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  • Grouse moor licencing, Scotland.
  • Premier Icon highlandman
    Free Member

    Shortly after completing a review of the Werritty report, the Scottish Government are proposing bringing forward licencing of grouse moors in Scotland. The reporting makes interesting reading. Personally, I’d like to see the end of all driven game shooting but clearly, this is a step in the right direction. I’ve no problem at all with wild game hunting, but the mass murder of farmed and supported animals bred for that purpose really annoys me.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-55086547

    Premier Icon eviljoe
    Full Member

    Good- a step in the right direction. Wonder if we will ever see it in Engerland…

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I agree it’s a good step.

    Unfortunately the massive budget cuts to Nature Scot (formally SNH) means there is no one available to enforce anything.

    I also think the industry will fight every step, from introduction to hiding what they can if they are ever inspected.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    Good – Living on an estate since this summer it’s been interesting to see how things are being ‘managed’. Breeding and releasing massively unsustainable numbers of young birds (pheasant and partridge) a significant number of which become road kill and then successive weekends of driven shoots to blast it all out the sky. We do have a few buzzards and lots of corvids sustained by the roadkill. Up on the hill barely any grouse, mountain hare or ptarmigan though. I did see a hen harrier down in Glenlivet.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Full Member

    The game sports lobby is the closest thing we have to NRA. Well connected, well funded, organised and absolutely single minded in the belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It’s nit that they don’t want to reform, they just can’t see why it would ever be needed They will fight all the way. They really are appalling

    Exhibit A, statement today from Scottish Gamekeepers Association

    Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “This decision will anger our community. It will not be easily forgotten. Our members have effectively had targets painted on their backs, today.
    Our responsibility now is protect them from spurious claims sure to come their way from those seeking to end grouse shooting in Scotland and to have licences taken away.
    “Ironically, those who lobbied so hard for licensing have no interest in seeing it being a success. For them, this was always a vehicle to agitate for a full ban. Scottish Parliament legislators should not be naive in thinking otherwise.
    “I am angry beyond expression at the way a community of working people is being treated today in this country and the strain they and their families are constantly having to face as they cope with never-ending scrutiny and inquiry driven by elite charities with big influence over politicians and axes to grind against a people who produce so much for Scotland yet ask little back.
    “If we are not to lose an important element of Scottish rural life, gamekeepers require some substantive recognition from Parliament for the many benefits they deliver and not the endless battering they perpetually experience.”

    This is a great step forward.

    Premier Icon oldtennisshoes
    Full Member

    Nature Scot may issue the licences, although that’s yet to be confirmed, could be SEPA or SG, but Nature Scot have never been responsible for enforcement for any licensing.
    It’s definitely a good thing, but will be a bugger to police. Nature Scot are working on some nifty innovations using earth observation data to help with monitoring. Interesting times!

    Premier Icon intheborders
    Free Member

    I’ve no problem at all with wild game hunting, but the mass murder of farmed and supported animals bred for that purpose really annoys me.

    I’m assuming you’re a Vegetarian?

    Premier Icon lightfighter762
    Full Member

    What gets me going on most estates if you walk them. Most nearby woods will conceal game traps, even birds of prey traps. Usually find bins with fox, hare, birds of prey remains. Wingshooting. What a dumbass sport. I hope they use lead free ammo. They should breed boar and you should hunt by spear.

    Premier Icon highlandman
    Free Member

    Er, no, not veggie. Although tonight’s tea was meat free, as frequently happens in our house. I detest breeding for obscenely violent killing via shooting. Not breeding for eating, which I am happy to do occasionally. I even shoot occasionally. But in a manner that ensures a humane kill of a wild animal that is not in fear for its life at the time.
    I agree with comments above; this will be fought by those with vested interests but each small step is part of the journey. One day we will see some land justice in Scotland and this may well be a part of that process.

    Premier Icon supernova
    Free Member

    Good.

    Once more Scotland is leading the way amongst the four countries of the UK.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    A complete and utter waste of time and effort. See the  beaver kill licensing scheme. It allows the Scottish government to pretend they are doing the right thing.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    I have a to agree. So you go through the effort and expense to get a licence, what then? What has it achieved that existing laws didn’t already cover?

