RSPB press release – Werritty report

Independent Grouse Moor Review does not go far or fast enough to tackle raptor crimes  

‘Werritty’ Review Group publishes findings

RSPB Scotland has given a cautious welcome to the publication today of the long-anticipated report by the Scottish Government’s Independent Grouse Moor Review Group, chaired by Professor Alan Werritty.

We support the recommendations relating to regulation of muirburn and better safeguards for mountain hare populations, however regret that panel behind the report has not been bold enough to recommend the immediate licensing of driven grouse moors.

Previously Scottish Government Ministers have publicly stated that driven grouse moor owners are ‘in the last chance saloon’, and we now expect these commitments to be honoured. 

Given the overwhelming evidence of serious organised crimes perpetrated against our birds of prey, as well as the harm caused to upland habitats and species by grouse moor management practices, we will be asking the Cabinet Secretary to consider the ‘wider societal views’ mentioned by Professor Werritty and make the necessary ‘step change’ to grouse moor licensing, conditional on legal and sustainable practices, and to ensure that this is done as soon as possible. A licensing framework would in our view set a new direction for the legal and sustainable management for large areas of our upland landscapes, as well as providing a meaningful deterrent to wildlife crime.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said:

We commend Professor Werritty and his panel for pulling together such a significant volume of scientific evidence and stakeholder testimony which we will consider in detail. However, we are concerned that more urgency is now needed to address the criminality and poor land management practices on Scottish grouse moors that have been highlighted for decades. 

It is very important to remember that the background to this review was the overwhelming evidence base of the link between serious organised wildlife crime and grouse moor management; the ever-intensifying management of this land to produce excessive grouse bags leading to the killing of protected wildlife; as well as public concerns about huge culls of mountain hares; and burning of heather on deep peatland soils. Addressing these issues is now even more essential to combat both the climate emergency and nature crisis, which were confirmed as priorities by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this year.

Duncan added:

The illegal killing of Scotland’s birds of prey simply has to stop. Those perpetrating these criminal acts have shown no willingness over decades to change their criminal behaviours. Letting this issue languish for another half decade will not help, and we fully expect more prevarication. Even whilst this review has been underway serious and well-publicised wildlife crimes have continued unabated, and delay fails to acknowledge the most urgent circumstances which led to its commission. The Scottish public have had enough. It is now vital that the next steps by Scottish Government are sufficient to bring closure to these appalling incidents, which blight Scotland’s international reputation.


Mark writes: I’ll be reading the report, and blogging about it tomorrow morning after a bit of thought…


4 Replies to “RSPB press release – Werritty report”

  1. Just over two years ago now the petitions committee at Holyrood sat and discussed my one asking for a full and independent study to determine the true economic value of DGS. As there was going to be a forthcoming review (the Werrity) of all aspects of DGS it was felt it would cover the issue raised by my petition so it was taken no further. I’ve just skimmed over the review and lo and behold it states that it can’t make many statements on the economic value of DGS because of the absence of raw data!!! So a separate, independent and comprehensive economic study is still needed, but was sidelined because of ……the Werrity Review. Mind you it still has the clichéd remarks about DGS making a valuable economic contribution to remote communities. I too will read this in greater detail when I get the chance, but I’m bracing myself for major disappointment.

  2. This sentence from the Chair’s preface speaks volumes:
    “Our remit invited us to make recommendations to reduce the illegal killing of raptors, but at the same time to give due regard to the socio-economic contribution that grouse shooting makes to Scotland’s rural economy.”

  3. What socio economic contributions? Paying minimum wage to a few locals to go beating doesn’t sound like much to me. Neither the pittance gamekeepers are paid.
    Oh, you mean all the shed loads of cash the landowner gets from shooting and the tax payer!

    1. The estates will continue to slaughter mountain hares legally and raptors illegally as long as they can spin the lie that families will have to leave their homes and villages will die if DGS ends. I was shocked at the number of people in FoE Scotland who hate the ‘sporting’estates, but refused to take action because they honestly believe if they end so will rural communities which they baulk at even more than poisoned eagles. Take away the ludicrous jobs blackmail and instead prove they are as bad for proper jobs as they are for birds of prey then the grouse moors will be finished, utterly. We need to get this point out into the public sphere.

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