Grouse shooting industry in meltdown hysteria over licensing

Following yesterday’s announcement by the Scottish Government that the grouse shooting industry, having failed spectacularly to get its house in order despite a million and one opportunities to do so, will now be subject to a licensing regime (see here), has gone in to meltdown hysteria.

I’ll come to individual organisational responses shortly but to start with here is a joint statement issued by British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA), Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA), Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) and Scottish Land & Estates (SLE):

Rural organisations said today (26 November 2020) that the Scottish Government’s announcement that it is to develop a licensing scheme for grouse moors will be a seriously damaging blow to fragile rural communities.

Following publication of Scottish Government’s response to Werritty Review of grouse moor management, the following joint statement was issued by: British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, Scottish Association for Country Sports and Scottish Land & Estates.

“We are dismayed that the Scottish Government has not listened to the voice of some of our most fragile communities which are at the heart of a world class rural business sector. People involved in grouse shooting have already embraced a huge amount of legislation, regulation and guidance to make sure the highest standards are met. This includes estates embracing many of the recommendations contained within the Werritty report.

“Instead, the Scottish Government has paved the way for a very uncertain future for many rural people by announcing that it intends to introduce a licensing scheme for grouse moors which interferes with legitimate business activities and threatens to engulf the sector in a blizzard of red tape that is unprecedented and out of all proportion.

“Substantive work has already been done to improve Muirburn practices with more to come and we need to understand urgently what the Scottish Government envisages in terms of even further controls.

“We are not reassured that moor managers have ‘nothing to fear’. The Minister has herself described the potential withdrawal of a licence as a ‘serious sanction’ – there are real fears this could impact perfectly law-abiding shooting businesses.

“The Werritty Review group itself stated there is no scientific or evidential basis for introducing licensing and we are disappointed that this has been ignored. The real weakness is that this measure misses the target in relation to wildlife crime – which is already at its lowest level – and Scotland already has the most stringent laws to deal with raptor persecution in the UK. A one-size fits all licensing scheme will serve only to play into the hands of those who are dedicated to banning shooting altogether, regardless of the consequences for communities and the environment.

“Grouse shooting plays a vital role in rural Scotland, sustaining communities and delivering substantial economic and environmental benefits. It would be bad legislation if the unsubsidised private investment that underpins these benefits is put at risk by this unnecessary proposal. We also have serious concerns about how such a scheme would work in practice and will be seeking an urgent meeting with Ministers to discuss the details.

“Every element of the Scottish economy will need as much help as possible in the foreseeable future and the proposal to introduce licensing for grouse shooting will do nothing to help achieve this. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Ministers to discuss how they see this being developed.”

ENDS

[A dismal landscape of intensively-managed grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

This hysterical scaremongering about so-called threats to the rural economy from the introduction of a grouse moor licensing scheme is nothing new from this lot (e.g. see here, here, here and here for previous histrionics).

Nor is it the first time we’ve heard the claim that any sort of enforced regulation will ‘threaten’ or ‘damage’ the rural economy.

When the Land Reform Bill was being debated the Scottish Landowners Federation (which later re-branded to call itself the Scottish Rural Property & Business Association (SRPBA) and then re-branded again to its current name of Scottish Land & Estates) warned that the legislation would do irreversible damage to rural economies and they threatened to block the legislation at the European Court of Human Rights (see here).

Scottish Land & Estates also bleated about further land reform measures when the Scottish Government proposed removing the two-decades-old exemption from business rates enjoyed by shooting estates. SLE claimed that, “We believe that there would be a negative impact on rural jobs, tourism and land management” (see here).

And then there was more bleating when the Scottish Government brought in vicarious liability to tackle the continued illegal persecution of birds of prey. David Johnstone, the then Chair of Scottish Land & Estates claimed this would introduce another layer of bureaucracy “When the Government should be doing what it can to help landowners and the rural economy” (see here).

