Scottish hunting estate slapped with wildlife control ban

Scottish hunting estate which borders the Queen’s home at Balmoral is slapped with three-year wildlife control ban after a Golden Eagle is ‘found poisoned’ on its land

  • The eagle was allegedly found on Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms, Scotland
  • NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency, said the estate’s general licences will be suspended, after also finding rabbit and a hare carcass, both baited with poison
  • Invercauld is found near the Queen’s Scottish home of Balmoral Castle
  • The estate has a history dating back hundreds of years, and is said to be one of the best places for hunting in Scotland, and has previously hosted royalty 
  • A Scottish hunting estate which borders the Queen‘s Balmoral home has been slapped with a three-year wildlife control ban after a Golden Eagle was allegedly found poisoned on its land. 

    NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency, announced that the use of general licences will be suspended for three years on some parts of Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park.

    General licences allows landowners or land managers to control wildlife to protect certain species and agriculture.

    A Scottish hunting estate which borders the Queen's Balmoral home has been slapped with a three-year wildlife control ban after a Golden Eagle was allegedly found poisoned on its land

    A Scottish hunting estate which borders the Queen’s Balmoral home has been slapped with a three-year wildlife control ban after a Golden Eagle was allegedly found poisoned on its land

    The restriction applies to the estate’s Gairnshiel and Micras moor, where Police Scotland said there was evidence of a golden eagle being poisoned in March last year, along with a rabbit and a hare carcass, both baited with poison.

    The decision has been made despite police confirming that no charges have been made in relation to the incident. 

    According to The Herald, the estate is said to be one of the best places to hunt red deer and grouse in Scotland, and is frequented by royalty.

    The newspaper reports that The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles have all gone shooting on the estate, while Queen Victoria frequented it during her own stays at the nearby Balmoral castle. 

    The imposed three-year restriction will not apply to the hunting of game birds.

    A spokesman for the estate, found near Braemar, said it was considering appealing against the decision.

    NatureScot, Scotland's nature agency, announced that the use of general licences will be suspended for three years on some parts of Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park

    NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency, announced that the use of general licences will be suspended for three years on some parts of Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park

    Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, described the discovery as ‘an act of animal cruelty’, adding that ‘there is clear evidence of criminal behaviour’.

    He said: ‘Because of this, and the risk of more wildlife crimes taking place, we have suspended the use of general licences on this property for three years.

    ‘They may still apply for individual licences, but these will be closely monitored.

    ‘This measure will help to protect wild birds in the area, while still allowing necessary land management activities to take place, although under tighter supervision.

    ‘We believe this is a proportionate response to protect wild birds in the area and prevent further wildlife crime.’

    Mr Fraser said the agency will continue to work with Police Scotland and will consider information they provide on cases which may warrant restricting general licences.

    The newspaper reports that The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles have all gone shooting on the estate, while Queen Victoria frequented it during her own stays at the nearby Balmoral castle (pictured, file photo)

    The newspaper reports that The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles have all gone shooting on the estate, while Queen Victoria frequented it during her own stays at the nearby Balmoral castle (pictured, file photo)

    He added: ‘The detection of wildlife crime can be difficult, but this is the third time in recent months when we have restricted use of general licences on the basis of evidence of crime taking place. 

    ‘New and emerging technologies, along with a commitment from a range of partners to take a collective approach to these issues, will help us stop wildlife crime.’ 

    A spokesman for the estate said: ‘Invercauld Estate abhors wildlife crime in any form and condemns such activity in the strongest possible terms.

    ‘NatureScot makes clear in its decision notice that the general licence restriction does not imply responsibility on individuals or the estate itself.

    ‘No accusation of wildlife crime has been made against the estate or any of its staff. A number of parties other than the estate itself will be affected by the licence restriction.

    ‘The Micras area where the eagle was discovered last year has not been managed for grouse shooting since autumn 2020 and farming and woodland management are the current priorities there

    ‘We are conservationists and the estate takes its care of wildlife and nature as inherent in the wide range of activities we undertake and facilitate. 

    Pictured: A view of Invercauld House on the estate (file photo)

    Pictured: A view of Invercauld House on the estate (file photo)

    Located within the bounds of the Cairngorms National Park area, the shooting, stalking and salmon fishing estate is just a few miles from Balmoral Castle. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles at Balmoral in 2021

    Located within the bounds of the Cairngorms National Park area, the shooting, stalking and salmon fishing estate is just a few miles from Balmoral Castle. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles at Balmoral in 2021

    ‘A survey in 2020 identified 1,117 pairs of breeding pairs of red and amber listed birds, the most endangered, across 37 different species – including 33 pairs of raptors – on Invercauld land.

    ‘The estate encompasses a wide area and the restriction notice applies to a corner amounting to less than 18 percent of the estate.

    ‘We are actively considering whether to appeal NatureScot’s decision for the benefit of all parties who will be impacted.’

    Located within the bounds of the Cairngorms National Park area, the shooting, stalking and salmon fishing estate is just a few miles from Balmoral Castle.

    The lands there have been in the hands of the Farquharson family since 1432, as were the grounds of Balmoral itself until its sale to Queen Victoria in the 1800s.

    The sale paved the way for the building of the royal retreat.

    There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the Queen’s nearby grounds.