Calls intensify to end muirburn on Scottish grouse moors

Press release from Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform in Scotland (29th January 2021)

Scottish Government urged to protect Scotland’s ‘Amazon rainforest’

As the UK Government announces an end to muirburn on England’s peatland moors calls for the Scottish Government to end muirburn on Scotland’s controversial grouse moors have intensified.

The pressure has increased on the Scottish Government to end grouse moor burning as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has committed to a ban on deep peat, environments which store and sequester huge amounts of carbon in the ground. However when damaged by activities like burning, peatlands release carbon and are known to contribute significantly to climate change.

[Gamekeepers setting fire to a grouse moor at Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Campaigners have welcomed the move by DEFRA but have said the Scottish Government must go further. The Scottish Government has already announced that all muirburn should require a licence and that burning should not happen on deep peat but the terms of the licence have still to be decided.

Max Wiszniewski, Campaign Manager for REVIVE the coalition for grouse moor reform said:

“There is a circle of destruction surrounding Scotland’s controversial grouse moors that negatively affects our people, our wildlife and in this case the environment. Muirburn manipulates the environment to make sure that there are more grouse available for sport shooting and happens over huge land areas across Scotland. There is a very key question to answer here.

“Scotland’s peat stores about 25 times more carbon than all the forests of the UK put together and in carbon terms is our very own Amazon Rainforest. Is this environmental destruction worth it so that a few people can shoot a few more grouse? The Scottish Government must not offer a licence for any moorland burning if the purpose is as unnecessary as shooting grouse for sport.

“While the announcement in England is a welcome step forward if Scotland wants to be truly world leading on climate change this will be a key consideration.”

The Scottish Government has also indicated it is willing to redefine the depth of peat which would limit areas that could be burnt on. REVIVE and other groups like the RSPB are calling for deep peat to be redefined from 50cm to 25cm deep to protect more of this vital resource.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland added:

“The climate emergency means that the management of the peat-rich grouse moorland in the UK will have to change radically because every sector will have to contribute to our efforts to cut emissions, including in the crucial next decade. That’s why it is welcome news to see the UK Government beginning to take action to better protect blanket bog from this outdated, dangerous practice.

“If the Scottish Government chooses to continue allowing land owners to burn land indiscriminately we risk damaging vital peatlands and allowing the carbon it stores to leak into the atmosphere, undermining other efforts to reduce climate emissions.”

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said:

“Burning heather on grouse moors is done for one reason – to increase the number of grouse to be shot. We welcome DEFRA’s commitment to reduce it in England and call on the Scottish Government to do the right thing and ban muirburn – for good”.


DEFRA statement on grouse moor burning

DEFRA has published the following statement today:

England’s ‘national rainforests’ to be protected by new rules

Legislation will be brought forward to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats.

The government has today announced plans to bring forward legislation to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats.

The new regulations will prevent the burning of any specified vegetation on areas of deep peat (over 40cm depth) on a Site of Special Scientific Interest that is also a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area unless a licence has been granted or the land is steep or rocky.

‘Rotational’ burning is used as a management tool on moorland and blanket bog. Land managers use controlled burning on patches of heather during winter months typically on a 8-12 year rotation.

[Setting fire to a grouse moor. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

There is a consensus that burning of vegetation on blanket bog is damaging to peatland formation and habitat condition. It makes it more difficult or impossible to restore these habitats to their natural state and to restore their hydrology.

Restoring England’s peatlands is a priority for the government. It will help achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as well as protecting our valuable habitats, and the biodiversity those habitats support.

Blanket bog, a type of peatland, is a delicate habitat of international importance, with the UK having 13% of the world’s blanket bog.

The government recognises that if moorland is unmanaged, there is a risk of wildfire which is most damaging of all and that these risks have grown due to climate change. Therefore, the government intends to work with land owners and managers to develop local wildfire control plans.

