Sunday book review – Killing by Proxy by Alan Stewart


Alan Stewart MBE is a retired police inspector with a wealth of experience in investigating wildlife crime. This is his fourth book on the subject.

Here is a quote from the author’s introduction ‘On driven grouse moors there is little evidence of change. While the licensing of shoots may help, the only real solution is the complete banning of driven grouse shooting‘.

Clearly I agree with Alan (please sign this e-petition if you do too – Ban driven grouse shooting) but whether you agree or not, if you are interested in the subject then you will find this book a mine of expert information and of strongly-held views.


Killing by Proxy: wildlife crime in the UK today by Alan Stewart is published by Thirsty Books who don’t yet list it on their website as far as I can find but it is available signed from the author too).


14 Replies to “Sunday book review – Killing by Proxy by Alan Stewart”

  1. I have read all of the books written by Alan on the subject of wildlife crime they are all good. This one has far more information and discussion of crime against birds of prey particularly on grouse moors. If you are at all interested in this subject Alan offers a wealth of detail, not just on individual cases but on the law itself and how it might be improved, it is quite simply a must read.What makes this book all the more important is that Alan gives all of this information as a retired Police Officer, which offers a very interesting and important perspective into how the law works and of course it can hardly be argued that he is either a radical raptor freak or zealot. Go buy it, the book is available through

    1. Could i ask, how much of it is about raptors.
      I haven’t managed to finish his first book (even they are all on my bookshelf) as a lot is devoted to other aspects of wildlife crime and the police which i have to varying degrees little interest in.
      But this one looks much more like Dave Dick’s excellent book which i am hoping will be followed by a sequel.

          1. By the way, i’m definitely getting a copy, especially after reading his blog on the man shooting at a badger snare.
            It reminded me of George Monbiot’s excellent article in the Guardian this week about shifting baselines. When i looked at that footage i thought this isn’t going to get a conviction because it looked like he was trying to release the Badger. We, or at least i, have become so accustomed to raptor crime that the very obvious animal cruelty wasn’t a major consideration to me. I suppose i was also slightly confounded by the fact that he didn’t just shoot it.

  2. If you want to know why licensing won’t work go out to villages all over England tomorrow to the Boxing Day meets being vigorously promoted by the Countryside Alliance. Of course, all will claim to be following drags but just like the killing of Hen Harriers who doesn’t believe that many if not most will be pursuing real foxes ? And how to prove it across extensive areas of private land ?

    1. Roderick, Interesting comparison. Had Hunting been licensed (and it isn’t) it would have been easier to stipulate what individual hunts and individuals could and couldnt do, what a trail means, how many dogs, no terrier men, no digging, no blocking, requirement for monitors etc. Breaches of that licence could have result in hunts having that licence withdrawn. Instead the perceived failure of the Hunting Act can be attributed in part to the banning of certain aspects, whilst allowing hunts flexibility to interpret what the law says is allowable.

      Banning DGS only would leave shoots open to pushing the definition of other forms of shooting. Licencing, if legislation was drawn up properly, could ensure that all forms of shooting come under the spotlight and could be quite restrictive as to what is and isn’t allowed on shooting areas.

      We do need the RSPB to get on board with this one, their knowledge is needed if licencing is to be an effective deterrent. Unfortunately you and I know how the constitution of the Society can tie down Council in such issues

    2. A false and irrelevant analogy. Licensing of grouse shoots REQUIRE the business to demonstrate that the area covered meets its ecological potential. How does the Hunting with Dogs Act do that?

  3. One has only one question of them Roderick. Who laid the drag scent they claim to be following and when?
    As Oscar Wilde said or was it George Bernard Shaw? ” The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.”
    Of course the Countryside Areliars will claim it as a great success and that most “country folk”, a phrase that means nothing, support hunting. Actually they don’t most have no opinion and of those that do most are opposed.

  4. Afraid that I can’t agree with Alan’s general introduction comment in his latest book ‘On driven grouse moors there is little evidence of change”. I can speak with regards to vast knowledge/experience of raptor monitoring in the Angus Glens and can safely state that he has obviously lost touch with this area completely since his retirement several years back. Surely recognition of these dramatic raptor turnarounds in several areas of the Angus Glens should be highlighted as a positive and welcome step forward rather than living in the past and constantly dragging up past historical persecution?

  5. Plenty alive Golden Eagles in the Angus Glens Mark. At least 5 breeding pairs which will rise to 6 once youngsters mature. We have had a couple of pairs raising triplets which highlights what a tremendous food supply of both mountain hares and grouse. This richness of prey attracts large numbers of immature Golden Eagles which is why we have unfortunately observed 3 young GE’s with satellite tag harness problems between 2013-16. One with a satellite tag dangling from its neck, another with the tag on its chest and a third with the tag under its wing. Begs the question how many other young GE’s in other areas have suffered a similar fate?
    We also have at least 1 breeding pair of WTE plus several immatures floating about the Angus Glens again attracted by the excellent food supply/habitat.
    After an absence of 10 years a pair of harriers returned but unfortunately the eggs failed to hatch. Hoping for success in 2018. Historically the Angus Glens have never been a hotspot for harriers with an average season seeing between 2-4 pairs. As I stated above since Alan retired things have improved in the Angus Glens.

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