There’s an excellent post today on the Raptor Persecution Scotland blog about what manner of things might be in any grouse meat that you eat. Watch out Henry!
I wonder how much medicine from medicated grit gets into Hen Harriers, Peregrines and other wildlife through ingestion? Has anyone looked at that?
Game meat, including Red Grouse, does seem to be immune from many of the checks that you would expect it to face. There are no lead levels stipulated – and we know that game meat very often has higher lead levels than would be allowed for other meat – often very much higher.
But those wild-living grouse, dosed with worming chemicals, aren’t tested for these chemicals before they arrive in the Iceland freezer. So we have to rely on the law-abiding nature of the British grouse industry to withdraw the chemicals on which they rely to produce unnaturally high densities of Red Grouse for shooting at the right time of year. Just like we have to rely on them not to carry out wildlife crime. And to protect blanket bogs by not burning them too often.
And those posh restaurants in London which sell grouse…? What would they say if asked whether they are sure that the expensive grouse they sell do not contain illegal levels of worming chemicals?
We here have a failure of regulation.
It’s at least a double failure.
First, the regulations aren’t all in place – why is there not a maximum lead level set for game meat for human consumption?
Second, there is a failure to implement the regulation that does exist. It’s illegal to kill birds of prey and yet we are facing grossly reduced populations of Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon (and others) simply because it is so easy, and so tempting, for the law to be broken. Satellite tags will be a solution to this situation, in time. At the moment, governments in both Scotland and England are looking feckless and hopeless as they fail to get a grip on wildlife crime.
Then there is the failure of the regulator, Natural England down here, to get a grip on the intensity of moorland burning – hence the RSPB’s long-running complaint to the EU over Walshaw Moor and many other grouse moors. Defra looks pathetic on this subject and hasn’t come clean on what its defence is. And Natural England – is it fit for purpose?
And if no-one is testing chemicals in game meat then what would you say are the odds that everything will be OK? Horse burgers any one?
This is a land use that is so intensive, and which needs to be very intensive to command the high customer prices (for shooting the Red Grouse rather than eating them), and has acknowledged criminal element within it, and which pushes the boundaries of every bit of regulation that exists. It’s because large rich landowners have too often been allowed to do whatever they wanted to do, and successive governments have allowed them too often to get away with it.
In the face of regulatory failure one needs to seek a more effective, simpler and cheaper solution – that solution is banning driven grouse shooting. Please sign this e-petition that will bring that day closer.
And yet, the RSPB argues that better regulation is the solution, the National Trust allows driven grouse shooting on its own land in National Parks, and the Wildlife Trusts remain pretty much silent on the subject.
And now go back and re-read the Raptor Persecution Scotland blog to see how badly regulation currently works.