Ten reasons why you should sign an e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting in England

 

Photo: Tim Melling

Photo: Tim Melling

Ten reasons why you should sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.

  1. You are a vegetarian or vegan (see here for one point of view)
  2. You are against wild birds being used as ‘living targets’ for ‘sport’
  3. You are against the artificially very high densities of Red Grouse that are produced for grouse-shooting and would rather see a more natural balance of species
  4. You are against the provision of medicated grit and the dosing of a wild bird to combat diseases that occur at artificially high Red Grouse densities (see here)
  5. You are against the large numbers of foxes, crows, stoats etc killed, legally, on grouse moors because they eat Red Grouse before they are shot (see here for one example – 400 stoats per year killed on a single grouse moor (there are around 150 grouse moors in England))
  6. You are against the widespread killing of mountain hares (a Scottish example here) because they carry ticks that transmit diseases to Red Grouse when the grouse are at unnaturally high densities
  7. You are against the levels of illegal persecution of protected wildlife that occur on grouse moors (see here for one example)
  8. You would rather see the English uplands managed more naturally with more woodland (as the National Trust plan to do in the Peak District)
  9. You are concerned at the damage done to internationally important peat bogs by heather-burning simply to produce artificially high densities of Red Grouse for ‘sport’ (see here for the RSPB’s concerns)
  10. You are concerned at the building of tracks, grouse butts, car parks etc to allow easier access for grouse shooters (see here for some examples)
  11. You are worried about the climate change aspects of regular heather burning and other aspects of moorland management for Red Grouse (see Climate Change Committee report)
  12. You are worried about the discolouration of drinking water caused by heather burning etc (see here for an example of a project looking at this issue)
  13. You fear that land management to create artificially high Red Grouse densities leads to an increased incidence of damaging floods (see here for one example where people do believe this)
  14. You don’t think your taxes should fund the shooting industry (see here)
  15. You object to your right to roam being curtailed so that people can shoot grouse (see here for an example)
  16. You are concerned at the human health impacts of lead-contaminated food entering the human food chain (see advice from Food Standards Agency)
  17. You feel that grouse shooting estates are anachronistic and you’ve lost all respect for the way they pursue their economic interests to the expense of all other considerations
  18. You feel that none of these things alone persuades you, but in combination they do

Hmmm – that seems to be more than 10 and there are others too…

Please sign here to support the banning of driven grouse shooting.

 

 

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55 Comments

  1. Peter Cosgrove says:

    No 19. You are concerned that entering into partnership with wildlife criminals and/or their representatives sets a dangerous legal precedent e.g. lets encourage/provide management payments to the late Ronnie Biggs et al. so they do not rob banks.

    Likes(17)Dislikes(12)
  2. Andrew Stronach says:

    No20 You do not think that a large percentage of our countryside should be dedicated to satisfying the blood lust of a very small group of very privileged people for a very few days each year.

    Likes(22)Dislikes(21)
  3. John Miles says:

    No 20 You are concerned that Black Grouse are removed by these estates to benefit Red Grouse. Red Grouse management destroys Black Grouse habitat.

    Likes(20)Dislikes(12)
  4. Nick Bee says:

    Taking all these reasons into account, it is hard to see how anyone can resist signing the e-petition!
    And the list emphasises that a far wider range of interest groups and individuals than just the obvious wildlife NGOs and their members/leaders should be willing to sign up - and support the rallies on the 10th August.
    Nick

    Likes(15)Dislikes(12)
  5. Ian Coghill says:

    1 Most vegetarians and vegans I know have no wish to enforce their chosen life style on anyone and it is sort of worrying that you appear to think that they would take this opportunity to do so. It would also be a bit odd to single out grouse driven grouse shooting in a country that kills 700million 32 day old chickens every year and imports a similar number from as far away as Thailand.
    2 If I was opposed to shooting game birds on moral grounds I certainly would not sign your petition as it explicitly and intentionally excludes walked up grouse shooting, something which exists on precisely the same moral basis as driven. To sign it would carry the inference that I was happy to see a different form of grouse shooting continue which would manifestly not be the case.
    3 Banning grouse shooting because of high densities of grouse is no more logical than banning landfill or reservoirs because they create high densities of Lesser Black Backed Gulls.
    4 As far as I can ascertain gritting does not create any significant environmental problem. If it were demonstrated that this was not the case that could be speedily dealt with as a single issue not in any rational world by the destruction of a whole system of land management and hundreds of jobs in profoundly disadvantaged areas.
    5 Grouse shooters are not alone in killing predators. Others engaged in this activity are rspb, WWT, National Trust, many County Trusts and if you include rats as predators, every Local Authority in the country.
    6&7 There is no excuse for killing protected species out side the Licencing system. Anyone caught doing so should be prosecuted. Many keepers and moor owners I know are entirely law abiding and deeply unhappy about the current situation. Your ban would destroy them along with the guilty.
    8 Woodland was not destroyed by grouse shooters it went hundreds of years before the breech loading shotgun was invented. Many moors are planting native trees to increase biodiversity and encourage species such as Black Grouse. It also depends on what you mean by woodland. On a European scale heather moorland is a much rarer habitat than woodland and most of the planting which has taken place in the uplands has been an environmental car crash.
    9 Most moorland drainage was carried out at tax payers expense to plant trees and in a vain attempt to improve agricultural productivity. Most grouse moor owners have been grip blocking for years.
    10 For decades the government made generous grants to fence the open hill and put in tracks, grouse moors did far less of this than graziers and forestry, as you know. The track thing is particularly rich coming from you. Have you ever calculated how many miles of track and acres of car park were laid down in and around rspb sites while you were in charge?
    11 Climate Change is not being caused by grouse moors. It is the result in the UK of 62 million people using the earths resources with the self restraint of a two year old.
    12 Water that passes through peat will be coloured or as you say discoloured. Some moorland management can increase the colour no known management can remove it all together. Banning driven grouse shooting would have minimal effect. Water companies already require adherence to strict management guidance on the moors they lease and they work to everyone's satisfaction.
    13 Floods are caused by extreme weather events not by grouse shooting. If you want to stop flooding banning the hard landscaping of cities and towns especially the impervious surfacing of front gardens to park cars would have far more impact.
    14 The single farm payment has gone up in the hills but that goes to the farmer not the shooting tenant and is still tiny compared to what the lowland boys get for growing maize and wheat in vastly more favourable conditions. Special payments for managing a moor are for doing what NE wants and presumably is the right thing to do. It is, as you know better than most also received by rspb, National Trust, etc for precisely the same reasons.
    15 Everyone involved in managing wildlife has concerns about unfettered access at certain times of the year. Try taking a couple of corgis for a walk on the scrape at Minsmere and see how far you get. The vast majority of moors are free to walk over and all that most managers want is for people to be reasonable. Oddly grouse are not that bothered, it is the waders that are most compromised by disturbance. The banning of driven grouse shooting would have not the least impact on the right to roam.
    16 When Chernobyl went up the WHO set standards for acceptable levels of radioactivity in food stuffs. They did not set a single standard across the board they graded it most eaten lowest, least eaten highest, grouse were included and were at the highest level because hardly anyone eats them and those that do eat them rarely.
    If you are that worried about lead don't eat grouse or oysters.
    17 Suggesting that we should ban something because you consider it anachronistic is so pompous and obviously unreasonable that I can be bothered to respond.
    18 I used to run a large city's food law enforcement. I soon learnt that the inspectors who came to me wanting to close a take away or super market for a combination of lots of little things were to be treated with circumspection. It often resulted from the officer unsuccessfully trying to get the business to do things like white wash the potato store or replace the nail brush, losing patience and deciding to 'teach them a lesson'. It is an understandable and human response but bad law and bad business. I think that is where you are at with this list.

