Monday 9 May 2011

Persecution of Scotland's birds of prey

This programme is being shown on BBC2 this Tuesday evening (10th May). Islay used to have a terrible reputation for persecution of birds of prey stretching back decades, but thankfully it all ceased over 20 years ago and now our eagles, buzzards, hen harriers, etc. all flourish unmolested. Very sadly, this is still not the case in several areas of Scotland, mainly those where grouse shooting takes place, and this programme explores why it still happens. The chief executive of the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (it used to be, more simply, the Scottish Landowners Association) has already called on the new Scottish Government to allow the "control" of birds of prey such as buzzards because of the alleged damage they do by taking grouse chicks. The inference is that, if this were permitted, then the totally illegal poisoning and shooting of not just buzzards, but golden eagles and hen harriers as well, which goes on in Scotland would stop. Is he to be believed? I personally don't think so. It has been shown by very good science that the populations of golden eagles and hen harriers are being prevented from increasing by persecution. Indeed, it has been estimated that the current hen harrier population of under 700 pairs could be more than doubled if they weren't being prevented from using all the suitable habitat that exists across the whole of the UK.

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