My beliefs and aims

There are many people opposed to law breaking. I’m interested only in wildlife crime, although I should expand that by saying I’m also opposed to those who support organised crime. My position is quite similar to that of the RSPB, but I believe they have bent too far backwards in some cases, and forgotten how and why they were formed. As lead should already be removed as a component of ammunition in legislation, I oppose the use of lead ammunition.

People who oppose wildlife crime may also oppose some or all shooting or trapping of animals. I’m not opposed to any legal activities, although I would not take part in the likes of shooting for fun, or even for the pot. I still maintain mink rafts, and have caught several mink. For the life of me, I cannot understand why there are any mink in the u.k. I have not detected a mink for years, although I would likely be amongst the first to know if one migrated into my area or river catchment. I’m sure that there are enough volunteers willing to put time and energy into the eradication of mink that it could be accomplished in a very few years. I developed a simple system using a small mobile phone to send a photograph 3 times a day by email where there was reception to avoid going every day, with the battery lasting 3 weeks.

I have also previously joined with the trapping of grey squirrels in Scotland, and still report any greys I see. There are undoubtedly many people who like and feed their local grey squirrels, making eradication, even in Scotland, more of a hot potato, and politicians might not be too keen to accept the removal grey squirrels from the parks in, say, Dunfermline, which has a large population. It is difficult for people to understand and accept that we can only have red squirrels in our towns and cities if we first eradicate the grey squirrels, and if we carried on as we did 30 years ago, we would have few reds in Scotland. I don’t have the answer to that. I even have reservations about the increasing number of geese which nest here rather than head north on a migration. I’m sure that these are good eating, and would not oppose a huge reduction in the number staying all year by lethal control before eggs hatch and before migrating birds return.

I’m not even opposed to driven grouse shooting, if it is done legally. There is a perception, both in those for and against, that driven grouse shooting can not be maintained if illegal measures are not taken. I’m not convinced of the scientific basis for this, and the first Langholm results may have been due to factors other than the rise of the hen harrier population and their taking of grouse. Perhaps foolishly, I once wrote to a local MSP who clearly was in favour of driven grouse shooting, asking that he advise estates that he visited of my suggestions for legal measures to achieve a greater financial return for driven grouse moors who should advertise that they welcomed hen harriers, only employed legal methods of “vermin control” and meant what they said, clearly differentiating their actions from the other driven grouse moors, who almost universally act illegally on a regular basis.

Although there is a larger voice opposing driven grouse moors, they are not the only people acting illegally. The only person to go to prison for acting against raptors that I am aware of was “protecting” pheasants from raptors, I understand. SNH have published measures which can legally be taken against predation. It is clear, however, that SNH are not really interested in the scientific basis of their trials, and are not doing their job correctly. They are still a better organisation than Natural England, who have given up even a pretence to be complying with their mandate. Luckily I live in Scotland.

Here, we are also lucky enough to have some Pine Martens. I have little doubt that they are regularly trapped and killed. My solution to that, and this should be an aim of SNH, is to reduce and measure the number killed. The law as well as the general licence makes clear that Pine martens are protected but takes no effective measures to measure the number “accidentally” killed, or to reduce that number. If the general licence required that any bycatch of Pine Marten were reported within one month to SNH, with no penalty except for non reporting, not only would there be some data provided, but SNH could possibly take action to try to reduce the numbers killed if hot spots were found. This would be vastly aided by a requirement to affix a tag to all traps, exactly as is required for snares but I do not here attempt to define all the requirements etc. Any proposal to try to measure or reduce the killing of Pine Marten should have a full proposal of all the regulation and/or legalisation changes in mind, before any real effort is put into getting it enacted, and I don’t have time, as I’ve only been retired over 13 years, and have plenty to occupy my time already.

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