    See also air weapon licencing.

    It’s another SNP “be seen to be doing something” policy that gets lapped up by those who are ignorant of the actual facts. Meanwhile rogue estates will carry on as normal.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    Our members have effectively had targets painted on their backs

    That sounds like it would level the playing field but it would only be effective if you also give the grouse some guns 🙂

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Full Member

    Shooting estates have a long history of committing wildlife crimes and the previous self regulation has failed. This failure is because wildlife crime is nearly impossible to prove against an individual (not many witnesses or cctv on an 10k acre estate). But it will be the estate, not the individual, who will be licensed. So when a tracked golden eagle is shot over an estate, illegal traps are found on an estate or unlicensed burning of critical peatland takes place, they risk losing their licence.
    I know a police officer who works in wildlife crime and thinks it is a great step. That’s a good enough endorsement for me

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    It should have a huge effect. Instead of a criminal standard of proof – “Beyond reasonable doubt” it will be civil standard “balance of probabilities” and as above will apply to anything that happens on the estate. Estates that live within the law will be fine. those that do not will loose their license. Because you do not need to find the individual responsible – just that it happened on the estate it means it will be much easier to deal with the criminals even tho they will not face criminal sanction

    Premier Icon jca
    Free Member

    Yay! Licensed grouse should be able to legally sell us their homebrew…I don’t need to try to make my dealings with them look inconspicuous any more….

    Premier Icon duckman
    Full Member

    Its good, estates will no longer be able to claim a rogue employee letting down the estate/don’t tar us all with the same brush/lessons learned/somebody else. Screw them, should also remove any tax breaks if they lock gates and block off bridges.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    should also remove any tax breaks

    That I disagree with.

    We should replace a lot of the current tax structure with one that encourages sustainable development, environmental improvements, social and health benefits, and rural employment.

    Many non game, farming or forest estates already struggle. And we do need sustainable employment and opportunities to increase in rural areas, not collapse of a delicate economy.

    Premier Icon duckman
    Full Member

    matt_outandabout Full Member

    With you on the tax restructuring,and trying to give people viable employment where they grow up,every time I go to somewhere like Cannich, there are more and more holiday homes where folk should be raising families. My Dad was the minister in Gendaruel for a few years and it was the same there. My point is that I don’t see why the estates in the Angus glens I USED to take Duke of Edinburgh kids on should get away with padlocking bridges while enjoying favourable tax breaks.Only looking out for us though, one of the closed bridges on the way up Tarfside is now so dangerous that you can only cross it in a Range Rover.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Mark Ruskell MSP has just made a comment on StirlingCrispins FB page about the timing. The detail is to be worked up across the Scottish election time and in partnership with the industry….

    As a few comments above have said, is this a bit of SNP election games. Hmmm.

    How to I get involved.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Full Member

    matt_outandabout
    Many non game, farming or forest estates already struggle. And we do need sustainable employment and opportunities to increase in rural areas, not collapse of a delicate economy.

    Considering that was often the excuse for clearing people off the land that is now occupied by those “struggling” estates, zero empathy.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    Interesting times for the hunting types down our way, too. Police are apparently investigating*

    *hoping it will go away, given the former officers on the video.

    Premier Icon core
    Full Member

    As a keen shot and countryman, I find it really quite difficult to take a stance on this issue.

    I know that many, many people rural people, countrymen and women, and those involved in the shooting industry feel their way of life is being eroded and livelihoods affected by bureaucrats – be that in Holyrood, Westminster, or dare I say, Brussels. More recently this seems to be at the behest of or in order to appease a growing section of society that appear to be opposed to the killing of anything for any reason, and who are detached from the reality of rural life, food production and how nature really works. I can empathise with than viewpoint, to a degree, but they, we, need to engage with society, look outside our own bubbles and promote the positive impacts on the environment and society that field sports can have instead of just feeling attacked and going on the offensive. I’ve tried to engage a few times with various elements of the field sports press about the tone and content of their media output – it’s often overly aggressive, combative, condescending and patronising – all of which only serves to reinforce stereotypes and widen divides.

