My ‘Raven cull’ email to SNH

Raven. Photo: Tim Melling

Dear Mr Cantlay

Everyone makes mistakes, but I’m surprised that SNH has made this one. I’m also surprised that it hasn’t corrected it after a week of public outcry over your decision to license a mass cull of Ravens.

SNH’s decision has damaged Scotland’s environmental reputation at a time when the Scottish Government has in many ways, been streets ahead of the Conservative adminstration south of the border.  This mass cull is not good science and it’s not good nature conservation – and it is awful publicity for Scotland.  I see that you were chair of ‘Visit Scotland’ and therefore you must realise that the illegal persecution of wildlife is an issue which prevents many of us from spending more time in Scotland (and spending our money there).  SNH’s decision is irrational, unscientific and quite honestly makes it look as though a statutory agency is in the pockets of the game-shooting industries which do such harm to Scotland’s repuation.

I’ve signed the online petition which has now passed 15,000 UK signatures in just a few days and is approaching 50,000 signatures worldwide.

I would ask you to ensure that SNH reverses this decision. And I’d like a reply to this email please.

And just in case you think that this storm will blow over soon, may I advise you that it most certainly will not.  SNH made a mistake in granting this licence, it then made a further (probably more foolish one) in refusing to react properly to the public outcry, and any further failure to act is just digging a deeper hole in which SNH’s reputation can be buried.

Hardly anyone outside of Scotland had heard of SNH before this decision – now you are well-known for all the wrong reasons.

Dr Mark Avery



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17 Replies to “My ‘Raven cull’ email to SNH”

  1. Being Chair of Visit Scotland is no indicator of a commitment and interest in people visiting Scotland any more than Chair of SNH shows an understanding or commitment to conservation in Scotland!

  2. And who is going to keep track of how many ravens are culled?
    The gamekeepers?? Surely that in itself is a sick joke!

  3. Thank you on behalf of Perthshire ravens. Father was seized with the sight of one alighting on the roof but it turned out to be just another rook, but closer than usual.

    While we're crossing borders, I'm sure you've noticed Simon Jenkins
    paraphrasing your article of three years ago
    Is Mortimer Forest Fineshade v10.0? I have drafted a strongly worded letter to Forestry Commission. I may even post it.

  4. Well said, Mark. The decision to kill Ravens is certainly not based on any scientific evidence. I agree with your suggestion SNH may be in the pocket of grouseshooters.

  5. I believe they have a brand new crack PR team....who dont understand.
    As well as a tartan shop manager for a chair.

  6. I'd like to propose a 5 year "trial" removing gamekeepers and game shoots to see what impact that has on wader populations and biodiversity.

    What's more, this proposal really does have has more evidence of likely effectiveness than the Raven killing SNH has approved.

  7. Balance between species has successfully evolved for millenia. Then along came the human race, money, PR spin, grouse shooting monoculture and feckless govt agencies trained to come to heel.

    1. As ever, well written, to the point, and no excess baggage. My only comment is that the second para - the one with the principal points being made, is perfectly made for, and might be better aimed at the Cabinet Secretary not SNH. It is she who will be most interested in the harm done to the reputation of the Scottish Government's recent progress in this area.

  8. The gamekeepers' newly-discovered concern for waders is similar to their desire to "save our songbirds". Just another ploy to justify to the public the unjustifiable slaughter of corvids.

  9. As someone who has worked on a 7-year research project investigating the claims that Ravens prey upon lambs, I feel utter despair that SNH appears to have been duped by a fake licence application to cull 300 Ravens. The applicants have clearly used wader conservation as a cloak for their hidden agenda, which is an antiquated belief that Ravens kill healthy lambs and even full-grown sheep. SNH has either shown themselves to be extremely naive, or even worse, colluding with Countryside Alliance types.

    1. Do you have a link to this research as I'm sure a lot of us would be very interested to read it. Cheers!


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