    Likes(50)Dislikes(31)
    • Mark says:

      Ian - your answers will certainly help many people to make the right decision. Thank you.

      Likes(15)Dislikes(6)
    • Dave Hickson says:

      I would suggest to Ian Coghill that he has not really addressed the adverse environmental issues caused by grouse moor management techniques. The following Natural England Research Report 030 lists numerous adverse effects (around 30 ) caused by moorland management for grouse .
      publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/63070
      I would also like to ask Mr Coghill why 80,000 hectares of moorland SSSI s are classified as being in unfavourable condition by Natural England due to heather burning and a further 10,000 hectares are classified as unfavourable due to inappropriate drainage. This 90,000 hectare total is approximately 50% of the area of SSSIs found on grouse moors.

      Likes(18)Dislikes(8)
  6. Ian Coghill says:

    Sorry, I missed out the Mountain Hares, somewhat ironically they are probably the only species that would very swiftly become extinct in England if grouse shooting ended.

    Likes(22)Dislikes(22)
    • Hugh Webster says:

      Er, is this L. timidus with a circumpolar distribution which it somehow occupies mostly in the absence of cuddly gamekeepers? The fate of all moorland species in the event of a grouse shooting ban would surely only depend on what then happened to the moorland. With £56 per hectare subsidies currently being paid the options seem numerous that could/should increase biodiversity while continuing to sustain (albeit possibly smaller) populations of extant occupants.

      Likes(13)Dislikes(3)
    • Jack Valiant says:

      Ian, you were right to leave them out. There is only one population that I am aware of and they were introduced to the Peak District. I guess that there cannot be enough of them to warrant the sort of slaughter that they receive in Scotland which is probably why they are tolerated.

      Likes(6)Dislikes(4)
  7. John B (not the sloop) says:

    No 21 (at last count): You are concerned that the wholesale destruction of "competing" wildlife that accompanies driven grouse shoots is in direct opposition to the purpose of conserving and enhancing wildlife which applies in England's upland National Parks and AONBs. As a UK taxpayer you are funding delivery of that purpose.

    Likes(10)Dislikes(8)
  8. Trimbush says:

    …. and I thought you had something sensible to say Mark …. blimey …. what utter tosh!

    You forgot to mention that some of the patrons wear funny red (ruby) socks (luxuriuos shooting stockings) made of cashmere and available to one at £165 a pair.

    Is this is it then ?

    Is this what it's all about?

    No – Really? I can recommend a good read – “Intro to Zen Buddhism” by D T Suzuki

    Likes(13)Dislikes(30)
    • Mark says:

      Trimbush - you are funny! I guess you, Ian Coghill and Keith Cowieson are not entirely typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition but it's lovely to see you all playing your parts in persuading people to sign it. Passed 2900 this afternoon, so thank you for your help.

      Likes(15)Dislikes(7)
      • Trimbush says:

        Here's socking it to you !!!

        There's more chance of the duck-billed-platypus being rewilded by George Monbiot in Perth High Street next New Year's Day than the nation agreeing to ban driven grouse shooting

        Likes(11)Dislikes(7)
        • Mark says:

          Trimbush - if enough people want to see that platypus, it'll be there. Best not to lose too much sleep over it though...

          Likes(4)Dislikes(3)
      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Mark,

        Just noticed this - why am I not typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition? I am a keen birder, and committed conservationist who abhors BoP persecution and who has taken direct action against wildlife crime both in UK and abroad over the years - is there some other criterion?

        Likes(2)Dislikes(3)
        • Mark says:

          Keith - have you signed? Will you sign?

          Likes(2)Dislikes(2)
          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            One step at a time, please answer the question - why am I not typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition?

            Likes(1)Dislikes(3)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - maybe you are? You tell me. Maybe Ian Coghill is too - he seems very keen to engage with the subject anyway, like you do. Maybe Trimbush is too. I am now completely unsure who is likely to sign and who isn't - I do know that the next person to sign will be the 3400th - it could be you if you are quick!

            Likes(6)Dislikes(1)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - was that you? Or will you be 3401st?

            Likes(2)Dislikes(1)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - or 3403rd?

            Likes(1)Dislikes(1)
          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            If I felt your prescription was workable, worthwhile and not divisive and ill-judged I would sign it. As it happens, I don’t currently. I am also relatively experienced in conflict and conflict resolution and have seen the unintended consequences and 'collateral' damage that ill-judged, badly thought through 'good ideas' can cause - up close and personal. Believe me, dialogue, trust and mutual confidence-building measures through measured conflict resolution processes are always infinitely preferable to the alternatives.

            Therefore, I wholeheartedly support Defra’s efforts to break the log-jam in an incremental and inclusive fashion, and unreservedly support all those stakeholders, like SNH, NE, RSPB, MA, NGO etc who are working hard behind the scenes to come to a mutually acceptable way forward.

            In my experience, this is by far the best way to deal with intractable issues such as this. And it is not a quick process, it can be a long old slog, played out step-by-step, over an extended period. It can be generational, and is best likened to a marathon. Strategic patience is required, impatience is almost always counter-productive.

            Give the Defra HH Joint Action Plan a chance, don't attempt to strangle it at/before birth!

            Likes(5)Dislikes(4)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - the 3412th slot is still available for a limited time only.

            Yeh, yeh, yeh. We've all fixed things in the past, and difficult things too. I agree that dialogue, trust and mutual confidnece-building are a good place to start. We have had 15 years (more actually I think) of dialogue. I don't trust the GWCT or Moorland Association or others to be able to rein in the criminals. They haven't so far, and I don't see any sign they can in future. If, of course, the number of HH in England had gone up over the last few years rather than down there might be some room for trust. But they haven't. As I have already written - big mistake!

            It is quite funny if you have been involved in this subject for as long as I to see new people come into the issue and say what you have said as if none of this has been tried before. Sometimes they say it from ignorance of the past. Sometimes it is from naivety. Other times I suspect it is from a desire for the status quo to be maintained as long as possible whilst wanting to appear reasonable. And I'm sure there are lots of other motivations too.

            The group is looking at the HH grouse conflict. My e-petition opens up the whole range of issues surrounding grouse moor management and is therefore collecting signatures from people who have never heard of a HH (I suspect). Genie out of bottle- time marches on - 3420th slot now available. You see how time moves on...

            Likes(5)Dislikes(3)
          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            Good reminder, I have my BTO BBS square late visit to do upon return, and 2014 Peregrine survey squares’ late visits and WeBS counts as well. Must also get round to filling in my Chough survey return too – birding with a purpose and all that.

            Funnily enough my favourite memories of Wood Sandpiper are also from Norway, around the Sor Varanger area, and I agree their chicks are absolutely gorgeous. Never saw them on my old stamping grounds in the Flow Country though, despite keeping an eye and an ear out for them, but was aware that they were slowly colonising Scotland along with several other Fennoscandian species. Anyway, it was fantastic to see and hear them on a Scottish grouse moor - it would have warmed the late, great DNT's heart.

            Reference holiday tweeting, funnily enough, I find that I have more time, incentive and certainly more material to twitter about when reviewing the day’s records. Fascinating to compare and contrast the differing levels of biodiversity on outwardly similar but differently managed habitats in the Scottish landscape.

            Anyway time moves on, time to stagger up a mountain, and perhaps bivvy out overnight, to assist with a NERC PhD student’s Dotterel survey – more birding with a purpose……

            Likes(3)Dislikes(2)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - 3633

            Likes(1)Dislikes(2)
        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Time does indeed move on. Since you posted at 11:25 am today, I have been listening to mournful-sounding Golden Plover and watching a song-flighting Wood Sandpiper, towering over a likely area of peat bog. And guess where? On a Scottish Grouse moor, that's where, see here - http://tinyurl.com/o7w6vc2.

