Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts And Other Busyness

The Glorious 12th. Photo: Andrew Testa.
The Glorious 12th. Photo: Andrew Testa.

Scapegoating Birds With Bullets

Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 6.

The Department of Environment have rarely acted so quickly. But when the Scottish Landowners’ Association asked for a change in the law allowing them to cull birds of prey, a working party was immediately set up.

The argument given by Scottish landowners’ for an amendment to the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act allowing them to shoot peregrine falcons, hen harriers and buzzards, is that these birds are eating a rapidly diminishing grouse population.

John Drysdale, from the Scottish Landowners’ Association and manager of 25,000 acre estate said: “It is not a problem when the grouse numbers are healthy but when grouse do badly because of the weather or other factors, the birds of prey prevent recovery.”

What is interesting of course are the “other factors” that Drysdale refers to.

As the Heather Trust stated in its 1995 annual report: “Predation by raptors is unlikely to be the main limiting factor on red grouse populations.” Indeed, there is no mention whether the DoE working party will take into account the hundreds of rich tourists who flock to Scotland every August to blow the living daylights out of the grouse population; all in the name of good sport.

There again, with the large profits made by Scottish landowners every year in ‘glorious 12th’ shooting fees, it is small wonder they are directing the blame for the diminishing grouse population on peregrine falcons trying to find a few grouse still left to eat. It is also small wonder that the Department of Environment know where its interests lie.