    I really don’t like it being made a class issue – though there are lots of wealthy well spoken types tramping about the countryside each weekend, there are far more working class folk shooting and hunting in much more sustainable ways and relying on field sports for income, exercise, enjoyment, continuation of their way of life, and ultimately I guess to preserve/improve their mental health. I know for me a day shooting is one of the best ways to get out of a rut.

    I read above “I’d like to see all driven shooting banned”, why? Why tar all driven shoots with the same brush? Many more driven shoots are looking at sustainability and the public perception of shooting much more keenly these days, and for every Downton, Chargot, Brigands etc there’s probably 50 or more little syndicate shoots that only shoot tens or low hundreds of birds each year. To ban all driven shooting would be ridiculous. In England a licensing system is proposed to look at bird release numbers, locations and environmental effects – that’s the right approach I think, though it will be nigh on impossible to enforce. But just banning it all because it’s difficult to police isn’t the answer.

    All of the above said, I don’t really shoot on driven shoots, I have had an invite to a syndicate shoot next weekend as it happens, so will stand a peg for the first time in several years, but for me the most enjoyment comes from rough/walked up shooting and wild fowling. You need to be a good shot to hit challenging driven birds, but other than shooting proficiency it doesn’t really require any skill – just turn up, drink port, talk shit, stand about and keep banging away. Rough shooting requires so many skills and teaches you so much, including respect for your quarry – I bet I shoot at less than 50% of what I see out of respect or the fear of not achieving a clean kill – that is what being sporting means.

    The practices of big commercial driven shoots obviously vary, but living close to several I’d have to say that they’re generally pretty bad and in no way can I condone these big bag days, shooting thousand of birds a week for most of them not to go into the food chain, raptor persecution, illegal trapping and snaring etc, denial of access, I know it all goes on, but NOT EVERYHWERE. Some elements of the shooting industry are indefencible, and I do think releasing tens of thousands of birds in a concentrated area, to the detriment of everything else should be stopped.

    We as a community (I am sadly lumped in with the all the hooray Henry’s and dodgy keepers) need to take steps to clean up our act, promote the positives and benefits of organised and driven shooting (not that I really participate in either), and engage with people to bring about better understanding, reform the commercial shooting industry and preserve the sport we love.

    Banning everything is not the answer, but neither is taking a combative stance and telling everyone to eff off out of the countryside and leave us alone.

    The countryside and field sports need a reasonable, coherent voice – and we currently don’t have one.

    Premier Icon Murray
    Full Member

    Thanks Core, an interesting and well argued addition to this thread.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    It’s a good thing in theory but in practice if it transpires to be anything more than looking good I expect there will be a lot of

    spurious claims sure to come their way from those seeking to end grouse shooting in Scotland and to have licences taken away.

    Resulting in not so much

    Estates that live within the law will be fine.

    But rather a lot of estates getting their licensing withdrawn, the “good ones” going under and the problem ones carrying on regardless, operating without licence and actually getting worse not better.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Considering that was often the excuse for clearing people off the land that is now occupied by those “struggling” estates, zero empathy.

    While I agree, we have to move on from history. Time to be pragmatic and work to see the environment, economy and society we want in these areas. We can’t do that through ‘no’.

    Premier Icon highlandman
    Free Member

    Hopefully the next step will be the removal of the business rate exemption that many shooting estates enjoy; they are treated as agricultural holdings, rather than leisure facilities in a bizarre but financially very helpful manner. Hill shooting estates receive subsidies to support the ‘food’ production that they are involved in. There’s also a further hidden state finance here, in the way that agricultural land is supported by the state. Many people are not aware of the way that finances are constructed on hill estates. Their low ground, tenant & upland sheep farmers are effectively milked for the agricultural subsidies in terms of the levels of rent charged; much of the money given to the farmer to, in theory, support food production ends up being paid to the landlord as rent.

