The decision of SNH to issue a licence for a mass cull of  Ravens in Perthshire is absolutely stunning in its stupidity – see here.

The next thing they’ll suggest is taking away Ravens from their nests, raising them in captivity and then letting them go again a few weeks later – see here. It seems as if our statutory nature conservation agencies are having a competition to judge who can do suck up to shooting interests the most and who can turn their backs on nature conservation the most.  I’m not sure whether SNH has edged ahead with this plan.

Please sign this petition to register your disapproval and email the Chair of SNH, Dr Mike Cantlay, to make your points too chair@snh.gov.uk .




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13 Replies to “Ravens”

  1. The pair of tree nesting ravens I discovered on Saturday, a rarity in Bowland of course resulting from the usual reason, had been feeding all of their five healthy chicks on meat from a dead sheep I found within a hundred yards from the nest. Never seen a Raven killing or even trying to kill a wader in all my years watching this intelligent bird. What this new strategy proves once more, the people tasked with protecting our nature seem more concerned with pandering to the shooting industry rather than doing the job they are paid to do by the taxpayer.

  2. Thank you very much Mark for highlighting this unbelievable decision by SNH. Wendy

    1. RSPB Scotland do seem to be well led, a force to be reckoned with and they get their message over to the Scottish public and parliament.

      In contrast RSPB is pretty much the opposite in terms of achieving anything positive for raptors on English driven grouse moors; a great organisation at reserve level and I admire very much the work of their investigations team but, the top management doesn’t seem willing or able to get itself in a position to inform and influence the general public on these matters.

      I suspect it is only when there is a extremely strong, informed expression of public disapproval and anger against the whole concept of driven grouse shooting, that we will see a change for the better.

  3. From Raptor Persecution UK – on the Mass Raven Cull

    April 22, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    “Has anyone been prosecuted? If someone was prosecuted then there would indeed be cross compliance implications. If it is the fact that birds of prey have gone missing but there is no evidence then wildlife crime is not proven. I have no doubt that you would like the blame to lie at the feet of the keepering and farming community but if the evidence is insufficient to convict then I am not prepared to assume that this is the case.”

    Here you have the very proof of the argument that licensing grouse moors on the sole basis of successful criminal prosecutions – as stated by the RSPB Scotland – will not work.

    The ‘keepering and farming community’ have little to fear from the imposition of such a licence.

    They only fear is what might work: grouse moors being licensed by the evidence of their biodiversity, their water management and their accessibility for regular surveys.

    Scottish Natural Heritage is a corrupt body. The RSPB cannot see the wood for the trees, regarding licensing. I think the public are ahead of both of them.

    Petition signed. Sour comments made.

  4. Apologies for the play on words but isn’t there something written somewhere about the state falling when the raven is lost …. maybe this act is an indication of a turning point reached by the public astounded at what the state has come to in its selective treatment of wildlife?

    Will the various forms of correspondence stand scrutiny? Will their science stack up in court?

  5. The whole idea of culling anything on the off chance that it will improve the situation for something else, is such a bad idea and at the very best is poor schoolboy/girl science. Surely step one is to investigate the wader population more fully to see where the problem lies and shine a light on what needs to be done ( I personally doubt very much that the answer is cull ravens!)
    It seems that SNH are pandering to the prejudices of the grouse lobby, in an area which is a raptor persecution black spot and they have the bloody nerve to talk about the development of trust FFS! What about trusting RSPB, SRSG and local conservationists who all seem to be quite rightly vehemently opposed to this very idea.
    This stinks very badly of giving grouse moor operators what they want killing corvids, its bloody scandalous should be stopped and brings SNH down to the level of NE and brood meddling possibly worse.
    Currently I see Ravens everyday in a field full of sheep and young lambs, ( this is Wales so there are no waders!) they feeding entirely on a dead sheep. They are quite simply great birds to see and hear.
    All I would say to SNH is get out of the gutter, kill this licence and do some proper work that we pay you for to elucidate this apparent problem for waders!

  6. Thanks for highlighting this, although very disappointing to read.

    I am curious to know what evidence SNH based the decision on. Reading the above made me remember the following study:

    Journal of Applied Ecology 2010, 47, 253–262, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01772.x, Amar et al.

