Thank you for emailing Nicola Sturgeon (3)

Yesterday evening we sent out a newsletter asking our supporters to email Nicola Sturgeon about the scale of wildlife crime in Scotland, exemplified by the poisoning of this young White-tailed Eagle that was found on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park.

Poisoned White-tailed Eagle. Photo: Police Scotland

The response has been amazing so we thought we’d post a few examples here. This is the third tranche of examples.

Have a look at the examples below and please add your own voice. Tell Ms Sturgeon how you felt when you saw the image above. Ask her to act now. You don’t have to send a long email, or a clever email, or a learned email – just speak from the heart. And you don’t have to be Scottish or to live in Scotland.

If you are prepared to send a polite, but firm, email to Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, then this is her email address;

Thank you!

Dear First Minister, I would like to register my huge sadness that the poisoning of birds of prey continues in Scotland without effective redress. Last year I visited the Isle of Mull with my family to see the white-tailed eagles nesting there, and it was truly thrilling. Such a huge amount of effort has gone into their care, monitoring and positive promotion, that it is shocking to me that the protection of these birds is not considered a top priority. As well as being the spectacular apex of the wild Scottish ecosystem, they are such a wonderful promotional opportunity for Scotland to attract visitors from all around the world. That opportunity is being wasted by letting an environmentally catastrophic industry (driven grouse shooting) get away with appalling wildlife crime. Please look very hard at the terrible cost to our wildlife of  the ‘Driven Grouse Shooting’ industry, which benefits so few individuals, and consider an outright ban of this outdated activity. Please also act immediately act on the legal protection given last month to Mountain Hares, which I understand could be killed in unprecedented numbers this year ahead of new laws coming into force to protect the species. The new Bill must be fast-tracked before the start of shooting season to prevent a “blood bath”. Scotland is loved for its unique wildlife. Please act to protect it as the priority it deserves to be. Yours sincerely,

Dear First minister, It seems a regular occurrence these days to hear about yet another raptor going missing or being found dead on or near a grouse moor. Unfortunately the grouse shooting industry for reasons I do not understand seems unable to resolve the problem. They claim it is a few bad apples, which would be easily dealt with, the conclusion therefore is that it is rife in this community and self governance does not work. I therefore ask you to bring in laws that regulate the industry and halt this illegal slaughter. After all, tourism is an important part of the Scottish economy and Scottish wildlife is a major part of the attraction. Yours sincerely

Dear Nicola and Roseanna, Although I am English, I studied at Glasgow University and holiday when I can in Scotland. I love Scotland and admire Scots’ forward thinking, their valuing of education, their radicalness.  However, when it comes to the tolerance of the corrupt industry of driven grouse shooting, it appears that the political establishment are as cowed by (or bought by?) the rich and powerful landowners as are the English. This puzzles and depresses me. Because yet again a fabulous bird of prey, this time the iconic white-tailed sea eagle, has been illegally poisoned on a grouse moor. With the introduction of vicarious liability I hoped that things would change, but nothing has. The obvious conclusion to reach is that these crimes will not stop until driven grouse shooting is banned. Please, please be as brave as you can be in other matters. Stand up to the landowners, please ban driven grouse shooting and re-wild the uplands for the benefit of all. Regards,

Dear First Minister and Cabinet Secretary, I was distressed and dismayed to see the image of a magnificent white-tailed eagle illegally and cruelly slaughtered in Strathdon. I believe Scotland is shamed and diminished by the continual onslaught on such beautiful, majestic creatures – quite possibly just to misguidedly ‘protect’ game birds bred by the million for so-called sport. Whilst I realise it is difficult to point a finger in particular cases this is the latest in a long line of such killings, and I have followed the cases brought by RSPCA, RSPB and others and know the evidence is fairly conclusive. I was so delighted that Holyrood voted to protect the mountain hares, as were all my friends, but please can we see a genuine campaign to rid Scotland of the criminals who think it acceptable to put the profits of a few landowners, and their vested interests, above the richness and variety of our wonderful wildlife. Otherwise how can we hold our heads up on the international stage and ask other countries to protect the other many endangered species in the world? I live in Arbroath, and used to love going out into the highlands to enjoy the scenery and wildlife and have even thought of moving to those areas, but over recent years have found the takeover by driven grouse-shooting estates off-putting to say the least.  I know many others who feel this way and have even moved back to towns because of it.  How many more visitors, national and international, who truly care about and respect the countryside and our natural heritage, would Scotland be attracting if it only became known as a true haven for species as special as the white-tailed eagle? I know that it is argued that grouse shoots bring a lot of money into the country, but I really don’t think the income stays in Scotland; beaters are paid a pittance (and often endangered), and as the shoots are sold as all-inclusive experiences, participants don’t even leave the estates.  The real income goes to the investors in the industry, often not based in the UK. This can surely be compared to some of the few areas being managed for wildlife, where visitors are dispersed around different towns, hotels, b&bs, cafes and so on.
Please can this be addressed with urgency, I believe Scotland will need every asset it has post-Brexit and post-Covid, in order to get back on its feet, Yours most faithfully,

