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Henrik Hestbech

I think what's most shocking is the stupidity, that people are willing to pay good money for an opportunity to shoot at tame fowl; pheasant or grouse.

Where's the sport or experience in that?

Andrew Bradford

I feel certain an equally authoritative report could show that, in theory, were it not for the population of Edinburgh getting in the way, there could be favourable conservation status for many species across the Heart of Midlothian from Balerno to Leith and from South Queensferry to Musselburgh.
The fact that there aren't eagles nesting on Salisbury Crags proves, beyond doubt, a deliberate strategy by the people of greater Edinburgh to elminate these and the many other species that would otherwise be living there. Indeed there is a possibility that a pair of Marsh Harriers could be nesting on the very site of the Holyrood Parliament if the land was restored.
It is clear that the only thing to do is to bulldoze the lot into the sea and let the animals regain their rightful territory and thus achieve 'favourable conservation status'. To hell with any human or economic impact; or is that reserved for rural areas?

Mrs Emma Paterson

Having gone through the article and comments I didn't notice anywhere the fact that up until recently young eagles were being taken across yo Ireland to boost the population over there. If the RSPB and other bodies are worried about the number of eagles supposidly being poisoned in this country why are they being sent to Ireland? Raptors, like anything else have a life span. Surely some of these dead birds could have died of old age.

Bill Thomson, Old House of Orchil, Braco, Perthshire FK15 9LF

Rob Edwards article is frankly misleading to the point of being irresponsible. Of course poisioning of raptors is wholly unacceptable but be accurate with the facts and avoid poor quality sensationalistic reporting.

No mention though of all the raptors, quite probably in considerably larger numbers, being killed accross the land by unreliable wind turbines.Perhaps the subject for a future article?

Michael Nairn

Rob Edwards
You would be welcome to visit Pitcarmick "sporting estate" in Forest of Clunie where we take pride in our wonderfully varied wildlife including raptors and have been practicing nature conservation long before this became a popular concern.

The shock/horror language of your article conveys a thoroughly distorted picture and elevates a small minority of criminal instances to a misleading slur on the majority of responsible land managers in Scotland.

Michael Nairn

Andy Bryson

Its blatently obvious that shooting estates are to blame for the lack of certain birds on moors. Countless times while my friend and I have been out for a days bird watching on moors in Scotland we have said to each other "Where are the Hen Harriers, they should be here, where are the Peregrines?" Or after a long day in Spring somewhere to watch Golden Plovers we would wonder why we hadn't seen a Hen Harrier in an area that looked fantasic for them. I could count on one hand the amount of Hen Harriers and Peregrines we have seen over the years in areas loaded with Grouse. It makes you wonder what is the point of trying to protect birds in Scotland when the landowners have so much influence over parliament and the courts.

Brian Davis

I am a retired Police Officer and I was a wildlife liaison officer for my old force for a number of years. The crimes against raptors occur in England too, albeit on a lesser scale. I have investigated crimes of poisoning and shooting of raptors.
The landowners and managers of game shoots turn a blind eye largely to the activities of their keepers, so it is with some amusement I read the comments of the Landowner above.

I cannot believe that he is niaive enough to think that reporting a few instances of poisoned birds to the Police shows a willingness to co-operate, how easy would it be to poison the birds yourself and then hand them in feigning shock and horror. The law needs to be tightened and punishments need to be harsher, a ban of 1-3 yrs from running a shoot on land where a poisoning offence occurs might make the perpetrators a little less keen to kill our wildlife.

It would be asking too much for them to accept that all of gods creatures have a right to behave in a way that is totally instinctive and to accept it. I once had a conversation with a keeper regarding the death totals of his pheasants and he admitted that he lost far more birds to roadkill each year than he ever had to predation. I accept thaat this may not be the case in Scotland on estates but surely they could factor in how many birds they are likely to lose to predation and charge slightly more per shoot to cover the purchase of extra poults. Because, lets be honest, its usually only the sickeningly rich who want to participate in the barbaric "sport" of shooting anyway.

I hope the new laws make a difference and that the offenders are suitably punished.

Dave Dick

Good strong stuff....with the usual ridiculous denials [SGA and Earl of Annandale]in the face of overwhelming evidence.

However the biggest scandal...which is not mentioned the fact that the dead hand of the landowners/shooting lobby extends to influencing our entire justice system...we do know who is doing this, we do find evidence on shooting estates...and then it is ignored/played down/obstructed by police....the Crown Office and Fiscals...and finally and most damningly by Sheriff's who refer to possession of poisons by gamekeepers as "minor technical offences"!

The Laws are already there...even without vicarious liability...but where are you going to find a court in Scotland which will prosecute such an offence?

As for your withheld Harrier Report that will be senior SNH staff, running scared of influential landowners and second guessing what they want - as much as any [untraceable] direct instruction.

Always remember how SNH was created - out of the debris of NCC, destroyed by angry landowning/shooting Tories...after they tried to do their job on SSSI creation.

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