          You sit and watch the numbers on the e-petition tick over, I'll be out on the hills and moors of Scotland for the rest of the week watching plentiful breeding waders such as Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Common and Wood Sandpiper - with the occasional Golden Eagle, Osprey, Short-eared Owl, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Tawny Owl, Ring Ousel, Wheatear, Stonechat, Whinchat, Tree and Meadow Pipit, Goldeneye, Goosander, Slavonian Grebe, Mountain Hare, Red Deer and Otter thrown in for good measure. Maybe I'll even be lucky enough to see a Hen Harrier or Merlin, who knows?

          Perhaps I am ignorant or naive, but I certainly have no desire for the status quo to pertain - I want to see Hen Harrier, within easy striking distance, on Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor. I have seen and photographed plenty in Scotland and Germany in the past, so know what I am missing. Sadly, I fear your initiative will only muddy the peaty water further, and undermine the wholly worthy Defra HH JAP when it needs all to be rallying round in support.

          Likes(6)Dislikes(3)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - time does move on - the e-petition has now reached 3600.

            Yesterday, as on Sunday too, I was out counting birds for the BTO, RSPB and JNCC (th BBS) before I returned to my computer - birding with a purpose.

            Wood Sandpipers are lovely - my favourite sightings of them were in the Flow Country quite away from any driven grouse shoot. Actually, that isn't true, my very favourite sightings of them were seeing Wood Sandpiper chicks in Norway where there aren't any driven grosue moors at all. Your Wood Sandpiper anecdote is in the same category as the true observations of increased densities of some common breeding waders on driven grouse moors - it's true, but a part of a bigger picture of some species being much rarer and many being killed in large numbers.

            For someone who is on holiday you are certainly tweeting away on the songbird survival twitter account about the glories of grouse moors. Enjoy your holiday.

            As time passes, 3611 signatures.

            Likes(2)Dislikes(4)
  9. Jack Valiant says:

    Some interesting points of which a few would benefit from further clarification:
    4. Medicated Grit – it is only a matter of time before concerns about the active ingredient entering the food chain or water courses are shown to be well founded. Some grouse moors like to dig up little mounds of peat on which to place the grit dispensers. What is the average size of a grouse moor? Say 2000 hectares. At one dispenser for every 1-2 hectares you can do the maths.
    8. Good to remind the world that grouse managers did not create heather dominated landscapes and these landscapes will no doubt be there in one shape or another long after grouse management has ceased.
    9. Drainage. In England at least, away from Kielder, drainage has been for agriculture not trees. Many estates have been blocking grips funded by the tax-payer. Some estates will not block grips and others are still digging new ones.
    10. I have never come across government grants to pay for tracks – anyone know any more about this?
    11. I don’t think that anyone is claiming that the grouse industry is responsible for climate change! The point is, is it sensible and sustainable management to continue with practices that result in massive loss of carbon into the atmosphere or water courses? Maybe it is justified in return for a few hundred jobs. Let’s have the debate.
    12. Water quality. New burn on blanket bog has been shown to increase significantly the carbon in water and to reduce raw water quality. Stopping the burning would make a big difference. If I was a trout or salmon man I would also be concerned at the changes in freshwater invertebrate communities as a result of burning blanket bog.
    13. Flooding. Recent research has shown that restoration of blanket bog can play a significant role in reducing the amount of water coming of the hills. Rotational burning prevents restoration.
    14. There are plenty of examples where the cash goes to the estate and not the farmer.
    15. Where is the evidence that moorland waders are susceptible to disturbance more than any other species?

    Likes(14)Dislikes(4)
  10. Dennis Ames says:

    Hope the blog and petition are mightier than lots of Purdey's.

    Likes(2)Dislikes(4)
  11. Keith Cowieson says:

    Interesting list. Currently on my annual Scottish holiday in the central highlands ranging around the Grampians & Cairngorms so spending a bit of time on both grouse moors and other unkeepered moorland.

    My snapshot, unscientific, observations in Scotland as follows:

    Far more birdlife on grouse moors I have visited than on other moorland, particularly waders but also BoP, see here - http://tinyurl.com/oy5j8oy – here http://tinyurl.com/qjg3w5d - here http://tinyurl.com/mwp9rfg and here http://tinyurl.com/md722x4

    Reference #3, 5 & 6, the balance of species on keepered moorland was more diverse, with waders appearing to be doing particularly well and more breeding Lapwing than I have seen in Scotland for a long while. Similarly, I have seen more BoP on keepered moorland, mainly Buzzards but also Osprey, Golden Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Tawny Owl (the latter on the transitional edges of relict Old Caledonian Pineforest) – no Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl yet mind you – poor vole year perhaps? Plenty of songbirds too with Meadow & Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Willow Warbler, Ring Ousel, Wheatear, Stone and Whinchat. On Mountain Hare, the vast majority were seen on actively managed grouse moor and again there appear to be a good number including leverets around this year – mild spring weather perhaps?

    WRT #8 & 9, Dr James Fenton has an interesting perspective on the issues of woodland in the uplands, and on peatlands in general, in N&W Scotland. Wonder if there is any read across to the English uplands, see here - http://tinyurl.com/opxggcl

    Reference #9 & 10, again little sign of damage to peat bogs on the grouse moors that I have walked so far – sunk in over my welly boots on 2 occasions and have had to make significant detours around several decidedly dodgy bits of ‘quaking’ bog throughout. On tracks, I have to say that although I find them very unsightly, they are damned useful for accessing the wider upland countryside and I use them wherever possible to minimise transit time to the moors and high tops.

    Oh, and I have seen plenty of grouse around as well (and ptarmigan on the high tops, see here http://tinyurl.com/qf9t8n4 ) And Pheasants, particularly around Abernethy and Boat of Garten area.

    All anecdotal Scottish material I know, but interesting to compare my recent experiences with some of your 10 reasons.

    Likes(10)Dislikes(9)
    • Mark says:

      Keith - enjoy your holiday and don't worry about my little e-petition - that is now my and 2900 other peoples' e-petition.

      Likes(7)Dislikes(8)
      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Mark,

        Thank you, I will. I will follow your & 2900 other peoples' 'little' e-petition with interest, and worry not, I am not worried about it.

        Now if only you were to start an e-petition calling for the reintro of HH in the south-west, on Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor.......then I would be seriously interested.

        Likes(10)Dislikes(9)
    • Hugh Webster says:

      Hi Keith,

      I live on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors where pretty dales runnell through bleak and razed expanses of burnt heather. This landscape is admittedly rich in lapwings and curlews, meadow pipits and of course, red grouse. Here however we only occasionally see a buzzard or a kestrel flying over the moors and I have (I think) once seen a merlin. We had a red kite venture over this way from Harrogate once (where they are common), but it was quickly poisoned (http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/ryedale/9598399.Rare_bird_of_prey_found_poisoned/r/?ref=rss). There are far more birds of prey, most noticeably buzzards, away from the moors; peregrines too can now be found at the coast, nesting at Scarborough to the east, near Malton to the south and near Thirsk to the west, but in five years I have never seen a peregrine over the actual moors. These are just anecdotal observations to counter yours.

      An empirical fact to counter your observations of golden eagles is that they do better in western scotland than in the grouse moor dominated centre and east (see http://www.scottishraptorstudygroup.org/goldeneagle.html and http://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/gamekeepers-and-golden-eagles-the-facts/). There is some subtlety to this trend however in that (like HHs) the eagles do well on grouse moors WHEN they aren't killed. The first link above notes:

      "The continued presence of numerous vacant territories cannot be explained by a shortage of fledged young eagles. The explanation must be because in these parts of the Highlands eagles are not surviving as long as elsewhere.

      Detailed analyses have considered many possible reasons for this poor survival in the central and eastern Highlands and the overriding explanation, from many strands of evidence, is that it is due to illegal persecution of eagles; and this persecution is concentrated in areas managed for driven grouse shoots. In essence, eagle survival is poor and so occupied territories are thin on the ground because eagles are probably being killed by humans, and most of this persecution probably has basis in the management of grouse moor."