Dear First Minister, I am writing in relation to Schedule 1 raptor killings across Scotland, but firstly would like to thank you and your advisors for your efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. The professionalism and humanity within your approach has been a steady for many people I know and most of us are glad that you all are genuinely acting for the benefit of us all throughout the emergence. In relation to the illegal killing of protected birds, I am heartily sickened by yet another poisoning of another white-tailed eagle within the Cairngorms National Park Authority boundary. I have had the pleasure of spending many hours over many years as a researcher and consultant surveying Schedule raptor species, and feel that we as a civilised country have a duty of care to these animals. Unfortunately, I have direct experience of poisoning incidences in the late 90’s, when working at RSPB Geltsdale. I found a poisoned hen harrier and raven (carbofuran), saw the keeper putting out the poisoned starlings, police raided his house: no prosecution. Carrying around a beautiful but dead hen harrier in a plastic shopping bag when I had spent tens of thousands of hours watching them skydancing, watching the chicks grow to fledging from a hide, watching them waft across the moor into a winter roost on a frosty winters day… sorry, don’t have the words. Wildlife brings more money to the economy, more employment and more enjoyment by many factors that driven grouse shooting. Driven grouse shooting has preserved some of our uplands in a seemingly more biodiversity favourable condition compared to sheep walk or commercial forestry, employing a few people in the hill who seem to pay little attention to UK or EU law, but that is not enough to allow this to continue. There is a saying, don’t blame the player-blame the game: this game is rotten, but most of the players are not. I would urge the Scottish Government to look at these birds as they are: our national and ancient heritage. They are as important, as historical, as beautiful and as important as any painting or building. They are also our future, driven shooting based on illegality is not. So I would urge you to work towards the licensing of driven grouse and all shooting activities, alter the law so that e.g. we don’t have nonsense relating to people escaping justice as they didn’t give prior permission to be filmed committing a crime, and make this industry mires in illegal activity shape up or be shipped out. Thank you for you time.

Dear Excellency Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary Cunningham, I am writing with great sadness at evidence of a beautiful young white eagle that was poisoned near grouse moors in the Cairngorms and recently found by conservationists who had been tracking it. I am a Scot in exile in Cambridge/Guernsey who yearns to come home. It is my dream to return to Scotland and support efforts to rewild the lowlands (I must just find my academic husband a job up north). My father was a timber merchant, based in Glasgow, who in the 1930s through to the 1950s began his business deforesting the highlands. On the other hand it was his passion for Nature and stories of escapades in Loch Lomond and sailing with basking sharks in the Scottish Isles which enthused me with an environmental consciousness that has driven my career to date. I am passionate about wildlife and conservation and have built a social venture which operates internationally to help the mining and minerals sector contribute to resilient futures for everyone. I have spent the past year on sabbatical in Guernsey building my understanding of climate action and (re)wilding and formulating a plan to be part of the movement that is gathering such pace around Europe, with Scotland in a leading position. I was due to spend a week with Trees for Life helping reforest Dundreggan in September, but due to COVID this has been cancelled. I have been so proud in recent years to be a Scot in exile. To witness your excellent handling of the COVID crisis and putting England to shame in this regard. To note the extent to which the SNP put climate change, Nature and social justice at the heart of its 2019 election manifesto. (And don’t get me started on Brexit). Thank you from the bottom of my heart for these values which you lead with, and lead the UK with. I only wish I could vote for you but being in Cambridge, I can’t. Grouse moors are a colonial excuse for elite entertainment, representing a myth of ‘scottishness’ that is outdated and destructive. In today’s world we must put biodiversity, climate action, sustainable food production, and local communities at the heart of our land management. Grouse moors contribute to climate change and low biodiversity. It is time to let Scotland live to its full potential to be a leader in nature based solutions to global challenges. This means doing grouse moors differently – or minimally. One dead eagle may seem a sorry starting point for my heady story-telling, but it ties in. if we can protect our iconic species, our predators, we can have our ecosystems thrive. Where they thrive they sequester carbon, offer ecosystem services, and generate new economic opportunities that can drive Scotland’s rural economies forward. If eagles do well, I believe we can do better too.

My request is that a more enabling environment is created to enable Scottish biodiversity to flourish; that landowners curating grouse moors are incentivised to be climate smart and biodiversity smart; that all shooting of wildlife should be licensed; that more resources are put into preventing and prosecuting effectively wildlife crime.

Thank you for your time.

With sincere regards,