A message from someone…

I received an email from someone I admire and trust last week and he (for it is a he) has agreed that I can quote him as follows:


Well done for stirring up on the subject of driven grouse-shooting. I have not been against this activity until recently but have substantially changed my opinion in the last few months because of:

1. The continuing flow of raptor persecution incidents, the low frequency with which prosecutions result and the inadequacy of the penalties laid on convicted miscreants.

2. Realization that nightime shooting, now so easy because of access tracks, quadbikes. and better lamps, including infrared viewing kit, is almost undetectable because few people other than keepers are on the hills at night. Perhaps shooting of raptors is widespread and the poisoners are the minority, who happen to be daft enough to employ a method that is likely to leave evidence.

3. Checking two former Peregrine nest-sites for the national survey, on an Estate that is heavily managed for grouse, with a virtual monoculture of heather. Total sightings of raptors were a Buzzard and a possible Merlin in 16 hours fieldwork. Lots of legal and well-cared-for snares, mustelid traps and crow-traps. But why are there so few raptors? And not a lot of other birds. My own study areas and their surroundings, elsewhere in the same county, despite being at higher altitude, hold more – they are not managed for grouse

4. Informal conversations, including conversations with keepers, that suggest to me that illegal persecution, far from being the work of a few rogues, is perhaps practiced by the majority of shooting estates.

5. Attending various conferences, the talks by the grouse-shooting interests were as influential in convincing me against their case as were the opposed talks.

6. George Monbiot’s writing on the finances underpinning driven shooting.

If  you feel the same or similarly then you might well want to sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.

Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive


  1. Dennis Ames says:

    Think your friend says it all.The more I read the more fortunate I think Hen Harriers are to have you trying to help them.
    I really do not think there is anyone who would stand a better chance of some success than yourself,especially as it will be a hard slog.

  2. Terry Pickford says:

    Mark, recently I had the pleasure in having an depth conversation with a moorland gamekeeper over a number of days, this person is also is an active shooter himself. The conversation via the net was in depth, frank and honest, and I feel I got to know this man very well. He trusted me enough to tell me he was disgusted and angry at the continued persecution of protected raptors on shooting estates and elsewhere. He was very concious of the damage persecution was doing to the image of the sport he loved. He also confided by telling me he had considered speaking out about the ongoing scandal on a number of occasions, but was aware that if he did so he would never get another job keepering. He was understandably concerned also about his wife and small children if he lost his job and his house. I know there are many other individuals who shoot that feel the same way but are also too afraid to speak out about what is going on behind closed doors.

    Perhaps one possible answer may lie in educating the wider public about the killing of raptor taking place on an industrial scale. Criminal actions undertaken to enable selfish individuals to kill more grouse, pheasants and partridge, and to hell with everyone else, even if every raptor disappears completely from our countryside.

    • Mark says:

      Terry - you are right. I have had some similar conversations myself. Some gamekeepers are perfectly happy to break the law, some never break the law, many are pressurised into breaking the law (and the pressure is intense in some cases).

  3. Paul V Irving says:

    It seems that perhaps we are turning a crucial corner here. Well done Mark for keeping up the pressure it is a just cause with good truth based arguments.

  4. Pat Martin says:

    Mark, there is also the other side of the coin, some couldn't give a hoot about breaking the law, some you can talk to but there are those who see Rspb and other organisations as an intolerable threat to their livelihoods. I speak to keepers frequently and sometimes I can't help but think that they tell me what I want to hear then once your back is turned they go and do something the compleat opposite. I put in hundreds of hours on the uplands, sometimes I feel the whole exersice is pointless but as long as there's a chance of a breakthrough I'll keep on plodding.

    • Alan Cranston says:

      Pat, I am instinctively sympathetic to the "other side of the coin" argument, and Mark has surely shown that he has been too. But what exactly do you mean by suggesting that there is, now, such a thing as the other side of the coin? What position is represented by that other side? Sorry, I don't mean to be combative, but I assume you don't mean that we should support the employment of people to perform illegal acts? Or that we should expect the RSPB to do so. You would not, I suppose, argue that we should have sympathy with bank-robbers if the police make their lives intolerable. The issue, surely, is that years of discussion have achieved nothing except to persuade owners that they can ride successfully above the law. That is bad for all of us. Of course one can feel for pressurised keepers, and maybe a polarised debate does not help them. Probably it should be a stronger part of the case that better management of the land will create more and better jobs. But "the other side of the coin" is now blank, in my view.

      • Pat Martin says:

        Alan, there is no "other side of the coin" argument, these people are breaking the law and it's as simple as that. However, enforcing those laws as they stand is impossible, how do you stop anybody doing as they please in the often remote uplands of Northern England unless you're up there watching their every move. Like I've said I regularly talk to keepers, some good and some bad, some nigh on impossible to hold any form of debate with. The law as it is at the moment is unworkable. In the meantime I'll keep plodding the hills.



  5. John Miles says:

    May be a better way of putting it is 'a way of life'. Even the keepers with degrees and PHDs know they have to kill BOPs. They go into the job for the lifestyle and the that includes the freedom of doing the job when it suites them. Remember these people are the world's best poachers and many live off the land. We even had a keeper running a fish and chip van. What a great way to move all that meat!! No policeman will touch them or they will loose out on 'free' shooting or a ready supply of meat!!

  6. Richard Wilson says:

    From the ongoing comments and blogs and social media, it would seem to me that 'silence' is what is enabling the persecution of raptors.

    As society has learned in the last 12 momths or so, it was silence that helped Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris. But then someone had the courage and the resilience and the self belief and the bravery to speak. And that wall, constructed by silence, which they and many others thought was insurmountable, caved in.

    The perpetrators who commit these crimes rely on this wall of silence. They depend on it. They need it. They crave it.

    But silence makes a poor wall. And often falls down. It only takes a whisper.

    So the more sound, the more noise, the harder it is to maintain silence.

    Keep shouting. Truth will out.

  7. Pete Mantle says:

    And then there is the public . . who let's face it might not recognise a Hen Harrier but may indentify the proven link between the game industry and a cover up of Buzzard, Kite and Eagle deaths and instinctively know it is wrong.

  8. Mark W says:

    I would just like to say that the hold an employer has is considerable. As a shepherd I had a job, work vehicle, and house (home). Newly married I was desperate when I lost my job after an accident as we were OUT!
    We had the statuary time warning but then it was go -
    I do not agree with raptor persecution, have signed the petition, and agree that after all the prevarication banning is the logical step.
    But I personally believe employers hold many of the strings, so vicarious liability is the least we should have. Employers pay the wages, dictate terms of employment, and hide behind the gamekeeper blaming him for 'doing wrong'.
    At the end of the day money talks....... To employees as well as politicians!


Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>