Showing posts with label land owners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label land owners. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cash before Nature

Socialist Courier has reported how the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ lobby has had a devastating effect on Scotland’s natural wild-life by slaughtering any threat to their grouse. It now transpires that they are also guilty of over-stocking deer herds to the point that they and the environment suffer.

Scotland’s sporting estates must be forced to cull thousands of deer, the country’s most powerful environmental groups have told MSPs. Deer numbers had spiralled and they were damaging the country’s moorland, peatland and “fragile populations” of other native species like capercaillie. The group, the membership of which includes the National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said a voluntary code of conduct has failed to tackle the scourge. But the group suggested that landowners were unwilling to take action because the value of Highland sporting estates is partly based on “the number of sporting stags available to shoot”.

The group argued estates want to keep deer numbers as high as possible to help stalking and called for them to bear the financial burden of culling under a “polluter pays” principle.Landowners warned about the harm this would cause the £105 million stalking industry and the 2,520 jobs it is estimated to support. Scottish Land & Estates, the body representing landowners, said: “Red deer stalking attracts relatively high-spending visitors who come outside the peak tourist seasons. These visitors are willing to come to our more remote areas where employment and other economic activities are scarce.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Killing nature for profits

Mountain hares are facing extinction in large parts of the Scottish Highlands because landowners are killing thousands of them every year in order to protect the grouse shooting industry, wildlife experts have warned. The distinctive mammals are being shot and snared by gamekeepers on grouse moors due to fears that ticks carried by hares spread a viral disease, which can be fatal to grouse. However, experts have poured doubt on claims that killing hares protects grouse.

“A preventable catastrophe has befallen the mountain hare,” said Dr Adam Watson, a veteran mountain ecologist. “This is a national scandal.” This was “due to deliberate efforts by estates to eradicate them,” he said. “Gamekeepers on several estates have told me that they were instructed to reduce hare numbers and to try to eradicate them.”

Watson condemned the government’s wildlife conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), for failing to protect mountain hares under European law. “SNH has known what has been happening for years and has done nothing about it,” he said. “In my view, this is supine behavior, pleasing to or subservient to powerful grouse-shooting interests, but wholly against the wider public interest.”

Tim Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates claims that even though thousands of hares are destroyed each year, this was ‘less than 10% of the population’. The most up-to-date UK population estimate appears to have been made in a 1995 publication. It’s also ludicrous for Baynes to be referring to a (fairly dodgy) population estimate from 1995 – that was 18 years ago.  Baynes also failed to mention was that the 25,000 culled only related to information provided by 90 estates; a further 102 estates (68 driven grouse estates and 34 walked-up grouse estates) did not provide any information to the survey, so the actual figure culled was likely to be considerably higher.

Alex Hogg of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association is also quoted in The Herald article, claiming that gamekeepers have ‘no alternative but to suppress the numbers of mountain hares on grouse moors because of the dangers of Louping Ill Virus, which can infect humans’. However, here is an article that suggests humans are “rarely” affected by the Louping Ill Virus. And here is an article about a scientific publication that suggests there is “no compelling evidence base” that culling mountain hares can stop the spread of Louping Ill Virus. A tick-borne disease that seems to be of more concern to humans is Lyme Disease. And what spreads Lyme Disease? Pheasants, amongst other species. Given Mr Hogg’s concern for human health, can we expect to see him advocating a moratorium on the release of 43 million pheasants, per year, into our countryside?

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