Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Hen harrier decline

The numbers of hen harriers in Scotland has declined by a fifth according to new research, the RSPB blaming this on illegal persecution on managed grouse moors. There are thought to be about 500 pairs in Scotland but they are near extinction in England.

Estate managers claimed the accusation was unfair but Stuart Housden, RSPB Director in Scotland, claimed there was 'systematic and illegal persecution' particularly in the central and eastern Highlands and Southern Uplands of Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament will debate the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill soon and Mr Housden has urged that amendments be adopted which would remove the sporting rights from landowners where there has been a history of illegal activity. The Bill, if passed, could also see the use of snares banned or at least regulated. "Vicarious liability" could also see estates criminally liable for the actions of their employees.

Various rural and land management organisations such as The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (Scotland), the Scottish Gamekeeprs Association and the Scottish Estates and Buisness Group said the statistics were flawed, their spokesman Tim Baynes saying " All of our organisations condemn the illegal killing of any bird of prey".

There has been only one recorded incident of hen harrier persecution in the last 6 years according to RSPB figures.

(Source - BBC Scotland News)


  1. Personally I think this is one of those instances where, if illegal killing is proven to be the cause, the presumption should be that the landowner is held accountable and custodial sentences applied. Leaving some poor gamekeeper, probably in fear for his job, to carry the can won't stop the illegal trappings and poisonings.

    Whether the estates like, or agree with, the law is immaterial; or should be. Raptors are protected; ignoring the laws we find inconvenient isn't an option available to the rest of us.

    Mankind's inability to simply take its place in the natural order and co-exist with other species will be our undoing.

  2. I agree. The landowner should be held accountable but I don't think a rogue gamekeeper who has poisoned or otherwise killed a bird of prey should escape prosecution.

    I hold out no hope that our species will co-exist with other species. Most people just don't see themselves as part of that sort of community, and would probably think the likes of you and me are odd, to say the least.