Langholm bombshell

Thurs 16 July CopyThe latest, blog #5, in Ruth Tingay’s series of Guest Blogs on the fascinating meeting organised by the GWCT back in November was notable for its revelation from Mark Oddy of Buccleuch Estates that the estate, for he said he was speaking as Buccleuch Estates, want lethal control of raptors, initially under licence.

So Langholm 2 will end with the grouse shooters calling for wildlife protection to be lifted so that they can pursue their hobby of shooting birds for fun, just as Langholm 1 did.  It hardly seems like progress – and it hardly seems that the science or the efforts of conservation organisations have been worth it, does it?

Oddy said ‘…we have to now grasp the nettle and try and put forward a case, which probably in the first instance under licence, will allow some type of lethal control…‘.

From what he says, it seems that Buccleugh Estates, is fed up with diversionary feeding of Hen Harriers and can’t stomach even thinking of diversionary feeding of Buzzards.

We have to assume, in the absence of any evidence either way (except that Oddy said he was speaking as Buccleuch Estates) that he was expressing the view of the Duke of Buccleuch, the UK’s largest  private landowner. So it seems that we have the UK’s largest landowner wishing to kill birds of prey on his land in order that grouse shooting (in which it is said that His Grace himself is not very interested) can continue ‘profitably’. What sort of world do we live in?

Next we’ll hear, will we, that the Duke of Westminster, the only UK-born person in the top 10 of Sunday Times rich list, is desperate to be allowed to kill birds of prey at Abbeystead, his grouse moor in Lancashire?

Mr Oddy’s frankness (thanks to Ruth’s reporting of it here), is a clear indication that the grouse moor industry is not for compromising and wants to be able to do legally what has been done illegally on too many grouse moors for so long, and that is to kill birds of prey because, and only because, they eat things that people want to shoot for fun, and because those days of fun can be sold for lots of money.

As I spell out in Inglorious, in a way they are right. They are right in the sense that we all have to choose because you cannot, practically, have driven grouse shooting with the bags that the industry demands and have natural levels of birds of prey (or mammals of prey either).  It’s one or the other.

Not surprisingly, the grouse shooting industry chooses grouse shooting at the expense of wildlife. I choose wildlife at the expense of grouse shooting (‘The logic is impeccable‘ – The Independent).

Which do you choose?

Whereas the landowners can have cosy chats with ministers north (see what Mark Oddy said) and south (see for example Inglorious pp152-53) of the border, your options are more limited.  But what you can do, realising that you have a say in these things, and that you have a choice, is to choose to sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.


9 Replies to “Langholm bombshell”

  1. Over £3 million of, I believe, public money has been spent at Langholm seeking the famous ‘balance’ between raptors and viable grouse densities. From Ruth’s blog that appears, on any reasonable assessment, to have been successful but we still get the same primitive scorched earth ultimatums – agree to lethal control or we’ll torch the business and government will be responsible. At the very least there should be no more of our money invested in research which just panders to these people.

  2. “you cannot, practically, have driven grouse shooting and have natural levels of birds of prey (or mammals of prey either). It’s one or the other.” Is this really the case Mark? I thought that the point was that they did have driveable numbers of grouse (at Langholm) but choose not to drive them for reasons that may be around greed or because they think it will help them make the case for raptor control. Either way, it does not put the driven grouse industry in a very good light.

    Don’t know what they will make of this down the Drones…

    1. Oh! – fair point. You may not have noticed but I lost your comment for a while. I was out and fiddling with my phone and had to wait until returning to a pc to find it again. I have slightly changed the wording to be clearer – thank you.

    2. “Is this really the case Mark?”

      Of course it’s not the case. To have driven grouse shooting all you actually need is few grouse. What is a ‘drivable number’? If you had fewer grouse you could still drive them. Whether the current business model of DGS would cope with fewer grouse is another matter. But if it couldn’t then it would have to change.

        1. But Mark you yourself have praised an estate on here that is run in a sustainable manner that also has grouse shooting. I realise you would not admit that now but you have. What I am saying is that a changed more sustainable industry is possible. You’ve already pointed out that it is.

          It’s perfectly possible for driven grouse shooting to become more sustainable to do so it might well have to become more diversified but that also would be a good thing. You would also quite probably have to have much smaller bags – so you would have to find a way of getting the needed revenue from smaller bags.

          One way of encouraging this would be to have different regulations over how moorland is managed – of course such regulations would be counter to the interests of to this campaign – another way would be to have some kind of vicarious liability for BoP persecution I would prefer civil – bit that also would be counter to the interests of this campaign so you have dropped the idea.

          You theory Mark is that by introducing a technical restriction on how grouse can be shot – ie making it illegal for beaters to drive them towards guns we will solve problems to do with moor burning, BoP persecution &c.

          So IF this happens – which is VERY unlikely under a Tory Government then the grouse shooting industry will have to convert wholesale to another form of grouse shooting – presumably ‘walked up’ or some other method that gets round your restriction.

          However when are we going to have a Labour Government. Maybe in five years but that is not looking that likely so more probably ten years or fifteen years.

          So that is perhaps ten yeas of your life you are going to spend decrying every constructive attempt at cooperation between landowners and conservationists to try and get better conservation.

          I think that is a tragedy.

          Can I ask you again what steps could be taken to get Hen Harriers breeding on Exmoor and Dartmoor? There could be breeding Hen Harriers but there aren’t so maybe there are ways in which the management of the moor could be changed to encourage them and also other Birds of Prey.

  3. So…all that this expensive research has done has made the situation even more divisive than it was at the start and has brought the shooters a step closer to getting legal sanction to do what they were doing illegally [by their own admissions] for many decades. Good job…..

    Meanwhile on grouse moors all over the UK the criminal killing continued, carried out by those who also saw Langholm as an expensive waste of time.

    This has never been more than a diversionary tactic by the raptor killers to get the conservationists, the government and the public off their backs.

    Now, can we get back to putting some of these people in jail where they belong?…as you can see, they dont respond to reason. These laws apply to all of us…dont they?

  4. Extremists always like to paint things as black and white. That’s because they thrive on division.

    Their enemy is shades of grey which they will always deny exist.

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