There will be specific circumstances where the ban does not apply, such as on steep land or where scree makes up half the land area. In addition, the Secretary of State may also issue licences for the burning of heather on blanket bog for the purposes of wildfire prevention, for a conservation purpose or where land is inaccessible to cutting or mowing machinery. These licences may cover several years so that they can be aligned with coherent management plans for sites.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Our peatlands have great potential as a natural store of carbon, as well as protecting habitats, providing a haven for rare wildlife and being a natural provider of water regulation.

We want to work with land owners to restore the natural hydrology of many of these sites through our new agricultural policy to support our ambitions for the environment. The burning of heather on these sites makes it more difficult to restore their natural hydrology which is why we are taking this step today.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

This is a hugely welcome announcement which will see better protections for our globally important peatlands. Blanket bog is an amazing habitat that provides essential environmental benefits, including carbon storage, a home for wonderful wildlife, clean drinking water and flood mitigation. This is why it is vital we ensure these systems are healthy with peat-forming species, such as Sphagnum mosses, thriving in water-logged conditions.

We will continue to work with Defra and land managers to help with the successful implementation of these measures, including by providing advice on good upland management and leading a new peatland restoration grant scheme as part of the Nature for Climate programme.

This will provide funds to carry out restoration work on these precious ecosystems, ensuring their recovery and protection for the benefit of both present and future generations.

Today’s move marks a key step for meeting the Government’s nature and climate change mitigation and adaptation targets, and part of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to bring 75% of SSSIs into favourable condition.

The Government will be setting out further measures to protect England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions. The government’s £640m Nature for Climate Fund also includes funding to kick-start a programme of peatland restoration over the next 5 years.

The statutory instrument will be laid before Parliament for its approval before it comes into force.


This is definitely progress, but although it might look good superficially, as with any Government statement the content should not be taken at face value and deserves a great deal of scrutiny.

Some of the caveats in these proposed regulations require special attention, e.g. issuing a licence to burn on blanket bog ‘for the purposes of wildfire prevention‘ sounds particularly dodgy, as does, ‘These licences may cover several years so that they can be aligned with coherent management plans for sites‘.

UPDATE 29th January 2021: Calls intensify to end muirburn on Scottish grouse moors (here)

UPDATE 29th January 2021: Reaction from RSPB’s Martin Harper (here)

UPDATE 1st February 2021: Reaction from Mark Avery (here)

UPDATE 5th February 2021: Which English grouse moors will escape DEFRA’s so-called moorland ‘burning ban’? (here)

Hen harriers: “Continuing illegal persecution is preventing the recovery we need to see”, says Natural England chief

There was a brief, useful but ultimately frustrating exchange of views on Twitter at the weekend between Tony Juniper (Chair of Natural England) and a number of conservationists.

The subject was the ongoing illegal killing of hen harriers on grouse moors. Like this one (pictured), who died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). [Photo by Ruth Tingay]

The exchange started with an RPUK tweet about the ever-increasing list of illegally killed/’missing’ hen harriers, now numbering 51 since 2018. Tony Juniper had been tagged in the tweet, along with others, with a sarcastic question about how the ludicrous Hen Harrier Action Plan was working out.

Tony responded and the discussion went like this:

There were contributions from others in and around this core thread but I’m not including them here because although they made excellent points, they’re not fundamental to the discussion.

It was good to see Tony Juniper state, in very clear and unambiguous terms, that continuing illegal persecution is still preventing the recovery of the hen harrier. We all knew that, of course, but it’s important that the Chair of Natural England says it, and says it publicly.

I would also argue (and indeed did, in the above twitter exchange), that Tony Juniper and Natural England should be making these statements much more prominently to reach a far wider audience. In fact, with equal prominence to that which DEFRA and Natural England gave to the press-released announcement of the 2020 breeding season being ‘a wonderful result’, a rather deluded statement published jointly with their ‘partners’ the GWCT and the Moorland Association (see here). Deluded because since when has 5% been judged to be a success(?!) and also pointless if you’re not going to go on to discuss the extremely poor survival rates of those chicks once they’ve fledged the nest, as discussed in the Murgatroyd et al paper in 2019 (here).

