Winter Solstice 2019 marks the 4th anniversary of the submission of the Petition to Moray Council calling for a ban on shooting of wild birds in the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve. 811 people living in close proximity to Findhorn Bay signed the petition and it was submitted to Moray Council on 21st December 2015. There has been a lot of water over the mudflats since then to say the least. The petition was eventually rejected almost 4 years later by Moray Council on 10th September 2019. This followed 3 failed attempts to mediate a resolution. So the refusal of a ban on shooting has happened even though the problem of the shooting of wild birds on Findhorn Bay remains a problem. Therefore, the many hundreds of local residents living around Findhorn Bay who called for a ban in 2015 have been utterly failed by Moray Council, who have failed to even regulate the shooting, let alone ban it altogether.
From Friends of Findhorn Bay’s perspective, the shooting groups have been very clever in insisting that each of their groups (local and national) be represented at the various meetings that have taken place, rather than the shooting interest groups speaking with one voice, and Moray Council was remiss in allowing this. The reason being that on each occasion when there was a prospect of a voluntary agreement being reached, one shooting group would argue at the 11th hour, “but we did not agree to that”. And so the voluntary arrangements would never be adhered to in practice. Classic divide and rule tactics by the shooting groups, which Moray Council fell for.
The obvious ‘democratic deficit’ of so many shooting representatives being present, compared to just two people representing the entire local human population, and just one ornithologist representing the interests of the entire feathered population, should not be forgotten if there is ever a future negotiation on this issue.
Of course there are many differing opinions as to what should or should not be allowed in terms of human activities on Findhorn Bay. Of course Findhorn Bay is simply a microcosm of the differing world views that exist, regarding what humans should or should not be taking from the rest of nature.
What is abundantly clear is that humanity’s destructive tendencies, and our collective sense of entitlement to interfere with other species, with natural processes and with ecosystems all over the planet, has led to an already catastrophic decline in both the number of species and the overall numbers of animals, birds, amphibians and insects. The Worldwide Fund for Nature’s Living Planet Report 2018, is testament to this.
For anyone who is paying attention, it is very clear that our task now is to stop destroying what’s left, to maintain and enhance what’s left and to restore what can be restored. That’s if we as a species – and the millions of species with whom we share this planet – are to have any chance of a healthy future, or possibly of any kind of future.
For many species it is already too late, and so many, such as the IUCN Red-listed Curlew, are on the brink. Numbers have declined drastically on Findhorn Bay. Do we not, as the dominant species on the planet, and seeing very clearly what is happening to our planet, have a duty to act to the best of our abilities to protect the ecosystems that remain? A curlew may not be a permitted target for the shooters on Findhorn Bay, but they are of course impacted by the noise and disruption caused by the shooters. If we do not start thinking in terms of the health of entire ecosystems and not just in terms of the rights of humans, the future is looking very bleak indeed.