I’m sure the Scottish government, the SNP, the Scottish Gamekeepers Organisation and Scottish Land and Estates wish that these images would go away – but we should make sure that they are kept in the public domain. They illustrate the failure of wildlife protection in Scotland.
The bird that flies through this video and then is transformed into a bundle of blood-stained feathers is ‘protected’. It is a Hen Harrier and it has been protected by the law for over 60 years by the Protection of Birds Act in 1954. It seems that the protection isn’t working very well.
Science shows that there should be c1630 pairs of Hen Harriers nesting in Scotland, on moorland like that in the video (which was in Moray), and yet recent surveys show that the actual number is around 530 pairs. No the law isn’t working very well is it?
Things don’t get any better if you look at the UK as a whole: there should be c2600 pairs and there are about 650 pairs. No the law isn’t working very well is it?
It has taken nearly four years for this video to emerge into the public domain during which time more and more Hen Harriers have been dispatched by shooting, trapping and poisoning.
Hen Harriers are killed, criminally killed, because they eat Red Grouse that some people want to shoot for fun. Grouse shooting is big business – big business underpinned by criminality. No, the law isn’t working very well is it?
A 63-year experiment in hoping that grouse shooting will rid itself of criminality has failed. Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and other protected wildlife are routinely, systematically and illegally killed by grouse shooting interests across the UK.
The Conservative government in Westminster has been completely inactive in solving this problem of wildlife crime. The SNP government in Holyrood is moving very slowly, perhaps (we can’t be sure) towards some form of licensing of intensive grouse moor management. This would be a good step on the way towards banning driven grouse shooting entirely. After more than 60 years of breaking the law the criminals have had their time and it is now time for the wildlife to get the protection that it was theoretically given by the Winston Churchill government of 1954.