According to today’s Sunday Herald the two estates I mentioned in my last blog, Raeshaw and Burnfoot, are taking SNH to court in relation to their grounds for revoking the general licences that hitherto allowed them to control certain bird species on their lands. I am not in the least surprised at this arrogance as I have witnessed this countless times during the years I was involved in policing wildlife crime.
I suspected the revocation would simply have been a mere inconvenience to the estates but it seems, when this threat of court action has been made, it may be more than that. I doubt that it will succeed but I will watch with interest.
For at least the last decade evidence of wildlife crime in the form of illegal traps and snares, poisoned baits and victims of poisoning have been found with disgraceful regularity on the same few estates in Scotland. The notoriety of these estates is not only well known to the police, to SNH and to the RSPB but also to other landowners and gamekeepers who are trying to keep within the law. These other decent folks involved in game management must be sick to the stomach of the disgrace brought on their profession. So why do they and their organisations not stand up and be counted instead of offering up weak and unconvincing excuses?
As the Scottish Environment Minister said, we have in Scotland the strongest wildlife legislation in the UK. While that is certainly the case some landowners try – and succeed – to run rings round it. To me that indicates it needs to be made even stronger and if that means the licensing of shooting (or the banning of driven grouse shooting as many people want) then so be it. The voting public are losing patience fast.