‘Game over for UK shooting season as bird flu & Brexit take a heavy toll’ – new article in The Observer

There was an interesting article published in The Observer yesterday, reporting on extensive cancellations of pheasant and partridge shoots in the UK this year, as the game-shooting industry has failed in its attempts to circumvent biosecurity restrictions on the importation of gamebird eggs from France, in relation to a devastating outbreak of avian flu.

The article is well worth a read – here.

Of course, this only applies to pheasant and partridge shoots. Red grouse shoots are unaffected as they are not reliant on the importation of eggs/shooting stock.

No prosecution for shot raptors found on Millden Estate, Angus Glens

On 8th October 2019, the Scottish SPCA executed a search warrant with Police Scotland on various properties on Millden Estate in the Angus Glens looking for evidence of animal cruelty and animal fighting, including badger baiting, after 58 gruesome photographs were reportedly sent to a printing shop in England by a Millden Estate employee.

Millden Estate is known for its grouse shooting (having been described in a sales brochure in 2011 as being ‘The Holy Grail‘ of grouse moors and ‘One of the finest sporting estates in Scotland‘) The estate also hosts pheasant and partridge-shooting on its low ground.

Millden Estate has also been described as a ‘savage, stripped, blasted land‘ by author and photographer Chris Townsend (here).

Millden Estate gamekeepers, along with others in the Angus Glens, have previously been feted by senior politicians, including former Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Fergus Ewing MSP, former Minister Graeme Dey MSP, and by Prince Charles who was photographed with Millden keepers as he opened a tweed workshop in Beauly in 2019.

Millden Estate was also visited by Professor Werritty and his colleagues in 2018 during the review of grouse moor management; they visited the estate apparently to see an example of ‘best practice for managing grouse moors’.

The estate, one of a number in the Angus Glens, is also long- known amongst conservationists as a raptor persecution hotspot after the discovery of poisoned and shot buzzards in 2009 and 2011 (here), a poisoned golden eagle (Alma) in 2009 (here), and a satellite-tagged golden eagle seemingly caught in a spring trap and then apparently uplifted overnight and dumped on Deeside with two broken legs & left to die (here). Nobody has ever been prosecuted for any of these alleged offences and Millden Estate has denied any responsibility.

In October 2019 during the morning raid at Millden Estate the SSPCA did find evidence of animal fighting and cruelty, including badger baiting, and after two and a half years of protracted legal process, in May this year 28 year old gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies was convicted of a number of animal cruelty, animal fighting, and firearms offences: (for previous blogs on this case see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). Davies is due to be sentenced on Monday.

Other evidence of alleged wildlife crime was also uncovered during that search of Millden Estate back in October 2019, including the discovery of a number of dead raptors wrapped in bags at at least three separate locations, apparently including at the residences of two estate employees.

Whilst the SSPCA led on the investigation into animal cruelty/animal fighting, Police Scotland led on the investigation into the dead raptors (because the SSPCA don’t, yet, have the powers to investigate cases where a wild animal is already dead – bonkers, I know – see here for the background on this).

I have spent the last two and a half years chasing Police Scotland about these dead raptors and asking for status updates on the investigation. I have to say I’ve been summarily unimpressed. The investigation has been conducted at a snail’s pace and communication has been dire. I understand that the dead raptors all underwent post mortems and it was determined they’d been shot. No information has been provided about the number of species involved (although it’s been reported that some were buzzards), nor the number of individuals confirmed to have been shot, although I know of at least three.

Earlier this week I asked the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) about this case and whether it was progressing (i.e. has anyone been charged?). To its credit, the COPFS response was fast, but the case outcome familiarly frustrating:

The Procurator Fiscal received a report relating to a 28 year old male and incidents said to have occurred between 1 January 2019 and 8 October 2019. After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the available admissible evidence, the Procurator Fiscal decided that there should be no proceedings taken at this time. The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available‘.

I doubt we’ll ever be informed about the extent of the raptor persecution uncovered (even now, nearly three years after the raptor corpses were found, Police Scotland has failed to issue any press statement) and we’ll certainly not learn any more detail about why charges weren’t brought because the COPFS is not obliged to inform the public about its decision-making process. Apparently transparency doesn’t apply.

