Our Chairman David Johnstone was one of a panel giving evidence to the ECCLR Committee on a wide range of issues around a licensing Petition for of all types of gamebird shooting.
Petition PE 1615 was brought by Logan Steele of the Scottish Raptor Study Group in 2015 and supported by RSPB. It calls for state regulated licensing of all types of gamebird shooting (pheasants, partridge and grouse) but is predicated almost entirely on a perception of “intensive” grouse moor management and allegations of raptor persecution. This Petition was passed to ECCLR and debated by the Committee on Tuesday. The key points made by Scottish Land & Estates were to dispute the perception of raptor crime on estates, to highlight the significant decline in raptor incidents over the last five years and the work done by landowners to ensure best practice management. Therefore licensing is unjustified and if based on a loose or civil burden of proof as proposed by the Petition, would undermine confidence by estates to invest in shooting enterprises with resulting loss of economic viability and employment. Andy Smith of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association outlined how game management was already being targeted by illegal outside interference and the risk of a licensing regime would be that people would try to incriminate estates to try to get licences taken away. That would be an unacceptable business risk for estates. David Johnstone also explained that shooting enterprises are not generally profitable but the turnover is significant and most of that is recycled back into the local community. The Committee also considered the SNH report into game hunting regulation in European countries and how that might be relevant in Scotland. It is not known what further action the ECCLR Committee will take in relation to the Petition.