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How divisions within SNP affect rural policy decisions, including tackling raptor persecution

A couple of days ago we read the following short conversation on Twitter, which followed the news that Police Scotland are investigating the shooting of a short-eared owl on Leadhills Estate: Dominic Mitchell (@birdingetc): Another day on a Scottish grouse moor, another protected bird of prey shot. When will the authorities take effective action to […]
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Fox-hunting duo convicted on basis of covertly-filmed video evidence

Well this is all very interesting. Today, after a long-running court case, two members of the Jedforest Hunt in the Scottish Borders have been convicted at Jedburgh Sheriff Court of illegal fox hunting (see BBC news article here and League Scotland article here). The prosecution case relied heavily upon covertly-filmed video footage, filmed by investigators […]
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“Fiercest critic” yet to be fierce or critical

Back in January this year we wrote a blog about Conservative MSP Edward Mountain (Highlands & Islands) who had written a guest article for the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s quarterly rag. In that article, Mr Mountain wrote this: ‘I believe that challenging the ‘spectre’ [of land management reform] is vital, if the very countryside we all value and […]
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Parliamentary question re Crown’s decision to drop wildlife crime prosecutions

The issue of the Crown Office’s questionable decisions to drop five wildlife crime prosecutions in recent months is not going away. Mark Ruskell MSP (Scottish Greens) has now lodged the following Parliamentary Question: The answer given by the Lord Advocate to the earlier question to which Mark refers is this: It’s an interesting question from […]
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GWCT back-pedalling on hen harrier cull idea

So, further to our last blog about the GWCT calling for a ‘limited cull’ of hen harriers in response to the news that hen harriers have sunk further in to decline, the GWCT is now saying (on Twitter) that we have deliberately misrepresented their position and that they are NOT calling for a cull of […]
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GWCT responds to hen harrier decline with calls for a ‘limited cull’

This is just astonishing. Following this morning’s news that the UK’s hen harrier population has descended further in to decline, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has published the following response: The GWCT says the results of the national hen harrier survey indicate that balance in moorland conservation and management in the UK is needed more […]
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National hen harrier survey reveals further decline

Press release from RSPB Scotland: Hen harrier numbers have fallen by 9% in Scotland since 2010, according to the latest national survey of these birds, with the total population now estimated to be less than 500 breeding pairs. The fifth national hen harrier survey was carried out in 2016 by the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage […]
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Short-eared owl shot on Leadhills Estate – police appeal for info

Police Scotland are appealing for information after the shooting of a short-eared owl was witnessed on the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate, South Lanarkshire. According to this article in the Carluke Gazette, the shooting was witnessed about 11.45am on 31 May 2017 (ironically, the day Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced a package of new measures to […]
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Game shoot licensing discussed on BBC’s Landward programme today

Today’s edition of the BBC’s Landward programme had a small feature on proposals for the introduction of game shoot licensing, including contributions from Duncan Orr-Ewing (RSPB Scotland) and Lord David Johnstone (Scottish Land & Estates). It is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days (Episode 12, starts at 17 mins – […]
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Further comment on admissibility of video evidence from more law academics

Last week we blogged about a commentary from Professor Peter Duff (Aberdeen University Law School) on the admissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions (see here). As a quick summary, we fundamentally disagreed with Professor Duff’s conclusions that “the courts would not excuse such an irregularity in obtaining the video evidence and prosecutions would […]
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Edradynate Estate gamekeeper in court for alleged crop poisoning

Well this is absolutely fascinating. From the Courier & Advertiser (Perth & Perthshire edition), 22 June 2017: Gamekeeper in court over estate crop poisoning allegation. A senior gamekeeper has appeared at Perth Sheriff Court accused of poisoning crops on a Perthshire estate. David Campbell was working on the Edradynate Estate, near Aberfeldy, when he is said […]
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New osprey translocation project for Poole Harbour, Dorset

PRESS RELEASE: A new and exciting Osprey translocation has been given the go ahead to take place in Poole Harbour this year as a first stage in establishing a south coast breeding population of this spectacular bird. The project is being led by local charity Birds of Poole Harbour, Scottish charity the Roy Dennis Wildlife […]
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More distorted facts from Scottish Moorland Group Director Tim Baynes

We’ve all learned by now how Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group, likes to spin the facts; we only wrote about it last week (see here). Here’s another well-spun article. We missed it when it was published in the Scottish Sporting Gazette (Summer 2016) but someone has kindly sent through. It’s classic […]
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Local volunteers patrolling peregrine nest sites in Forest of Dean

Following a spate of peregrine persecution incidents, the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has teamed up with local residents in the Forest of Dean to launch a protection scheme, including the installation of video cameras at nest sites and regular patrols to report any suspicious behaviour. Full story on the GloucestershireLive website here Very well done, Gloucestershire […]
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Another year, another gas gun deployed on a driven grouse moor

It’ll come as no surprise to anybody that gas guns are still being deployed on driven grouse moors, at a critical time in the hen harrier breeding season. Here is one photographed this week in use on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens (photo from one of our blog readers): We’ve been blogging about the […]
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Scottish Government to review use of stink pits on game shooting estates

