RSPB Scotland has welcomed the announcement by the Scottish government that it will propose introducing measures to license grouse shooting as soon as possible.
RSPB Scotland today welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement to propose measures to license capercaillie shooting and to encourage legal and environmentally sound farming practices related to the industry as soon as possible.
Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “While we praise the work of both the current Holyrood government and that of its predecessors in attempting to combat the illegal killing of birds of prey in grouse moors, unfortunately 21 years of incremental changes in animal welfare laws have not been enough training to stop this.
We face dual crises in nature and climate that threaten human health and well-being, as well as the survival of many species around the world. Making sure land is managed to protect and restore nature is vital to achieving an environmentally friendly recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and achieving Scotland’s goal of zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Hen Harrier, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The illegal killing of birds of prey; Muirburn on bog soils that damage our vital carbon stores; the mass culling of mountain hares; and the continued use of lead ammunition has absolutely no place in 21st century Scotland.
The Werritty review was prompted by commissioned, peer-reviewed research which showed that a significant proportion of the satellite-tagged golden eagles were missing in illegal or suspicious circumstances, almost entirely in areas intensively farmed for capercaillie shooting .
Self-regulation by the grouse industry has not addressed the problems of wildlife crime and environmental damage from unregulated muirburn. Any future grouse bog licensing scheme must be robust and hopefully address these issues once and for all. Grouse settlements found to be in violation of animal welfare laws should lose their right to shoot. Only then will it be a real 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. In fact, in most other European countries, shooting gamebirds is licensed in some form.
We believe that what was announced today is backed by an overwhelming amount of evidence and is completely proportionate. We are keen to work with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to quickly establish an effective licensing system, help tackle natural and climate crises, promote sustainable management of our highlands, and make raptor tracking a history book. “