Thanks to the brilliant Raptor Persecution Scotland website, the wider world have been made aware to the totally bizarre actions of the Scottish Natural Heritage agency in granting a licence for the slaughter of up to 300 ravens in the Perthshire region. Quoting the RPS website ‘The licence has been issued to a consortium calling itself the Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW) which, according to the licence application, ‘represents some of the local land management (farmers, gamekeepers) and private interests in the area who value wading birds for their biodiversity, social and economic value to the area and to Scotland more widely. The application is supported by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and technical advice and support, notably data gathering and interpretation, is being provided by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)‘.
Naturally, in common with anyone who values our native wildlife and more especially, as in this case, the target of this culling programme, the iconic raven, the licence to cull is an appalling decision which appears to be a kneejerk reaction from weak people confronted by powerful vested interests. Ravens like all Corvids are a highly intelligent, resourceful bird and as much a part of the upland landscape as the very earth beneath its wings. Anyone seeing a raven glide and tumble within a remote mountain cwm or even just perched atop a high tree, cannot fail to be inspired by its beauty. Shiny, coal black and announcing to the world its presence through that unmistakable, echoing croak, although perhaps Edward Abbey described the corvids vocal range best when he described ‘the clapperclawing of crows’.
Under the pretext of protecting wading birds, the SNH have granted the licence to those unfailing protectors of Scotland’s wildlife, landowners,farmers, gamekeepers and the hunting lobby. Not surprisingly, the licensing of a raven cull has not gone unnoticed and across the social and national media, wildlife organizations, individuals and groups like the RSPB have been up in arms. Firing off statements, spreading the word via social media and organizing petitions. Although personally I think petitions are a waste of time whatever the cause. Signing a petition gives the illusion that you are doing something positive when in fact they achieve nothing and let those in the firing line, off the hook.
Duncan Orr-Ewing- RSPB Scotland Head of Species & Land Management, stated two days ago
“We are extremely concerned about the likely scale on impact of this research licence on the local raven population in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire. We are also very surprised that SNH have issued such a research licence in the vicinity of Strathbraan, which has an appalling and well documented track record of illegal persecution of raptors, noting also the very recent “suspicious” disappearance of a satellite tagged white-tailed eagle in this very same area.We, together with local raptor workers who have been monitoring ravens in the area for decades, could have helped SNH with this background detail to the licence application if we had been consulted. We will be seeking a high level meeting with SNH shortly to discuss. We will be pressing for the research licence to be revoked on the back of the white-tailed eagle incident, and instead consideration given by SNH to removing the use of the Open General Licence in this area, as is within their powers“.
Following on from the recent controversy concerning the wholesale slaughter of mountain hares by the hunting lobby in Scotland, a lot of people are wondering what exactly the centre left SNP/ Green Scottish government are doing in pandering to this powerful lobby and basically saying 'nothing to do with us Guv!' ? In a way, the Scottish sporting estates and the hunting and fishing lobby, appear from the outside to be the Scottish governments’ equivalent to the US governments NRA. Small but disproportionately powerful and intensely disliked by the majority of people in each country. Time methinks for the Scottish government to become pro-active in these environmental/ conservation issues and not pretend the issues are outside their jurisdiction.
Hopefully, sense will prevail in this instance and the ravens of Perthshire will wheel and tumble in pleasure and not in death.