Last week a very interesting article was published on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website as part of our 50 for the Future series of guest blogs which outline 50 things that we believe should happen in Scotland over the next 50 years to benefit both people and wildlife.
The subject of this particular blog, written by Stuart Housden (Director of RSPB Scotland), was the need to introduce a licensing system for gamebird shooting. I won’t go into all the details of what Stuart said as you can read the article for yourselves here.
However, in a nutshell the argument can be boiled down to the following points:
- The intensive management of large swathes of our uplands, particularly for driven red grouse shooting, is causing significant and widespread environmental damage, with consequences for both people and wildlife.
- Frequent rotational burning of heather on grouse moors has serious impacts including the drying out of deep peat soils which can lead to increased carbon emissions, habitat fragmentation, soil erosion and flood risk.
- Bird of prey populations in areas where driven grouse shooting is prevalent continue to be suppressed by illegal persecution as they are considered a threat to game stocks, and there is large scale culling of mountain hares and wild deer aimed at preventing the spread of ticks and thus control grouse diseases.
- If well managed our uplands have the potential to provide a range of public goods and services including carbon storage, clean drinking water and large protected areas for wildlife, as well as recreation and tourism opportunities.
- Along with the rest of the UK, Scotland has one of the most intensively managed and least regulated hunting systems in Europe and North America. The gamebird shooting industry has clearly shown itself to be incapable of or unwilling to self-regulate, therefore it is time for a system of licencing to be introduced to ensure that sporting estates are following best practice environmental management and delivering wider public benefits. Where estates are found to be acting outwith the law or causing significant environmental damage they could have their shooting rights revoked, firearms certificates withdrawn and lose government subsidies.
The Scottish Raptor Study Group has recently launched a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the introduction of just such a system. It has the backing of Scottish Wildlife Trust and the RSPB and I would urge you to show your support by signing the petition on the Scottish Government website.
Here’s the link: https://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01615
Anyone can sign the petition regardless of whether they live in Scotland or not – all that is required is your name, email address and where you live.
The petition is live until 22nd August.