      Likes(19)Dislikes(4)
      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Hugh,

        Sad that your local moors are not so productive. Like I said, my observations are purely that, observations only. And its good to see that the Scottish moors are alive with birdlife, more so than I have seen for many years. I think the mild spring may have helped as well.

        I was on a different grouse moor yesterday, again lots of waders - lapwing, curlew, common sandpiper, oystercatcher & redshank in particular - and a nesting black-throated diver to boot! The BTD was being particularly aggressive towards Grey-lag Geese with goslings, who ventured anywhere near its end of the loch - something I hadn't seen before. Several buzzards too.

        On eagles in western Scotland, I used to live there as a lad, and although we had several eagles' eyries in the general vicinity, I recall that their productivity was pretty poor - lack of live prey on the mainly hill sheep farms and deer forests I think. Mike Gregory may have written something on the subject.

        Interestingly, I was on the High Tops in the Cairngorms AONB today, but not an eagle to be seen. Plenty of ptarmigan, dotterel and snow bunting though, see here - http://tinyurl.com/ne55qzn, here - http://tinyurl.com/om437ly, and here - http://tinyurl.com/ppntkae.

        Likes(5)Dislikes(3)
        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Correction - make that the Cairngorms National Park, not AONB, although it certainly is an area of natural beauty - and only one Mountain Hare seen after 8 hours on the hill.....

          Likes(5)Dislikes(2)
    • Circus maxima says:

      Today I was in one of the densest areas of breeding harriers in the UK...in my field of view there were 5 active nest sites.....I didn't see a single harrier...

      I think we should base all our decisions on anecdotes.....

      .....not.

      Likes(8)Dislikes(7)
    • Chrie roberts says:

      Keith, I live in the Cairngorms and the estates and their gamekeepers are doing an excellent job of destroying our wildlife. 10 years ago I saw many buzzards now they are seldom seen. Re kites in the north are being driven to extinction, wild cats have almost disappeared and the SGA would love to see pine martins extinct. There is far more wildlife in the north and west of Scotland where there are no driven grouse moors - past time to make these places extinct.

      Likes(4)Dislikes(4)
      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Chrie,

        Now back down off the cold, wet and windy mountains having finished assisting (for the time being) in a NERC PhD student's study of potential Dotterel decline - real birding with a purpose....

        Plenty of buzzards where I have been in the last couple of weeks - every strath and glen appears to have a couple of pairs - along with the odd Golden Eagle, see here - http://tinyurl.com/la9r9w6 .

        WRT wildcats, if we did something about feral and free-roaming domestic cats, they would be in a much better position, see here - http://tinyurl.com/lj8fosv - as would many other species of course. And interestingly, was speaking to the parents of one of the current Wildcat researchers just yesterday. Apparently, there are far more wildcats in Aberdeenshire currently, than in areas hitherto thought to be their last refuges – Ardnamurchan & Morar, the Cairngorms etc etc

        Don’t know about the SGA, but I think the Capercaillie, a red-listed, priority, Biodiversity Action Plan species, would certainly appreciate fewer pine martens (itself a BAP species), see here - http://tinyurl.com/l8mcruq

        As to whether there is far more wildlife in the North and West of Scotland, my experiences (having lived there for several years, holidayed there regularly and partaken in all three summer BTO Atlases and annual Winter WeBS counts there – real birding with a purpose as they say) suggest that there is less but different wildlife assemblages there than in the central highlands.

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  12. Dennis Ames says:

    Keith,that of course may have happened naturally had the Hen Harrier population in the Northern parts expanded in large enough numbers to look into other possible areas for colonisation.

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    • Keith Cowieson says:

      Dennis,

      You are of course correct, it may have happened naturally.

      But if we can relocate/ reintroduce Scottish Golden & White-tailed Eagles to Ireland, Scottish Ospreys to Spain and English Red Kites to all points of the compass in the UK, then why not Hen Harriers to the south-west where there is far less conflict potential, ample suitable habitat and restricted military training areas to help guarantee minimal disturbance. It's a no-brainer, so come on Defra/NE, you know it makes sense.

      All we need is some luminary like Mark to launch the appropriate e-petition.......

      Likes(3)Dislikes(4)
      • Mark says:

        Keith - they will get there under their own steam and do perfectly well (if the habitat is good enough) - like they have in Wales and the IoM, if the criminals who kill them in Scotland and England cease their illegal persecution. It's like lumpy soup (see earlier blog).

        Likes(4)Dislikes(4)
        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Mark,

          No reason not to give them a helping hand - like Red Kites, Cranes, Corncrake, Cirl Bunting, WTE and Osprey (in England).

          Forget lumpy soup, imagine instead an ink spot on blotting paper (like me, you're old enough to remember), spreading out from a safe south-western haven and acting as a bridgehead for other suitable and safe habitat further north and east, post launch of the much-written-about Defra Joint HH Action Plan.

          And just to keep you up to date, out and about on another Scottish sporting estate today - curlew with young everywhere, haven't seen so many for a long time - and a short-eared owl and distant golden eagle to keep the BoP numbers up, see here - http://tinyurl.com/opht7ok

          Likes(3)Dislikes(3)
  13. […] I gave you 10 reasons to sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (but there were more than 10) and today I give you 10 reasons not to sign it (but there are fewer […]

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  14. GreyBeard says:

    I guess you English are going to be total poofters now.

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  15. Diapensia says:

    That,s the best way to shoot wildlife, with a camera. Well done Tim.

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  16. It seems to me that Humans have made everything so complicated. We are nearly at a place I call "red-tape gridlock" We are faced with the highly unlikely task of educating the masses to love the Earth, not money. For a short while it looked as though we, as a species, could have achieved some higher level of "awareness"
    A man who snaps the legs of a goshawk on a pole trap, or a man who cannot accept hen-harriers breeding on moorland, Is a man with limitations.

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  17. […] intensive management of the uplands to provide expensive shooting days for a few people creates a range of environmental and social problems.  The illegal killing of protected birds of prey is just one of a wide range of consequences of […]

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  18. […] is a re-shaping of the list I produced (with links to evidence) a couple of weeks ago.  This time I have listed the reasons more or less, without agonising over it, in order of […]

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  19. […] http://markavery.info/2014/06/05/ten-reasons-sign-epetition-ban-driven-grouse-shooting-england/ […]

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  20. Spotter says:

    Keith

    I don't recognise the Scotland you seem to be holidaying in.

    I live in Glenbuchat.

    The North Glenbuchat estate, lies entirely within the Cairngorms National Park and is owned by the Marquis of Milford Haven through an offshore company based in the Turks and Caicos. It has a shocking reputation for wildlife crime. We've lost 3 eagles here in as many years, recently including a white tailed eagle, which I'm sure you will be well aware of. These were all carrying GPS tracking devices so represent, we think, a small proportion of a much greater loss.

    In recent times a buzzard was shot directly over my house in the middle of the day with myself and neighbours working in our gardens, the game keeper was spotted beating a hasty retreat through the adjacent woods. As is almost always the case, no prosecution followed.

    Our local doctor lost his telephone after gamekeepers shot an owl off the top of the pole outside his house.

    The local gamekeepers are ruthlessly efficient when it comes to the elimination of all kinds of predator, so much so that the glen is now overun with thousands of rabbits. My two cats which helped keep down some of the rabbit population from my garden have both been shot by our over enthusiastic gamekeepers. Stoats, whatever your view of them, were the principal visible predator of local rabbits. They could once be seen scuttling along stone dykes, or across the glen's few lanes. This now seems to be a scene from the past.

    Glenbuchat has a very small population, about 48 souls, the greater majority of whom are more than a little angry with the activities of a lawless few who seemed to operate with impunity. We all have stories to tell.

