Elephant in the Room
Posted 16th January 2024
A blog by Robbie Marsland, director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland.
Just before Christmas the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics published a report commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland. It’s called Killing to Kill – An ethical assessment of “predator control” on Scottish moors.
The report outlined the many methods used to trap, snare and kill hundreds of thousands of animals to make sure there are more grouse to shoot for entertainment.
The report was widely covered by the Scottish media. The resulting stories mainly concentrated on the numbers of animals killed, the methods used and the report’s finding that “predator control is uncontrollable and that there are simply not the mechanisms in place to control it”
As you can imagine, the League was pleased by this coverage and we hope it will inform the debate about the passage of legislation going through Parliament in the New Year on the licensing of shooting estates.
But what about the elephant in the room? We chose to commission the UK’s leading centre for animal ethics to write this report because we wanted to find out if such killing to kill could ever be described as “ethical”.
Of course it can’t be. So why does it still happen? Why is it that ethics are set aside on grouse moors? Why is it that most of the media coverage chose to steer around the question of ethics? Why does the Government look a little blank when the issue of ethics is raised?
It’s not as if the report pulls its punches:
“Any action that wantonly despoils the life of a sentient creature without sufficient justification properly invites moral censure”.
“It also betokens a disordered sense of moral priorities, rating personal pleasure over the prolonged suffering and death of animals”.
“…human wants or desires do not themselves constitute cases of moral necessity.”
The public are pretty clear on this. Over 75% of those polled on the concept of Killing to Kill are opposed to it. How could there not be a huge majority of those opposed to the idea of killing hundreds of thousands of animals so that there can be more grouse to shoot for entertainment?
Amongst the shooting fraternity, any suggestion that this Killing to Kill should end or even be regulated is met by incredulity. They too avoid the ethical elephant in the room by saying that their main motivation is to conserve lapwings and golden plovers and other ground nesting birds that benefit from the Killing to Kill. However this is a very narrow view of conservation in which the only way to manage habitats is through the wholesale destruction of native species.
No one, unsurprisingly, is willing to stand up and argue for the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals so that there can be more grouse to shoot for entertainment. Of course not. That would be unethical.
And yet, the killing will continue if politicians refuse to address the ethical elephant in the room. The Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill begins its 2nd Stage in the Scottish Parliament on 18 January. This presents politicians with the opportunity to end this Killing to Kill on ethical grounds.
The League Against Cruel Sports and its partners in the REVIVE coalition call on everyone who agrees with us to contact their elected officials and demand that Killing to Kill should end.
A trap used to kill native wildlife on a Scottish grouse moor