BASC and Moorland Association are uncharitable

An ugly view in Scotland. Ripe for reform. Photo: Donside April 2014 by Peter Cairns
An ugly view in Scotland. Ripe for reform. Photo: Donside April 2014 by Peter Cairns

It is difficult to believe, and I don’t believe, that BASC and the Moorland Association aren’t putting out misleading information about grouse moors to MPs (see my analysis of their ‘misinfographic’ here). I contacted both BASC and the Moorland Association to ask them whether they stood by every word of their information the other day. A very nice man in the BASC press team told me that their scientists had been through the information and believed it to be correct. Well, I believe it to be seriously misleading.

Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Association sent me a long text and says Moorland Association stands by every word too.

I notice that GWCT did not put their name to this, perhaps because they weren’t asked, or perhaps because they didn’t feel that they could. Or perhaps because they are a registered charity unlike BASC or the Moorland Association and so if they mislead the public then one could complain to the Charity Commission – which I would have done, gladly.

It has been suggested that this infographic falls under the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority but I’m not too sure about that. Is it advertsing?  I will follow it up though.

If there is anyone else out there who knows how one can make a formal complaint about what I believe to be the inaccuracy of the Moorland Association’s and BASC’s statements then please let me know, I ‘d be very grateful.

And, of course, many MPs use social media and their addresses are readily available so I may have a busy weekend contacting them.


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8 Replies to “BASC and Moorland Association are uncharitable”

  1. Hi Mark,
    I've not gone into it in any detail but their remit covers advertising and marketing to ensure all is clean decent and honest. I would argue that what was sent to all MPs was marketing. True its not a product as such but still it "marketed" the view of BASC and MA. There are quite a few may be even many of us that think that most if not all the socalled facts in that view were at best distortions and at worst completely untrue. The worst that can happen is that they decline to investigate, whats to loose?

  2. There is a lot of misinformation about:

    'Where are the 330 pairs of Hen Harrier that should live in the English uplands?'

    Probably in the same place as those computer generated harriers that should live in Ireland and on the Isle of Man (no grouse moors, no persecution) and on the Isle of Skye and Langholm (no persecution) or Exmoor, Dartmoor, Cardair Idris (no ground nesting birds at all).

    'Driven grouse shooting is 200 years old and heather has been around for a while longer than that.'

    Dr Baines:

    'The value of managed grouse moors is that they preserve a threatened habitat that supports fewer but rarer species. If the land were left to its own devices, it would revert to scrub and woodland'

    'why is it that our National Parks are killing fields for the rich? Why cannot the people enjoy the sight of a Hen Harrier or a Short-eared Owl flying across open countryside on their weekend walks?'

    There are no hen harriers or short eared owls within the national parks of Exmoor, Dartmoor, Cardair Idris and elsewhere as a consequence of extinction, through predation, particularly of ground nesting birds, since these areas became national parks.

    'Grouse shooting is the reason why many protected species are at very low levels.'

    Any evidence to support this, from England? Or none at all?

    'in National Parks all over the world others are managing natural fires as a part of the natural ecology of their wildlife sites.'

    'the likelihood of severe wildfire events happening is nowadays very high in all countries on the north side of the Mediterranean. These fires result in losses of human life, major destruction of wildlife habitats and often subsequent soil erosion, and a significant release of carbon into the atmosphere.'

    '‘At least 40,000 people take part in grouse shooting annually‘.

    Really? Is that all? And that includes beaters etc. Not much of a crowd puller is it?'

    For a (Scottish Highlands) population density of 9 people per square kilometre, that is the entire population of 4,000 square kilometres, a very big deal in upland areas with very few jobs available.

    'I don’t really know what they are on about here'


    1. Monro - there is an awful lot of misinformation about - and you seem to be the source of much of it.
      There is no National park called Cardair Idris, nor is there one called Cader (or Cadair) Idris but there is a mountain in the Snowdonia National Park called Cader Idris. And Snowdonia is a NP with quite a few Hen harriers nesting within its boundaries. There are no HH, in ,ost years in the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales or N York Moors NPs because people kill them in winter, in distant breeding locations and in those very NPs if they dare to show up.

      But you know that perfectly well, you are just mucking about here. And even if you don't know it, everybody else does. that's why the GWCT are trying to fool Defra into allowing them and others to 'manage' HH broods. they aren't claiming that the foxes have already done it for them. they have moved past that deceit - you should catch them up.

      1. It is not possible to transliterate exactly from Welsh words into English words so variable English spellings of Welsh place names are common.

        Cardair Idris is indeed part of a national park. It is a birdlife desert. I have walked all over it, day and night, for a week.