To be fair, a prosecution would depend on an individual suspect being identified but there are multiple employees at Millden Estate (16 were listed in the estate’s sales brochure in 2011) and a recent photo on social media suggests there are multiple gamekeepers (there’s a photo online showing 13 men dressed as gamekeepers in Millden Estate tweed at the start of the 2020 grouse season).

I think it’s fair to say that any employee could have the motivation, means and opportunity to commit wildlife crime – we now know that at least one of them, Rhys Owen Davies, was doing exactly that, apparently right under the noses of his colleagues and bosses on Millden Estate – but just having the motivation, means and opportunity isn’t sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution. Having a carrier bag full of shot raptors at your house isn’t enough for a court of law to convict, although if there was a bag of dead raptors at my house I’m pretty sure I’d notice them and I’m pretty certain I’d have notified the police.

So where does that leave us? We await the sentencing of gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies on Monday but I don’t expect any of us have high hopes for a fitting sentence.

Millden Estate must surely now qualify for a General Licence restriction, a monumentally ineffective sanction but the only thing left on the table until the Scottish Government pulls its finger out and introduces the licensing scheme it promised to develop in November 2020.

But even if the authorities do decide to impose a General Licence restriction on Millden Estate, that won’t curtail the estate’s ability to continue to host grouse, pheasant and partridge shoots. The estate, which is run through a series of companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs), including one called Millden Sporting LLP, reported tangible assets in 2021 of £17.5 million.

That’s a lot of money, and with it comes a lot of influence.

Ian Blackford latest MP to embolden calls for a sea eagle cull

Ian Blackford MP (Scottish National Party) is the latest politician with a vested interest to whip up some anti-raptor rhetoric by accusing white-tailed eagles of “slaughtering” his lambs, emboldening those who have been calling for an eagle cull.

It follows recent outbursts from Conservative MP Chris Loder (here and here) and the SNP’s Angus MacNeil (here).

Blackford’s hysteria was published in the Sunday Times at the weekend, as follows:

With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the majestic white-tailed eagle reintroduced to Britain from Norway is the country’s largest bird of prey.

But calls for a cull of the giant bird have grown after it was blamed for the deaths of lambs raised by Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader.

Three of nearly 200 breeding pairs of the bird, also known as sea eagles, live near to the politician’s croft on the Isle of Skye, and are said to have killed up to ten of his 60 lambs in the past month.

It comes less than three years after a non-native mink killed his three-year-old ducks — named Mrs McGregor, Mrs Campbell, Mrs Morrison and Mrs McFarlane.

Last year conservationists failed in a bid to introduce 60 white-tailed eagles, likened to “flying barn doors”, to Norfolk after objections from landowners.

Blackford, who runs the smallholding with his wife, Anne, in the northwest of the island, watched from a distance recently during one of the attacks.

“Coming across a dead lamb slaughtered by an eagle it’s not a sight that you want to see. It’s an upsetting one,” he said.

“When all your efforts have gone into the lambing season, you take a pride in looking after your flock. To lose even a small number of lambs is soul destroying.”

Angus MacNeil, his neighbouring SNP MP in the Western Isles, favours a targeted cull of the eagles first reintroduced to Britain in the 1970s and again in the 1990s and early 2000s, with most in the Highlands.

Condemning “monoculture conservationists who cannot see beyond one species”, MacNeil said: “Sea eagles eat puffins and other small birds like Mars bars yet they’re heavily protected.

“A livestock law introduced last November says the owners of dogs that attack livestock can be fined £40,000 or sent to prison, but if you’re a conservationist protecting sea eagles who do the same, you’ll get a big desk in Edinburgh and a promotion.”

David Colthart, an Argyll hill farmer who represents National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) on a sea eagle stakeholder panel, suffered 135 unaccounted-for losses out of several hundred lambs last year.

There are four breeding pairs of sea eagles in his area and he says that lambs are an easy target for birds feeding their chicks.

“Many farmers and crofters have found the sea eagle reintroduction very challenging,” he said.

NatureScot, the public body responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage, has no plans to allow the killing of the magnificent birds, which emit a yelping cry which is made up of 15-30 short “yaps”.