Has the rural economy fallen flat on its arse as a result of these measures? Not according to the grouse shooting industry, which is still declaring itself indispensable to the Scottish economy (a claim strongly contested by others, e.g. see here).

As has been said before on this blog, the grouse shooting industry should be thanking its lucky stars that a licensing scheme is all it’s getting. The case for a ban on driven grouse shooting has been made many times over.

There are those of us who don’t believe for one second that a licensing scheme will be effectively enforced, although we’ll do our bloody level best to ensure it is enforced when breaches have been detected and are fully evidenced. And if/when the licensing scheme is shown to be failing, there’s only one place left to go.

It seems to me that the grouse shooting industry should be welcoming a licensing scheme, which should protect those who are complying with the law and remove those who are not. Gosh, a world where there are consequences for criminality. Imagine that! Is that really what this backlash is all about?

73 thoughts on “Grouse shooting industry in meltdown hysteria over licensing”

  1. Good god bet the mountain hares will be dancing tonight but I still fear for the raptors as it will still be difficult to catch these people at it.

    1. They really won’t. The mountain hare cull was what was preventing the overpopulation, and subsequent deviation of numbers due to disease. This year there has been a higher recorded number of hares dead due to disease. And the only reason the cull has been banned is for this very reason as all the Antis want to replant the moorlands, and you can’t do that with the hares about, so this is how they get rid of them. You think you are all so vital for the protection of our countryside but your the same us. Your just killing things slower then we do

        1. Spot on!

          Populations will naturally change every year to based on environmental factors (food, weather etc) and predator vs prey numbers. It is only when prey vs predators populations are out of balance do you see over population of one species.

      1. Hmm…. Are the “Antis” a family, a nationality, a football team, or just a product of Mr Toucan’s fevered imagination? It’s nice that he views them/it as deserving a capital letter. Either way, his bullshit’s not going to dig him and his mates out of the hole that they created.

  2. I wouldn’t mind betting that some of the more notorious estates do their best to damage their local economy, e.g. laying off staff, so they can blame it on uncertainty around the impact of licensing to try to make their scaremongering a fait accompli.

  3. if only those businesses who break the law would have their licences removed, then none of them have anything to fear from licensing, well except the few bad apples that make the rest look bad,
    so as those bad apples will be weeded out, what exactly is their problem?
    or do most of them operate outside the law, in which case then they would have something to worry about. I’m confused

    1. There problem is, much as they have harped on about a few bad apples in public, they know many if not all routinely break the law and the “few bad apples” is in reality the “whole bloody crop of apples.” They of course only themselves to blame because of the years of “head in the sand” movement rather than attacking and getting rid of bad practice and the criminals in their midst.
      I find their bleating quite gratifying because it shows all we have said about them to be so true. The TITS ( tossers in tweed) are exposed as it were.

  4. Licencing ought to include a requirement to publish (in the public domain) a full, independently audited, set of accounts, so we can all judge what contribution this industry makes to the economy, and more importantly, whether the appropriate taxes are paid. At a time when the Chancellor is looking for contributions to fund the costs to the economy (and tax revenues) of the Covid-19 pandemic, organised crime is an obvious place to start.

  5. As we all know, DGS can’t maintain its “economic viability” if forced to operate (under government and public scrutiny) in a legal, ethical and sustainable manner. The criminals behind it know it too.

  6. I am of course really pleased this thing is seemingly going to happen. However, those Owners and Agents with the brains and the connections will already be making fall-back plans in the event they can’t get this stopped before it starts. There will be dodgy management companies being set up whose owners you can never trace, big Estates will be sub-divided “on paper” to be owned and managed by different people. When an Estate / company loses a Licence for example due to an “Alan Wilson” situation, it will simply liquidate and the same people will set up another one in different names. Keepers will often not be employed directly and sub-contractors will also be used. There will be no end to their tricks. And of course, on the quiet, outsiders and pals of the keeper will come in even more than they do these days, for ad hoc risky missions such as disposing of the nesting Buzzards in the early hours of spring days.

