Scottish Land & Estates still refusing to acknowledge extent of raptor persecution on grouse moors

In the last blog post where I wrote about the nine shot birds of prey found wrapped in bags on Millden Estate and just over the estate boundary, I included a quote from Tim Baynes of Scottish Land & Estates, who had written the following in a comment piece for The Field, published in August 2022:

Raptor persecution has been the stick with which grouse moors were beaten for two decades, but the past five years have seen a sea change. In Scotland, recorded crimes have effectively ceased on grouse moors, and raptors of all species have been increasing“.

I said I’d publish his outrageous comment piece in full, so here it is:

I really shouldn’t be surprised that The Field published this nonsense – that particular shooting industry rag has a track record of publishing patently inaccurate comment pieces (e.g. see here).

And I’m definitely not surprised that the author of this latest gibberish is Tim Baynes – his lengthy track record speaks for itself (for a small selection of the masses of examples see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here).

Needless to say, his latest claim that raptor persecution on Scottish grouse moors has “effectively ceased” is demonstrably untrue. You’ve only got to read my last blog post to understand this. If that doesn’t convince you, have a look at the General Licence restrictions currently imposed on grouse moor estates after Police Scotland found ‘clear evidence of raptor persecution’ – Leadhills Estate (here), Lochan Estate (here), Leadhills Estate [again] (here), Invercauld Estate (here), and Moy Estate (here).

And if you still need convincing, have a read of the Scottish Government’s Environment Minister’s statement in 2020 when she announced that there could be no further delay to the introduction of a grouse moor licensing scheme because:

“…despite our many attempts to address this issue, every year birds of prey continue to be killed or disappear in suspicious circumstances on or around grouse moors“.

Perhaps Tim Baynes’ perpetual denial of the bleedin’ obvious explains why he is no longer employed as ‘Director of Moorland’ at Scottish Land & Estates:

9 thoughts on “Scottish Land & Estates still refusing to acknowledge extent of raptor persecution on grouse moors”

  1. I have always questioned their ” rigorous accreditation schemes “. To the best of my understanding and from other sources much of the ” accrediation ” is inhouse . This is worth further scrutiny .

  2. …”Forthcoming licensing legislation will be a challenge, but it is clearly the government’s intention that driven grouse shooting should remain as a viable land use.”… Amidst all the other gibberish, for once, I would totally agree with Baynes. And therein lies the problem.

  3. This is nothing new Baynes has been spouting this and very similar nonsense from the time he still worked for the CA in England. It was a mixture of bullshit, rose coloured spectacle views and prejudice then and nothing has changed. The awards given to three shooting estates, essentially by themselves are meaningless, Swinton’s so called commitment to living with Hen Harriers through the sham tool of brood meddling has yet to be really tested long term given the death of “River” almost certainly on the estate in early 2018. It seems strange to me at least that the immediate area concerned seems to always only have the required 2 pairs when in the recent past it hosted up to 6 attempts per annum. The estate remains an apparent black hole for most of the other species of raptor expected there.The idea that fire risk and muirburn is good for conservation can be easily questioned if one understands what the habitat on grouse moors should really look like, even in the absence of trees.
    No this is a sham piece by a master obfuscator, who has repeated the same old crap for years and it should be challenged at every opportunity, including ensuring that the future licensing legislation in Scotland is robust and unaffected by such bullshit. And I’ve not even mentioned on going and widespread persecution issues on grouse moors.

  4. I do not think it’s just grouse moors where raptor persecution takes place, I live in the Lincolnshire Wolds and my work takes me to different locations every week and I always try to engage in conversation involving wildlife and raptors with all my customers and other members of the public I meet and sadly the general opinion is Buzzards are the enemy to all gamekeepers and many farmers too!! And sadly there are keepered game shoots all over the Lincolnshire countryside.
    In the last eighteen months I have also noticed a large number, eleven so far, of dead Buzzards on the roadside in my area and have actually found five on the same stretch of road in the last six months and I’m sure they haven’t all been hit by traffic!!

    1. Re birds of prey being hit by traffic there’s a very interesting statement in a book called ‘Linescapes’ by Hugh Warwick. He was in a rural area in the North of England doing some research, for a magazine article I believe, when started to notice at what were pretty regular intervals dead rabbits were lying on the road. This was clearly very odd. He stopped at a country pub for some lunch and and happened to mention this. The explanation he got from the locals was that gamekeepers were putting the dead rabbits down as bait so birds of prey would be attracted to where they might be hit by cars. If a BoP has had a heavy meal and its crop is rather full it’s not going to be as nimble and able to fly off as quickly so this might be an effective way of getting rid of raptors while appearing to have ‘clean hands’. Unfortunately I don’t have a personal copy of the book, otherwise I would type in the exact wording, but that’s it in a nutshell. There have also been cases where illegally killed badgers have been dumped on the roadside to look as if they were killed by traffic, another possible reason why you’re seeing so many dead buzzards by the road?

  5. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
    This serves to present ammunition to the shooting lobby as many of those vocal on Social Media lack the insight or experience to construct a believable context for these ourageous claims. You here them time and again in any environmental or conservationist site that allows conversation in real time. This is what stops the conversation moving on — and they know it.
    I despair that so many Ivory Tower dwellers cannot see this simple reality. It’s what politicians use the Established Media for.

  6. These xxxxx are the same that follow the marauding yobs involved in fox hunting and no doubt have friends in the authorities

  7. Another stick to deservedly beat grouse moors with is the negative effect muirburn on grouse moors almost certainly has upon trout and salmon due to the reduction of invertebrate life, acidification, increase in both suspended solids and sedimentation it causes on the watercourses that run through them. The Leeds University EMBER study that produced these findings also indicated muirburn might exacerbate flooding by reducing the moor’s capacity to slow the release of water. It specifically didn’t make any judgements or recommendations, it was a purely objective, non partisan piece of research, but everything it said screamed to me this wasn’t good for most native wildlife and particularly salmonid fishes. Private communications with a couple of fishery scientists I know confirmed this.

    So there you go there’s a direct conflict between grouse moors and salmon fishing!!! The salmon fishing fraternity aren’t any less ecologically ignorant or predator hating than grouse shooters, they are constantly calling for the cull of mergansers, goosanders, cormorants and seals officially. There are dark mutterings about otters, and even suggestions the bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth need to be ‘controlled’ – I’m not kidding. Of course they’re often very anti beaver and there are rumours dippers are still being killed on the quiet due to the fear they eat trout and salmon eggs. Of course all of these species are ones that salmon co-evolved and thrived alongside for perhaps even millions of years. The same can’t be said for grouse moors, but when this issue is raised with angling clubs and organisations it just gets met with deafening silence – politically very awkward to point the finger at another field sport, far easier to slag off otters. Incredible double standards given how strongly politicians are lobbied to allow culls of many things that might eat a salmon and beavers. Attacking grouse moors is clearly taboo.

    An awful lot of our salmon rivers including the Tweed, Tay, Don, Dee, Spey, Findhorn, Nith etc, etc are likely to have a significant part of their upper watershed lying within grouse moors – and their negative linger downstream. This is not likely to be a trivial issue. And it’s not just muirburn, at very long last, far, far longer than it should have taken it’s being realised that salmon need tree lined rivers and deadwood in the water, that’s what they evolved with too. So there are some progressive schemes , doing ecological restoration with an emphasis on riparian tree planting, but does that sound like something that’s compatible with ‘managing’ grouse moors? There’s a direct, full on conflict between having traditional grouse moors and what’s good for salmon. Hopefully the issue will be getting a bit more public profile in the near future. It’s a scandal from various perspectives.

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