        A brief google confirms the problem for ground nesting birds in Wales:

        The same search gives comprehensive evidence of why that should be so:

        But there is hope, once some common sense is employed:

        Hen harriers in Wales are holding their own, from a low base. Many that you see are not resident there.

        What is for sure is that some hen harriers disappear. Some disappear overseas (2 out of 3 Langholm tagged birds):

        And some are lifted, with no evidence left behind, from their nests:

        'In 50% of the camera activations in this study, there was no other evidence to suggest that there had been a fox intrusion at the nest, in other words there had been a ‘clean lift’ by foxes at the nest.'

        So, while illegal killing of hen harriers may or may not be going on, there is absolutely no evidential basis from within England to support legislation to ban grouse shooting.

        Indeed, all the evidence in England points to natural predation as the main problem:

        Had brood management been utilized, those three English hen harriers would still be alive. That is why everyone, except the rspb, wants to get on with it.

        1. Monro - the Welsh Hen Harrier population is increasing - as one would expect in an area with little driven grouse shooting. You are just wittering on. How many breeding pairs of Hen Harrier are there, do you think, in Wales?

          1. Nobody knows how many breeding pairs of hen harriers there are in Wales.

            The BTO says a modest increase in some areas of Wales.

            Annual populations vary dramatically, largely depending on the weather, as this year's dramatic breeding success elsewhere, particularly in Langholm, has demonstrated.

            Whatever, the numbers in Wales are tiny, confirming the problems that ground nesting birds (curlews down 80%) have with an array of different factors limiting their populations there.

            It has nothing to do with driven grouse shooting.

            You might just as well say that the recent BTO reported 49% decline in hen harrier numbers on the Isle of Man is due to a lack of grouse shooting.

            Predator control works - here's more evidence, for the ground nesting hare:

            'This analysis demonstrates that even where farmland habitat is greatly improved, uncontrolled predation
            prevents hares making full use of its carrying capacity. This helps explain the mixed—and at best modest—success of agri-environment
            schemes in the UK and elsewhere in Europe to increase hare densities. Game-shooting estates, on which effective predator control
            takes place, probably have a special significance within the landscape as source areas for brown hares.'


          2. Monro - well you clearly don't know how many HH there are in Wales, but then you there seem to be many things about Wales that you don't know.

            The 2010 UK and Isle of Man survey of HH said there were 57 pairs of HH in Wales so we should probably use that figure, don't you think? That was up 33% on the Welsh population of the previous survey in 2004 (43 pairs) so we should probably use that as our benchmark for how HH are doing in Wales, shouldn't we?

            In 2004 there were 11 pairs of HH in England and in 2010 there were 12 pairs (seem very good these days!)

            Your argument, such as it is, seems to be that Wales is overrun with predators and no ground nesting bird, such as the HH can survive there. And yet the population is more than 10 times the English population (these days) and increasing. Whereas the English population is small and decreased almost to extinction since 2004.

            My argument is that where there is a lot of driven grouse shooting the HH does very badly and yet where there isn't grouse shooting it does rather well. The England/Wales comparison seems to support my argument I think. As do the comparisons of the other areas dominated by driven grouse shooting and those that are not (as I'm perfectly sure you know).

            Go back and read Hayhow D. B., Eaton M. A., Bladwell S., Etheridge B., Ewing S., Ruddock M., Saunders R., Sharpe C., Sim I. M. W. and Stevenson A. 2013.The status of the Hen Harrier, Circus cyaneus, in the UK and Isle of Man in 2010. Bird Study 60: 446-458. to check the figures if you like.

            And when you do, just refresh your mind on what it says in the introduction 'A substantial body of research suggests that illegal persecution is the principle factor limiting Hen Harrier population growth in parts of the UK, particularly in areas where heather moorland is managed for driven Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus shooting'.

  3. I would hope that the calls for the banning of driven grouse shooting are based upon more than just the persecution of birds of prey. As I understand it, Mark's contention is that intensive grouse moors are out of control - they do not just persecute raptors, they damage globally rare habitats (and prevent their recovery), pollute water-courses, reduce the invertebrate interest of upland streams, release carbon, dig up rare habitats to build tracks, car parks and shooting butts and now they are releasing large quantities of medication into the environment in a way that would be subject to much greater control if it were anywhere else. Within the grouse industry itself, GWCT are themselves extremely concerned about the use of medicated grit and are asking for its use to be reduced. Viewed like this, it is difficult to argue that the driven grouse managers are not out of control. The utter rubbish being put out by the Moorland Association and BASC only serves to emphasise how they really do not give a damn about anything but themselves. Unless they start addressing these issues in a meaningful way they may well find themselves sleep-walking into extinction and they will only have themselves to blame. If they showed a bit more moral and social responsibility, a great many of their problems would go away.


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