    This is going to cost a fortune to administer in the Courts and to check up on out in the field. The annual Licence fee levied on Estates cannot possibly be high enough to cover it all. How will this fee be calculated? It will likely need subsidy from the public purse. In ten years I reckon the stark choice for the Scottish Government will be (a) scrapping the Licensing system or (b) banning the whole DGS thing outright. The decision will I suppose depend on the politics and economics of the day. Just my thoughts.

    1. No – it should be completely funded by the grouse moor licenses. I would base it on land area, and tie the license to the moor to stop any of the devious activities which you describe from occurring. I am guessing the small family moors will give up and large business should not be subsidised!

      1. Hi EricH, agreed I myself wouldn’t subsidise the admin or the policing or the legal battles from the public purse.
        My policy would be “pay up or F…off”, but then again I am not in politics. To me, the Licence fee would also have to factor in how many birds are being shot. It would seem to disincentivise moderation if an Estate of 10, 000 acres managing the place in a gentle (ish) way & averaging 1000 brace p.a. are obliged to pay more than their neighbour of 6000 acres managing the place intensively and averaging 1500 brace p.a. But even ascertaining how many birds are shot is a lot of work when you cannot rely on their honesty. It is going to be such a conundrum. If it still a Leftish leaning Scottish Govt in charge in a few years I suspect they will say “lets just ban it”. It will be interesting to observe the Agents websites and see if we can discern if the values of Scottish moors for sale are being affected negatively If so the prices for English moors will likely go up!

        1. Agreed – the conundrum is honesty. I did think about a profit factor but managing it will be impossible.

          I think every unfortunate victim of their traps should be photographed for verification (you can check the metadata), some spot checks will almost certainly throw up some “anomalies”.

          I suspect the grass roots of the SNP have pushed the issue at this time, otherwise the Ministers would still be following a path of appeasement.

    2. Apply a licence condition to the land as well. Should a licence be revoked a two year period will have to pass before further licences are CONSIDERED. Ultimately the owner at the time of revocation is responsible for any tenants and leases that may be issued and posts the penalty of losing the licence – even if she’ll companies or whatever make it impossible for them to be identified.
      The land is identifiable so attach the licence to that.

  7. Licensing is a welcome step in the right direction no doubt, it helps build momentum. For successful prosecution however evidence will still be needed in cases of raptor killings, license or no. And we all know how incredibly difficult it is for the police to gather real fresh viable evidence. Estates are ruffled but I’m thinking this governmental shift will only inspire them to further devious deceptions and chicanery.

    1. The key metric by which the efficacy of any licensing system should be judged is the level of raptor persecution.

      And the best tool in the box for deterring, detecting and prosecuting raptor crime is covert surveillance.

      So any licensing system has to somehow ensure that covert surveillance of nest and roost sites, by not only the police, but also say the RSPB, is permitted and the resulting evidence be admissible in both civil and criminal proceedings.

      Otherwise licensing will end up being as much of a paper tiger as vicarious liability.

      1. Good points dave and I fear that your last paragraph will become the foreseeable result.

        Criminals cannot be confronted by people wearing kid gloves (or by people who are not dedicated to their destruction).

      2. Video evidence does not have to be accepted by the courts, that will be a minefield to get through in law. All you need is for it to be accepted in relation to revoking the licence and as you say licence issue is conditional that this will happen.
        Lots of businesses have licences and if you want to be in that business you accept the rules. Have a look and see what zoos have to comply with.
        All that is really bring asked of DGS is comply with current law and maybe limits on muirburn.
        Whinging TITS (AS PREVIOUSLY DEFINED 😀)

        1. A fact that I’d like to put into the discussion Gentlemen is that as well as perpetuating the slaughter of red grouse, DGS licensing will perpetuate the (legal) slaughter of millions of wild animals to support DGS. What on earth will be gained by DGS licensing? as we all know it will never be properly enforced. Besides the SG have already lined-up BASC, SGA et al to write the bloody license system!

