With straight faces, landowners’ lobby group asks tourists to ‘respect nature’

This made me laugh out loud.

Landowners’ lobby group Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) posted this on their website two days ago:

This is the same Scottish Land & Estates whose membership includes the notorious Leadhills Estate, a grouse-shooting estate in South Lanarkshire where over 70 confirmed incidents of wildlife crime have been reported since 2000 and is currently serving a three-year general licence restriction based on “clear evidence” of ongoing raptor persecution (see here).

This is the same Scottish Land & Estates whose Moorland Group Chair, for years, was Lord Hopetoun of Leadhills Estate as illustrated by this screengrab from the SLE website:

This is also the same Scottish Land & Estates whose membership includes the notorious Longformacus Estate in the Scottish Borders, a grouse and pheasant-shooting estate where gamekeeper Alan Wilson was convicted of nine wildlife crime offences including the shooting of protected raptors, badgers and otters, the setting of illegal snares and the possession of banned poisons (see here). According to SLE’s CEO, Sarah-Jane Laing, responding to a question on this blog on 31 March 2021 (here) about why the Longformacus Estate hadn’t been expelled from SLE:

Yes, Longformacus is a member. As per our statements at the time membership was suspended during the police investigation in to the atrocious crimes but was reinstated when the police took no action against the estate owner“.

This is also the same Scottish Land & Estates who supports seven regional moorland groups; grouse moors in five of those seven regions have been in the last three years, or currently are, under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution crimes (grouse moors in the regions covered by the Angus Glens Moorland Group, Grampian Moorland Group, Tomatin Moorland Group, Tayside & Central Moorland Group and the Southern Uplands Moorland Group).

And SLE has the audacity to ask tourists to ‘respect nature’?!

16 thoughts on “With straight faces, landowners’ lobby group asks tourists to ‘respect nature’”

  1. Probably both irony and hypocrisy. then on the other hand we would surely all support the respect nature plea even if in reality SLE don’t.

  2. Just a case of “Do as I say not as I do” Please keep to the paths and have any dogs on a lead. Why??? Then you won’t find xxxxx illegal traps and your dog won’t eat the poison xxxxx xxxxx spread about.

    1. ‘Keep to the paths’ – does a ‘Right to Roam’ apply on open moorland? I apologise for ignorance of Scots law and customs.

        1. But at certain times of year (usually 1 April to 31 August if I recall) right to roam in England is invalidated by the requirement to keep dogs on a short lead. The irony is that this does not apply to public footpaths, so the only time you know if a person is breaking the law is if the dog strays and may be causing a nuisance. If I encountered people walking with dogs not on the lead I used to say “can you please follow the countryside code and put the dog on a short lead”.
          Another case of a law which is not fit for purpose. Not sure what is allowed in Scotland, as right to roam law is different here.

          1. You in many places cannot take a dog on RTR land if the landowner has sought that exclusion, only on footpaths or bridleways and again of course your dog must be under “control” that means a lead or that it comes on bidding immediately—— seems fair to me and we have a dog.

  3. I have asked Ms Laing directly the last time her organisation helped convict a member of wildlife crimes. There was no answer, probably because the answer is “none”.

  4. These visitors and tourists are not the huntin, fishin, shootin ones they like and in fact never wanted traipsing over ‘their’ land spooking deer that haven’t been left with any trees to feel safe amongst, or seeing something on a grouse moor they weren’t supposed to. So an exercise like this pointing the finger at THEM for damaging the land and harming wildlife in a not so subtle way says that public access legislation was a bad thing – which it certainly is for resident criminals. There’s at least one video on the Field Sports channel where an estate owner seriously suggested it was increased recreational walking that was driving birds of prey away – not muir burn or gas guns and bangers, or carbofuran or traps for eagle sized ‘crows’ or thermal imaging cameras and shotguns. The real story I believe is much closer to what a senior official from an organisation whose members like to wear deerstalkers told an acquaintance of mine at a government event, that walkers are the eyes and ears of the estate and have been a brilliant help in letting them know of livestock issues, downed fencing, dumped cars etc, etc. Have they ever stated this publicly? Of course if there are lots of questionable things going on then all those visitors are not quite the asset they would be, so better to blacken their image and kill two birds with one stone by insinuating they’re the root cause of wildlife loss. By the looks of it a lot of iffy things are happening on a lot of estates.

  5. For once I’m not going to follow your lead, Ruth. We all know bad things go on on these estates but unless we give credit to the landowners for welcoming the public onto their land we risk painting ourselves into the corner marked ‘dog in a manger’ in the eyes of the public on whom the irony that – bleakly, I suppose – amuses you is lost. And it is true that unaware free-roaming people and dogs will disturb ground-nesting birds in some habitats which should be our concern as much as for the raptors. Furthermore I feel the visiting public will acknowledge this as a reasonable request from the landowner.

    My only regret is that the SLE didn’t go further in its invitation to the public by suggesting to Land Managers that they locally mention those species of ground-nesting bird that might be found and in their area and in which habitats. A little education here would lead to a greater awareness by the public and, hopefully, greater respect for – and less disruption to – the birds. ‘Keep dogs on a lead and stay on the paths’ doesn’t exactly inspire responsible behaviour!

    1. This is Scotland. There is a statutory right of access which SLE, or more precisely it’s predecessor, fought tooth and nail to try and stop. They are not ‘welcoming’ anyone onto their land and they loathe the idea of public access and despise that same public. They have actually lost all control over who enters their land and only the Access Code defines what folk may or may not do. They are spouting hypocritical drivel in a disingenuous attempt to appear responsible and to be in control of what happens. They are neither.

    1. better watch it then although I’m sure one way or another it will be bad for my blood pressure!

      1. Where they were looking is certainly good for Adders. When I lived in Harrogate that was a regular spring haunt looking for them. It was not the only good place but we made sure we were not overlooked some keepers as always ignored the law and killed them “to protect the dogs.” I can remember one oaf bragging his moor had no Adders as he had killed them all. It was also good to see David Alred, a great naturalist and friend.

  6. It has worked for our ‘masters’ for the last three hundred years (in Scotland).
    It is working in the Westminster Government right now. What else do you expect?
    As long as we the people let them get away with this hypocrisy and arrogance, they will go on using it.

  7. I live in the Peak District. When I complain to the Peak Chief (Sarah Fowler) about the atrocities related to DGS I am constantly told they are not a campaigning organisation and the majority of the land is privately owned. Ergo they have no power. However the Peak Park ARE campaigning to stop shop keepers selling BBQs. Whilst I fully support the fight against BBQs on moors it seems rather hypocritical when the Peak Chief won’t condemn the snaring, trapping and burning alive of our wildlife

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