Friday, 31 July 2009

Poisoned eagles and the Osborne connection

Another eagle falls victim to illegal poisoning. The story is reported in the Guardian here. And once again the name of Mark Osborne is not far away. Osborne is known for his ability to take a poor grouse moor and turn it around, vastly increasing grouse numbers - and the moor's value - in a few years. Of course it could be coincidence, but several moors run by Osborne have been at the centre of illegal poisoning scandals in recent years. Here's one example. And another. And another.

Osborne was closely involved with Sir Edward Dashwood and the EJ Churchill Shooting Ground at West Wycombe. Book extract here.

The site of the latest incident, Millden estate near Brechin in Angus, is reported in the Press & Journal to be owned by investment banker Richard Hanson, and is run by Nick Baikie who was previously employed by Osborne. There's a pic of a very happy looking beater's lab here.

Local keepers are hopping mad at the damage done to shooting's reputation. And there's no doubt where they're pointing the finger.

Just a few greedy estates are trashing the reputation of shooting, and undermining all the good conservation work done by the vast majority of shoot managers in Britain. Surely we are best placed to weed them out? Suggestions welcome - comment below or email me at james(a)


Meconopsis said...

James are any Scotish keepers employed on this Scottish estate ?? I have to ask as from my info all the keepers Mr O has are home grown English keepers ? who will not speak !!!!!!

David Kinsella said...

I usualy have a lot of time for your comments James but you seem to have convicted Mark Osbourne and any keeper who works for him without trial. Just because he can run a profitable and efficient shoot doesn't mean his keepers are all out destroying predators. Yes some have been convicted of setting cage traps in the past but is there any evidence of ilegal poisoning, even after raids on keepers cottages upsetting wives and children?
I couldn't find any in the links you posted, it just seems that he must be guilty because he manages to run a succesful shoot.

James Marchington said...

Hi David. You're right, the evidence that's in the public domain isn't enough to prove consistent wrongdoing. Which is why I qualified my remarks. But a series of coincidences over several years is enough to raise serious doubts. Shooting can no longer slam its door in the face of RSPB and the like. We have to be seen to be whiter than white. After these incidents, I'd like to see Osborne - for the sake of shooting as a whole - open up his estates to independent scrutiny.

Unknown said...

I would like to add my voice to these who are completely sickened by the illegal poisoning of this magnificent golden eagle.
The Osborne / Baikie method is no great secret. Kill every predator, burn more heather (as cover from predators is unnecessary) put out medicated grit, cut all the birch, rowan etc. up the linns and sit back and watch the grouse flourish in this desert monoculture. Is this really the management we want for our precious uplands?
Law abiding shooters beware from the humble wildfowler to the rough shooter, these bastards will get your sport banned.