Tag: scotland

OneKind | Fox hunting foot packs & wildlife crime on Scotland’s public land

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) submitted by Edinburgh-based wildlife charity OneKind has revealed that Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) has continued to allow fox hunting foot packs access on its land since a previous exposé in Spring 2020 (mirroring the situation in England where Forestry England had allowed so-called ‘trail hunting’ to take place despite information that hunts were breaking the law). The FOI also reveals that FLS have been unable to stop ongoing wildlife crime which has been taking place on Scotland’s public lands since 2016, and which FLS suspect to be committed by gamekeepers. External reports of ‘out of control’ hounds in the FOI also highlight just how weak Scotland’s fox hunting legislation is and why reform is urgently needed.

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Update | Poisoned Golden Eagle

Police Scotland have issued a statement about the Golden Eagle found poisoned near the notorious Invercauld Estate in March. This is the same estate that likes to talks about the amazing conservation work that it does (while misleadingly quoting figures about the huge numbers of endangered birds that breed there), but of which the RSPB’s Ian Thomson more accurately says in the quotation below, “Raptor persecution crimes on grouse moors in this area happen regularly. In 2019, a young eagle was photographed caught in a trap less than two miles from here, and in 2016, a line of illegal traps targeting birds of prey was found set across the hill less than three miles away.” Note in the statement below the very clear and unequivocal line: the bird had been illegally and intentionally poisoned. Grouse estates talk absolute bollocks about encouraging raptors and having zero tolerance for wildlife crime. For decades they have routinely targeted and illegally killed birds of prey because they threaten the profits they make selling farmed Red Grouse to shooters who have neither the integrity to question why there are so few raptors on grouse estates nor the self-awareness to wonder what will happen to their own reputations when the whole shitshow collapses and they are shown to have propped it up for so long.

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Operation Wingspan | Raptor Persecution

Back in December last year we wrote about the launching of Operation Wingspan, an initiative to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland based on the seven wildlife crime priorities set out by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. A few months on and Operation Wingspan has produced a new video aiming to help tackle raptor persecution in Scotland. Anyone already interested in the awful rates of persecution of birds of prey on Scotland’s grouse moors will probably not find anything new in this video, but then it almost certainly isn’t aimed at those in the know. This video, it seems to us, is meant to bring raptor persecution to a new audience, because as has been said at umpteen Hen Harrier Days, raptor conferences, and campaign marches the general public (depressingly given the coverage) aren’t even entirely sure what a ‘raptor’ is, let alone the fact that gamekeepers are under orders to eradicate them from the uplands and from woodlands all over the UK.

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Operation Wingspan | A year-long wildlife campaign

In October this year a twelve-month campaign was launched to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland, based on the seven wildlife crime priorities set out by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. All are extremely damaging to wildlife. In 2016 the UN estimated that the annual value of illegal wildlife trade was as high as $23billion, putting it behind only the drugs trade and human trafficking. Badger persecution – including baiting, illegal development, and sett blocking/destruction – is magnifying the already disastrous impact of the government sanctioned slaughter of badgers on behalf of the dairy trade. All the UK’s bat species are protected by law but developers are still destroying roosts and nurseries. Freshwater Pearl Mussels may seem like a more obscure concern, but this once common mollusc is listed by the IUCN as Endangered and the only viable population left in England is in Cumbria: there are more viable populations in Scotland but these are also under threat of decline. Hare coursing is an enormous problem for a species that is already suffering from huge declines because of agricultural intensification. Raptor persecution is – as anyone reading this site will know all too well – a massive problem on shooting estates, where protected birds including Hen Harriers are routinely eradicated to protect shooting profits. Cyber-enabled wildlife crime, an ‘umbrella’ term for crimes which either take place online or where technology is a means and/or target for the attack, is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities across the world.

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Renfrewshire Council chiefs urged to reaffirm opposition to fox hunting

The fall out from the leaked Hunting Office webinars has crossed the border into Scotland, with a report in today’s Daily Record quoting Renfrewshire Council’s elected member Audrey Doig asking the local authority to “reaffirm its position that no fox hunting activities will be allowed to occur on any land or property owned or managed by Renfrewshire Council”. Fox hunting is of course illegal in Scotland. It was banned under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, but as the campaigning charity One Kind points out, “Before the ban in 2002 there were ten operational mounted fox hunts in Scotland. There are still ten today. According to the hunts themselves, they kill about 800 foxes every year.” One of those hunts is the notorious Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Foxhounds. The Glasgow Hunt Sabs regularly report the illegal activities of this hunt on their Facebook page. This includes a savage attack in October this year on a lone hunt monitor by hunt followers (covered in the Daily Record under the headline “Disabled man viciously battered by vile blood sport thugs after he protests at Scots fox hunt”).

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Scotland | Licencing sends Grouse industry into meltdown

After ignoring every warning they’ve ever been given that unless things change Scotland’s government was going to be forced into doing something about grouse moors, the industry is shaking its collective head in faux-shock and faux-indignation that Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon has decided that self-regulation hasn’t worked (“self-regulation alone will not be enough to end the illegal killing of raptors”) and has stated in parliament that, “I believe that the Government needs to act…and begin developing a licensing scheme now”. Ms Gougeon also said that the Scottish government planned to regulate the use of medicated grit (trays of the stuff litter grouse moors), and to license muirburn, the controversial practice of burning old heather to promote younger growth for grouse to feed on. This fetid industry should have been gone long ago. It doesn’t deserve the opportunity to survive that licencing gives them, but it’s so unlikely that shooting can stop behaving like a delinquent it will end up closing itself down within a few years anyway…

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Herald Scotland Poll | Grouse shooting in Scotland: Are you for or against?

The grouse shooting industry has been fighting a rearguard battle lately, attempting to sell its message of ‘Game is Good’ amidst a tidal wave of reports of raptor persecution, the widespread use of traps and snares, Mountain Hare culls, and burning moorland. Adding to their woes is an increasing backlash against killing hundreds of thousands of wild birds for ‘fun’ and arising awareness of animal sentience. It’ll be interesting then to see how the industry responds to a poll by The Herald (a Scottish broadsheet which is the longest running national newspaper in the world and the eighth oldest daily paper in the world) which has closed after asking its readers ‘Are you For or Against Grouse Shooting’ .

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Interview: Meeting Mr Carbo

“A cartoon has to have an immediate impact,” says David Mitchell (aka Mr Carbo, which is of course derived from the keeper’s favourite – and illegal – raptor poison Carbofuran). We’re talking over Skype for a possible Hen Harrier Day article, and I’ve asked him how he thinks his cartoons might differ from something like the written blog posts they’re often published with. “It’s concise.There’s no pussyfooting about. I go for the jugular. Mr Carbo and the cartoons came about as a visual method of countering the crap from the pro shooting lobby. It’s my way of sticking two fingers up and saying this is how bloody stupid you people are.”

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