          Dave Angel is right: DGS licensing will be a paper tiger, a total sham equivalent to ‘Trail hunting’ by fox hunters.

  8. The statement from the various organisations representing the driven grouse shooting industry are just nonsense.

    Firstly, as the Minister pointed out very clearly in her address to the Scottish Parliament- those estates operating within the rules have nothing to fear from the introduction of a licensing scheme.

    Of equal importance, licensing will will create a level playing field, so that those estates which are doing everything right do not have to compete with those estates which engage in unlawful or environmentally damaging practices in order to produce an abundance of grouse over and above their neighbours. It is these unlawful or environmentally damaging practices which enable the rogue operators to undermine those running legitimate businesses, and which has brought grouse shooting into such disrepute.

    As such I can not understand why those organisations which represent the DGS industry, and allege to support environmentally sustainable land management, and the end of illegal raptor persecution would not welcome licensing and the introduction of transparent and enforceable regulations?

    From a business and economic perspective surely it is better to have regulations which ensures all businesses within that sector are operating to the same standards? This should bring stability and certainty to rural economies, and the people employed in those businesses.
    Any other sector of industry or business usually welcomes regulations as it creates equality and fairness in the way that industry operates, and helps drive out poor business and management practices.

    As such I can only conclude that by making these statements, those organisations representing the grouse shooting industry are already very aware of just how many estates are not operating within the guidelines or the law, and just how much work needs to be done to get their house in order!

    1. According to Inglorious by Mark Avery, they are dependent on breaking of the law. Not every estate but the worst offenders are just doing the work for the others. That is why they are so freaked out.

  9. There is plenty of noise from the Grouse Industry, but is it real or just an open gambit in their campaign to water down the licensing scheme and more importantly its implementation. It does suggest they are worried.

    The minister mentioned taking representation from the grouse industry but very little about the representation from conservation bodies except Nature Scot who should really be placed in the same bag as the grouse industry. The license must be applied to the moor so that if a license is revoked the moor can’t be sold on or leased so it can continue as before.

    It also concerns me the length of time that a license maybe revoked for. I am thinking minimum 18 months for first offense and minimum 5 years for a second offense.

    I hope Ruth and others who have done great work to get the Scottish Government to accept the need for licensing will be allowed to present their case, and also make amendments prior to legislation being presented to the Scottish Parliament. The law must have no wiggle room for offenders.

    Any license granted should also consider the previous history of the estate – I am thinking Leadhills and others.

    1. Your comment
      “The minister mentioned taking representation from the grouse industry but very little about the representation from conservation bodies except Nature Scot who should really be placed in the same bag as the grouse industry.”
      I disagree the representation of the law breaking DGS representation should be given minimal credence and attention.

  10. They can bleat on as much as want. All that they have ever been asked to do is to stop the persecution of Birds of Prey. They only have themselves to blame, it’s about time that they took some responsibility for their actions and dragged themselves into the 21st century.

    1. They could start by dragging themselves into the 20th century….once again the “difficulties of police prosecutions” trope is mentioned above.As was repeatedly shown in the past investigations by RSPB/SSPCA and the Police can produce reults but we urgently need a revision of the law over surveillance on shooting estates, more powers for the SSPCA and real committment and resources from the Police. Otherwise these licences will be useless bits of paper.

      1. Hi Dave, I totally agree – whoever gets the job of monitoring these places needs to be backed up by a standing legal authority to allow them to go wherever he / she wants at any time without notification or red-tape and record on film by concealed or hand-held camera anything they deem relevant to evidence non-compliance to the terms of the Licence.

      2. ‘we urgently need a revision of the law over surveillance on shooting estates, more powers for the SSPCA and real committment and resources from the Police.’

