QC: golden ea­gle study shows “un­con­scious bias”

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - NEWS -

A QC has dis­cov­ered “sig­nif­i­cant short­com­ings” into an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the dis­ap­pear­ance of golden ea­gles in Scot­land.

A 2017 re­port from Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage (SNH), re­quested by en­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary Roseanna Cunningham, con­cluded that many satel­lite-tracked golden ea­gles died in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances.

How­ever, on ex­am­in­ing the ev­i­dence, Ron­nie

Clancy QC, for the Scot­tish Game­keep­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (SGA), said that there was ev­i­dence of “un­con­cious bias”. He said: “The con­cept of sus­pi­cion cen­tred on grouse moors looms large be­hind the ques­tion which the authors sought to an­swer.

“This gives rise to a dan­ger that the ev­i­dence is an­a­lysed in a state of un­con­scious bias as to the out­come.”

Mr Clancy con­cluded:

“It does look as if the study is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated to ob­tain a de­sir­able re­sult ... The orig­i­nal anal­y­sis pro­duced noth­ing of sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance.”

SGA chair­man Alex Hogg com­mented: “The le­gal opin­ion… high­lights that the con­nec­tion be­tween grouse moors and sus­pi­cious tags in the SNH re­port was ini­tially found to be in­signif­i­cant — un­til the authors shifted the pa­ram­e­ters and ex­tended the bound­aries of the moors by up to 4km.” “Now is the time to start feed­ing wild birds,” says Alan Ed­wards, head­keeper at the award-win­ning By­well es­tate.

Es­tab­lish a thor­ough net­work of feed sta­tions and spe­cially planted wild bird crops. Wheat is a cost-ef­fec­tive way of fill­ing hop­pers but they need to be main­tained and not al­lowed to run dry. Also scat­ter feed by hand, which catches birds that are not brave enough to join the feed­ing frenzy that can oc­cur around a hop­per.

Un­less you phys­i­cally put some food out, the birds will move on un­til they find a vi­able food source or suc­cumb to star­va­tion.

Make sure you have room in your freezer for stor­ing all the game you’re go­ing to be shoot­ing and en­sure that ev­ery pack­age is clearly la­belled, for ex­am­ple, “8 pheas­ant breasts Oc­to­ber 2018”. Make sure the game is wrapped up cor­rectly; cling film will crack and break, leav­ing the flesh within to suc­cumb to freezer burn.

For tips on how to freeze game, visit po.st/freezegame.

FREEZE

Golden ea­gle chicks are fit­ted with satel­lite tags for the SNH study

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