Following on from yesterday’s news that the Scottish Government has finally launched a public consultation on its proposed grouse moor licensing scheme in an attempt to address the ongoing issue of illegal raptor persecution, amongst other things (here), the grouse shooting lobby is quietly seething in response.
A joint statement has been issued by the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC), the Scottish Countryside Alliance, the Scottish Association for Country Sports, Scottish Land & Estates, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups (basically the gamekeepers again, and ironically many of these regional moorland groups either have been recently, or currently are, under investigation for alleged raptor persecution).
The statement reads:
The introduction of yet another layer of legislation, regulation and bureaucracy must not hamper what is a world-class rural business sector. Done wrongly, licensing could put at risk much-needed rural employment, as well as the outstanding conservation work undertaken on a daily basis by moorland managers.
Licensing grouse shooting is ostensibly aimed at tackling raptor persecution, but it is abundantly clear that over many years a massive amount of progress has been made in dealing with this issue and incidents are at a historic low – progress that has been recognised by the Scottish Government.
We are also concerned that the licensing of Muirburn – the controlled burning of heather – could, done wrongly, infringe upon efforts to combat devastating wildfires and promote carbon capture.
When all this is taken into consideration, it is difficult to see why licensing is necessary – and that is why our organisations have been opposed from the outset.
We do, however, acknowledge the political reality that Scottish Government has the power to license grouse shooting and muirburn. It is vital that these licensing schemes are proportionate, transparent and workable. If a scheme were to be overbearing, it would threaten so much good work.
Grouse moor management is playing a key role in tackling climate change and reversing biodiversity loss. It also provides widespread direct and indirect employment, and contributes to Scotland’s diverse tourism offering. This should not be disadvantaged and any licensing schemes introduced should be straightforward to operate and not detrimental to rural enterprise.
All our organisations will participate in the consultation and make our case clear.
[Chris Packham holds a dead male hen harrier, killed after its leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]
They just don’t get it, do they?
Their constant denial (e.g. see here for the most recent absurd claim) about the scale of illegal raptor persecution, and their consistent failure to bring it under control, over many, many years, is what has led to their current predicament. And yet still they’re claiming that ‘progress has been made’ and that the Scottish Government ‘recognises’ this ‘progress’.
Really? Give it up, chaps, you’ve been caught with your pants down too many times.
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“.
And then read the Environment Minister’s foreword in the latest official report on wildlife crime, published in April 2022, where you’ll see that the Government recognises that illegal raptor persecution is still a massive problem, hence the introduction of this new legislation designed to hammer several dozen nails into the coffins of the criminals responsible.
The grouse shooting lobby says, “…..it is difficult to see why licensing is necessary…..”
If ever there was an example of wilful blindness…