        ####

        It would take several years to review and change the law regarding the admissibility of covertly obtained evidence, as any changes would have to be applied generally, not just in relation to raptor persecution cases.

        The simplest way to proceed is to make it a condition of any licence that the land owner, the owner of the shooting rights, and any other interested parties have all given consent to covert surveillance being carried out on the licensed site. Put the onus of obtaining those consents on the licence holder.

        That I think should allow covertly obtained evidence to be used in court proceedings, civil and criminal.

        1. Important point but given that undercover Policemen having sex with female environmental activists is permissible and now unquestionable in Brexit Britain it would only seem due consequence that covertly obtained evidence on the the vicarious killings of birds of prey on grouse moors be valid in court proceedings……..Mere Grist for the Mill of Justice.

        2. Forget the law to covert evidence
          It just needs to be a licence condition.
          We are surrounded by things like this.
          If you don’t like wearing a seat belt, fine, no problem. Just don’t get in a car.

  11. It is simply unbelievable that the DGS lobby were not made aware of the DGS licensing decision prior, no doubt in in smoke -filled rooms. The predictable bleating from the fun killers is de rigueur, but do not for one second be fooled by their histrionics. This is all part of their game: bleat because acceptance would be an admission of past wrong-doings; bleat because they want you an I to believe that they are unhappy with licencing. Nothing could be further from the truth as they now have the legitimacy that they crave, namely a DGS licensing system. They must think that the RSPB, REVIVE and others who have called for DGS licensing as total mugs who have played right into their bloodstained hands. They are right.

    Whatever dog’s breakfast of a licensing scheme we end up with, it will be so complex, pre-nobbled by the shooters and then unenforced by SG/NS to be essentially nothing more than another costly and pointless sham. Those folk who have called for DGS licensing have effectively called for maintaining DGS itself. When things carry on more or less the same as they are now (with maybe the odd slapped wrist for effect) try getting a DGS ban then. The prospect of a DGS ban (the ONLY thing the fun-killers fear) is now further away than ever. A disaster.

    I predict that this grave development will come to haunt many people in the anti-DGS movement for years to come; a victory for DGS and a very serious long-lasting setback for conservationists.

  12. Firstly, I would like to echo others by paying tribute to Ruth for here great sustained efforts, that have played such a key role in helping to achieve this at long last historic licencing decision.

    Regarding licence invoking, this needs to be from baseline of clearly justified suspicion of raptor persecution.

  13. At last !
    The law abiding estates can now rid the industry of those few bad apples…….. lol ! [ chuckles while enjoying celebratory pint ! ]
    A long way to go to the abolition of driven grouse shooting but we’re on the way.
    The outrage in the DGS ranks is the best Christmas present we could have wished for.

    Remember – the capital value of DGS estates is in the ludicrous numbers that are shot, that is why the owners and their slaves, the agents and keepers , are rather unhappy about it all.

    Continuous work is needed to strip the moor owners of their tax advantages and subsidies, but after nearly half a Century in this fight I am at last feeling that the moor owners are seeing the writing on the wall !
    Driven Grouse moors will continue to be sold, community buy – outs, or otherwise, as the years go by.

    No sane individual has ever believed that driven Grouse shooting can carry on without the illegal slaughter of protected raptors.
    The laughable argument that crime is justified to protect nesting waders etc. on the barren driven Grouse shooting moors was always an unwise justification for the enemy to rely on.

    Once the benefits of licensing are available in Scotland, the English and Welsh moor owners will surely be lining up in support ……………Ha Ha Ha !

    Lowland shooting is next on the agenda………..

    Well done Ruth and all of us in raptor protection who have endured !

    Our currently, rapidly increasing large raptor populations outside the industrial slaughter zones of the driven game shooting estates is the future for the whole of the UK and Ireland.

