Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland

Is it Time that the Countryside gets Proper Legal Representation?

Over the last few weeks, months and years there has been a constant attack on what we call “country life” by organisations such as RSPB with what seems like complete backing from the media and the supposedly impartial BBC. When does it stop? Week after week FSS has come to the attention of one article or another that seems to attack “our” way of life with some cases more serious than others. It does not matter, it seems, what the hunting and countryside community does we always get vilified for our actions.

Persecution Even When We Are Trying To Help Those In Need

The most recent article read in the “tabloid” press is in regards to Cricketer Sir Ian Botham being blatantly ambushed on a BBC radio show for his support of Field Sports, when the sole purpose for him being on the show was for an interview about his idea to tackle levels of hunger in the homeless community by donating Pheasants from his estates. To the rational minded out there, that is an excellent gesture of good will and makes a lot of sense. This interview became an opportunity for the hosts to blatantly attack Sir Ian Botham in regards to Grouse Shooting and moorland management. FSS came across a similar problem last year when we offered to butcher a deer or a couple of deer for a local charity that provides hampers to disadvantaged families for Christmas in the North of Scotland when we were told they could not accept it for ethical reasons. The BBC and the media in general portray the hunting community as being evil and malicious when in fact we are very hard-working and care a lot about our life and the environment. Members of our communities do a lot for not just the wildlife and environment but for the local community and the wider population as a whole.

A Professional Approach

Thankfully, Sir Ian Bothams reply to his ambush has been professional and honest and showed his experience in dealing with hostile criticism in this manner, but less experienced and more emotional people in our community have responded, in similar cases, a lot differently in the past, which does our argument no good. The question though, At what point do we draw the line? Each day our way of life is being threatened and constant lobbying by the anti hunting community is relentless. We are supposed to have the support from our various organisations that represent us publicly but they seem hell-bent on arguing with themselves on other matters. Morayshire Wildfowling to just name one. At the moment there seems to be no unity within the hunting community as a whole, being divided on matters can make us very vulnerable to scrutiny and further persecution. In an article (By The Daily Mail), Sir Ian Botham made a point clear that hunting and countryside people have known for a long time, Managed moorlands are not desolate environments mainly for reared birds but are a haven and sanctuary for a lot of endangered and rare wildlife and Summer nesting wading birds. As we all know without this moorland management programs on sporting estates by very qualified and dedicated keepers and managers the environment would be a completely different place.

Poorly Managed

FSS can prove this and the issue has been mentioned more than once in the past by us, I refer to RSPB Forsinard/Forsinain, this is an estate in North Caithness and Sutherland in the Highlands of Scotland, the land is less than 20 miles from the North coast of Scotland. One of the most diverse bird life in the world is found around the North West and North Coast. RSPB Forsinard should be a “Haven” for bird population, it should be so teaming with birds that in the mid spring the sounds should be deafening with the summer nesting wading birds such as Oyster catchers and Curlews and Plovers etc. BUT IT’s NOT. Instead you will find thousands of acres of desolate moorland with a rare squeak from a passing buzzard and the odd chirp of a Meadow Pippet. The road from Forsinain to AltNabreac Railway station over Slethill is a long uneventful one with the odd herd of deer.
Slethill Road Baron a part from the odd deer
It truly is depressing. On the other hand Strathmore forest less than 3 miles to the North is teaming with bird life within its lochs and the estates to the south and west of the RSPB ground are all alive with “Waders” and varied amount of bird life.

Why Is This?

It is down to management plain and simple! RSPB do NO predator control, yes, they do soil samples and the odd survey and fix fences and gates and kind of maintain the roads but the do No actual moorland management. There is no heath management giving the birds adequate feeding and shelter or natural territories to establish, they get no protection from predators such as foxes and are left open to attack by raptors. the fact of the matter the ground is not managed and that’s the RSPB policy Led by Chris Packham. It has come to the point in this particular location that RSPB and their workers are not welcome by the local community, ecologists and wildlife managers alike are both telling the RSPB that what they are doing is wrong but the RSPB just refuse to listen.

RSPB Hypocrisy

The Hypocrisy of the RSPB is not just localised to just this area. Their policies are emulated throughout the UK under the Thousands and thousands of acres that they, supposedly, manage and in some cases with the same result. Yes I agree in SOME areas their management plan has worked but definitely not without controversy but their lack of tailoring needs for separate locations that they own really defeats the purpose of what they are setting out to do and that’s to PROTECT birds. Time after time we hear the views of Chris Packham  on the BBC and his constant attack on our community gathers a lot of support. I wonder if his support would be the same if I took some of his supporters to places like Forsinard to show them the damage his organisation is doing or highlight the proof of the thousand and thousands of deer that the RSPB shoot every year in regards to “Habitat Management”.

What Can We Do Legally?

I think it is time that our representing bodies for our community to meet this problem head on and start a legal stance for the protection of our communities. Organisations such as RSPB are very quick to prosecute and persecute publicly anybody from the hunting community that steps out-of-place even just a little bit but are not held accountable for their own actions. In many cases these organisations are not working on an “ethical” code of practice either towards humanity or towards the environment. There SHOULD be a legal case for the unbiased attitude shown by the BBC in latter years and months and there should be a case against presenters such as Chris Packham that use the BBC as a platform for their own political agenda. There should also be more emphasis and help given by out representing bodies in regards to individual abuse cases. The only way there seems to be an end to this argument is if more people are prosecuted or had to explain themselves in court in regards to their actions. These matters are beyond the realm of Freedom Of Speech or Expression, but, are blatant cases of In-siting Violence and anti social behavior, defamation of character and down right assault. It is also time for a proper debate, factual and professional, on the matter publicly so the people understand the facts and not just what is fed to them by unbiased views. they need to know the policies of the organisations they support and those organisations have to be honest about their practices and procedure and not the sugar-coated perception that is shown on programs like Country File. Stand up and be honest that’s all we ask.