On Saturday the 3rd of August, OneKind came together with other like-minded individuals and organisations to explore how radical reform of grouse moors can change the face of Scotland.
A first of its kind, the Revive Coalition conference in Perth brought together speakers from various organisations, MSP’s and members of the public to share their stories, expertise and experiences of: the impact of grouse moors on birds of prey and animal welfare, our environment and natural landscape, and how changes in land management and ownership could unlock an exciting future for Scotland’s people and communities.
Here’s a few of our highlights from the day!
OneKind volunteer and young rewilder, Holly, opened the conference speeches
Fourteen year old Holly opened the conference panel sessions calling for an end to grouse shooting, as she asked whether the current state of Scotland’s grouse moors was the landscape we wanted to leave behind for future generations. Heather on grouse moors is regularly burned, causing the uplands to release carbon instead of receiving it and for important peat bogs to dry out. The burning of heather on grouse moors also contributes to the reduction of diversity of plants and animals able to survive in the habitat.
Animal Welfare on Grouse Moors
Alison Johnstone MSP, who recently put forward a proposal for a real ban on fox hunting and protection of mountain hares that you can respond to here, chaired the panel surrounding animal welfare on grouse moors. She called driven grouse moors ‘a stain on Scotland’s reputation’.
Our Director, Bob Elliot, spoke about animal welfare on grouse moors
Bob explained that thousands of animals are killed to increase the number of grouse available for commercial shooting, commenting that ‘activities that rely on the routine killing of our species need to stop.’
Bob showed the audience images of animals caught in snares and in stink pits on Scotland’s moors. Snares are used on grouse moors to capture foxes as they are a predator to red grouse, and gamekeepers want to ensure numbers of red grouse available for commercial shooting are as high as possible. To lure foxes into the snares, gamekeepers may also create stink pits: a pit dug by gamekeepers where ‘bait’, such as wildlife carcasses, fish heads and other animals are placed, in order to lure foxes into snares set nearby. Bob asked why we still have snares in Scotland’s countryside, commenting that ‘you can’t regulate for cruelty like this.’
Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK provided some shocking statistics
Discussing raptor persecution on grouse moors, Ruth revealed that of the 131 golden eagles tagged in Scotland, almost a third had disappeared or were found dead on a grouse moor. She also shared the shocking statistic that between 1990-2015, gamekeepers were responsible for 68% of raptor persecution crimes.
Angela Hudspeth of The Scottish Raptor Study Group spoke of powerful estates
Angela explained how Scottish Natural Heritage required more resources to tackle illegal killings of protected birds, but that they were up against the pressure of powerful grouse shooting estates that want to maintain the status quo and prevent change.
Head of RSPB investigations, Ian Thomson, was confident of change
Ian was optimistic that we could deliver meaningful change to end the persecution of wildlife on grouse moors. He encouraged the audience to continue to campaign for change, stating ‘we are making a difference. It may be slow, but we are making progress…Sitting quiet and doing nothing is not an option.’
Living With it Locally
Around half of those at the conference lived within close proximity to grouse moors. They were invited to share their experiences of living near these moors and we were saddened to hear them speak of intimidation and threats of violence by gamekeepers. Their experiences were all too familiar to one another: stories of locals out for walks on the moors being intimidated with threats of being shot or other violence, unsolicited filming, and intrusive questioning. We were particularly concerned as one member of the public shared with the audience that even his elderly mother was threatened with violence.
These stories were shocking to hear, and we want to thank everyone who shared their experiences. It really opened our eyes to the negative impact grouse moors has on local communities.
The Future of Grouse Moors
With thanks to the brilliant speakers, panel discussions and members of the public, we left the Revive Conference feeling encouraged and motivated to continue advocating for grouse moor reform. A huge thank you to Revive’s Senior Campaigner Max Wiszniewski, for putting together an excellent conference with so many passionate speakers and also to everyone who joined us there and came to see us at our stall; we love meeting our supporters and we were also delighted that so many of you picked up some OneKind merch!
We’re delighted to be a part of the Revive Coalition, as in the words of our Policy Advisor, Libby Anderson, not only is Revive ‘highlighting awful problems, it’s offering solutions to these problems.’ You can learn more about Revive here, and pledge your support for significant reform of Scotland’s grouse moors here.