A letter to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, my MP
Dear Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh,
My name is Edward Grierson and I am one of your constituents. You may recall that last year I wrote to you concerning the subject of Hen Harrier Day and raptor persecution. This year’s Hen Harrier Day was even more successful than last years, with no less than 12 events up and down the country.
I don’t know if I mentioned the petition to ban driven grouse shooting in England, however I feel the need to mention it now. It has recently gained over 100,000 signatures, meaning there will be a Parliamentary debate about it. I am writing to you now to ask to to speak out against it.
Driven grouse shooting relies on keeping red grouse at unnaturally high numbers to shoot. It involves killing huge number of raptors illegally, recently illustrated with the revelation that eight golden eagles have disappeared at grouse moors in the Monadhliaths in the past five years, as well as a hen harrier named Elwood. Contrary to some claims, these raptors are not dependent on grouse shooting: hen harriers are most successful in the Orkneys, Hebrides and West coast of Scotland, where there is no grouse shooting. The golden eagle population is also the highest in the West of Scotland. Mountain hares are also killed of en masse in many estates, supposedly to reduce louping ill virus in grouse, though the scientific evidence does not support this. Maintenance of heather moorland requires burning of the land, of which the Climate Commission recently issued a warning due to its impacts on carbon storage, as well as assisting erosion and preventing the natural tree cover from establishing itself. Many of the estates I have been on also run sheep on the hills, which further the processes of erosion by repetitive trampling with hooves.
This petition is not calling for a ban on all shooting- or even all grouse shooting. Grouse shooting still occurs in Scandinavia, where the habitat is not intensively burned and grazed, and the birds are shot via walked-up shooting. What we- the 119,000 people who signed the petition- are asking is that these past-times do not involve protected birds of prey being shot, and that natural ecological processes be given a chance to function. SNP have used their abilities to speak about English issues concerning the environment before, and I congratulate them in their voting against the Hunting Ban’s repeal last year. Now I am asking that this is exercised once more, to ban driven grouse shooting in England.
Since I wrote this letter, the number of signatures on that petition has increased to over 120,000- and this is entirely due to the ordinary public.
I am aware that some readers won’t agree with this petition, and believe it is better to be speaking with grouse estate owners. This would have been the best case scenario, and indeed this has been happening for decades. But the fact that birds of prey are still being shot in the name of a vested interest after decades of negotiation shows that it isn’t working.
I, and the 120,000+ people who signed this petition, won’t be happy until raptor persecution is confined to the past. If you feel like this too, then I urge you to sign this petition- and tell you MP to do so too.
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