It said: “We understand the concerns of farmers and crofters, and continue to work closely with them, and a range of stakeholders at the local and national level, to offer management support . . . and to trial management techniques which can help reduce these negative impacts.”

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens MSP, said the return of sea eagles had been “a great success story”, with efforts by the government and conservation charities to help farmers mitigate their impact.

“If we’re to combat the nature and climate emergencies, then sustainable agriculture and nature restoration must learn to work together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Benedict Macdonald, the conservationist and television wildlife director, has made more calls for lynxes to return to Scotland. In a new book, Macdonald argues that the species, last seen about 1,300 years ago, would bring ecological and financial benefits by controlling deer and foxes. He also defends wild boar as critical to woodland wildlife as nature’s oldest rotational farmers, churning soil and encouraging plant growth.

NFUS is opposed to the reintroduction of lynxes, which has been previously proposed unsuccessfully for Kielder, an English village three miles from the Scottish border. It says they have been responsible for thousands of sheep deaths in Norway. “The Norwegians told us that to reintroduce predators into our country would be an absolute catastrophe,” Colthart said.

ENDS

I find it interesting that Blackford claimed ‘up to ten’ of his lambs had been ‘slaughtered’ by eagles – how many is ‘up to ten‘? Surely he can count? Or is it a case of him seeing a sea eagle consuming an already dead lamb and he’s assuming the eagle has killed it, rather than acknowledging that eagles will readily eat carrion?

If he’s quick, he can apply to join NatureScot’s Sea Eagle Management Scheme which offers support for adapting livestock management and for trialling prevention measures (see here). The closing date for support in 2023 is 31st July 2022.

Grouse moor estate in Nidderdale with history of wildlife crime to be rewilded

A grouse moor estate in Nidderdale with a history of wildlife crime is set to be rewilded, according to an article in the Telegraph and Argus.

In May 2017, the RSPB’s investigations team filmed two armed individuals, dressed like gamekeepers, appearing to shoot at a nesting Marsh harrier and then apparently removing eggs from the harrier’s nest on Denton Moor (see here). Despite a thorough investigation by North Yorkshire Police, nobody was ever charged for these alleged offences.

[Screengrab from RSPB covert video of two armed men at a Marsh harrier’s nest on Denton Moor]

In February 2019, gamekeeper Austin Hawke was convicted at Skipton Magistrates Court for an offence relating to the death of a badger caught in a snare on the same grouse moor on 28th May 2018. Hawke was found guilty of failing to check the snare contrary to section 11 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act (see here).

In March 2019, the owners of Denton Moor (an engineering company called NG Bailey) announced it would not be renewing its grouse-shooting lease following the spate of wildlife crime (see here).

And now the estate owners, brothers Cal and Nick Bailey, have announced an ambitious rewilding project for the estate, according to an article in last week’s Telegraph & Argus (here). The article is reproduced below:

THE two brothers behind an ambitious plan to transform the Denton Hall estate into an exclusive hotel and rewilding project have outlined their ideas for the scheme – and vowed they want to take the local community with them on their journey.

Cal and Nick Bailey are members of the family which set up the huge NG Bailey engineering company and are shareholders in the business.

Denton Hall was bought by NG Bailey in 1976 and the Grade I Georgian Listed building has been used as offices and a wedding and events venue.

The Bailey brothers are in the process of buying the building and its 2,500 acres of land from the company to realise their dream of helping to combat climate change.

It is also something of a home-coming for Cal and Nick, who grew up in the house and roamed the estate’s moorland and woods in the 1970s.

Although the sale is still in the process of going through, the idea is that developing the house into an exclusive boutique hotel will help finance the wider project – turning the estate into a model of biodiversity and regeneration that will be a flagship scheme driving climate change-combatting measures.

At Denton Hall, which from its elevated position looks out over the greater Ilkley area, Cal Bailey says: “The climate crisis is real and nature in the UK and the wider world is seriously under threat.

“There’s a phrase ‘think global, act local’ and what that means for us is taking this opportunity which we are lucky enough to have to buy this estate and realising our three major goals of making a positive contribution in terms of three major areas, carbon, nature and food.”