    In the last few days we have learned, out of the blue, that the South Glenbuchat Estate has been subsumed by the North in what appears to be an off market deal. Is this a bit of a land grab before the inevitable changes to land reform? Changes, which for those of us in the middle of all this, can't come quickly enough.

    You don't have to agree with all Mark Avery's points to sign the petition.

    'Spotter'
    PS It's a small community - you'll understand why I can't use my own name.

    Likes(5)Dislikes(2)
  21. Ducky says:

    This makes me laugh, keep trying tho guys you will never succeed in destroying British heratinge and culture bunch of do gooders,,,

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  22. Dave Mannifield says:

    I refer to number 5 of Ian Coghill's list. THe RSPB do cull animals but unlike the gamekeepers, they stop killing when they have a healthy balance. They do not keep killing until the said species in totally eradicated. (Please do not quote instances where the RSPB have had to totally undo what mankind has done regarding rats)
    Also number 6-7 on the list quote... "Many keepers and moor owners I know are entirely law abiding and deeply unhappy about the current situation. Your ban would destroy them along with the guilty."
    Many? Not all then? If this is the case, have you reported the remainder to the police?

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  23. […] Hen Harrier population to near extinction and seem to want to turn the British countryside into a wild-free monetised homogenised wasteland shooting estate were very much on my mind when I was reading about Cecil. They are not just getting away with […]

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Trackbacks

  1. Peter Cosgrove says:

    No 19. You are concerned that entering into partnership with wildlife criminals and/or their representatives sets a dangerous legal precedent e.g. lets encourage/provide management payments to the late Ronnie Biggs et al. so they do not rob banks.

    Likes(17)Dislikes(12)
  2. Andrew Stronach says:

    No20 You do not think that a large percentage of our countryside should be dedicated to satisfying the blood lust of a very small group of very privileged people for a very few days each year.

    Likes(22)Dislikes(21)
  3. John Miles says:

    No 20 You are concerned that Black Grouse are removed by these estates to benefit Red Grouse. Red Grouse management destroys Black Grouse habitat.

    Likes(20)Dislikes(12)
  4. Nick Bee says:

    Taking all these reasons into account, it is hard to see how anyone can resist signing the e-petition!
    And the list emphasises that a far wider range of interest groups and individuals than just the obvious wildlife NGOs and their members/leaders should be willing to sign up - and support the rallies on the 10th August.
    Nick

    Likes(15)Dislikes(12)
  5. Ian Coghill says:

    1 Most vegetarians and vegans I know have no wish to enforce their chosen life style on anyone and it is sort of worrying that you appear to think that they would take this opportunity to do so. It would also be a bit odd to single out grouse driven grouse shooting in a country that kills 700million 32 day old chickens every year and imports a similar number from as far away as Thailand.
    2 If I was opposed to shooting game birds on moral grounds I certainly would not sign your petition as it explicitly and intentionally excludes walked up grouse shooting, something which exists on precisely the same moral basis as driven. To sign it would carry the inference that I was happy to see a different form of grouse shooting continue which would manifestly not be the case.
    3 Banning grouse shooting because of high densities of grouse is no more logical than banning landfill or reservoirs because they create high densities of Lesser Black Backed Gulls.
    4 As far as I can ascertain gritting does not create any significant environmental problem. If it were demonstrated that this was not the case that could be speedily dealt with as a single issue not in any rational world by the destruction of a whole system of land management and hundreds of jobs in profoundly disadvantaged areas.
    5 Grouse shooters are not alone in killing predators. Others engaged in this activity are rspb, WWT, National Trust, many County Trusts and if you include rats as predators, every Local Authority in the country.
    6&7 There is no excuse for killing protected species out side the Licencing system. Anyone caught doing so should be prosecuted. Many keepers and moor owners I know are entirely law abiding and deeply unhappy about the current situation. Your ban would destroy them along with the guilty.
    8 Woodland was not destroyed by grouse shooters it went hundreds of years before the breech loading shotgun was invented. Many moors are planting native trees to increase biodiversity and encourage species such as Black Grouse. It also depends on what you mean by woodland. On a European scale heather moorland is a much rarer habitat than woodland and most of the planting which has taken place in the uplands has been an environmental car crash.
    9 Most moorland drainage was carried out at tax payers expense to plant trees and in a vain attempt to improve agricultural productivity. Most grouse moor owners have been grip blocking for years.
    10 For decades the government made generous grants to fence the open hill and put in tracks, grouse moors did far less of this than graziers and forestry, as you know. The track thing is particularly rich coming from you. Have you ever calculated how many miles of track and acres of car park were laid down in and around rspb sites while you were in charge?
    11 Climate Change is not being caused by grouse moors. It is the result in the UK of 62 million people using the earths resources with the self restraint of a two year old.
    12 Water that passes through peat will be coloured or as you say discoloured. Some moorland management can increase the colour no known management can remove it all together. Banning driven grouse shooting would have minimal effect. Water companies already require adherence to strict management guidance on the moors they lease and they work to everyone's satisfaction.
    13 Floods are caused by extreme weather events not by grouse shooting. If you want to stop flooding banning the hard landscaping of cities and towns especially the impervious surfacing of front gardens to park cars would have far more impact.
    14 The single farm payment has gone up in the hills but that goes to the farmer not the shooting tenant and is still tiny compared to what the lowland boys get for growing maize and wheat in vastly more favourable conditions. Special payments for managing a moor are for doing what NE wants and presumably is the right thing to do. It is, as you know better than most also received by rspb, National Trust, etc for precisely the same reasons.
    15 Everyone involved in managing wildlife has concerns about unfettered access at certain times of the year. Try taking a couple of corgis for a walk on the scrape at Minsmere and see how far you get. The vast majority of moors are free to walk over and all that most managers want is for people to be reasonable. Oddly grouse are not that bothered, it is the waders that are most compromised by disturbance. The banning of driven grouse shooting would have not the least impact on the right to roam.
    16 When Chernobyl went up the WHO set standards for acceptable levels of radioactivity in food stuffs. They did not set a single standard across the board they graded it most eaten lowest, least eaten highest, grouse were included and were at the highest level because hardly anyone eats them and those that do eat them rarely.
    If you are that worried about lead don't eat grouse or oysters.
    17 Suggesting that we should ban something because you consider it anachronistic is so pompous and obviously unreasonable that I can be bothered to respond.
    18 I used to run a large city's food law enforcement. I soon learnt that the inspectors who came to me wanting to close a take away or super market for a combination of lots of little things were to be treated with circumspection. It often resulted from the officer unsuccessfully trying to get the business to do things like white wash the potato store or replace the nail brush, losing patience and deciding to 'teach them a lesson'. It is an understandable and human response but bad law and bad business. I think that is where you are at with this list.

    Likes(50)Dislikes(31)
    • Mark says:

      Ian - your answers will certainly help many people to make the right decision. Thank you.

      Likes(15)Dislikes(6)
    • Dave Hickson says:

      I would suggest to Ian Coghill that he has not really addressed the adverse environmental issues caused by grouse moor management techniques. The following Natural England Research Report 030 lists numerous adverse effects (around 30 ) caused by moorland management for grouse .
      publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/63070
      I would also like to ask Mr Coghill why 80,000 hectares of moorland SSSI s are classified as being in unfavourable condition by Natural England due to heather burning and a further 10,000 hectares are classified as unfavourable due to inappropriate drainage. This 90,000 hectare total is approximately 50% of the area of SSSIs found on grouse moors.

      Likes(18)Dislikes(8)
  6. Ian Coghill says:

    Sorry, I missed out the Mountain Hares, somewhat ironically they are probably the only species that would very swiftly become extinct in England if grouse shooting ended.

