Moorland Association rattled – keepers take note!


In their June newsletter, the Moorland Association mention to their members that there have been three damaging incidents for the reputation of grouse shooting in recent weeks.

The first they describe as the ‘Hen Harrier Decoy Film’ incident – although at the time Amanda Anderson wasn’t sure what she was looking at, saying ‘From the clip, it is very difficult to make out any detail at all, either of a person or a decoy. The identity of any person allegedly filmed is unknown, as is the location. No crime has been committed as far as we can see.’. But now the Moorland Association has gone to Specsavers and call it the Hen Harrier Decoy Film as all the rest of us have been doing for weeks. And now the Moorland Association admit that they see it as a damaging incident.

The second is the ‘Goshawk nest’ case.

The third is the Mossdale Estate ‘Illegally set traps’ case.  Here the Moorland Association state that this case with ‘…clear film footage has been particularly damaging to the work we do‘ and concede that ‘key organisations with whom we have worked hard to find sustainable solutions on issues such as hen harriers and heather management have expressed their dismay.’ and they quote the Yorkshire Dales National Park statement.

The Moorland Association helpfully suggest to their members that they get a grip on their employees through; making sure that employment contracts point out that work must be done within the law, ensuring that headkeepers know what their staff are doing; providing training for staff and reviewing disciplinary procedures. These are all things that Moorland Association members should be doing anyway as good employers. And would certainly be wise courses of action if we were ever to get vicarious liability legislation in England. It rather suggests that the MA doesn’t think its members are very well-organised employers. Maybe they fear that their members don’t have much control of their staff? Or maybe they are just setting out the steps to make sure that the buck stops down there, in the gamekeeper’s lodge rather than in the big house up the hill?

Some of us are pretty sure that the Moorland Association has no control over its members and that is why it has been completely pointless having them involved in Hen Harrier discussions because the Moorland Association has no clout at all.

But the Moorland Association is basically advising its members to ensure that they don’t carry the can for illegal activities of gamekeepers. When will the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation finally realise that the end game of driven grouse shooting will have more and more gamekeeper casualties and very few land owner casualties. That’s how the rules are set up in England and that’s how it has always been.  It won’t be your boss who is filmed clubbing a Buzzard, setting a pole trap or shooting a Hen Harrier – it will be you. And it won’t be him (or her) carrying the can – it will be you. Yep, you’re the ones caught in a trap.

Photo: RSPB
Photo: RSPB



13 Replies to “Moorland Association rattled – keepers take note!”

  1. The Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and others must surely realise that the ball is very much in their court now – the people they represent are being watched closely. They have to get a grip.

    If the hen harrier population fails to show signs of sustained recovery from this summer, if we see further persecution (gas guns left operating; harriers missing; traps set; decoys used), and if they are unable to resolve the serious issues set out in the letter from the EC threatening infraction proceedings……then they will demonstrate that there is no solution where upland biodiversity and driven grouse shooting can coexist.

    They will have failed.

    They don’t have much time to sort this out, but they have been given the opportunity.

  2. So what exactly are they / do they do? Beginning to look like advocates for a bunch of wayward estate owners? Trade body to lobby Govt.?

    If you were a trainee or apprentice gamekeeper or even a fully fledged game keeper how would you feel towards their approach to attributing blame?

    The ‘banner’ across the news item headline needs challenge for being misleading if not erroneous? I recall someone asking if NT had approved it, I’d suspect not and might be minded towards thinking them uncomfortable with selective reporting. Given the recent NT stance this kind of misrepresentation might only harden resolve to walk away from tenants who operate grouse shoots on NT / public land, particularly as funds are received via the public purse?

    If they are so committed to doing the right things then would then why would they have an issue working with interested stakeholders towards the introduction vicarious liability and accountability for shooting related accidents (insurance requirement for road traffic accidents caused by ‘game’ species)?

  3. Wouldn’t vacarious liability be great in these instances. Once illegal practices are noted on an estate then that estate should lose it’s sporting license regardless of who committed the crime. Hitting them in the pocket is the only thing they’ll understand.

    Sorry, I’m living in fairy land again.

  4. And still no review of the position of the Hopeless Owl Trust? It is now undisputed that their partners crossed the line in the sand….. do they have the metal to stand by the conditions that they set? Or have they sold their soul completely?

  5. The Moorland Association seems to be suffering from some sort of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Their default position is to claim persecution is the work of a tiny minority or, as in the case of the decoy Hen Harrier, to suggest nobody had any ill-intent and even if they did, they weren’t connected with the shooting industry anyhow. Yet here they seem to be suggesting that illegality must be so rife amongst the industry’s underlings that employers need to issue a blanket caution to their employees to obey the law. It’s a while since I signed a contract of employment but I don’t recall ever being asked to obey the law of the land or face the disciplinary procedures, I think it was rather taken as read.

  6. Mark glad i’m not the only one making typos although yours are rare as Hen Harriers in England.
    ‘Or maybe they ar jsut setting out the steps to make sure tha tthe buck stops down there, in the gamekeeper’s lodge rather than in the big house up the hill?’

  7. Mark what is the legal position on gas guns?
    I live in Wales near a grouse moor and up to the last week or so a regular series of bangs could be heard from about 5.30 in the morning. My neighbour thought it was a gas gun. what is their purpose in this case? We gave no crops growing around here.

  8. I can remember many years ago being told by an ex keeper that in 30 years of keepering he had yet to meet a keeper who persecuted raptors without being told to by either the headkeeper or the owner/agent. MA are of course signatories to the harrier”plan” yet it appears that there are none on our grouse moors, hardly surprising considering the activities of their gamekeepers.

  9. The M.A.’s only real concern is, of course, the 11th commandment…

    “Thou shalt not get found out”.

  10. If an ‘innocent’ member of the public put their hand on a pole trap who would be responsible?
    Would it create an uproar –

    Worth a thought if you don’t value your hand too much!
    & yes I’ll do it!

      1. Chances of my finding any are slim, and maybe I should say hopefully zero; but the point is that If the papers got hold of it because of a physical injury to someone, it might rattle some cages in the right places.
        We’ll see.
        I’ve probably wrecked it by writing my idea here and therefore opening up the argument that I knew what I was doing!

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