RSPB Scotland responds to Scottish Government statement on Independent Review of Grouse Moor Management

James Reynolds

Thursday 26 November 2020

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult female perched on heather at Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay

RSPB Scotland welcomes Scottish Government’s announcement proposing the introduction of measures as soon as possible to license grouse shooting.

RSPB Scotland today welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement proposing the introduction of measures as soon as possible to license grouse shooting and to promote legal and environmentally beneficial land management practices associated with this industry.

Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “While we commend the work of both the current Government at Holyrood and that of its predecessors in trying to tackle the illegal killing of raptors on grouse moors, 21 years of piecemeal changes to wildlife protection laws so far have unfortunately not been enough to halt this practice. 

We face twin crises in nature and climate that threaten human health and wellbeing and the survival of many species across the planet. Ensuring that land is managed to protect and restore nature is essential to delivering a Green Recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic and fulfilling Scotland’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2045. 

The illegal killing of birds of prey; muirburn on peatland soils damaging our vital carbon stores; the mass culling of mountain hares; and the continued use of lead ammunition have absolutely no place in 21st century Scotland. 

The Werritty Review was prompted by commissioned peer-reviewed research which showed that a significant proportion of satellite tagged golden eagles were going missing in illegal or suspicious circumstances, almost exclusively on areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.  

Self-regulation by the grouse moor industry has not tackled the issues of wildlife crime and damage to the environment by unregulated muirburn. Any future licensing scheme for grouse moors must be robust and address these issues, hopefully once and for all. Grouse moor estates who are found to be breaking wildlife protection laws should lose their right to shoot. Only this will act as a genuine deterrent to this still-widespread criminal activity. 

We believe that landowners and their employees who manage their shoots legally and sustainably have nothing to fear from the introduction of licensing.  Indeed, gamebird shooting is licensed in some form or other in most other European countries.  

We believe that what has been announced today is supported by an overwhelming weight of evidence and is entirely proportionate. We are keen to work with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to quickly bring about an effective licensing system, to help address the nature and climate crises, to encourage sustainable management of our uplands and to consign raptor persecution to the history books. 

Last Updated: Thursday 26 November 2020

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