Gamekeepers responsible for more illegal raptor killing than any other profession

Somebody sent me a screen grab the other day of a statement posted on social media by the Southern Uplands Moorland Group (SUMG), which is one of a number of regional groups representing grouse moor estates around the country and designed to persuade the public that birds of prey are warmly welcomed and that gamekeepers love having birds of prey on their ground.

The statement published by the SUMG is fairly typical of the misrepresentation of facts that we’ve all come to expect from certain quarters of the grouse shooting industry. It reads as follows and I’ve underlined the sentence of interest:

Now, I can’t recall EVER saying on this blog that a dead raptor is automatically linked to the [game]keepering profession and there are numerous examples of illegal raptor killing offences that I’ve reported on here over the years where gamekeepers have quite clearly not been responsible (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here, here etc).

As a co-director of Wild Justice I’m also pretty certain that WJ has NEVER made such a claim. If there is such evidence, the SUMG are challenged to provide it.

I can’t speak for the RSPB but I can’t imagine they would EVER make such a ridiculous claim either.

Speaking for myself, I don’t even believe, as some do, that ALL gamekeepers are raptor killers. A lot of them are, of that there’s no doubt whatsoever, and some other gamekeepers will benefit from that killing even if they’re not doing the actual killing themselves, but I also know of some decent, law-abiding gamekeepers who are as thrilled at seeing a raptor as I am. I’ve met them and have worked with them, so I know they exist.

However, there’s no getting away from the undeniable evidence that shows overall, gamekeepers in the UK are responsible for more illegal raptor killing than any other profession. If you want to see the evidence, have a look at this pie chart published by the RSPB last year in their annual Birdcrime report:

Interestingly, one of the individuals included in the convicted gamekeepers section of this pie chart was a certain Alan Wilson, a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association who was convicted in 2019 of a catalogue of horrendous wildlife crimes he committed on the Longformacus Estate, a grouse/pheasant shooting moor in, er, the Southern Uplands (see here).

It strikes me that the Southern Uplands Moorland Group would do well to concentrate on ousting the criminals within the gamekeeping industry rather than smearing those of us who report on such crimes and who, quite legitimately, campaign for the Government to clamp down on the criminals involved.

9 thoughts on “Gamekeepers responsible for more illegal raptor killing than any other profession”

  1. The difficulty they face is that, the one true measure of their intent is the levels of successful breeding birds of prey and raven in suitable habitat, compared to areas where there is less persecution. They trot out excuses about public disturbance for example but these don’t stand up to scrutiny when compared with successful sites where there can often be more public activity. This doesn’t of course include areas where they shoot the birds from neighbouring estates and then say, well they have no hen harriers either.

  2. And responsible for the destruction of any other indigenous predator that throws a sideward glance at their charges.
    Fox population down 47%, and when did you last see a stoat or weasel? Or Mountain Hare on the northern England Grouse moors.
    It’s not just Birds of Prey that need protection, however flimsy that may be.

    1. Sorry, hate to nitpick, I agree with what you say, except about Mountain Hare’s in England. I’d not expect to find a Mountain Hare on a ‘northern England Grouse moor’. There is a population in the Dark Peak, but this was introduced by gamekeepers for out of season, er, ‘sport’ in the late 19th Century, and otherwise they’re only native in Scotland – and a different subspecies in Ireland.

  3. I always feel that statements by the SUMG, SGA, BASC etc are all about reinforcing the echo chamber. From the outside world these statements often bizarre, however what they are really saying “we’re here for you” “keep up the good work” “make sure we get a good bag” “the conservations are just towny vegans trying to take away your way of life”(until you get convicted then we’ll find someone else to do our dirty work).
    The real question is how you break down the echo chamber so gamekeepers and others who kill raptors realise the status quo is not sustainable. I would suggest the police target adverts and content at their publications, social media etc. Secondly increasing investigatory powers and hence convictions will make individuals consider their own positions. Finally robust licensing of all shoots; pheasant, driven or walked grouse etc to target the owners where raptor persecution is taking place.

  4. If 67 per cent of those found guilty of crimes of a specific nature belong to a certain defined group of individuals over a lengthy period of time then it is without doubt that the general opinion would reflect those statistics and proceed to question that if this information is widely available then why has something not been done about it?
    it is also widely known that gamekeepers often boast about their illegal activities when making merry post shoot. It then becomes obvious toi those in that profession know who the guilty parties are and, given the circumstances, should be easily caught in light of that knowledge.
    I understand and accept that there are gamekeepers who are not involved in these activities but it is extremely difficult for me to accept that they know nothing about the specific activities of who is doing what in their area. However the price of co-operating in their exposure and punishment would surely be their job which, in essence, makes it a white collar crime made viable by management who are ultimately responsible for the continuation of this extremely destructive culture.

  5. After working on several estates not as a keeper I’ve witnessed raptors being shot by mainly out of college young keepers whose lust for fat tips off grouse and pheasant shoots amazes me, so it’s pretty obvious the head keepers turn a blind eye to this as it’s a bird over gun situation at some point in my lifetime I really hope these custodians of the countryside learn that nature has away of balancing itself out.

  6. I keep reading SMUG instead of SUMG! Not that that’s helpful!! It seems to me though that smugness surrounds the way they xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx [Ed: libellous]. I’m a ‘girl’ tho and this thirst to shoot these beautiful creatures never enters my head. I just cannot understand it. Laws need to be much much tougher and reading about the continual harassment and yes smugness from the gamekeepers/grouse Moor managers makes me mad and sad.

  7. When these people are prosecuted do the courts revoke their firearms certificate’s as they are not fit to have them or is it like everything else these days and they get let off with a slap

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