    “Spatial and temporal associations between recovering populations of common raven Corvus corax and British upland wader populations”

    The study compared the abundance of breeding upland waders (Golden Plover, Lapwing, curlew, Dunlin, snipe) with the abundance of ravens over time. The authors found no significant statistical negative correlation with waders and the presence of ravens in time and space. Basically, upland wader breeding numbers where not depressed in areas where ravens populations had risen. The authors did report a weak negative correlation in lapwing/curlew numbers in areas where ravens did increase during the study.

    As correlation and causation is not the same thing the authors suggested the raven-lapwing-curlew relationship deserved further detailed study before any conclusions could be made on it. So many other variables could come into play here, i.e. habitat, grazing …. In fact the study also found numbers of Dunlin to have increased when ravens increased.

    So what information did SNH actually draw on to think that culling ravens is a solution to raising wader numbers?

    1. The SGA are saying the “Understanding Predation” report which, as I understand it, was a social science report comparing the perceptions of scientists with “those who work on the land”. It includes the illuminating insight* that Ravens move “like locusts in large flocks”. Who knew that Ravens roamed the moors in their millions.


      1. Yes I’ve read that so called report – utter bilge. If observations in the field are valid then field research will compliment them, this happened with the original observations in Ireland that when pine martens returned so did red squirrels, Irish game keepers were among the first to suggest that. Also in Pontbren where a fantastic bunch of sheep farmers took the initiative and did some intelligent tree planting. Against all expectations rows of living trees diverted large amounts of water flowing over fields down into the soil, it had been thought live root systems wouldn’t do this. Subsequent experiments showed that trees could increase the water infiltration rate up to 67 fold with exciting potential for flood alleviation. This is what happens when people REALLY see things, it gets backed up and quantified by science. The SGA seems to think, or at least push the stereotype, that scientists wear white coats, with a test tube in one hand and a keyboard under the other and sit in a lab all day. They are absolutely right that being in the field trumps theory which is why we should have far more time for proper researchers spending hundreds and hundreds of hours studying what happens there compared to keepers, who quite frankly on the whole don’t exactly fill you with confidence re their objectivity or ability to function in a competent fashion mentally. Unfortunately when a keeper says they’ve seen ‘ravens hoovering up wader chicks’ you are in no position to say they didn’t because you weren’t there and they know this. They could just as well claim to have been abducted by aliens and I’m not sure I’d find that any more ridiculous than what they usually say, but their demonizing wildlife can work unfortunately and in this case some at SNH must be hoping they have done so for ravens.

        1. Thanks as I didn’t know about this.

          I have downloaded a report called “UNDERSTANDING PREDATION – A review bringing together natural science and local knowledge of recent wild bird population changes and their drivers in Scotland Summary Report for Printing This version does not contain links to the Supplementary Material”

          from the link https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299389845

          I will take a look at this. I have noticed there appears to be a large gulf between both your comments above and page 5 of the report introduction.

          I am not being facetious but it reminded me a bit of when David Cameron was PM and said we need to have a ‘big conversation’ about seagulls.

  7. In my (humble ish) opinion and to my understanding, Dr Mike Cantlay is, a businessman. His aim and purpose (possibly sole or in life) is to be a board member, investor, panel member, trustee, associate, chairman etc etc, of as many public sector organisations as possible with as many of his fingers in multiple pies as is possible – Maybe even Carrion … ‘Carrion Cantlay’ … (Sorry. Just imagining his restaurant venture).
    Mike Cantlay, along with his Scottish tourist board fans and other high-up folk, believes that he is the man who can, and will, sell Scotland to the rest of the world for Scotland, so they don’t have to. Bringing in more money, to where there’s already more money (Shooting, field ‘sports’ etc) with sustainability (a massively misleading, misused and overrated term) at the fore of his plans and main purpose (possibly, in life).
    But is his appointment to SNH really for the publics and the environment’s best interest, or is it just a vested interest.
    I suspect the latter.

    Sing a song of Scotland
    A pocketful of lies.
    Four and twenty Ravens baked in Cantlay’s Pies.
    When the pies are opened the birds they’ll kronk no more.
    Email him “Stop this cull! …”
    Ravens need fighting for.

    (Though my email starts “Frankly Mr Cantlay … ” ).

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