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.