, and that those who continue to engage in this barbaric activity are prosecuted?

      It is because of people, like Mr Avery and Mr Packham, that the public are starting to become increasingly aware of many other issues in our countryside, like the illegal persecution of raptors, or the untold suffering so much wildlife endures so that grouse moors can provide a surplus of grouse to be shot.

      It is also very clear from some of the behaviour directed personally towards Mr Packham, that he is not afraid of upsetting some pretty despicable people. Clearly he is someone who lives in the real world, and is prepared to address some very “grown up issues”- issues we should all be concerned about, but issues some people would like to remain in the dark!

  14. Some people obviously can’t read, or are so opposed the SG and NS that they wilfully misinterpret. I, like many, detest driven shooting – I have a pheasant shoot outside my “back door” and am plagued with these wretched birds – and consider the rearing and shooting of these birds detestable. They shouldn’t be here and shooting semi-tame birds is industrial slaughter.

    However, NS clearly said there is no special exemption for shooting. What part of that statement don’t people understand? She did not hold a special meeting like Boris. Banning shooting is a different and separate question.

    Conflating the two is political sophistry which gets us nowhere.

    1. Indeed. I was engaged against grouse moor activities for 30 years and despise the industry, but much regular anti Scottish Government comment below the line on RPUK is irrational, ill informed and frequently offensive, much of it from ‘the other country’ and influenced by the Anglo British media view of Scotland with all of its assumptions and a nasty whiff of colonialism. Judging the ScotGov ruling on Covid ‘exemption’ for grouse moors by its consistency or not with English rulings is typical English media stuff. Any government’s duty is to govern for all of its population, hence the requirement for all interests to meet objective criteria, which grouse shooting and many others appear to have done. Some people here seem to think that the Scottish Government should be run for their benefit, a view which will not advance the case one bit. If folk want to make a difference then opposition to the British UK Internal Market proposals which will take all environment and land use powers to London might be a much better place to start because these proposals will remove the real powers needed to kill off grouse shooting.

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