Their plans are well-thought out and hugely ambitious, and they appreciate that there might be some misgivings among local people, particularly in the close-knit Denton village community neighbouring the estate. But they are determined to allay any fears about the development.

Cal says: “We are very keen that people in the area hear what we are saying and planning. There have been a few voices against our plans, but the overwhelming number of people have been supportive.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and there’s obviously a long way to go. The way we get there is as important as where we get to so we are absolutely determined to get to the end point but we want to take people with us, otherwise, what’s the point?

“We have tried to lean over backwards to share our vision with people because it’s really important that local people are on this journey with us.

“In every example I’ve seen of rewilding or any similar initiative up and down the country, when local people begin to understand what’s happening and begin to feel part of it, they recognise something special is happening and want to be a part of it.”

But what exactly is going to happen on the Denton Park estate? Over to Nick Bailey, to outline the main points of their plan.

Nick says: “We’ve set ourselves a 30-year horizon because with the best will in the world things change. NG Bailey took over the estate in 1976 and started developing what had been a neglected farm, and 50 years ago they had a very different vision and no doubt visions change so they didn’t think too far ahead.

“So one of the things that struck me was that over no other issue almost ever in history had scientists universally agreed, quickly, the climate crisis and the biodiversity challenge is real.

“So anyone who doesn’t face up to that is like a flat earth group. Scientists describe it and come up with suggestions, governments incentivise it and legislate around it, but it’s people who implement change and that’s what we want to do.

“Our aim here is to create an estate that can balance nature with carbon and with food and that can make as full a contribution as it has the capability to do in each of these three areas.”

So what will that mean in practice? Well, there are several schemes that the brothers want to put into motion over the next few years.

* The Moorland — Peat in good condition is one of the best things to sequester carbon but if it’s in poor condition it can contribute to carbon in the atmosphere, so one of the major projects will be to come up with a restoration plan for the Denton Park moorland peat.

* A Hundred Acre Wood – The brothers are working with the White Rose forest organisation to plant something like a thousand trees per acre, on average, which they are hoping to get underway by November.

* Additives – Their farm manager James Bush is looking at ways to reduce all chemical additives used on the land, whether fertiliser, herbicides or pesticides.

* Food partnerships – They want to utilise the land for growing and rearing food and providing local food producers and breweries with the raw materials so that their products are completely locally sourced. This includes fruit and vegetables, meat, and raw materials for alcohol production.

* A Tree Nursery – This would enable them to develop and grow the best varieties to help with the rewilding of the whole site.

* Bees – a mixture of hives and schemes to attract wild bees, which are essential to biodiversity, and also with a view to producing the estate’s very own honey.

* Grazing land – at the moment there are deer and sheep on the land, but they are looking at reintroducing cattle and possibly pigs to have a stronger mix and also provide food production as well.

* A Walled Garden – There’s already one there that has a history of growing food on the estate, and bringing that back into use is part of the plans.

* Water management – This is a hugely important part of the plans. Some 9.5 million tons of rain fall on the estate each year so proper management of the land will help to cut back on potential flooding further down the valley.

These are just some of the plans in the pipeline, and the Bailey brothers are consulting with a wide range of experts and organisations to look at how to put them into practice and to develop new and exciting ideas to help the estate be a model of biodiversity and rewilding.

Cal says: “We have this amazing opportunity to put our beliefs into practice on a bit of land in England that we can buy and manage. Because we have this opportunity and the fundamental belief that the world is in crisis, this is something we want to do.

“Does this mean we are experts in land restoration and farming? Not at all. I’m an accountant by training, a businessman who’s running factories. Nick is an engineer, but he’s been a teacher.”

Nick adds: “I’ve restored a couple of buildings in the past but not to this scale. This is a chance to play and learn, if you like, but I think so many things in my life have given me so much to bring to this project.

“So, no, we don’t have all the skills that we need, we’ll need the help of a lot of other folk. But we want to see our three goals of carbon reduction, food production and nature brought together in one vision on this estate. And the way we will fund it is hopefully bringing visitors to the estate who will stay here.”

It’s a long-term project, though, and the brothers know that. But they want to get local people onside to help them realise this dream.