To be fair, Juniper did say in that press release that “Too many birds still go missing in unexplained circumstances and I urge anyone who is still engaged in the persecution of these magnificent creatures to cease at once” but it wasn’t the headline news. Fair enough if there was to be another prominent press release with the headline focusing on the continued losses, but that press release has never appeared.

Instead, what we’re getting is blatant propaganda from the Moorland Association, who put this press release out on Monday, via PR agency Media House and it was picked up and published in a number of papers in Yorkshire:

I don’t intend to pick this apart line by line because I think I’d lose the will to live but suffice to say this ‘survey’ is contrived and unscientific and thus meaningless but of course newspaper editors either don’t know that or don’t care, and the Moorland Association is banking on newspaper readers not knowing or caring either. All the Moorland Association wants to do is to try and negate the publicity that the ‘51 dead/missing hen harriers‘ story has been getting.

Unfortunately for the Moorland Association, the criminals within the grouse shooting industry just can’t stop killing hen harriers, or other raptors, not even for a few years while the insane brood meddling trial runs its course, and no matter how desperate the PR they churn out, ultimately the continued killing will be the industry’s downfall, just as we’re beginning to see in Scotland.

Greater protection for iconic Scottish mountain hares

Press release from Scottish Government (27th January 2021)

Greater protection for iconic Scottish mountain hares

New licensing regime to take effect from March

Mountain hares in Scotland are to be given greater protection under regulations introduced to the Scottish Parliament today.

From 1 March 2021, it will be illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take mountain hares at any time unless a licence is obtained.

Previously a licence would be required during the closed season, this will now be the case throughout the whole year.

The new licensing arrangement will be overseen by NatureScot, with licences issued only under certain circumstances, such as concerns for public health or protection of crops and timber.

[These bloodied corpses were left to rot in a pile on a sporting estate in the Angus Glens. The mass culling of mountain hares on grouse moors will no longer be permitted from 1st March 2021. Photo by an RPUK contributor]

The changes are part of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020 which will also see new licensing requirements for those breeding puppies, kittens or infant rabbits, as well as introducing ‘Lucy’s Law to end the third party selling of dogs and cats in Scotland under the age of six months.

Natural Environment Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“Protecting Scotland’s wild animals in their natural environment is a key priority for this Scottish Government. Mountain hares are an iconic Scottish species and it is right that we protect them.

“Through the Animals and Wildlife Act 2020, we are taking action to safeguard the welfare of animals in Scotland and preserve our precious natural heritage for future generations to come.”

Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s Head of Wildlife Management said:

“Mountain hares – our only native hare – are an important and valued species in the Scottish hills. This increased protection will help ensure healthy populations of mountain hares can be found and enjoyed in the mountains, while giving some recourse when there is a need to prevent damage being caused to saplings or sensitive habitats. We are also working with several partner organisations to continue to improve our understanding of mountain hare populations across Scotland, along with other work to support their conservation status.”


Mountain hares are native to Scotland and are found in upland and mountainous regions. 

They are a quarry species that have long been shot for sport and are also legitimately controlled for other reasons, including to protect plants and crops.

Those found guilty of breaking the new laws could face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.


A lot of people have campaigned for many years to bring in greater protection for mountain hares, particularly amidst the backdrop of obscene mass culls on grouse moors. It remains to be seen how effective this new licensing regime is (and be in no doubt there will be considerable scrutiny of this in the field and further campaigning if licensing is considered to be failing) but for now congratulations to RSPB Scotland, OneKind, Revive, LUSH, League Against Cruel Sports, RPUK, Scottish Raptor Study Group, Scottish Green Party and the supporters of all these groups who have forced this change in Government policy. Special thanks to Alison Johnstone MSP for all her work on this issue.

7 million blog views

This blog passed another milestone yesterday, reaching seven million views.

In recent years it’s averaged approx 1 million views per year but this time it’s only taken seven months to get from six million all the way to seven million views.

Here’s the photograph that gets published here every time a new milestone is reached. This is a golden eagle that was found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park in 2006. It had been illegally poisoned. It epitomises everything in its pitiful, poignant, senselessness. [Photo by RSPB]

Have attitudes changed since 2006?


