NatureScot Chair Mike Cantlay writes puff piece for Scottish Gamekeepers’ rag

How come, if Scottish gamekeepers feel so downtrodden, unheard, overlooked, side-lined etc (e.g. see here), the Chair of Naturescot is writing puff pieces for their quarterly rag?

In the Spring 2021 edition of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s newsletter, Mike Cantlay blows some serious amounts of smoke up the SGA’s backside. It’s a shame his organisation isn’t as enthusiastic about revoking General Licences on shooting estates where there is strong evidence that raptor persecution continues.

Mike Cantlay isn’t the SGA’s only friend at NatureScot.

The recently-updated list of Board Members includes one David Johnstone, former CEO of Scottish Land & Estates whose responses to raptor persecution incidents leave a lot to be desired (e.g. see here and here) as does his view on vicarious liability (see here) and grouse moor licensing (e.g. see here and here).

Ah, nothing like a modernising, forward-thinking progressive to join the NatureScot Board, eh? Which Scottish Government Ministers approved the current intake of Board Members and how many candidates with expertise in wildlife, science and nature conservation were overlooked in favour of landowning Lord Johnstone?

21 thoughts on “NatureScot Chair Mike Cantlay writes puff piece for Scottish Gamekeepers’ rag”

  1. Nothing changes. Top positions given to tory land owners. I am sure that DGS will stop, because let’s face it you couldn’t make it up if it didn’t already exist. I just hope and pray that this ridiculous damaging activity would stop now before more animals die a cruel death, more carbon released, more flooding and more tax payers’ hard earned money goes to the rich.

  2. What more evidence do we need that a DGS licensing system overseen by NatureScot is a really bad idea?

  3. The idea that NatureScot (and their counterparts in Wales and England, presumably) have an “impartial role” to play is very strange and incomprehenible to me. Their role should quite clearly be to stand up for nature and wildlife.

    1. Yes, Jeremy, I think that you are correct. I have the impression that they are about facilitating the exploitation of nature up to a point just short of being thoroughly blatant about it.
      Just following orders I suppose.

  4. By his own statements on the subject David Johnstone reveals himself to be firmly in the problem denial camp, basically this has happened “previously”, and has “declined markedly”, but implies the problem has now gone away; but the actual evidence from the field is that he’s dead wrong in that, it has not in fact gone away (check the stats on birds disappearing) and that kind of attitude will only prolong the agony; it’s such as tired excuse to keep saying oh yes things have changed – the truth is nothing will ever change until those with influence in the industry hold up their hands and acknowledge there was *and is still* a problem, we’re still waiting. Sadly it looks like this appointment will only entrench the status quo led by persecution deniers.

  5. At the head of the article it says “explores the role of SGA and Nature Scot in delivering change” was he serious we know from the pronouncements of Alex Hogwash and Bert “Burn it” Burnett that SGA are entrenched in trying to stem any change to the way they work, the way the countryside is managed, in opposed to any change at all. It really is predictable but nonetheless very disappointing that the chair of Nature Scot chooses to write this drivel rather than doing what he should and that is keeping an arms length neutral view of lobby groups like the SGA or indeed SLE. What we need at the head of Nature Scot ( NE or NRW) is folk who deal with facts and keep all interested parties at arms length, factual information must be seen as paramount nothing else. As to Lord Johnstone complete with C19th blinkers on the NS board one is exasperated that this wilfully blind dinosaur is there, in what role because its not as teaboy. As other shave said its time these archaic viewed landowners were cast to the wilderness, there are out there far more forward thinking and acting landowners who would be a far better choice for a forward thinking, factually and scientifically based Nature Scot ( the same of course applies to NE and NRW). As to blowing smoke up the SGAs arse there is surely enough there already from their muirburn fires, as long as SGA are controlled by the Luddites, Ostriches and dinosaurs they should have no real influence at all.

  6. Not a word about the criminal activities committed over many decades by gamekeepers and land managers to help “balance” their REAL place in the destruction of some of our most loved birds and animals. This is simply the appeasement of a large criminal minority who own or work on vast tracts of our uplands and much of our lowlands. Not one word about how to go about stopping it prior to “moving on.”
    We need to up our game and view with a jaundiced eye those who do indulge them letting them know that debate is fine in context — but talking with a gang of bank robbers who continue to insistthat the state of the environment and the ecology that it has nothing to do with them and they see nothing to change is stupid — not a word I use lightly. This only puts more wind in the sails of those who are using the same arguments that have been serially found wanting over a number of years. One cannot .. or should not .. give the air of publicity to those who have no integrity and believe they have the hidden weight of hegemonic power to rely on.

  7. Cantlay is well known as a friend of Fergus the bully.
    He has a grossly inflated opinion of himself when in reality he is out of his depth in a tartan tea tray.
    He might be a friend of the SGA and there are one or two others at SNH but if you talk to the beleaguered staff, the vast bulk see them for the problem that they are.

    Johnstone’s appointment should be seen as nothing short of a national embarrassment. Its an appoinment designed to stymie any forward movement.

    1. I hadnt seen any announcement of the new tranche of SNH board members…. no wonder they are keeping it quiet…..

      They have kept the chaff, thrown away anything that looks like wheat and filled it up with farmers and land owners.

      Its taken longer than Myanmar but the coup is now complete.

  8. I’ve said it before, but NatureScot (Stupid name) is not a conservation organisation, it’s an economic development agency (as more or less admitted by their CEO on the BBC)

    1. As Tony Juniper has said about his organisation Natural England: there role is to balance economics with nature and the environment. This is interesting because his organisation keeps licensing the destruction of the environment for HS2 whilst every Parliamentary Committee and the National Audit office have red-listed the project as failing on every indicator – including every economic indicator.

      As I have said elsewhere, it seems every government department and every government funded agency in every region of the UK is corrupt.

  9. There is only one word to describe what has occurred. ‘Pathetic’ . We will never move forward until this ‘club’ has gone into the wilderness.

  10. When you look at the twitter discussions about raptor persecution, some of the biggest apologists are former employees at NatureScot. I’d class them as complete cowards, because they know well full well what’s going on but they don’t want to rock the boat or accept that they were part of the problem. This idea that gamekeeping is necessary for rural management, when we have clear data showing that they commit by far the most amount of wildlife crimes out of all demographics, is nothing more than industry propaganda and because so many political entities have ties to the land owning class, they’re happy to go along with it.

    It’s ironic that they constantly moan about being ‘victimised’ or not having sufficient voice, when they have connections within the highest political and statutory bodies. A better word would be lobbyists, because they’re certainly not independent.

  11. Does this sound like someone who is independent and putting nature before profits?

    “The Glorious Twelfth provides Scotland with a great opportunity to showcase our country sports credentials to wealthy visitors from around the world ahead of 2014, which marks an incredible year for Scotland through major events such as the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and Homecoming. Our ability to host such a diverse range of events and activities ensure that Scotland continues to have something for every visitor.”

    1. Dave – agreed; maybe one or two with any genuine experience, and they are probably shouted down. The rest appear to support vested interests. The minutes tell you nothing which probably says it all. I quickly glanced at one of the papers the board were reviewing, which basically said we don’t understand this but we’ll pretend we do, and we’ll string this out for a few more years by saying we don’t have the evidence to make a decision. I am not surprised they agreed to kill the beavers or anything else that gets in the way of their vested interests; raptors, seals, foxes, mountain hares, kayakers, hikers and conservationists.

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