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    • Hugh Webster says:

      Er, is this L. timidus with a circumpolar distribution which it somehow occupies mostly in the absence of cuddly gamekeepers? The fate of all moorland species in the event of a grouse shooting ban would surely only depend on what then happened to the moorland. With £56 per hectare subsidies currently being paid the options seem numerous that could/should increase biodiversity while continuing to sustain (albeit possibly smaller) populations of extant occupants.

      Likes(13)Dislikes(3)
    • Jack Valiant says:

      Ian, you were right to leave them out. There is only one population that I am aware of and they were introduced to the Peak District. I guess that there cannot be enough of them to warrant the sort of slaughter that they receive in Scotland which is probably why they are tolerated.

      Likes(6)Dislikes(4)
  7. John B (not the sloop) says:

    No 21 (at last count): You are concerned that the wholesale destruction of "competing" wildlife that accompanies driven grouse shoots is in direct opposition to the purpose of conserving and enhancing wildlife which applies in England's upland National Parks and AONBs. As a UK taxpayer you are funding delivery of that purpose.

    Likes(10)Dislikes(8)
  8. Trimbush says:

    …. and I thought you had something sensible to say Mark …. blimey …. what utter tosh!

    You forgot to mention that some of the patrons wear funny red (ruby) socks (luxuriuos shooting stockings) made of cashmere and available to one at £165 a pair.

    Is this is it then ?

    Is this what it's all about?

    No – Really? I can recommend a good read – “Intro to Zen Buddhism” by D T Suzuki

    Likes(13)Dislikes(30)
    • Mark says:

      Trimbush - you are funny! I guess you, Ian Coghill and Keith Cowieson are not entirely typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition but it's lovely to see you all playing your parts in persuading people to sign it. Passed 2900 this afternoon, so thank you for your help.

      Likes(15)Dislikes(7)
      • Trimbush says:

        Here's socking it to you !!!

        There's more chance of the duck-billed-platypus being rewilded by George Monbiot in Perth High Street next New Year's Day than the nation agreeing to ban driven grouse shooting

        Likes(11)Dislikes(7)
        • Mark says:

          Trimbush - if enough people want to see that platypus, it'll be there. Best not to lose too much sleep over it though...

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      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Mark,

        Just noticed this - why am I not typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition? I am a keen birder, and committed conservationist who abhors BoP persecution and who has taken direct action against wildlife crime both in UK and abroad over the years - is there some other criterion?

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        • Mark says:

          Keith - have you signed? Will you sign?

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          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            One step at a time, please answer the question - why am I not typical of the intended signatories of this e-petition?

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          • Mark says:

            Keith - maybe you are? You tell me. Maybe Ian Coghill is too - he seems very keen to engage with the subject anyway, like you do. Maybe Trimbush is too. I am now completely unsure who is likely to sign and who isn't - I do know that the next person to sign will be the 3400th - it could be you if you are quick!

            Likes(6)Dislikes(1)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - was that you? Or will you be 3401st?

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          • Mark says:

            Keith - or 3403rd?

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          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            If I felt your prescription was workable, worthwhile and not divisive and ill-judged I would sign it. As it happens, I don’t currently. I am also relatively experienced in conflict and conflict resolution and have seen the unintended consequences and 'collateral' damage that ill-judged, badly thought through 'good ideas' can cause - up close and personal. Believe me, dialogue, trust and mutual confidence-building measures through measured conflict resolution processes are always infinitely preferable to the alternatives.

            Therefore, I wholeheartedly support Defra’s efforts to break the log-jam in an incremental and inclusive fashion, and unreservedly support all those stakeholders, like SNH, NE, RSPB, MA, NGO etc who are working hard behind the scenes to come to a mutually acceptable way forward.

            In my experience, this is by far the best way to deal with intractable issues such as this. And it is not a quick process, it can be a long old slog, played out step-by-step, over an extended period. It can be generational, and is best likened to a marathon. Strategic patience is required, impatience is almost always counter-productive.

            Give the Defra HH Joint Action Plan a chance, don't attempt to strangle it at/before birth!

            Likes(5)Dislikes(4)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - the 3412th slot is still available for a limited time only.

            Yeh, yeh, yeh. We've all fixed things in the past, and difficult things too. I agree that dialogue, trust and mutual confidnece-building are a good place to start. We have had 15 years (more actually I think) of dialogue. I don't trust the GWCT or Moorland Association or others to be able to rein in the criminals. They haven't so far, and I don't see any sign they can in future. If, of course, the number of HH in England had gone up over the last few years rather than down there might be some room for trust. But they haven't. As I have already written - big mistake!

            It is quite funny if you have been involved in this subject for as long as I to see new people come into the issue and say what you have said as if none of this has been tried before. Sometimes they say it from ignorance of the past. Sometimes it is from naivety. Other times I suspect it is from a desire for the status quo to be maintained as long as possible whilst wanting to appear reasonable. And I'm sure there are lots of other motivations too.

            The group is looking at the HH grouse conflict. My e-petition opens up the whole range of issues surrounding grouse moor management and is therefore collecting signatures from people who have never heard of a HH (I suspect). Genie out of bottle- time marches on - 3420th slot now available. You see how time moves on...

            Likes(5)Dislikes(3)
          • Keith Cowieson says:

            Mark,

            Good reminder, I have my BTO BBS square late visit to do upon return, and 2014 Peregrine survey squares’ late visits and WeBS counts as well. Must also get round to filling in my Chough survey return too – birding with a purpose and all that.

            Funnily enough my favourite memories of Wood Sandpiper are also from Norway, around the Sor Varanger area, and I agree their chicks are absolutely gorgeous. Never saw them on my old stamping grounds in the Flow Country though, despite keeping an eye and an ear out for them, but was aware that they were slowly colonising Scotland along with several other Fennoscandian species. Anyway, it was fantastic to see and hear them on a Scottish grouse moor - it would have warmed the late, great DNT's heart.

            Reference holiday tweeting, funnily enough, I find that I have more time, incentive and certainly more material to twitter about when reviewing the day’s records. Fascinating to compare and contrast the differing levels of biodiversity on outwardly similar but differently managed habitats in the Scottish landscape.

            Anyway time moves on, time to stagger up a mountain, and perhaps bivvy out overnight, to assist with a NERC PhD student’s Dotterel survey – more birding with a purpose……

            Likes(3)Dislikes(2)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - 3633

            Likes(1)Dislikes(2)
        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Time does indeed move on. Since you posted at 11:25 am today, I have been listening to mournful-sounding Golden Plover and watching a song-flighting Wood Sandpiper, towering over a likely area of peat bog. And guess where? On a Scottish Grouse moor, that's where, see here - http://tinyurl.com/o7w6vc2.

          You sit and watch the numbers on the e-petition tick over, I'll be out on the hills and moors of Scotland for the rest of the week watching plentiful breeding waders such as Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Common and Wood Sandpiper - with the occasional Golden Eagle, Osprey, Short-eared Owl, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Tawny Owl, Ring Ousel, Wheatear, Stonechat, Whinchat, Tree and Meadow Pipit, Goldeneye, Goosander, Slavonian Grebe, Mountain Hare, Red Deer and Otter thrown in for good measure. Maybe I'll even be lucky enough to see a Hen Harrier or Merlin, who knows?

          Perhaps I am ignorant or naive, but I certainly have no desire for the status quo to pertain - I want to see Hen Harrier, within easy striking distance, on Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor. I have seen and photographed plenty in Scotland and Germany in the past, so know what I am missing. Sadly, I fear your initiative will only muddy the peaty water further, and undermine the wholly worthy Defra HH JAP when it needs all to be rallying round in support.

          Likes(6)Dislikes(3)
          • Mark says:

            Keith - time does move on - the e-petition has now reached 3600.

            Yesterday, as on Sunday too, I was out counting birds for the BTO, RSPB and JNCC (th BBS) before I returned to my computer - birding with a purpose.