This white-tailed eagle was found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park in 2020. It, too, had been illegally poisoned. [Photo by Police Scotland]

I’m often asked what motivated me to start this blog and what motivates me to continue. These two photographs say it better than I ever could.

Thank you to everyone who supports and contributes to this blog, particularly those behind the scenes. It isn’t a pleasure to write it but it is enormously rewarding to see its increasing reach.

Thank you.

Langholm Moor Community Buyout: now recruiting for nature reserve team

In November last year the largest community buyout in south Scotland realised its ambitious goal by raising enough money to buy some moorland from Buccleuch Estates in Langholm with the intention of turning it from a former grouse moor in to a thriving nature reserve for the benefit of the local community, the environment and for visitors from further afield (see here).

[Langholm Moor when it was being run as a grouse moor. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

The purchase of over 5,000 acres and six properties from Buccleuch Estates is currently being finalised and excitingly, the project is now recruiting two senior managers to begin the process of creating the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

The two vacancies are for a Development Manager (£40k per annum, fixed term 3 year position) and an Estate Manager (£35k, permanent position).

The closing date for applications for both positions is 19 February 2021.

Further details on the roles and responsibilities and the application process can be found on the Langholm Initiative website here

These are brilliant opportunities to be able to contribute to an important project that has attracted significant attention and support both locally and nationally. Alongside major donors, nearly 4000 ‘ordinary’ people were sufficiently inspired to make a donation to assist this buyout. A lot of us will be wishing the new recruits the very best of luck as the project gets underway.

Non-native gamebirds (pheasants & red-legged partridges) comprise approx half of all wild bird biomass in Britain

The annual mass release of millions of non-native gamebirds (pheasants and red-legged partridges) for shooting has long been of interest to those of us who care about raptor conservation, because the vast majority of illegal raptor persecution in the UK is undertaken by gamekeepers whose job is to ‘protect’ the gamebirds long enough for them to be shot by paying guests. Since 1990, two thirds of those convicted of raptor persecution related offences have been gamekeepers (see here).

The exact number of gamebirds that are released in the UK for shooting every year is not known because, incredibly and unlike virtually every other European country, the game bird shooting industry in the UK is under-regulated. Nobody even knows how many game bird shoots there are because the people involved do not have to register anywhere, nor report on the number of birds released / shot each year. It’s been a great old wheeze for decades.

[This photograph of non-native pheasants released for shooting was posted on social media by a gamekeeper in Scotland]

The most recent figures, still considered to be a conservative estimate, were for the year 2018 and included 49.5 million pheasants and 11.7 million red-legged partridges, making a total of 61.2 million non-native gamebirds released into our countryside. These figures emerged as a result of Wild Justice’s recent successful legal challenge on gamebird releases (see Mark Avery’s blog here for more details).

Today a new peer reviewed scientific paper has been published that has revealed a shocking insight in to the effect of releasing so many gamebirds. The authors estimate that around a quarter of British bird biomass annually is contributed by pheasants and red-legged partridges, and at their peak in August these two species represent about half of all wild bird biomass in Britain!!!!!!!

This pie chart from the paper is eye-watering:

The paper’s citation is: Blackburn, T.M. and Gaston, K.J. (2021). Contribution of non-native galliforms to annual variation in biomass of British birds. Biol Invasions.

It is open access, which means anyone can read it for free. Download it here:

The next time someone tells you, ‘There’s too many bloomin’ buzzards / sparrowhawks / red kites / sea eagles / goshawks / etc’ / [insert your own hooked-bill species here] you might want to point them to this paper.

You might also want to have a word with your local politician and point out that the release of non-native gamebirds is out of control and needs urgent regulation.

‘Keeping homes dry should never have been compromised to shoot more grouse’

Conservation campaigner Les Wallace has lodged a new petition on the Scottish Parliament website which seeks to make it a condition of any forthcoming grouse shooting licence that landowners must first demonstrate they are using natural flood prevention methods (e.g. reduced heather burning, targeted tree planting) to reduce the downstream flood risk to homes and businesses.

