Hare-brained

“The Scottish Gamekeepers Association even warn that: ‘… The over-grazing damage was caused solely by mountain hares.'” https://www.onekind.scot/killing-mountain-hares-is-not-conservation/

The lack of native vegetation can in no way be attributed to (a) plagues of red grouse or (b) regular torching with accelerants.

Calluna Calling

“‘Calluna’, a female harrier, was tagged this summer at a nest on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge estate, near Braemar. We were monitoring her transmitter’s data which showed that she fledged from the nest in July. She left the area in early August, and gradually headed east over the Deeside moors. However, while the tag data showed it to be working perfectly, transmissions abruptly ended on 12th August, with no further data transmitted. Calluna’s last recorded position was on a grouse moor a few miles north of Ballater, in the Cairngorms National Park.” http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/skydancer/b/skydancer/archive/2017/09/01/calluna-has-disappeared.aspx

Representatives of the shooting lobby have already stated the ridiculous. My work is done.

Response of Scottish Land & Estates – “Estates in the area have welcomed a number of hen harriers to the area during August and only today one moor reported three harriers. Local land managers reject the inference that the loss of signal from this tag is connected to grouse moor management and are now offering every assistance in searching the area where the last transmission was recorded.“

Response of Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association – “The SGA would urge anyone who saw the bird or knows anything about it to contact Police Scotland. This is the first we have heard of this. Obviously any news like this is very disappointing. The SGA condemns raptor persecution and if any of our members are convicted of a wildlife crime they are removed from our organisation. We have learned from those monitoring tags that birds can move some distance away from where they were last recorded so it is important that, if people know anything, they alert the Police immediately.”

Response of Scottish Association for Country Sports – “We would remind the RSPB that tag technology can fail for a number of reasons, and that raptors are susceptible to natural causes of death as well as to illegal persecution.“

From https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/satellite-tagged-hen-harrier-disappears-on-grouse-moor-in-cairngorms-national-park/

Bullshot

“Waitrose and Whitbread have … asked us to remove their logos from the positive list we have been circulating. … very unusual for a company which appears on one of our ‘positive buy lists’ to ask for its name to be removed. … It speaks volumes for the power and resources of the shooting lobby which, ironically, accuses Ethical Consumer and Chris Packham of ‘Corporate Bullying’ in its press release.” http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/latestnews/entryid/2180/corporate-days-shooting-campaign.aspx

Watch out for rebrands as Waitgrouse and Shotlead.

Saturday 12th August is the start of the 121-day-long grouse shooting season. Ethical Consumer is asking consumers to buy from the good and avoid the bad during this year’s shooting season.

Ethical Consumer grouse shooting infographic
http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalcampaigns/turnyourbackongrouse.aspx

Another ethical source: Ethical Superstore – 20% off all grocery until 16 August plus get £3 off your order when you spend £50 until 31 August – promo code: X3PBM

Fearthers

“Sporting estates that do not have raptor persecution as part of their business model should have nothing to fear from a licencing regime designed to enforce existing law.” https://greens.scot/news/ruskell-welcomes-steps-towards-a-licensing-scheme-for-game-bird-hunting

If the campaign needs a theme tune, how about classic Blue Öyster Cult from 1976: Don’t Fear the Raptor.

Persuasive argunment

“Apart from the Woodland Trust, which appears to be gaining some access to Defra ministers, the UK conservation movement is remarkably absent from these meetings, while the fieldsports lobby has done very well.” https://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/time-to-rename-defra-the-ministry-of-agriculture-and-fieldsports/

The shooting industry has UK government over a barrel.

Stuff the Birds

“When the ground is wet and the heather dry, gamekeepers conduct managed burns to stop the heather getting too high … because if it does, dangerous wildfires take place which destroy ecosystems and also set fire to the peat beneath, which can then burn for years.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/31/grouse-moors-subsidised-taxpayers-shooting-moorland)

Grouse shooters can’t see the moors for the blaze.

“The heather thrives on wet conditions, so gamekeepers put a lot of effort into keeping the soil damp.”

This is necessary because all the rain has run off and flooded any settlements downstream. Thankfully climate change is bringing welcome warmer, wetter conditions.

“Taxidermists to taxi drivers and chimney sweeps to rural internet specialists … have been telling MPs how their livelihoods would be at risk if opponents of shooting had their way.”

Curious satellite-tag signals continue to emit from stuffed birds of prey in glass domes.

Game Gems

Supporting driven grouse shooting at the parliamentary debate on 31 October:

“If you cease burning, you get long, degenerate, rank heather, which is unsightly”
Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con) https://goo.gl/NKirCJ

“The main perpetrator of the petition”
Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con) https://goo.gl/odPPWC

“There were blackcock, golden plover, woodcock, snipe, jack snipe, greylag geese, teal, widgeon, mallard, gadwall, pintail and even, right outt in the middle of the moor, miles from anywhere, a wild chicken. I am not sure whether there are wild chicken, but there was a chicken that was probably not born and brought up there.”
Simon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) (Con) https://goo.gl/hVq3Wj

The Keeping Game

“The Mossdale estate in the Yorkshire Dales, owned by the Van Cutsem family, obtained £54,000 in [EU common agricultural policy (CAP)] subsides in 2014 and £170,000 in 2015. In June, the estate resigned from the Moorland Association after a keeper was filmed setting illegal pole traps.” (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/28/grouse-shooting-estates-shored-up-by-millions-in-subsidies)

Resigning from that interest group is simply a saving of £75.00 pa; how about our money back?

The parliamentary debate on driven grouse shooting is Monday 31 October 2016, 4.30pm, Westminster Hall.

Hounded

“PR disasters for the UK’s shooting industry dog the opening of the pheasant season …
A catalogue of incidents, including the government-sanctioned killing of buzzards to ‘protect’ pheasants so they can be shot later and the RSPB’s recent withdrawal of its support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan (because of continued persecution of these protected birds of prey on grouse moors), are shining a spotlight into the murky secrets of the commercial shooting industry.” (http://www.league.org.uk/news-and-opinion/press-releases/2016/sept/kill-a-buzzard-save-a-pheasant-then-kill-the-pheasant)

The UK’s shooting industry dog has had its day.

Eagle Eight

“These eight birds have all disappeared in an area where driven grouse moor management dominates the landscape, and where there have been many previous cases of illegal killing of protected raptors, including the poisoning of a golden eagle and a white-tailed eagle as recently as 2010.
Given the reliability of the transmitters, the chance of so many birds disappearing over such a short timescale without some kind of human interference is so small as to be negligible. The pattern we see here is consistent with the birds having been killed and the transmitters destroyed.” (http://www.rspb.org.uk/media/releases/423406-satellite-tagged-golden-eagles-disappearing-in-the-monadhliath-mountains)

“I have instructed officials to analyse the evidence from around 90 surviving and missing satellite-tagged eagles, to discover if there is a pattern of suspicious activity. … The public rightly expects all businesses in Scotland to obey the law. Let me be clear: grouse shooting is no exception.” (http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Eagle-disappearance-review-2881.aspx)

Let’s not leap to any conclusions: this could be the work of extreme conservationists, systematically bumping off birds of prey in the vicinity of grouse moors over decades in a bid to undermine the inglorious twelfth. Or alien abductions. Or spontaneous combustion.

If you’re cynical of the grouse shooting industry’s hand-wringing over these unfortunate but unconnected crimes, please consider signing and sharing the petition to ban driven grouse shooting in the UK and the petition to license gamebird shooting in Scotland – or read more about the case at Missing Hen Harriers: time for zero tolerance.