We hope you have had a restful and restorative holiday and a good start to a new turn around the sun. We want to sound a big thank you for your continued support this last year!
We have now entered the last phase of the voluntary shooting permit trial for Findhorn Bay for the current shooting season. Just to recap, this has been negotiated and put in place by the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve (FBLNR) Management Committee. The shooting season started on 1st September 2017 and runs to 20th February 2018. For those who have not seen it, details of the current permit system, the areas where shooting is permitted etc, are on the FBLNR’s website fblnr.org.
The geese have seen surprise support from Moray Council this year: Moray Council have prohibited shooting on their land above the Mean High Water Mark – they erected signs at all the entry points to their land in the Southeast area of the bay. The map on the signs shows that this means shooting in the Southeast of the bay north of Kinloss Burn is only allowed from the mudflats.
In addition to this, from 1st December 2017, the FBLNR have posted new signs below the Moray Council signs, asking for no shooting from 1st December to 20th February in the Southwest corner of Findhorn Bay, in order to protect nationally important wading bird species while they feed before their breeding season.
Findhorn Bay is a small nature reserve, and apart from tens of thousands of migrating geese, it is home to swans, osprey, various kinds of duck, and protected waders like the curlew. The shooting disturbs all creatures around the bay who live here, whether permanently or temporarily.
Sadly, shooting has continued beyond the times, days and areas agreed, or even permitted. Prohibited or protected areas have been ignored by a number of shooters and police had to be called, and shooting on Sundays was also recorded.
Only about 18 permits have been applied for. While BASC (British Association for Shooting & Conservation) supported it, local shooting associations and SACS (the Scottish Association for Country Sports) have opposed the voluntary agreement under the flimsy excuse that applicants’ data would not be safe with the FBLNR, even stating that the FBLNR secretary was biased against shooters. None of this is true. Throughout the negotiations the FBLNR has done its best to hear and take into account both sides impartially.
Most early mornings at least one member of the FFB Steering Committee went out onto the bay to observe shooters’ placing and behaviour, to take photos, and to report on rubbish left behind by them. During the 2016-17 shooting season over 1400 empty cartridges and wads were collected – all plastic and metal which would otherwise have been washed out to the sea and endangered marine life, as unfortunately it continues to do this season.
As oceans have enough plastic to deal with already, it is important that we prevent more of it from being washed into the bay, which it will be with each next spring tide, even if left on the foreshore. This year our key rubbish collection volunteer has been unable to collect the cartridges and wads, so we encourage everyone to take a bag with them when walking around the bay and collect any cartridges, wads or other rubbish they find.
It would be extremely useful if the bags with wads and cartridges could be passed on to the FFB Steering Group (contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org) together with the date and location collected, so that we can record how much rubbish there is still being left lying around. As well as records of shooting activity, especially on agreed no-shoot days and any other incidents, records of rubbish left behind by shooters is useful to know for our report to the Council.
If collecting it is physically hard to do but you have a camera, or maybe even just on your ‘phone, it is helpful to photograph any rubbish you see and send this in an email with time/date/location to your Moray Council councillors (click on the names for their email addresses), and Richard Lochhead, MSP: Richard.Lochhead.email@example.com.
The rubbish left behind by shooters is a silent but nonetheless powerfully negative side-effect of their activities, just as the noise and danger from their shooting badly affects animals and humans.
At the end of October residents distributed 500 flyers to households around the bay asking for support with monitoring the voluntary agreement, with information on who to contact, with councillors’ publicly available email addresses (see above), and the police number for such cases (101).
It seems continued diligent work will be necessary for a positive outcome – either a stringent bylaw, or an outright ban on shooting here. Any kind of help you can give is most welcome.
On a very positive note, 4th November saw us having a tea and cake gathering in the newly built Pavillion in the Southeast area of the bay, which is accessible across the small bridge just north of Kinloss. It was wonderful to see so many of you there connecting with others who they had not met before and all of whom want the very best for the wildlife around the bay.
Again, thank you for your support and please look out for our future events.
If you would like to help in any way please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Friends of Findhorn Bay Steering Group