Nick says: “There will be loads of opportunities for people to get involved and they won’t come all at once, even though people are battering the door down now, but over the next five or 10 years more and more people from the local community will become involved with the projects here, and hopefully inspire more and more people and it will be something for Ilkley to be proud of.”

ENDS

Hen Harrier Fest – this Sunday!

Hen Harrier Fest takes place this Sunday (24th July 2022) at Adlington Hall & Gardens in Cheshire.

Over 1,400 people have registered to attend – I hope to see many of this blog’s readers there!

Registration is still open – you’ll find all the information you need about the event on the Wild Justice website here.

Donations urged to ‘help make history happen’ as South Scotland’s biggest community buyout battles odds in final fortnight

Press release from the Langholm Initiative (20th July 2022)

Donations urged to ‘help make history happen’ as South Scotland’s biggest community buyout battles odds in final fortnight

Now or never for one of UK’s largest community-led nature projects

People are being urged to keep donating to a public crowdfunder and major donors are being asked to step up as South Scotland’s biggest community buyout battles the odds to tackle a £400,000 shortfall in its final two weeks.

The town of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway has until 31 July to raise £2.2m to purchase 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch.

Success would double the size of the community-owned Tarras Valley Nature Reserve – helping to tackle the nature and climate emergencies while boosting community regeneration.

[Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, being transformed from a privately-owned grouse moor. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

In recent days, the public crowdfunder – which has attracted support from thousands of people worldwide – has surged past its £200,000 target, thanks to an influx of donations. But the public is being encouraged to keep donating as the ambitious buyout, led by the local Langholm Initiative charity, goes down to the wire.

We need one last big push to help make history happen and get us over the line. We are urging major donors to come forward, and asking people to keep donating to our crowdfunder. Every pound gets us one step closer,” said Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’s Estate Manager.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase this land for people and planet. It really is now or never for one of the UK’s largest community-led nature recovery projects to double its scale.

Last month, the Scottish Land Fund awarded the Langholm Initiative charity £1 million towards the buyout, while the public crowdfunder raised its target from £150,000 to £200,000 towards the purchase – both of which have given significant boosts to the fundraising campaign. The crowdfunder can be supported at bit.ly/LangholmMoorAppeal.

The Tarras Valley Nature Reserve was established last year, following the successful first stage of the community buyout. This saw the community defy the odds to raise £3.8 million to buy 5,200 acres and six residential properties from Buccleuch in March 2021.

On the reserve, globally important peatlands and ancient woods are being restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including hen harrier, short-eared owl and merlin.

[Thirteen hen harrier chicks fledged successfully on the moor this year. Two have been fitted with satellite tags by the RSPB thanks to a crowdfunding effort by the charity Hen Harrier Action]

Community regeneration and creating new jobs through a nature-based approach is a central aim of the project. Langholm was once a thriving textile centre, but the industry has declined in recent years.

Leading charities backing the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, and the Woodland Trust. Buccleuch has supported the community bid, agreeing with The Langholm Initiative a fixed purchase price in 2019 and extending fundraising deadlines. 

ENDS

Investigative journalists discover more evidence of alleged raptor persecution on Queen’s Sandringham Estate

Investigative journalists from The Guardian newspaper have uncovered more evidence of alleged raptor persecution crimes, not previously reported, at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

They’ve also uncovered documents which reveal that the police have to seek the Queen’s permission before they are allowed to enter the estate and search for evidence if alleged wildlife crimes are suspected / have been reported.

Long-term blog readers will know that this royal estate has been at the centre of a number of police investigations into alleged raptor persecution, (e.g. see herehereherehere, here), including the most notorious incident back in 2007 where witnesses observed two hen harriers being shot over Dersingham Bog at the same time that Prince Harry, his mate William van Cutsem (whose Hilborough Estate is currently under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution), and an estate gamekeeper were out duck-shooting. No-one was charged, as with all the other reported incidents except one in 2005, where an estate gamekeeper was convicted for pole-trapping a tawny owl next to a pheasant pen (see here, page 3).

However, it now appears that at least two other raptor persecution incidents on the estate have been kept under wraps for years – a poisoned red kite found in 2006 and a dead Marsh harrier (cause of death not given) found on the estate border in 2007 – according to documents published on Friday by The Guardian – the article is well worth a read, here.