The petition (PE01850) ‘Natural flood prevention on grouse moors‘ can be signed HERE – anybody can sign it, you don’t need to live in Scotland to have a point of view.

Unlike the Westminster petition system, petitions to the Scottish Parliament do not require a threshold of signatories before the petitions committee considers the case, although obviously the better supported the petition the more impression it will make.

[Gamekeeper setting a grouse moor alight. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Les has written the following background summary to support his case:

More than 10% of Scotland consists of grouse moors which are predominantly in upland areas where much of our rain falls. Flood prevention strategies are inadequate if they do not involve changes in the way our uplands are managed. The intended licencing scheme for grouse moors provides an excellent opportunity to begin this process. Keeping homes dry should never have been compromised to shoot more grouse. Flood reduction work will also reduce the fire risk and speed of fire on grouse moors through creating firebreaks, a much-needed relief for our emergency services.

I believe that in order for grouse moor owners to be granted a grouse moor license, they must be able to demonstrate that they are using natural flood prevention methods to slow the flow of water from their land in order to reduce the flood risk to homes, businesses and farms on lower land. The measures to be taken include reduced muirburn, blocking drainage, peat restoration, targeted contour and riparian tree planting to reduce the speed of flow into watercourses, insertion of woody material into watercourses to create ‘leaky’ dams to hold water back during high rainfall and the eventual return of the beaver whose dams are increasingly being recognised as a major contributor to flood prevention. These measures are vital to combat the massive financial and human cost of flooding.

Further reading can be found on the petition website here.

‘Scotland’s reputation is being trashed by the brutal killing of wildlife’

Many thanks to Brinkwire for picking up on the recent blog post (here) about the Scottish Government’s failure to appoint a taskforce to consider additional powers for the Scottish SPCA.

The following article was published yesterday, with quotes from Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment Minister Ben Macpherson and the SSPCA’s Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn:

SNP ministers have been accused of years of delay over plans to hand more powers to the Scottish SPCA to allow it to better investigate wildlife crime, including the illegal killing of birds of prey. 

It came as it emerged a new task force expected to be set up last summer has yet to be established.

Campaigners said the issue has been “kicked into the long grass more times than is credible”, with increased powers first suggested a decade ago.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell argues wildlife crime is rife, the police are overstretched and the role of the SSPCA needs to be extended.

This would allow the animal charity to investigate a greater number of suspected wildlife crimes, such as those where animals have been killed.

Mr Ruskell proposed further powers for the SSPCA as part of last year’s Animals and Wildlife Bill. 

But the Scottish Government instead committed to setting up an independently-chaired task force to consider the matter.

In June, Mairi Gougeon, who was then the SNP rural affairs ministers, said she expected this task force “to convene later in the summer and that they will be in a position to conclude their review and submit a report of their recommendations before the end of the current parliamentary session” in May this year.

She said that timeline “may be subject to change” due to the coronavirus crisis and preparations for Brexit.

Ben Macpherson, the current rural affairs minister, has now confirmed the task force has been delayed. 

In a written answer to Mr Ruskell, he said: “We now expect the task force to be established later this year and will provide further details in due course.”

Mr Ruskell, his party’s environment spokesman, said: “Giving the SSPCA powers to investigate wildlife crime and act on the brutal killing of raptors seems a no brainer, but the Scottish Government seems unwilling to even set up a task force to discuss it. 

“I note the Scottish Government delayed this task force meeting because of Covid but allowed grouse shooting to continue, even when the rest of us were told to stay at home.

“This idea was first floated a decade ago. There is nothing left to discuss. 

“It is completely unacceptable for minister after minister to continue to kick this can down the road when Scotland’s reputation is being trashed by the brutal killing of wildlife. 

“It raises serious questions about the SNP’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime during a nature emergency.”

Dr Ruth Tingay, author of the Raptor Persecution UK blog, said increased powers for the SSPCA were first suggested in February 2011. 

Her blog details the “extraordinary” timeline of delays that have occurred since then, with the issue “kicked into the long grass more times than is credible”.