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the use of stink pits (middens) on game-shooting estates, following a motion from Christine Grahame MSP. Stink pits are piles of rotting animal carcasses (often including the corpses of wild and domestic animals) that are dumped in a heap and surrounded by snares. The putrefying stench from the corpses attracts […]
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Law professor comments on inadmissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions

As regular blog readers will be aware, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the public prosecutors in Scotland, have, in the space of two months, either dropped or refused to prosecute five cases of alleged wildlife crime. These include: 25 March 2017 – gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough (Dalreoch Estates), accused of the alleged […]
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MSPs to debate use of stink pits on game shooting estates

Tomorrow (Thursday 15 June 2017) Christine Grahame MSP (SNP) will lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the use of stink pits on game shooting estates. Stink pits (also known as middens) are piles of dead, rotting carcasses, surrounded by snares, that are used by gamekeepers to lure in predators that can then be […]
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Technology challenge launched to solve problem of finding hidden or destroyed satellite tags

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has joined forces with Scottish Natural Heritage to co-sponsor a new CivTech challenge aimed at finding a creative and innovative technology-based solution to the problem of finding ‘disappearing’ satellite tagged raptors. As you’ll be aware, satellite-tagged raptors are ‘disappearing’ in Scotland and England with increasing frequency. There was a time, […]
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Heads Up for Harriers: Tim Baynes claims illegal persecution an “historical controversy”

Another week and another duplicitous article from Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of SLE’s Scottish Moorland Group. This guy seems to live in a perpetual state of denial when it comes to the illegal persecution of raptors on driven grouse moors. This time he’s penned an article for the latest edition of Shooting Times about the […]
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Shot buzzard successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild

Last month we blogged about this adult female buzzard that had been found ‘down, shocked and injured’ in Norton, North Yorkshire. She has severe lacerations to her head and feet, believed to have been caused by trying to escape from a cage trap. An x-ray also revealed a shotgun pellet lodged on her right leg/foot. (Photos […]
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3 orphaned peregrine chicks now fostered; one to become a Springwatch star

Over the weekend we blogged about the suspected poisoning of two adult peregrines at a quarry nest site in Clee Hill, Shropshire, leaving three vulnerable chicks in need of rescue (see here). Thanks to the efforts of a team of experts from various organisations, the three rescued chicks have now been fostered into two wild […]
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New petition calling for study on economic impact of driven grouse shooting

A new public petition has been launched by Les Wallace asking the Scottish Parliament to ‘urge the Scottish Government to sponsor a comprehensive and independent study into the full economic impacts of driven grouse shooting’. The petition can be read here. It seems that Les was way ahead of the game because as his petition […]
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Police lead multi-agency wildlife crime search on game shooting estate in Borders

Statement issued this evening by Lothian & Borders Police: As part of ongoing efforts to tackle wildlife crime, police in the Scottish Borders led an operation in the Longformacus area on Monday 5 June supported by our partners in the Scottish SPCA, RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and other experts. Land and property were searched […]
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3 million blog views

Today we reached another milestone – three million blog views – and funnily enough this comes exactly a year to the day when we reached two million. Many thanks to everyone who supports this blog, whether by reading, commenting, contributing or sharing. Here’s a reminder of why we do it. This image is of a […]
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Crown Office drops 5th case of alleged wildlife crime

Public prosecutors from Scotland’s Crown Office have dropped yet another case of alleged wildlife crime. According to an article in the Sunday Post (see here), gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough, 32, had been charged after he was allegedly caught with illegal gin traps covered in animal blood, with dead fox cubs found nearby, in May 2016. […]
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Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s response to eagle satellite tag review

We’re slowly making our way through the recently published Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review. What an incredible piece of research! It goes far deeper than answering the simple question, ‘Is there a pattern of suspicious activity surrounding the ‘disappearance’ of many satellite tagged golden eagles?‘ (Answer: an unequivocal YES). The authors, Dr Phil Whitfield & […]
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Pair of breeding peregrines suspected poisoned, 3 chicks rescued

A pair of breeding peregrines has been found dead at a quarry in Clee Hill, Shropshire, leaving three vulnerable chicks in the nest. Thanks to the swift actions of the Shropshire Peregrine Group, the RSPB and others, the three chicks have been rescued and are currently receiving expert care from the amazing Jean Thorpe. It […]
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Job opportunity: Project Manager, RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project

The RSPB is recruiting for a new Project Manager to run its Hen Harrier LIFE Project for the final two years of its duration. Details of the role and how to apply can be found here Closing date for applications is 26 June 2017. Whoever gets this job will have some pretty big shoes to […]
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Hen harrier brood meddling – a quick update (of sorts)

As a brief interlude from what’s going on in Scotland, we thought we’d turn our attention back to England and the Government’s bonkers Hen Harrier brood meddling scheme…. As you know, in January 2016, DEFRA published its Hen Harrier (In)Action Plan (see here). There are six ‘action’ points, including #6, a brood management (meddling) trial, where […]
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