    Premier Icon brads
    Free Member

    Regardless of any view on this, the burden of proof has been put onto the estates.
    So guilty until proven innocent.
    Queue hundreds of class driven complaints designed to end shooting.

    Premier Icon duckman
    Full Member

    Queue hundreds of class driven complaints designed to end shooting.

    Only if the police are going to reopen EVERY instance of raptor poisoning/disappearance. Oh sorry; isn’t that what you meant? Well done for using the usual defence trotted out by estates.

    Premier Icon ianbradbury
    Full Member

    We as a community (I am sadly lumped in with the all the hooray Henry’s and dodgy keepers) need to take steps to clean up our act, promote the positives and benefits of organised and driven shooting (not that I really participate in either), and engage with people to bring about better understanding, reform the commercial shooting industry and preserve the sport we love.

    Surely then you should be welcoming a licensing scheme and desperately trying to make it work, then everyone will be able to see how well it’s all done. Though quite what the positives of large scale muirburn and big driven shoots are escapes me.

    Premier Icon tomd
    Full Member

    Regardless of any view on this, the burden of proof has been put onto the estates.
    So guilty until proven innocent.
    Queue hundreds of class driven complaints designed to end shooting.

    This is the reality for many other regulated industries. The burden is on the duty holder to demonstrate what you’re doing complies fully with the law. I think the argument you’re expressing cynically tries to mix up legal principles around the rights of an individual with the rights of a business.

    Premier Icon ianbradbury
    Full Member

    Queue hundreds of class driven complaints designed to end shooting.

    Most objections to driven shoots have exactly nothing to do with “class”.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Full Member

    I’ve tried to engage a few times with various elements of the field sports press about the tone and content of their media output – it’s often overly aggressive, combative, condescending and patronising – all of which only serves to reinforce stereotypes and widen divides.

    Have my comparison with NRA

    that was an interesting read Cove. What are your views on licensing, do you agree or object?

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Only if the police are going to reopen EVERY instance of raptor poisoning/disappearance.

    They are unlikely to need to reopen any. Both sides of this have their more “militant” elements, moving the burden of proof from acuser to accused won’t address the problem any more than it being very difficult to prove criminality at the moment does.

    Now all that will happen is instead of Estates which do break the law being able to get away with it because its hard to prove you’ll get all estates being accused by a relatively fringe group with no evidence.

    It’s nothing to do with class it’s that a small minority of people genuinely Hate what other people do for fun and a small minority of those who do enjoy it would be very happy indeed to blast away at the protesters instead of the birds.

    In practice the middle ground of both sides will be lost, the “cold dead hands” brigade will carry on shooting regardless, the need to ensure maximum supply and profit on (inevitable loop hole) shoots will likely drive up wildlife crime on those shoots. All the while the other end of the spectrum will be flooding wildlife officers with reports on legal “well behaved” shoots in an effort to get them shut down not because they actually GAS about raptors, small mammals or habitat destruction but because “shooting is bad”.

    Actual criminality will likely stay the same or increase because the difficulty in policing it won’t reduce and the ability to prosecute won’t be improved. The only real difference will be the currently inadequate number of officers will have their case load massively increased.

    If you think licensing is a route to good behaviour look at the standards of driving, the incidence of driving without licence or insurance etc.

    The people likely to obey already do.

    What’s needed is greater numbers of wildlife officers and work to ease investigation, increase the liklihood of successful prosecution and drastically increase the impact of a guilty verdict. This just gives one group a stick to beat the other with and the ones who currently act illegally and get frothy about the law interfering in their pastime will get more so and continue to ignore it.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Er, no, not veggie. ….. I detest breeding for obscenely violent killing via shooting. Not breeding for eating, which I am happy to do occasionally. I even shoot occasionally. But in a manner that ensures a humane kill of a wild animal that is not in fear for its life at the time.

    Significant level of hypocrisy there. Is death by shooting, in the wild, for someone’s enjoyment really that much worse than death in a slaughterhouse, for food, for someone’s enjoyment?

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Regardless of any view on this, the burden of proof has been put onto the estates.
    So guilty until proven innocent.
    Queue hundreds of class driven complaints designed to end shooting.

