Our Beautiful Scottish Countryside – Time for a real debate on game shooting.


Managed grouse moor with recent burning

Managed grouse moor with recent burning

The slaughter of predators continues in Scotland, particularly on our upland “managed” grouse moors.

If you doubt that statement in any way, take a look at the excellent blog – raptorpersecutionscotland….a litany of manmade wildlife disasters.

In 2011 I had my autobiography published – “Wildlife Crime” – by Whittles publishing. Much of it describes my close up and personal experiences of witnessing this illegal killing and my attempts to work within the scottish justice system and at least slow things down. An often frustrating and fruitless task – as I often said, this wasnt a job it was a vocation.


The following paragraphs are some thoughts on this fraught area which were written at the time but not included in the book. Enjoy?

“The Scottish Countryside – my intention here is not to destroy people’s romantic view of our beautiful countryside, it will remain, no matter how men go about their work and hobbies. Even the near total forest destruction, introduction of sheep and encouragement of red deer onto the hills followed by vast planting of non native conifers, are cosmetic changes to the underlying geomorphology. There will always be hill and mountain spaces. The wildlife which will survive if we let it, has no need of man, in any truly natural system. Problems occur because of our alterations to these natural systems.

It offends me however, that the worst excesses of destruction to wildlife [and on occasion to whole ecosystems], are carried out without the knowledge and certainly without the consent, of the Scottish people. The mere act of questioning anything to do with the shooting industry, results in a hugely disproportionate response – often full of vitriol and accusations of ignorance and prejudice. If there is nothing to hide or be ashamed of, then why not let “the public” see what actually goes on, in the name of game shooting, in Scotland?

Let them see the dark cages in cold damp conifer plantations full of young pheasants, subject to disease and feather pecking when overcrowded – surrounded by snares and snap traps, to kill the natural predators of the area, attracted by this totally artificial and apparently, “easy pickings”, food supply.

Let them see the lines of beaters waiving flags, to drive flocks of artificially boosted numbers of red grouse across an artificially produced [by repeated burning], heather moor “ecosystem”. To the shooters hiding in the butts, where they fire a spray of lead shot in the direction of one of our fastest flying birds – leaving many crippled, to either be caught up and clubbed or to crawl away and die.

Let them see the snaring, trapping and shooting, which routinely takes place year after year on these artificial moors, as natural predators are sucked in from all around, by this artificial superabundance of prey.

After that, a real debate can take place – not just this repeated mantra of , “you townies know nothing”, which is used as an explanation or more often an excuse, for what many see as cruel and unnecessary destruction.”