Statement on RSPB call for grouse moor licensing regime

Press Release

In response to publication today (December 14) of a report by RSPB calling for the introduction of licensing of grouse moors, Scottish Land & Estates issued the following statement.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Crime Report published annually by the Scottish Government has reported a significant decline in raptor persecution. 

“Recorded incidents of persecution are now at their lowest levels and this progress has been noted by government and Police Scotland.  This position was underlined only last month by the publication of raptor persecution maps by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (Scotland). We have found that working with the independent data produced by government and its agencies is the most accurate indication of the true picture.

“The work done by gamekeepers and grouse moor owners committed to conservation has played a big part in getting us to where we are today and collaborative efforts involving police and other agencies have made a real difference. There is ample evidence to show that progressive grouse moor management delivers significant biodiversity benefit and there are many bird species – including raptors – thriving on well-managed moors. 

“Where wildlife crime does occur, those who are responsible should face the full force of the law. Scotland has very strong wildlife crime legislation and we have repeatedly supported the use of stiff penalties for those who break these laws. Clearly, there is concern over the disappearance of satellite-tagged birds and there should be a concentrated effort to establish the facts in these cases. We would support a more transparent and independent system of monitoring these birds.

“Grouse moor management, like other land uses, is already subject to extensive regulations and there is a real commitment by land managers to make sure the highest standards are met. The sector will continue to improve in line with new scientific findings and evolving best practice,

“There is an independent review of grouse shooting ongoing and that should be allowed to take its course. We do not believe that a licensing system is the most effective away forward and such a scheme could put rural livelihoods at risk without achieving what it is intended to do.”