    When I witnessed and studied the return of the Peregrine in the 1970’s after the pesticide bans I knew that anything was possible.
    Restocking the woods with Goshawk has also been a triumph that I have personally helped to bring about over the last 40 years !
    Watching their dispersing young getting fat at Pheasant release pens is particularly satisfying !

    Keep up the pressure !

  14. Ruth clearly you have a left wing socialist political agenda and are not genuinely concerned about birds of prey.

    You Mark Avery and stand in front of camera Chris Packham look at me will be the ones responsible for the end of birds of prey in Scotland.

    1. Squawk!

      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”
      ” left wing socialist political agenda”

      Polly want a cracker!

    2. I would like to congratulate Ruth Tingay on her patience and perseverance in the face of such evidenceless nonsense………I have to say I think that all these estates should be made subsidy free then nationalised as their economies collapse and made into a new National Park.

      1. Their ‘economy’ is based on City money invested in the constantly rising capital value of land which is tax exempt and the large disposable incomes available to ‘sporting’ clients from the same City source. Subsidies have little to do with it.

        1. The Shooting Party
          Posted on28th April 2014

          Share416
          As the food queues lengthen, the government is giving our money to the super-rich.

          By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 29th April 2014

          So now you might have to buy your own crutches, but you’ll get your shotgun subsidised by the state. A few days after False Economy revealed that an NHS group is considering charging patients for the crutches, walking sticks and neck braces it issues(1), we discovered that David Cameron has intervened to keep the cost of gun licences frozen at £50: a price which hasn’t changed since 2001(2).

          The police are furious: it costs them £196 to conduct the background checks required to ensure that shotguns are issued only to the kind of dangerous lunatics who use them for mowing down pheasants, rather than to the common or garden variety. As a result they – sorry we – lose £17m a year, by subsidizing the pursuits of the exceedingly rich(3). The Country Land and Business Association – the armed wing of the Conservative party – complains that it’s simply not fair to pass on the full cost of the licence to the owners of shotguns(4); unlike, say, the owners of passports or driving licences, who are charged on the basis of full cost recovery.

          Three days later – on Friday – the government announced that it will raise the subsidy it provides for grouse moors from £30 per hectare to £56(5). Yes, you read that right: the British government subsidises grouse moors, which are owned by 1% of the 1% and used by people who are scarcely less rich. While the poor are being forced out of their homes through government cuts, it is raising the payments – across hundreds of thousands of hectares – that some owners use to burn and cut the land (helping to cause floods downstream), shoot or poison hen harriers and other predators, and scar the hills with roads and shooting butts(6). While the rest of us can go to the devil, the interests of the very rich are ringfenced.

    3. Mike. Perhaps Ruth has a left wing socialist agenda and is also genuinely concerned about birds of prey. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In event I know people of all political persuasions who are genuinely concerned about birds of prey. I’m guessing you would claim to be genuinely concerned about birds of prey and have a right wing Tory agenda (although you would probably just call it common sense, because you don’t have the awareness to recognise it for what it is).

    4. Mike,
      Do you also consider Sir David Attenborough to have a left wing socialist political agenda?
      He also works very hard to promote conservation issues and raises public awareness of the illegal killing and poaching of wildlife.
      How can exposing criminal behaviour and the appalling wildlife crimes which are taking place in the British countryside be classed as socialist political agenda?
      Are you also going to accuse every police officer, and member of the judiciary as also being left wing socialists?
      The desire to protect birds of prey, wildlife and the environment extends across the entire of spectrum of British Society.
      The division is between those who are genuinely concerned with the conservation, protection of wildlife and the upholding of the law, and those who engage in criminal or unethical activity in order to exploit nature for their own selfish ends.
      Which side of that divide do you stand?

    5. Is the record broken Mike? you said that yesterday and it wasn’t true then either. You must be polishing your own turds. Keep taking the medication you might get well one day.

      1. I think he’s got the phrase saved on a notepad, so he can just copy/paste it when it suits; saving him having to spell-check it every time. But then, everything he types is cliche.

