Gamekeepers deny persecuting birds

Moorland near Elvanfoot
Moorland near Elvanfoot

Following a Gazette report of the mysterious disappearance of an electronically tagged and monitored hen harrier in the Upperward hills, the gamekeepers’ ‘trade union’ have hit back at suspicions that it’s members were involved.

On our front page on May 15 we reported how Skylar, a member of a protected species, had disappeared near Elvanfoot in February close by a beaten grouse moor.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds issued a statement saying that this stretch of countryside was “notorious” for harrier disapperances and cast suspicion on the game bird shooting industry. They claimed that, had the bird died a natural death, its tag should have kept working. In this case, it didn’t.

The Scottish Landowners Association quickly denied reponsibility and now the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association has reacted to allegations by the RSPB of the deliberate killing of another missing ‘tagged’ harrier, Marci. They deny its members were responsible.

The association’schairman Alex Hogg said: “The SGA condemns persecution and we act accordingly in proven cases.

“There are no grounds to say this is what has happened here.

“Satellite tags fail, some are poorly fitted, some are never found – whether persecution is suspected or not – and some tags signal hours apart. This can make final signal locations meaningless.

“We also know, scientifically, that a significant percentage of Hen Harriers die in their first year.

“In Orkney, where there are no grouse moors, almost 70 percent of Harriers die in year one. Until these tags are monitored independently and not by campaign organisations, the public are only getting an interpretation.

“As far as we can see, there is no evidence for the claims being made.”