Why has it taken 16 years for these raptor persecution incidents to become public knowledge? And given the timings, wouldn’t it have been pertinent for them to have been in the public domain at the time that Prince Harry, his ‘high society’ mate van Cutsem, along with an estate gamekeeper, were all under police investigation into the alleged shooting of two hen harriers in 2007?

It’s no wonder ‘nothing was found’ during the police investigation into those alleged shootings, given that the police weren’t allowed on site until the following morning.

And surprise, surprise, none of the investigating authorities want to comment on any of these latest revelations. Too scared and too obsequious.

There is a follow-up article in today’s Guardian (here), including quotes from me about these very shady processes that amount to what I would call a massive cover-up.

Well done to journalists Sev Carrell, Rob Evans and David Pegg for having the balls to challenge this nonsense.

Multi-agency raid in relation to captive raptors in Merseyside

The following statement was published on social media on Friday (15th July) by Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team:

WILDLIFE & COUNTRYSIDE ACT WARRANT

Today, PCSO Graham and I assisted with a search warrant led by Merseyside Police in relation to possible offences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. The activity focused on crime associated with the keeping of birds of prey and owls, with possible links to Cheshire.

We were joined by our colleagues from North Wales Police Rural Crime Team and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. We also had assistance from the RSPCA and RSPB, who provided expertise around welfare and conditions of birds of prey at the location concerned.

A number of items were seized during the warrant including a bird of prey which has been taken in to care by the RSPCA.

The investigation is currently ongoing between Merseyside Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

PC Tether, St Helens Police.

ENDS

Scottish Gamekeepers Association plan awards ceremony at disgraced Moy Estate

Remember all those recent headlines from the game shooting industry, declaring a ‘zero tolerance’ stance against raptor persecution?

Well quelle surprise, it seems their interpretation of ‘zero tolerance’ isn’t quite the same as everyone else’s.

Last month Moy Estate, a shooting estate in the Monadhliaths was given a three-year General Licence restriction, imposed by NatureScot on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland of wildlife crime against birds, specifically the discovery of a poisoned red kite in 2020 (here).

It was just the latest in a long line of raptor persecution incidents reported on or next to Moy Estate for over a decade, and another court case is due to be heard this autumn.

For an example of the history, here is a map we created way back in 2016 to highlight the extent of raptor persecution crimes in former Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s constituency (given his strong support of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association) and this shows the concentration of incidents on and close to Moy Estate:

The General Licence restriction is a bit like putting a school into ‘special measures’ – a status applied by regulators to indicate the school has fallen short of acceptable standards, although the main serious difference here of course is that a General Licence restriction is imposed on the basis of wildlife crimes being committed on the estate, rather than merely a shortfall in standards.

The main idea behind the introduction of General Licence restrictions back in 2014 was that they would act as a “reputational driver” for those sanctioned estates, according to the then Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse (see here).

However, there has been no evidence that the game-shooting industry takes any notice whatsoever of such sanctions. For example, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust hosted a guided tour and BBQ on ‘the renowned Corsehope Shoot‘ in June 2017, at the same time that this estate was serving a three year General Licence restriction for wildlife crime; Edradynate Estate bragged about “a belter season“ at the same time it was serving a three-year General Licence restriction for wildlife crime; and this estate was also endorsed by the British Game Alliance, the game shooting industry’s own ‘assurance’ scheme, membership of which is supposed to indicate ‘rigorous and ethical standards’, whilst the estate was under a General Licence restriction for wildlife crime (see here).

So it comes as no surprise to see that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) is not only intending to have a stand at the forthcoming Highland Field Sport Fair hosted by Moy Estate (now rebranded as the Moy Country Fair, presumably in an attempt to make it more palatable), but the SGA is also planning an awards ceremony at the event to announce the winner of the SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award as well as presenting various Long Service Medals!

You couldn’t make this up!

The Moy game fair has previously attracted the likes of former Cabinet Minister Fergus Ewing who used his attendance to give a rallying speech to the game-shooting sector (here) and Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) also usually has a stand. I can’t remember if Moy Estate is a member of SLE, but it’ll be interesting to see if SLE puts in an appearance this year.

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