Have a look at the list of species below and see if you can guess what they all have in common. I'll come back and update this post in a while, leave your guess in the comments.
Red-breasted Merganser, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Pine Marten, Jay, Buzzard, Raven, Cormorant, Goosander, Sparrowhawk, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wild Boar, Rook, Jackdaw, Great Black-backed Gull, Carrion Crow.
Back in October last Year Scottish Natural Heritage began a consultation exercise on General Licences. These General Licences "permit 'authorised persons' to carry out actions that
would otherwise be illegal. They cover certain types of activity
relating to birds, such as preserving public health or air safety, and
preventing the spread of disease. General licences cover situations that
are regarded as relatively commonplace and where there is unlikely to
be any great conservation impact." (description from SNH website).
Housden (RSPB) drew attention to the responses that have been published
on the SNH website in recent days and I've spent a little time picking over them. I've added a few quotes below from a variety of the
organisations consulted including the Scottish Gamekeepers Association
and The Game and Wildlife 'Conservation' Trust. Personally I think many
of these quotes once again add weight to the archaic and dated views
of these organisations and their continued assault on much of our
wildlife. Not least because every one of the 16 species listed above should be included on the General Licence if these organisations views were accepted. 16 species from organisations that claim to do widespread good for wildlife (or use the word conservation in their name).
Just how many of these 16 species really impact on public health or air safety, or spread disease? Isn't the reality that in the main this is a cover story, an excuse to continue a killing spree of those species whose only crime is doing what they've always done?
These problems need to be solved and to solve them lethal intervention may be
required. We cannot have frustration building up and forcing people to take the law
into their own hands...this will lead to non target species being involved. - SGA
take - A repeat of the SGA call to allow legal killing otherwise they
will simply ignore the law and kill any species that they perceive is a
Pine marten, badgers, buzzards, sparrow
hawks [sic] and cormorants should be down graded in protection status ( create a new
category level?) allowing easier granting of licences. - SGA
The over prescriptive need to present evidence on Raven predation to attain a
licence for example should be scrapped. It should be accepted that flocks of
immature ravens, between 5-30 for example, are there to feed, not exercising their
wings. In such numbers, over a very short period, these birds will decimate the
breeding attempts of local waders etc. -SGA
take - No need for evidence just accept what we say. I'm beginning to
wonder whether all this emphasis on waders is to ensure there are still
enough Snipe and Woodcock to shoot, boosting the daily bags? Or am I
As agriculture and protection of wild birds are closely connected, why do we not put
all the gulls ( herring, black backed [sic] and lesser black back) plus all the corvids on
licences 1,& 2, or combine the two. All big gulls eat small birds and all big gulls can
present a problem to animal based agriculture. - SGA
Wild boar should be eradicated, European evidence shows that this animal is
destructive and is a threat to wildlife.- SGA
take - A threat to wildlife? Perhaps they refer to a study that found
In some parts of Europe, wild boar predation is thought to have had an
on Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, Capercaillie and hazel
grouse (Nyenhuis, 1991; Saniga, 2002).So when they say a threat to 'wildlife' they mean the ones they want to shoot.
Pine marten are now becoming wide spread, as is the damage they are inflicting
both to private stock and to other wildlife. In areas where martens are known to be
abundant and licence requests showing damage are received these licences should
be given. _ SGA
take - Pine Martens were only given full protection 25 years ago and
whilst it is true to say that they have partially recovered range in
Scotland as a result the most recent figures from SNH are for 2600
to 3500 adults in Scotland. Hardly what most would term 'abundant'.
Scotland has a total area of 78, 772km2. I know Alex at SGA has had a
little trouble with numbers in the past so for his benefit that's
roughly one Pine Marten every 22.5km2.
Mention is made of general licences being withdrawn for wildlife crime convictions.
We do not feel it appropriate that a non-elected quango should decide on a person’s
future employment by giving or not giving an essential licence to that employee. _SGA
take - Of course the individual who committed the wildlife crimes bears
no responsibility for the consequences in this situation. The innocent
gamekeeper, allegedly in the majority, according to the regular
outpourings from these self-same organisations ought to have nothing to fear from this.
So much so that it is difficult to draw anything other than an obvious
conclusion to the reluctance of the representative body of Gamekeepers
in Scotland to having the criminals excluded from their ranks.
Crow Traps -
We are opposed to any requirement to report on any trap use or sighting. These
traps are not used covertly and any reporting is unnecessarily burdensome.
We are opposed to prescriptive sizing or design of cage traps other than a minimum
size for welfare reasons- SGA
take - Please don't ask us to give you any information about our
activities, we just need to be able to carry on killing crows and
anything else that gets in the traps unhindered and unfettered by any
requirements and we'd like to do it with big traps, little traps, hidden traps, traps with perches next them in fact any kind of traps that do the job of catching and killing.
A provision should be introduced allowing the removal of eggs for hatching and
rearing purposes for all game birds.- SGA
take - I just find this incredible, basically give us free reign to
take eggs from Grey Partridge, Black Grouse et al so we can rear them
artificially to give us more to shoot at. Conservation my arse.
We believe there is a case for ravens to be included in the General Licence for the
protection of livestock; and for buzzards and sparrowhawks to be included for the
protection of gamebird poults (livestock); and for cormorants and sawbill ducks for
the protection of fisheries.- GWCT
My take - True colours, as I said above conservation my arse.
Cormorants, Herons and goosanders should be added.- University of Stirling
take - It would be interesting to know whether the respondent on behalf
of the University of Stirling speaks for the whole university or indeed
the connections that lie behind this response. Perhaps if any Stirling
students are reading they could ask some questions?