A recap

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.


14 Replies to “A recap”

  1. I think all the regulars here and on RPUK have seen the video (probably several times) and tried to digest the possible reasons for the court case being dropped. Many have said that they found the video quite shocking – I know I did.
    My concern (like DS, above) is just how widely is it being shoved under the noses of the general public? There has been some press coverage, and I’m pleased to see that it can be accessed from the home page of the RSPB website. However, the RSPB used the attention-grabbing headline ‘Court proceedings dropped’ and a very anodyne shot of a harrier as ‘click-bait’. Why not ‘Shocking video footage of Hen Harrier persecution’ or some such?
    It reminds me of a line in a Thea Gilmore song:
    “So you’re shouting, but you’re shouting softly, so no-one will hear you.”
    Someone commented on RPUK that the video was available on YouTube, but my quick search didn’t find it. If it’s there, I wonder how many views it’s had.
    Mark and RPUK do a terrific job of providing evidence and informed, authoritative comment to the already converted. I worry about how much impact it has beyond that.

    1. Alan Two – the video is on YouTube. If you watch it by clicking on the link on this post a YouTube logo will probably appear in the bottom right hand corner. If you click on that logo you’ll see that the clip has been viewed nearly 12,000 times. I can’t say how many, but a fair proportion of those views will have been generated by this blog and RPUK through social media. And that was part of the point of repeatedly posting it on here too.

      1. Just had a look on YouTube. Why have comments been “disabled for this video”?

        1. Northern Diver – can only guess that the RSPB don’t want libellous comments on their video feed?

        2. Have you seen what pops up in youtube comments, pure filth and violent racism on even the most innocuous of subjects. I wouldn’t enable comments either.

      2. Thanks, Mark. I searched YouTube using ‘shot’ rather than ‘killed’, and couldn’t find it.
        12,000 sounds like a big number (and it will presumably go up in the coming days) but it’s still just 10% of the number who signed the petition and about 1% of the membership of the RSPB. Is that going to make any difference?
        Amazing bits of evidence like this don’t come along very often – if this won’t change anything, what will?
        Is there anything more that can be done? While I’m in whingeing mode, is there a programme of BDGS activities scheduled between now and the inglorious 12th?

        1. Alan Two – it is nearly 12,000 views in 5 days not 6 months.

          I think we are heading for a quieter summer this year – just as well with a general election perhaps.

  2. the SNP have shown themselves to have little interest in wildlife crime. Mind you, the same could be said about the LibDems and Labour. The Tories, arguably, are very interested in it…

  3. I’m afraid this illegal activity will carry on being largely ignored by the media until we peacefully disrupt a driven grouse shoot. I for one am quite prepared to walk in front of the guns with a protect Hen Harriers banner and I’m sure many other folk feel the same.

      1. Wear long sleeves and put arm protectors (and males should wear a sturdy cricket box) on under them before going. I remember the Faslane protests and the bring your own baton boys broke people’s arms intentionally, and worse. I had a couple of cops drag me into Transit and stamp on both my hands. My fingers never healed right from that.

  4. Perhaps we should send the you tube link to our prospective MPs especially those who continue to either support driven grouse shooting and not support either licensing or a ban.
    I wonder in those 60 odd years how many raptors have been killed illegally given one rather notorious moor in North Yorkshire allegedly kills on average ONE RAPTOR PER ANNUM PER 100 ACRES OF MOOR (80-100 birds per year) according to one of their members/ managers. That’s an awful lot of birds if you apply it nationally on all grouse moor areas and over 60+ years it will provide us with a ballpark figure. I don’t have the land areas to hand but it is a very frightening figure I’m sure of that.
    I also note the head of NWCU thinks it is only a few rogue keepers who do this, does he live in the same world as the rest of us! Thinks we can solve the problem by talking to each other through the RPPDG .Somebody needs to tell him we have done that “ad nauseum” and IT DOESN’T BLOODY WORK.

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