Wednesday 18 November 2020

Muirburn, grouse moors, hen harriers - time for a change

Muirburn on the Cromdale Hills, November 14

For several days now I've been seeing plumes of smoke and flashes of orange flames from muirburn (heather burning) on the Cromdale Hills and thinking about the destruction this causes - the creatures that die in the fire, the peat that is burnt, the vegetation destroyed - all so a few rich people can enjoy killing birds, blasting them out of the sky for fun. Then of course there's the wildlife trapped, poisoned and shot because it might eat some grouse. And the trashed landscape - a mass of burnt patches, bulldozed roads, fences and gates - ugly to look at the poor in biodiversity. It's a huge price to pay for some people to get their kicks slaughtering grouse. 

I feel strongly about this and find grouse moors depressing places. There are areas of the Eastern Cairngorms I won't visit again while grouse shooting continues. I don't go into the hills to feel angry and upset.

Yesterday, November 17, NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) published a report, Heads Up For Harriers, on one of Scotland's rarest birds of prey, the hen harrier, which is also one that tends to disappear or die if it comes near a grouse moor. Here's a quote from NatureScot's post about the report:

"Analysis indicated that harriers fare best on those estates with no shooting interests, with more breeding attempts, nesting success and higher productivity recorded on the majority of non-sporting estates."

Well, what a surprise! Anyone who has followed the fate of hen harriers (and other birds of prey) knows already that they often don't survive long on shooting estates, as well-documented by Raptor Persecution UK. It is good to have this acknowledged by the government agency for nature though. Maybe now the Scottish Government will do something?

Unsurprisingly Raptor Persecution has posted its own caustic comment on the report and the whole Heads up for Harriers project. 

This scandal has been going on far too long and there have far too many concerned words from politicians that aren't backed up by action. To help prod the politicians into doing something please support  Revive The coalition for grouse moor reform and sign their pledge. 

It's also worth following Raptor Persecution UK along with Mark Avery, who often blogs on the subject, for up to date information and details of any actions you can take. Mark Avery's book Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands, is worth reading too. It's packed with information and makes the case for the end of driven grouse shooting.

1 comment:

  1. Apart from shooting Hen Harrier and other raptors outright, I wonder how many die indirectly from lead poisoning caused by eating carrion or life birds that have survived being shot but have lead in their bodies.

    When the California Condor was reintroduced in Grand Canyon from a captive breeding program (there were only 27 surviving individuals worldwide, they were all captured and after having many years captive breeding they have gradually been reintroduced again), all birds are tagged and when they die their death is investigated. It turns out that their main cause of death is lead poisoning from eating shot carrion.