Nature

Authorized Mass Killing of Ravens in Perthshire May Go On Hold

After mass protests from conservationists, a license issued by the Scottish Natural Heritage to allow a mass culling of ravens in central Scotland is under review and may be revoked.

The license, issued to the Strahbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW), authorized the killing of 300 ravens in the Perthshire hills. The license application was also supported by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

The purported purpose of the cull was to help increase the numbers of wading birds such as the golden plover, curlew and lapwing. But in reality it also was to theoretically increase the numbers of red grouse, a wading bird species commonly killed in blood sport by mis-guided humans. Ravens are claimed to be natural predators of this group of birds.

In issuing the license, Scottish Natural Heritage had claimed that this was simply about creating a better balance between the species in the area. The truth appears instead that SNH and its backers, Scottish Lands and Estates, the landowners’ association in the area, and the gamekeepers’ national organization, were out mostly for one thing: keeping the red grouse hunting economy going.

In reality, this is not about the balance between species. It is a savage attack on a noble species merely to profit a few people. That is part of why the Scottish Raptor Study Group and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have come out against the cull. Two petitions have also been launched to call for a halt to the cull. 

One of the others who has come out to demand a stop to the SNH license was Chris Packham, noted conservationist and host of Springwatch, a BBC program. He wrote his own letter to the chairman of Mike Cantlay, chairman of SNH, saying that, “If you had asked a team of the very best PR executives to come of with a plan to incinerate the last vestiges of credibility, to banish any dwindling reserves of integrity and to destroy any remaining trust between conservationists and SNH, then it’s my bet they would have suggested this.”

Ravens are highly intelligent creatures with complex social orders. They can learn to converse in  human languages, devise tools, sustain long-term relationships with humans and will go to great lengths to support the well-being of their clans. 

If the Scottish government wants to increase the population of the red grouse it should merely stop letting people kill them.

As of this writing, Scottish Natural Heritage has been sufficiently rattled by the pressure from all that it was agreed to review its decision to license the Raven cull immediately. It promises a response “as speedily as possible.”

Since no reversal of the decision has happened yet, those interested in making their voices heard against the SNH cull licensing should go to https://www.change.org/p/mike-cantlay-snh-chair-email-chair-snh-gov-uk-stop-the-raven-cull-now to sign the petition to stop the mass killings now.

You can send an email to the Scottish National Heritage at enquiries@snh.gov.uk and call them at 01463 725 000.