    Nope – the burdon of proof has been changed to the lower civil standard and an estate is viewed as an entity. Its not needed to identify individuals. However penalties are also only civil.

    Given the numbers of raptors disappearing in suspicious circumstances in the same areas time and time again its clear there is a large amount of criminal activity systematically on some estates. They will be identified and rightly lose their license. I am sure people will be looking at the other unethical practices ie trapping of any predators, muirburn etc.

    Good land management even for shooting preferably walk up with smaller bags will not be affected. Those who maintain huge areas of monoculture grouse moor where all other wildlife is cleared out will be out of business or will have to change

    Land use should change over time resulting in a more sustainable shooting industry and greater biodivesity.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Significant level of hypocrisy there. Is death by shooting, in the wild, for someone’s enjoyment really that much worse than death in a slaughterhouse, for food, for someone’s enjoyment?

    No – no significant moral difference indeed free range food can be argued to be kinder 🙂

    however its a different argument. This is about the illegal and unethical practices systematic across large parts of the industry. Thwarting access, bulldozing roads, killing raptors and other wildlife in huge numbers, muirburn, medicated grit etc etc.
    Its about how to get them under control.

    Premier Icon ianbradbury
    Full Member

    If you think licensing is a route to good behaviour look at the standards of driving, the incidence of driving without licence or insurance etc.

    Only a useful argument if you can show what the standard would be without licensing – it might of course be substantially worse.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    If you think licensing is a route to good behaviour look at the standards of driving, the incidence of driving without licence or insurance etc.

    The people likely to obey already do.

    There are indeed a proportion of people who drive without insurance (not all of them completely intentionally), and indeed a proportion who drive without a license. To suggest that means licensing is pointless and everyone would still be just as responsible a driver without licensing is clearly flawed. The vast majority of people who are disqualified from driving do not drive during their ban; the vast majority of people who have their license revoked for medical reasons do not drive anymore, and by and large, people who haven’t sat a test don’t drive either. When they do its clear cut – they are committing an offence (in some cases an imprisonable one) – there’s no “well actually he was driving just as carefully (badly?) as someone who was licensed”. Do you think the roads would be safer places and fewer people would drive without insurance if there was no legal requirement?

    A better analogy might be Pubs or Taxi drivers? Both of those need licenses. Both of those lose their livelihood if they lose their license. Obviously, not every publican or taxi driver is perfectly behaved, but if they are seen to significantly break the rules their license may be revoked or not renewed. There’s quite a long list of professions/employers who need to be licensed: Fireworks, Sex shops, Zoos, Small Boat Operators, Betting Shops, Kennels, Game Dealers, Caravan Sites, Tatoo shops, HGV operators, labs working with certain materials, adventure activity providers etc… basically, places, where left unregulated the harm to society, may be a problem. Like so many of those places – the institutions/orgs have had a chance collectively to clean up their act and avoid licensing. Inevitably a minority of them have not done enough, to justify trusting them all to sort themselves out.

    Will it get 100% compliance? No.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    Only a useful argument if you can show what the standard would be without licensing – it might of course be substantially worse.

    Depends if it’s the Kafkaesque world of Scottish licencing.

    Got a Section 1 or 2 firearms certificate? Crack on. Want a sub-12fpe airgun to go with it? No, you’ll need to apply to PS with every conceivable reason to use one (lest you get restricted to using it in one single place), pay your £75 and then renew it along independently of your Firearms Certificate every 5 years. Not like you couldn’t just put ‘air weapon’ in an extra slot is it?

    Meanwhile, all the law abiders pay their money to support a scheme that can hardly pay for itself and all the scumbags still buy their kit via mail order or second hand.

    Yes, I have an axe to grind, no it’s not the exact same as this but as always you need to look at these things objectively. Also agree completely with Core, the shooting community are their own worst enemies and fixated on ‘antis’ rather than solutions. Been lambasted for not unquestioningly supporting some totally pointless campaign in the past. Not much different to here really, with their entrenched views, persecution complexes and complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their own destiny.

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