As an essential prerequisite to reading through the following entry I'd urge everyone to read the piece on Raptor Persecution Scotland's website ( "27 eagles, 7 years, 0 prosecutions" ), which you can reach through this link Golden Eagle persecution..
This is truly shocking, but the reaction by RPS comes from the assertion by Scottish Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, that, since 2007, things have improved and progress has been made on the issue. Well, I'm simply prompted to turn that on its head and read into it that it's a confirmation that things were particularly bad before that date!! On the plus side it has to be said that the Minister has put in train this week a number of initiatives that, if fully implemented and sustained, have some capacity to bring about improvement. Doubtless any response I receive to the E-mail I sent him on 11 June will dwell on these new changes and time will tell as to their actual worth. It would be churlish to condemn them out of hand, but for real progress to be achieved the Minister will have to direct resources towards ensuring their uptake and adoption. This is the aspect that so very often then shows the weakness within the system! Fine words uttered, but anticipated benefits never arise despite the rhetoric and doubtless sincere intentions. This is where the focus of effort should be, i.e. on the follow through.
Now if you think I'm labouring this point may I ask you to look at the RPS site again and to read the entry relating to the questions that have been put to the above Minister following his announcement this week. The questions more than ably demonstrate that various things have been promised in the past amidst the usual razzmatazz of press releases and launches, but have so often resulted in, well, nothing!!! Let's see what happens this time.
In passing I think it's also relevant to mention the Vicarious Liability issue. Despite its adoption ( in Scotland) being much applauded no case has yet to be applied in court. There is the possibility a recent case might result in such action being taken, but, again, time will tell. I'm more than concerned about the situation in England where the DeFRA Minister, Richard Benyon, previously fielded a call for its adoption by saying in his response that the progress of matters in Scotland on the issue would be closely monitored. In other words, loose ball hit into the long grass. It may well be that the results of the recent review completed by the Law Commission on wildlife regulations in England and Wales might just contain a recommendation that the Vicarious Liability clause be enshrined in legislation. Well, yes it might, but I think we can guess what the response of the most Ungreen Government in living memory will be and, sadly, I suspect that's where the issue will remain, conveniently consigned to the long grass. Calls for its adoption by the RSPB and others, however sincerely framed, will not persuade a Tory-dominated legislative to pursue an issue that essentially puts " its own" at risk. Doubtless Uncle Hubert's response would be that the very thought that one might be held equally at fault by the persecution actions on birds of prey by one's staff don't bear thinking about. Such will be the clarion call and one that will be heeded to in my opinion. So let's not be naive, other means of achieving better influence need to be explored!!
I'm duty bound to draw attention to the E-petition aimed at promoting regulation as the answer and ask anyone who has not yet signed to do so, please!! Simply follow this link Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers.
And as a somewhat mischievous sign off, I have to let you know that I discovered last evening that there is an E-petition suggesting the current Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson, should be removed from office due to his incompetence. Should you sign it as well? You may say so, I couldn't possibly comment!!!