Ms Tingay, who also runs the not-for-profit Wild Justice with television presenter Chris Packham and environmental campaigner Dr Mark Avery, told The : “Ten years and seven environment ministers later and we’re still no closer to letting highly experienced SSPCA investigators help the police tackle ongoing illegal raptor persecution. You have to ask why that might be.”

Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn of the SSPCA said it “welcomes the minister’s commitment to establishing this task force in 2021”. 

He said: “We already work very closely with Police Scotland and other agencies to protect wild animals from cruelty.

“We have the skills and expertise to assist and investigate wildlife crime. 

“The extension of these powers would put this expertise to use and allow us to provide even more support to our partners and reduce pressure on their resources.

“As Scotland’s animal welfare charity we believe we can do more to protect Scotland’s wildlife.”

Mr Macpherson said tackling wildlife crime has been a “long-standing priority for the Scottish Government”.

He said: “While we had initially anticipated the task force would be convened in summer 2020 this has not been possible because of the need to focus on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – a health crisis which has created an economic crisis – and preparations for EU exit. We now expect the task force to be established later this year.”


Sea eagles: talk of reintroduction to Norfolk & of cull in Scotland

White-tailed eagles were in the news yesterday after it emerged that the progressive Ken Hill Estate has launched a public consultation to consider the reintroduction of sea eagles to Norfolk (there’s a good article in the Guardian about it, here).

This is quite a story, as journalist Patrick Barkham points out, given that ten years ago some Norfolk pig farmers vehemently opposed a reintroduction proposal but this time a number of them are on board, no doubt reassured by their recent experiences with visiting eagles from the Isle of Wight reintroduction project.

There’s a long way to go before a decision is made, of course, and Norfolk’s appalling reputation for the continued illegal killing of birds of prey will need to be carefully considered, but have a look at the Ken Hill Estate website (here) where they’ve published useful background information and provided links to the public consultation and opportunities for people to sign up to forthcoming webinars. It’s impressive stuff.

Meanwhile in Scotland, there is still talk of culling white-tailed eagles. This isn’t anything new – there have been persistent calls for a cull from certain quarters for years, fuelled by sensationalist nonsense from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association who even wrote to the Government calling for a public enquiry about the ‘threat’ that sea eagles posed to babies and small children (I kid you not – see here).

The latest call stems from the recent news in the Scottish Farmer that Nature Scot’s sea eagle action plan review ‘may also include further licensed activities’ (see here).

Although those potential ‘licensed activities’ are not defined, and may not involve lethal control at all, the Scottish Farmer’s editor, Ken Fletcher, has written an editorial suggesting that ‘there is a growing feeling that management will, indeed, mean that in some areas a cull will have to take place‘.

Here’s the relevant part of his editorial from 14 January 2021:

Natural Balance

RE-WILDING has become a noisy topic both on-line and in the national press, but there is a temptation to argue that it’s very much a minority that is seeking to drive change.

For want of a better expression, it would appear that the Great British (Scottish) public don’t give a monkeys about beavers, sea eagles and lynx. Yes, they would probably like to see them on their way to littering our countryside, but it cannot be argued that their life would be immeasurably worse off without them.

So, it’s nice to see that there is more of a balance in the stakeholder input into curbing so-called rogue individual birds by the sea eagle management scheme. It’s now readily accepted that some birds do severe damage to livestock in certain areas and equally that farmers accept their managed right to be in their locale. The key is in the word ‘managed’.

It’s a thorny and potentially politicised subject that will probably not raise its head above the parapet until after the Scottish elections later this year, but there is a growing feeling that management will, indeed, mean that in some areas a cull will have to take place.

Some argue that this should involve relocation as being an option, instead of a lethal solution. But, in the same way the ludicrous notion that not producing beef in Scotland will save the planet thus seeing production ‘exported’, then sending difficult birds to new locations will only transpose the problem.

It’s also been hinted that beavers should not be shot – as they are allowed to be under licence at the moment – but re-located instead.

We have a ready-made solution. Send them to Knapdale, in Argyll, where the original and sanctioned re-wilding project seems to need ‘topping up’ on a regular basis as they keep disappearing. It seems that they don’t like the wild west!