Today, the Scottish Government has launched a public consultation as the start of its commitment to introduce a licensing scheme for grouse moor management, following the publication of the Werritty Review in 2019, which was commissioned in 2017 after unequivocal evidence was published of the on-going illegal killing of golden eagles on some Scottish grouse moors.
That illegal killing continues, as evidenced by this young golden eagle recently found poisoned on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park laying next to a dead mountain hare that had been used as the poisoned bait (photo by RSPB Scotland).
As is so often the case, nobody has been charged or prosecuted for this hideous wildlife crime, which is a fundamental reason why the Govt is introducing a licencing scheme, presumably as a means of sanctioning an estate (by withdrawing its licence) when evidence of wildlife crime is discovered. Without knowing the exact details of how the licensing scheme will operate, it’s impossible at this stage to predict its effectiveness. There are many sceptics, and I’m one of them, but I’m also certain that the status quo is untenable and so I view licensing as a step in the right direction, but definitely not the end of the road.
The Government’s licensing consultation preamble reads as follows:
‘A Stronger & More Resilient Scotland: The Programme for Government 2022-23 which was published on the 8 September 2022 committed to introducing the following Bill:
Wildlife Management (Grouse)
The Bill will implement the recommendations of the Werritty Review and introduce licensing for grouse moor management to ensure that the management of driven grouse moors and related activities is undertaken in an environmentally sustainable manner. The Bill will also include provisions to ban glue traps.
In November 2020, the Scottish Government published its response to the recommendations made by the Grouse Moor Management Group (“Werritty review”). That report was commissioned by the Scottish Government in response to a report from NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage), published in May 2017, which found that around a third of satellite-tagged golden eagles in Scotland disappeared in suspicious circumstances, on or around grouse moors.
The Werritty review made over 40 recommendations regarding grouse moor management. The recommendations, which were accepted by the Scottish Government, seek to address raptor persecution and ensure that the management of grouse moors is undertaken in an environmentally sustainable manner.
As well as proposals relating to grouse moor management, this consultation also considers glue traps. A report from the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, published on 23 March 2021 stated that
‘……the animal welfare issues connected with the use of glue traps would justify an immediate outright ban on their sale and use. This is our preferred recommendation‘.
This consultation is therefore seeking your views on the Scottish Government’s proposals on:
*Grouse moor licensing
*Trapping (wildlife traps, glue traps, snares)
You can complete all the sections in the consultation or only those sections which are of interest/relevance to you’.
The Government’s proposals for its grouse moor licensing scheme are laid out here:
I haven’t yet looked at the consultation paper so I can’t offer any comments or suggested responses yet but I will do very soon. The consultation will close on 14th December 2022.
The link to the consultation questionnaire can be found HERE.
UPDATE 26th October 2022: REVIVE coalition cautiously welcomes Scot Gov’s consultation on grouse moor licensing (here)
UPDATE 27th October 2022: Grouse shooting lobby quietly seething over proposed licensing scheme (here)