  15. The noose is tightening and the criminals are sweating, why should anyone listen to you lot we don’t listen to bank robbers and your no better than them, just a different crime

  16. Of course the same persecution of raptors must be taking place in England – same game shooting interests, same invariably loaded moneyed interests lusting for blood, just a different gamebird. I bet the buzzards that threaten pheasant poults must be down to single figures by now… except … er … they arent. They have increases exponentially in the last few years (not to mention red kites and peregrines).
    Interesting to see what bullshit the antis come up with to exlain that particular embarrassment.

    1. I suggest that you educate yourself on the meaning of exponential. After all, you wouldn’t want to be seen as a bullshitter yourself, now would you?

      1. Come on Charles, cut the ‘exponential’ crap! To quote..’ some persecution of raptors must be taking place in England’ End quote. You know very well it is and it is on driven grouse moors where it has been most often recorded.. Now, where have I heard that before? The York’ moors have the worst persecution record in the U.K and you know it. But increasingly, reports have been made of persecution in or around pheasant shoots. Tell me, why do you begrudge buzzards the odd pheasant poult or two?, After all, they have upwards of 60 million to choose from each year so I can’t see where there is a problem. You lot can’t even shoot half that amount each year! So please don’t come on here spouting shite!

  17. Congratulations to everyone who has helped get this over the hurdle!

    The next steps have to be taken very carefully. The criminal minds are already trying to brain storm ways to get around licencing restrictions.

    it would be good to have a forum where we could frame our view of what we expect of the licence.

    I would suggest that the first part of the application form should be “Name of all beneficial owners of the land”. if you want a licence then you cant hide behind an anonymous name plate on a door in the Cayman islands.

  18. Why are we still appeasing these people who get off on killing defenceless birds and animals !!! What is stopping the government from banning this?? What about the environment crisis to!!

    1. I do not view the Minister’s repetitious statement as anything that remotely resembles tangible progress.

      All it amounts to is another chapter in a novel about criminals, wanton wildlife killing and land abuse. Unfortunately, the only part of this novel that is fiction is the babble from Holyrood and their gun slinging bosom buddies.

      The blatant crime and land abuse is anything but fiction. It is irrefutable and has been going on year after year. Likewise, year after year, those who have wriggled their way into power have steadfastly chosen to follow a path that has avoided any worthwhile challenge to the perpetrators.

      To hear the licensing being described as a complex issue is contemptible.

      It may be complex for the government because the challenge they face is the same challenge that illusionists face. That is, how to do one thing and make it appear to be exactly the opposite.

      A licence to kill is the aim.

      The SG will set about trying to make it give the impression of being otherwise.

      Speech after empty verbose speech will follow. Much of the audience will fall asleep. It is important to keep profile of this subject high and very public.

      Action and action alone is all that can be believed.

  19. No Grouse shooting, no heather moorland, no Raptors, no wildlife tourism, no prosperous local economy.
    All this could happen within one decade, and I will be a witness.
    All today’s protectionist hero’s Juniper, Avery, Packham Tingay, etc will face allegations of the biggest Wildlife crime ver committed the destruction of world class habitats and Scotland’s most treasured spieces, the only bird Scotland has almost all the world population under trust for the children and people who come after us.
    Scottish moorland keepers have achieved such a great level of conservation at no cost to the public purse, and very little public thanks.
    It’s now all at risk because of a small loud minority who lack real understanding on the real issues but wish not to death in the countryside.
    RIP Lagopus Lagopus scoticus

    1. Total tosh. Did the Red Grouse not manage its own affairs for thousands if not millions of years without the help of human hand. No cost to the public purse the bastards have been getting subsidies for years and years as well as fiddling the estates books so they don’t pay tax on any profit. Plus the water customer picks up the bill for cleaning the peat colour from the water and who pays the fire brigades when the fires get out of control, subsidizes the gun licence costs. Grouse moors are not natural habitat and hardly world class anything except desolation and killing fields. We understand all too well the fog is being lifted and you are obviously ecologically illiterate.

