UPDATE – August 10, 2018:
- BASC, as well as the two local affiliated clubs, have written to all the relevant MSPs as well as the responsible cabinet secretary and chair and chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) seeking a return to the status quo for wildfowling on Caerlaverock.
- Following discussion with SNH, a meeting of all stakeholders will now be held on August 21.
Original Statement (August 7, 2018)
On the 6 August 2018, BASC was informed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) that they have decided to make significant changes to the way the wildfowling permit system on this famous reserve on the Solway estuary is to be administered. This notification comes just three weeks before the start of the wildfowling season on the 1 September.
The email we received, which has subsequently been sent to all who have had wildfowling permits in previous seasons, refers to the challenge faced by SNH given the decline in their budget and how best to run a financially sustainable scheme at Caerlaverock.
While we were aware of the SNH concerns, and have participated in meetings with them and others earlier this year, we had also offered to help in recent weeks by explaining how BASC, throughout the UK, assists with wildfowling management at other sites. This offer had not been accepted.
The SNH proposals are (“subject to the resources being found and the risks adequately addressed”):
- The permit scheme will not start until mid-October – six weeks after the start of the season
- There will be no wildfowling for two weeks at Christmas – traditionally a favoured time for local and visiting wildfowlers
- No shooting to take place on Fridays and Saturdays – normally the only time local wildfowlers can enjoy their sport
- Changes in boundary that restricts shooting area
- A reduction in the number of permits issued, from 188 last season to a maximum of 90
- A bag limit of four birds
- No shooting of any ducks – “this is because the numbers of ducks was (sic) extremely low last year”
- No punt-gunning permits
Dr Colin Shedden, BASC director Scotland said: “These restrictions not only decrease levels of participation in wildfowling, for locals and visitors alike, but reduce the area available to wildfowlers and the quarry that could legally be shot.
“There are no documented or justifiable reasons of safety or shooting behaviour to support these proposals and instead of producing long-term data on overwintering duck populations, as one would expect from a statutory conservation body, reference is just made to a subjective comment on low duck numbers.
“In addition to the impact on wildfowlers themselves, SNH must consider the knock-on financial effect to the many hotels and holiday cottages that visiting wildfowlers use, as well as many other local businesses.
“While we were unable to discuss these suggested proposals with SNH area staff on the 7 August we have spoken with senior SNH staff. It was agreed that it would clearly be in everyone’s interest to meet as soon as possible and seek to resolve both the concerns of SNH, that appear to be resource-focussed, and those of local and visiting wildfowling interests. BASC Scotland hope to attend such a meeting with SNH, Caerlaverock and District Wildfowlers and Scottish Solway Wildfowlers Association.”