Channel 4 News report on the illegal persecution of raptors on Scottish grouse moors

Thanks to Raptor Persecution Scotland for the article below:

For those who missed it, the Channel 4 News report on the illegal persecution of raptors on Scottish grouse moors can be watched here for a few days.

First of all, we need to be celebrating that raptor persecution has been featured on a national mainstream TV news channel. What a long way this subject has come. The awareness-raising power of a news report like this should not be underestimated. Since the programme aired four hours ago, we’ve already been contacted by three journalists whose interest has been piqued. Well done Channel 4 News.

There were excellent interviews with Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland, who referred to “an absolute catalogue of illegal killing” over the last few years in the Angus Glens (e.g. see here), and Logan Steele of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, someone who has decades of first-hand experience recording the deaths of illegally-killed raptors in this area and beyond.

But perhaps the best interview was that with Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association Chairman, Alex Hogg. We couldn’t have wished for a better performance. Telling lies on national telly is never a good strategy. Especially when you deny that gamekeepers are involved with the poisoning, shooting and trapping of raptors, knowing full well that there is a public record of gamekeepers who have been convicted for doing just that, as well as committing other wildlife crimes. Here is a quick list of 14 convicted gamekeepers just covering the last two years (full details of each case can be found elsewhere on this blog) –

Jan 2012: Gamekeeper David Whitefield convicted of poisoning 4 buzzards.

Jan 2012: Gamekeeper Cyril McLachlan convicted of possessing a banned poison.

April 2012: Gamekeeper Robert Christie convicted of illegal use of a trap.

June 2012: Gamekeeper Jonathan Smith Graham convicted of illegal use of a trap.

Sept 2012: Gamekeeper Tom McKellar convicted of possessing a banned poison.

Nov 2012: Gamekeeper Bill Scobie convicted of possessing and using a banned poison.

Jan 2013: Gamekeeper Robert Hebblewhite convicted of poisoning buzzards.

Feb 2013: Gamekeeper Shaun Allanson convicted of illegal use of a trap.

Feb 2013: Gamekeeper (un-named) cautioned for illegal use of a trap.

May 2013: Gamekeeper Brian Petrie convicted for trapping offences.

June 2013: Gamekeeper Peter Bell convicted for poisoning a buzzard.

July 2013: Gamekeeper Colin Burne convicted for trapping then battering to death 2 buzzards.

Sept 2013: Gamekeeper Andrew Knights convicted for storing banned poisons.

Dec 2013: Gamekeeper Wayne Priday convicted for setting an illegal trap.

There are a further six cases either currently under way or due to start, all involving gamekeepers and all accused of alleged persecution including the poisoning, shooting, trapping and battering to death of birds of prey.

After lying about the involvement of gamekeepers in raptor persecution crimes, Hogg then went on to say that gamekeepers want a system in place whereby “if the populations [of
raptors] are too high all over the United Kingdom” then a decision needs to be taken as to whether the species needs to be culled on grouse moors. But, “We don’t want to cull them; we’d rather the government done it”.

If anyone can explain to us (a) what is a “too high” population? and (b) why a species’ national population size should have any bearing on a proposed cull of that species on a particular grouse moor, please do enlighten us.

The final interview was a very short one with the Environment Minister, who was asked why he won’t “just fully regulate the [game-shooting] industry like other countries”?

His answer: “We want to avoid putting in place something that might be seen as a draconian response, or too restrictive a response. We’re not saying we wouldn’t do this, eventually…”

In other words, giving current measures ‘time’ to take effect (without actually defining the time scale) is just an excuse to do nothing and appease the mighty landowners.

North West Hunt Saboteurs Association

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