    2. At least get your costing facts right; this huge level of subsidy delivers very few benefits …grouse can survive with appropriate management and that can be delivered more cheaply frankly than by intensively managed grouse moors…tourism is a far more significant stream of revenue.

      The Shooting Party
      Posted on28th April 2014

      By George Monbiot

      he government announced that it will raise the subsidy it provides for grouse moors from £30 per hectare to £56(5). Yes, you read that right: the British government subsidises grouse moors, which are owned by 1% of the 1% and used by people who are scarcely less rich. While the poor are being forced out of their homes through government cuts, it is raising the payments – across hundreds of thousands of hectares – that some owners use to burn and cut the land (helping to cause floods downstream), shoot or poison hen harriers and other predators, and scar the hills with roads and shooting butts(6). While the rest of us can go to the devil, the interests of the very rich are ringfenced.

    3. David
      Licensing won’t end grouse shooting.
      Licensing won’t have a detrimental effect on natural and sustainable grouse numbers.

      Red Grouse face more threats from the barrel of a shotgun or cryptosporidiosis.
      Cryptosporidiosis spreads rapidly when grouse population densities are made unnaturally high on poorly managed grouse moors, where the focus is on producing ever increasing grouse numbers at the expense of proper conservation.

      An over population of grouse which are managed only to be shot by people who want an ever increasing bag, and a clay pigeon shooting experience rather than being prepared to walk for for miles and then shoot what is flushed before them.

      If licensing works in the way many hope, then it should prevent and deter the illegal persecution of raptors, stop poor land management practices and hopefully create a more balanced and healthy ecosystem on the moors. Something which will be good for grouse.
      It is something all those shooting estates which do behave lawfully and ethically should welcome, as it should help drive out the criminals and cowboys from the shooting industry.
      Regulations should create a level playing field within the grouse shooting industry, and ensure security and stability for rural communities and those who work in the industry, as business plans can be based on sustainable and lawful activities.

      Who knows it might even make some landowners and estates take a hard look at what they are doing, and open their eyes to other possible business opportunities. Such as sustainable eco tourism or adventure activities which could bring in greater revenue, offer more local employment and ensure the long term prosperity of the ecosystem, wildlife and the rural communities who manage it.

      It is very telling that one of the strongest arguments put forward by scientifically driven conservationists is to ensure that activities on grouse moors are subject to regulations to ensure the survival of grouse, raptors, and the ecosystem! Regulations which have become necessary because those who were traditionally trusted to manage the moors in a proper manner have failed to get their act together.

      I would suggest it is the “silo mentality” of those with a blinkered understanding of the countryside and rural issues that are the real threat. Not those who champion conservation or work tirelessly to preserve what little is left of UK wildlife.

      The incessant flow of nonsense being put out by the DGS industry and its supporters, regarding the SG announcement of introducing regulations is now becoming rather boring.

      Maybe its time to loose some of the “old fashioned tweed clothing mentality” and engage in some positive and creative thinking about managing the moors properly and without the illegal killing and persecution of birds of prey????

    4. Red Grouse is by no means a threatened species; they breed all around the globe at the same latitudes.
      There is chapter and verse about it in one of the research papers recently published. The only threat to their existence is the Gunman.

  20. Hi David, you are obviously on the pro-DGS side of the fence, which is fair enough – there are a couple of regular commenters on here who would happily admit that DGS it is not entirely evil in all places & at all times, although that is the general direction in which the Industry is heading. But do yourself a favour and do some research on the pro-shooting GWCT (Game Conservancy) website, then at least you won’t get everything so completely wrong and sound just plain daft.

  21. Looking at the Moor in the picture at the top of this page, I am struck by the total absence of life there. To be totally honest, I think you would find more life in Pripyat, in the Chernobl exclusion zone.

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