            Wood Sandpipers are lovely - my favourite sightings of them were in the Flow Country quite away from any driven grouse shoot. Actually, that isn't true, my very favourite sightings of them were seeing Wood Sandpiper chicks in Norway where there aren't any driven grosue moors at all. Your Wood Sandpiper anecdote is in the same category as the true observations of increased densities of some common breeding waders on driven grouse moors - it's true, but a part of a bigger picture of some species being much rarer and many being killed in large numbers.

            For someone who is on holiday you are certainly tweeting away on the songbird survival twitter account about the glories of grouse moors. Enjoy your holiday.

            As time passes, 3611 signatures.

            Likes(2)Dislikes(4)
  9. Jack Valiant says:

    Some interesting points of which a few would benefit from further clarification:
    4. Medicated Grit – it is only a matter of time before concerns about the active ingredient entering the food chain or water courses are shown to be well founded. Some grouse moors like to dig up little mounds of peat on which to place the grit dispensers. What is the average size of a grouse moor? Say 2000 hectares. At one dispenser for every 1-2 hectares you can do the maths.
    8. Good to remind the world that grouse managers did not create heather dominated landscapes and these landscapes will no doubt be there in one shape or another long after grouse management has ceased.
    9. Drainage. In England at least, away from Kielder, drainage has been for agriculture not trees. Many estates have been blocking grips funded by the tax-payer. Some estates will not block grips and others are still digging new ones.
    10. I have never come across government grants to pay for tracks – anyone know any more about this?
    11. I don’t think that anyone is claiming that the grouse industry is responsible for climate change! The point is, is it sensible and sustainable management to continue with practices that result in massive loss of carbon into the atmosphere or water courses? Maybe it is justified in return for a few hundred jobs. Let’s have the debate.
    12. Water quality. New burn on blanket bog has been shown to increase significantly the carbon in water and to reduce raw water quality. Stopping the burning would make a big difference. If I was a trout or salmon man I would also be concerned at the changes in freshwater invertebrate communities as a result of burning blanket bog.
    13. Flooding. Recent research has shown that restoration of blanket bog can play a significant role in reducing the amount of water coming of the hills. Rotational burning prevents restoration.
    14. There are plenty of examples where the cash goes to the estate and not the farmer.
    15. Where is the evidence that moorland waders are susceptible to disturbance more than any other species?

    Likes(14)Dislikes(4)
  10. Dennis Ames says:

    Hope the blog and petition are mightier than lots of Purdey's.

    Likes(2)Dislikes(4)
  11. Keith Cowieson says:

    Interesting list. Currently on my annual Scottish holiday in the central highlands ranging around the Grampians & Cairngorms so spending a bit of time on both grouse moors and other unkeepered moorland.

    My snapshot, unscientific, observations in Scotland as follows:

    Far more birdlife on grouse moors I have visited than on other moorland, particularly waders but also BoP, see here - http://tinyurl.com/oy5j8oy – here http://tinyurl.com/qjg3w5d - here http://tinyurl.com/mwp9rfg and here http://tinyurl.com/md722x4

    Reference #3, 5 & 6, the balance of species on keepered moorland was more diverse, with waders appearing to be doing particularly well and more breeding Lapwing than I have seen in Scotland for a long while. Similarly, I have seen more BoP on keepered moorland, mainly Buzzards but also Osprey, Golden Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Tawny Owl (the latter on the transitional edges of relict Old Caledonian Pineforest) – no Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl yet mind you – poor vole year perhaps? Plenty of songbirds too with Meadow & Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Willow Warbler, Ring Ousel, Wheatear, Stone and Whinchat. On Mountain Hare, the vast majority were seen on actively managed grouse moor and again there appear to be a good number including leverets around this year – mild spring weather perhaps?

    WRT #8 & 9, Dr James Fenton has an interesting perspective on the issues of woodland in the uplands, and on peatlands in general, in N&W Scotland. Wonder if there is any read across to the English uplands, see here - http://tinyurl.com/opxggcl

    Reference #9 & 10, again little sign of damage to peat bogs on the grouse moors that I have walked so far – sunk in over my welly boots on 2 occasions and have had to make significant detours around several decidedly dodgy bits of ‘quaking’ bog throughout. On tracks, I have to say that although I find them very unsightly, they are damned useful for accessing the wider upland countryside and I use them wherever possible to minimise transit time to the moors and high tops.

    Oh, and I have seen plenty of grouse around as well (and ptarmigan on the high tops, see here http://tinyurl.com/qf9t8n4 ) And Pheasants, particularly around Abernethy and Boat of Garten area.

    All anecdotal Scottish material I know, but interesting to compare my recent experiences with some of your 10 reasons.

    Likes(10)Dislikes(9)
    • Mark says:

      Keith - enjoy your holiday and don't worry about my little e-petition - that is now my and 2900 other peoples' e-petition.

      Likes(7)Dislikes(8)
      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Mark,

        Thank you, I will. I will follow your & 2900 other peoples' 'little' e-petition with interest, and worry not, I am not worried about it.

        Now if only you were to start an e-petition calling for the reintro of HH in the south-west, on Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor.......then I would be seriously interested.

        Likes(10)Dislikes(9)
    • Hugh Webster says:

      Hi Keith,

      I live on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors where pretty dales runnell through bleak and razed expanses of burnt heather. This landscape is admittedly rich in lapwings and curlews, meadow pipits and of course, red grouse. Here however we only occasionally see a buzzard or a kestrel flying over the moors and I have (I think) once seen a merlin. We had a red kite venture over this way from Harrogate once (where they are common), but it was quickly poisoned (http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/ryedale/9598399.Rare_bird_of_prey_found_poisoned/r/?ref=rss). There are far more birds of prey, most noticeably buzzards, away from the moors; peregrines too can now be found at the coast, nesting at Scarborough to the east, near Malton to the south and near Thirsk to the west, but in five years I have never seen a peregrine over the actual moors. These are just anecdotal observations to counter yours.

      An empirical fact to counter your observations of golden eagles is that they do better in western scotland than in the grouse moor dominated centre and east (see http://www.scottishraptorstudygroup.org/goldeneagle.html and http://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/gamekeepers-and-golden-eagles-the-facts/). There is some subtlety to this trend however in that (like HHs) the eagles do well on grouse moors WHEN they aren't killed. The first link above notes:

      "The continued presence of numerous vacant territories cannot be explained by a shortage of fledged young eagles. The explanation must be because in these parts of the Highlands eagles are not surviving as long as elsewhere.

      Detailed analyses have considered many possible reasons for this poor survival in the central and eastern Highlands and the overriding explanation, from many strands of evidence, is that it is due to illegal persecution of eagles; and this persecution is concentrated in areas managed for driven grouse shoots. In essence, eagle survival is poor and so occupied territories are thin on the ground because eagles are probably being killed by humans, and most of this persecution probably has basis in the management of grouse moor."

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      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Hugh,

        Sad that your local moors are not so productive. Like I said, my observations are purely that, observations only. And its good to see that the Scottish moors are alive with birdlife, more so than I have seen for many years. I think the mild spring may have helped as well.

        I was on a different grouse moor yesterday, again lots of waders - lapwing, curlew, common sandpiper, oystercatcher & redshank in particular - and a nesting black-throated diver to boot! The BTD was being particularly aggressive towards Grey-lag Geese with goslings, who ventured anywhere near its end of the loch - something I hadn't seen before. Several buzzards too.

        On eagles in western Scotland, I used to live there as a lad, and although we had several eagles' eyries in the general vicinity, I recall that their productivity was pretty poor - lack of live prey on the mainly hill sheep farms and deer forests I think. Mike Gregory may have written something on the subject.

