Is this the real life
Is this just fantasy
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see.
Those immortal words, written and sung by Freddie Mercury in 1975, in that tremendous record by Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, represent what I both feel and hope for the future. As a life long Queen fan I knew one of their lyrics would fit in at some point!!! I'm tempted after the final line to insert RAPTORS ( in brackets of course ) but that would be sacrilege!
And what sparks off this unprecedented declaration of my hitherto undeclared passion for Queen's music?
A court case no less !!
First of all you need to read the entry on the Raptor Persecution Scotland website ( Scottish gamekeeper convicted for poisoning Buzzard.) as I'm not going to steal any of their thunder by lifting line by line detail of their entry about the case and various other details. But I feel the need to celebrate in a personal context and ask the question, "Are things finally beginning to improve"?
The gamekeeper involved faced four charges and the case was examined at the Stranraer Sheriffs Court, SW Scotland following an incident in December, 2012. Yes, less than six months ago, which is the major pleasant surprise which emerges first of all. The defendant pleaded guilty ( I hate that word "pled" , it offers too little of an emphasis on the fact somebody is usually trying to avoid the reality of the occasion!! ).
In all, the defendant was fined £4450 which had been reduced due to the guilty plea relating to killing the Buzzard and three charges of possessing poison. Leaving aside all the mish-mash which contributes to such circumstances I think we need to look at the implications, and positive ones at that, which this case provides. It shows that, when all assembled details are available, that cases can be programmed far more quickly than certainly the Scottish judicial system has ably demonstrated in the past. Full marks for those concerned.
Secondly it demonstrates that meaningful penalties can be handed down , that such cases are being taken seriously and that the circumstances are being held up to others willing to "risk their arm" that, if caught, such will be the consequences if evidence is available. Well done that Sheriff!!
But beyond that, we now understand that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association has dismissed the gamekeeper concerned from their ranks and that the Scottish Land and Estates have similarly dismissed the estate concerned from their organization. Now, rather than indulge in petty recriminations, such actions have to be respected. We may all have been disappointed in the prevarication of such organizations in the past but such actions provide a major positive action we can refer to in the future, PRECEDENCE !! The court, the membership organizations ( I'm not going to grace them with "professional" simply due to the circumstances ) have all set in place the template for the future. If similar cases arise with disappointing results , then questions can be asked. Like it or not, such an outcome might eventually provide a platform upon which meaningful discussions can proceed on what constitutes the real perceived problems with raptor populations, what needs to change and what can be achieved.
A single result, but something that, in isolation, might yet represent hope.