Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What hope for Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles and other raptors?

Any sane thinking person who watched the Channel 4 News item this evening about raptor persecution would easily be disgusted that such outmoded opinions, as expressed by Alex Hogg of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, are still being upheld in the 21st Millenium.  It would seem grouse management is necessarily being maintained on the back of persecution if its proponents are calling for the possible culling of  natural raptor populations in order that the industry is maintained and prospers. What universe are these people living in? It seems to me that Alex Hogg is being an unwitting sacrificial lamb propounding the preferences of the landowning/grouse shooting fraternity whilst regularly standing up there making completely unfounded claims on behalf of owners and grouse moor managers.   Stating that  gamekeepers are not responsible for raptor persecution is a nonsense, illogical and  " cringingly" embarrassing given the number of successful prosecutions on the public record. It's hard to think how someone would be so willing to make such an ass of themselves on behalf of owners/employers who are willing to hide behind anonymity and position.

Additionally,  the obvious weak willed response from the Scottish Environment Minister hardly signals a robust stand from the Government. So what remains?

It becomes increasingly obvious to me that we, the electorate and lovers of our natural heritage, need to take concerted action against such utterly selfish and entrenched activity. Forget the commercial bit, although the possibility of grouse moors being designated areas for which management grants might well be provided by Government, is a subject which demands further research and action.

Quite frankly, until many people wake up to the fact and, more importantly, accept  that we are not just confronting raptor persecution per se, but an activity which the Establishment is more than willing to defend on behalf of its own, the quicker we might isolate the problem and reach a solution. Not even the most determined adversaries appear willing to define the problem in such terms and, therefore, it trundles on, gets worse, conservationists gnash their collective dentistry and nothing changes.   There is a need for the likes of the RSPB to come out , accuse the Establishment of deliberately maintaining this sham situation and for a serious call for change to be made, otherwise an all out PR onslaught will be maintained ad infinitum. Is that likely? If not, I suggest there is little hope for our raptors.  Yes, headlines and accusations have been issued before, which we should all support and recognize, but sustained confrontation would be different! Conservation cahones  to the fore one might say.  There's a lot of people who would support such an initiative, including those who have supported the current E-petition. Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers ( click here and sign! ) It has now reached nearly 8900 signatures , but requires another 1100  (  with only a fortnight to go) at which point it will receive a formal Government response. Lets's not miss that opportunity in the face of all of the above.

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