        Interestingly, I was on the High Tops in the Cairngorms AONB today, but not an eagle to be seen. Plenty of ptarmigan, dotterel and snow bunting though, see here - http://tinyurl.com/ne55qzn, here - http://tinyurl.com/om437ly, and here - http://tinyurl.com/ppntkae.

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        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Correction - make that the Cairngorms National Park, not AONB, although it certainly is an area of natural beauty - and only one Mountain Hare seen after 8 hours on the hill.....

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    • Circus maxima says:

      Today I was in one of the densest areas of breeding harriers in the UK...in my field of view there were 5 active nest sites.....I didn't see a single harrier...

      I think we should base all our decisions on anecdotes.....

      .....not.

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    • Chrie roberts says:

      Keith, I live in the Cairngorms and the estates and their gamekeepers are doing an excellent job of destroying our wildlife. 10 years ago I saw many buzzards now they are seldom seen. Re kites in the north are being driven to extinction, wild cats have almost disappeared and the SGA would love to see pine martins extinct. There is far more wildlife in the north and west of Scotland where there are no driven grouse moors - past time to make these places extinct.

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      • Keith Cowieson says:

        Chrie,

        Now back down off the cold, wet and windy mountains having finished assisting (for the time being) in a NERC PhD student's study of potential Dotterel decline - real birding with a purpose....

        Plenty of buzzards where I have been in the last couple of weeks - every strath and glen appears to have a couple of pairs - along with the odd Golden Eagle, see here - http://tinyurl.com/la9r9w6 .

        WRT wildcats, if we did something about feral and free-roaming domestic cats, they would be in a much better position, see here - http://tinyurl.com/lj8fosv - as would many other species of course. And interestingly, was speaking to the parents of one of the current Wildcat researchers just yesterday. Apparently, there are far more wildcats in Aberdeenshire currently, than in areas hitherto thought to be their last refuges – Ardnamurchan & Morar, the Cairngorms etc etc

        Don’t know about the SGA, but I think the Capercaillie, a red-listed, priority, Biodiversity Action Plan species, would certainly appreciate fewer pine martens (itself a BAP species), see here - http://tinyurl.com/l8mcruq

        As to whether there is far more wildlife in the North and West of Scotland, my experiences (having lived there for several years, holidayed there regularly and partaken in all three summer BTO Atlases and annual Winter WeBS counts there – real birding with a purpose as they say) suggest that there is less but different wildlife assemblages there than in the central highlands.

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  12. Dennis Ames says:

    Keith,that of course may have happened naturally had the Hen Harrier population in the Northern parts expanded in large enough numbers to look into other possible areas for colonisation.

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    • Keith Cowieson says:

      Dennis,

      You are of course correct, it may have happened naturally.

      But if we can relocate/ reintroduce Scottish Golden & White-tailed Eagles to Ireland, Scottish Ospreys to Spain and English Red Kites to all points of the compass in the UK, then why not Hen Harriers to the south-west where there is far less conflict potential, ample suitable habitat and restricted military training areas to help guarantee minimal disturbance. It's a no-brainer, so come on Defra/NE, you know it makes sense.

      All we need is some luminary like Mark to launch the appropriate e-petition.......

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      • Mark says:

        Keith - they will get there under their own steam and do perfectly well (if the habitat is good enough) - like they have in Wales and the IoM, if the criminals who kill them in Scotland and England cease their illegal persecution. It's like lumpy soup (see earlier blog).

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        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Mark,

          No reason not to give them a helping hand - like Red Kites, Cranes, Corncrake, Cirl Bunting, WTE and Osprey (in England).

          Forget lumpy soup, imagine instead an ink spot on blotting paper (like me, you're old enough to remember), spreading out from a safe south-western haven and acting as a bridgehead for other suitable and safe habitat further north and east, post launch of the much-written-about Defra Joint HH Action Plan.

          And just to keep you up to date, out and about on another Scottish sporting estate today - curlew with young everywhere, haven't seen so many for a long time - and a short-eared owl and distant golden eagle to keep the BoP numbers up, see here - http://tinyurl.com/opht7ok

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  13. […] I gave you 10 reasons to sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (but there were more than 10) and today I give you 10 reasons not to sign it (but there are fewer […]

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  14. GreyBeard says:

    I guess you English are going to be total poofters now.

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  15. Diapensia says:

    That,s the best way to shoot wildlife, with a camera. Well done Tim.

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  16. It seems to me that Humans have made everything so complicated. We are nearly at a place I call "red-tape gridlock" We are faced with the highly unlikely task of educating the masses to love the Earth, not money. For a short while it looked as though we, as a species, could have achieved some higher level of "awareness"
    A man who snaps the legs of a goshawk on a pole trap, or a man who cannot accept hen-harriers breeding on moorland, Is a man with limitations.

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  17. […] intensive management of the uplands to provide expensive shooting days for a few people creates a range of environmental and social problems.  The illegal killing of protected birds of prey is just one of a wide range of consequences of […]

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  18. […] is a re-shaping of the list I produced (with links to evidence) a couple of weeks ago.  This time I have listed the reasons more or less, without agonising over it, in order of […]

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  19. […] http://markavery.info/2014/06/05/ten-reasons-sign-epetition-ban-driven-grouse-shooting-england/ […]

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  20. Spotter says:

    Keith

    I don't recognise the Scotland you seem to be holidaying in.

    I live in Glenbuchat.

    The North Glenbuchat estate, lies entirely within the Cairngorms National Park and is owned by the Marquis of Milford Haven through an offshore company based in the Turks and Caicos. It has a shocking reputation for wildlife crime. We've lost 3 eagles here in as many years, recently including a white tailed eagle, which I'm sure you will be well aware of. These were all carrying GPS tracking devices so represent, we think, a small proportion of a much greater loss.

    In recent times a buzzard was shot directly over my house in the middle of the day with myself and neighbours working in our gardens, the game keeper was spotted beating a hasty retreat through the adjacent woods. As is almost always the case, no prosecution followed.

    Our local doctor lost his telephone after gamekeepers shot an owl off the top of the pole outside his house.

    The local gamekeepers are ruthlessly efficient when it comes to the elimination of all kinds of predator, so much so that the glen is now overun with thousands of rabbits. My two cats which helped keep down some of the rabbit population from my garden have both been shot by our over enthusiastic gamekeepers. Stoats, whatever your view of them, were the principal visible predator of local rabbits. They could once be seen scuttling along stone dykes, or across the glen's few lanes. This now seems to be a scene from the past.

    Glenbuchat has a very small population, about 48 souls, the greater majority of whom are more than a little angry with the activities of a lawless few who seemed to operate with impunity. We all have stories to tell.

    In the last few days we have learned, out of the blue, that the South Glenbuchat Estate has been subsumed by the North in what appears to be an off market deal. Is this a bit of a land grab before the inevitable changes to land reform? Changes, which for those of us in the middle of all this, can't come quickly enough.

    You don't have to agree with all Mark Avery's points to sign the petition.

    'Spotter'
    PS It's a small community - you'll understand why I can't use my own name.

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  21. Ducky says:

    This makes me laugh, keep trying tho guys you will never succeed in destroying British heratinge and culture bunch of do gooders,,,

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  22. Dave Mannifield says:

    I refer to number 5 of Ian Coghill's list. THe RSPB do cull animals but unlike the gamekeepers, they stop killing when they have a healthy balance. They do not keep killing until the said species in totally eradicated. (Please do not quote instances where the RSPB have had to totally undo what mankind has done regarding rats)
    Also number 6-7 on the list quote... "Many keepers and moor owners I know are entirely law abiding and deeply unhappy about the current situation. Your ban would destroy them along with the guilty."
    Many? Not all then? If this is the case, have you reported the remainder to the police?

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  23. […] Hen Harrier population to near extinction and seem to want to turn the British countryside into a wild-free monetised homogenised wasteland shooting estate were very much on my mind when I was reading about Cecil. They are not just getting away with […]

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