Scottish Gamekeepers Association takes hypocrisy to the next level

There are hypocrites, and then there’s the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).

Yesterday, the SGA threw a major tantrum over the police reporting of an investigation into a dead golden eagle, found in Strathbraan earlier this year. The SGA is claiming that the police report was ‘insensitive’ and ‘led to gamekeeper abuse’. In fact the SGA’s exact words were:

As a result [of the police appeal for information], this directed unwarranted public suspicion towards the estate and its staff“.

What utter tosh.

The reality is somewhat different. The police statement wasn’t ‘insensitive’ at all. It was factual and timely and didn’t infer responsibility for the death of the eagle on anybody, let alone on gamekeepers. It was simply an appeal for information/witnesses of a potential wildlife crime. It didn’t even name an estate so quite how the SGA can claim the police appeal directed unwarranted public suspicion towards the estate and its staff is anyone’s guess. It’s fantasy stuff.

Let’s look at the facts.

On 17th May 2022, the Tayside Police Division of Police Scotland made the following appeal for information on social media:

How is this appeal in any way ‘insensitive’? The Police, quite rightly, didn’t even claim the eagle had been killed illegally. They said it had been found dead and a post mortem would be carried out to establish the cause of death.

Police Scotland was perfectly entitled to consider the eagle’s death suspicious, given the ongoing illegal persecution of raptors, and particularly golden eagles, in this region. Strathbraan is an area where at least eight satellite-tagged eagles have ‘vanished’ in recent years, including one whose tag was found a few years later, wrapped in lead sheeting and dumped in the river (here). Strathbraan was identified as a raptor persecution hotspot by the 2017 Government-commissioned golden eagle satellite tag review. Strathbraan is circled in orange below:

In addition to ongoing golden eagle persecution in this region, there was also the suspicious disappearance of a white-tailed eagle (here), an illegally-trapped hen harrier called Rannoch (here), the suspicious disappearance of a hen harrier called Heather (here), the illegally shot peregrine (here), the long-eared owl held illegally in a trap (here), the ~100 corvids found dumped in a loch (here), the failed raven cull demanded by Strathbraan gamekeepers but thinly-disguised as something else (here) and most recently the General Licence restriction imposed on a Strathbraan estate for wildlife crimes (here), a decision based on evidence provided by the police.

Police Scotland updated the public on this investigation yesterday, with this statement on social media:

Now, I’m not the world’s greatest fan of Tayside Police when it comes to investigating suspected wildlife crime, and especially raptor persecution – they don’t have a good track record and few of us trust them to do a decent job – but on this occasion I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong at all.

I think the SGA is just using this incident as another opportunity to play the victim card, to force the Scottish Government into setting up a ‘gamekeeping taskforce’ to ‘achieve Government policy changes’ for an industry that claims to have been ‘marginalised’ (perhaps if the industry stopped killing raptors the public might look upon them more favourably).

The taskforce is something that shooting organisations have been pushing for for over a year but the Scottish Government has so far resisted. It seems to me like this latest incident has been hijacked by the SGA to apply pressure on Government, perhaps as a way in to water-down the forthcoming legislation on grouse shooting, which let’s not forget is only coming in because some gamekeepers continue to kill raptors, despite years of being warned of the consequences. It’s too late for tears from the SGA; the industry could have and should have done much, much more to stamp it out. Now they all have to deal with the consequences.

But what astonishes me the most about the SGA’s latest contrived melt down is the hypocrisy of it all. Here is an organisation crying tears at bedtime about what it claims to be ‘abuse’ (although the extent of this is contested – here), and yet some SGA directors, members, and committee members have played a central role, for years, in the online harassment and abuse of raptor conservationists or indeed anyone or any business seen to be supporting raptor conservation and grouse moor reform (e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here).

The SGA is also the organisation that, in a nasty and vindictive attack on Chris Packam, hired what they claimed to be a ‘handwriting expert’ to allege that Chris had faked his own death threat. This made national headlines, presumably after a tip off by the SGA to the press. The SGA’s ‘handwriting expert’ was recently exposed as a graphologist willing to present knowingly inaccurate evidence in court documents – here.

And now they’re crying about the ‘abuse’ they allege to have received after a straightforward police appeal for information about a dead eagle?

Laughably pathetic.

7 thoughts on “Scottish Gamekeepers Association takes hypocrisy to the next level”

  1. Hilarious-if it wasn’t so serious. The name ‘Gamekeeper ‘(sic) should become synonymous with ‘expiry date ‘. It doesn’t belong anymore. Let them retrain as wardens, rangers, estate manager, etc. No more blasting birds out of the sky for ‘sport ‘. Detestable activity. Culling if needed, (and even that’s dubious in most cases) to be done humanely and with accountability. But I won’t hold my breath.

  2. Sadly, it is very much the measure of the men (and women) in whose interests such drivel is penned.

  3. Time for the law to change, if assets are seized when drugs are found, why not the same for wildlife crime.. imagine the estates loosing a moor if caught using the wrong trap, poison etc.

  4. Its hardly a surprise, I mean the kind of people who kill and torture wildlife for fun are hardly going to be honest and trustworthy people. These lot have zero value for life and have no problem trying to destroy it, be it by culling some protected species or trying to destroy someone’s reputation. If the majority of the public knew what kind of acts these people really got up to , they would be very concerned that these people were allowed to walk on the streets freely as a part of society.

    [Ed: Lee, thanks for your comment. It nearly didn’t make it through the moderation process because I don’t think it’s fair to label every gamekeeper as dishonest or untrustworthy, even though that’s your opinion, to which you’re entitled. I think the statement is just simply untrue. Sure, there are plenty who are dishonest and untrustworthy, as the convictions show, but I would argue (and have argued – see below) that not all of them are].

    Gamekeepers responsible for more illegal raptor killing than any other profession

    1. Then kindly explain what the title ‘Gamekeeper ‘implies? By definition, what indeed is ‘Game’? Can’t most people eat Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Pork? I personally don’t know of many who dine on Grouse, Pheasant, Partridge, Venison, etc. Only the rich hypocrites who want to kill said creatures for sick pleasure. Like I said before, it matters not whether a Gamekeeper is honest, truthful, a good egg, the problem is the outdated job spec. Let them become wardens, rangers, foresters, etc. Anything else is outdated and unethical.

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