If you have read any of our previous blogs, you will know that Friends of Findhorn Bay is advocating for a ban on shooting in the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve. There has been some speculation locally as to who signed the formal written petition that was submitted to Moray Council by Friends of Findhorn Bay on 21st December 2015. The petition calls on Moray Council to end the shooting of geese and ducks in the Nature Reserve for a number of stated reasons.
As a result of this speculation, we decided to look a little more closely at the 800+ signatures on the shooting ban petition signature lists, to see where local support for a ban is coming from in the Moray Council Ward 8 (Forres) area. We restricted signature collection to Ward 8 specifically, because it covers the area most affected by the shooting. The results of our analysis are set out below.
The 2011 Census records 748 residents of Kinloss village and 776 residents of Findhorn aged 16 and over. This is a total of 1524 adult residents in Findhorn and Kinloss – the villages located closest to Findhorn Bay and hence the people most disturbed by the shooting. Note that due to the formalities of the Moray Council petition process we were only able to collect signatures of residents who are actually registered to vote in this area.
Here is the breakdown of petition signature locations and numbers who signed:
A total of 811 signatures were gathered in Moray Council Ward 8 (Forres) between 15 November and 20 December 2015
Location No. of Signatures
Kinloss Village 140
Kinloss Southside 114 Total Kinloss: 254 signatures (34% of adult population)
Findhorn Village 101
The Park, Findhorn 113 Total Findhorn: 214 signatures (28% of adult population)
Others Nr Bay 18 (eg Netherton, Broom of Moy, Dyke)
Others in Ward 8 58
So in terms of the percentage of voting residents living closest to Findhorn Bay who are in favour of a total ban on shooting in the Nature Reserve, this is approximately 34% of the population of Kinloss and 28% of the population of Findhorn. Around 12 people collected signatures, either going door to door or passing the petition around at various local events. We did not manage to go to every household by any means, but of the houses we did visit, we found that around 90% of the people we asked were in favour of a ban on shooting in the Findhorn Bay LNR.
I personally asked about 25 individuals in Findhorn village and only 2 people did not want to sign the petition – in other words 92% signed. Another Friends of Findhorn Bay member and long-term local resident of 30+ years, who collected many signatures in Kinloss, reported “I must have spoken to over 150 people about the petition. I could count on two hands the number of people who have said “no” to signing, and on one hand the number who have spoken up for the shooters. Many people feel very passionate about this issue“. So his “signature collection success rate” was 90%.
This is a significant number of local people in favour of a ban, by any elected official’s reckoning. My sense from these numbers is that if Moray Council tries to ignore or make light of this issue, the voice in favour of a ban is only going to get stronger and more active.
And it is important to note – this movement calling for a ban covers a wide cross section of the public, from all walks of life and of all ages. This is not a “fringe” movement. It is a large group of people who would like to see Moray Council honouring the purpose for which the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve was originally set up – to be a place “where people can come to experience, enjoy, learn about and get involved with nature… a Local Nature Reserve should be a signal to the public that this is somewhere to experience nature” (extract from SNH Report No 174 on Local Nature Reserves). At the moment, this is not possible for almost half the year, due to the presence of people shooting geese and ducks. See this short video of the shooting to get a sense of what is happening on a regular basis in the South Eastern corner of Findhorn Bay during the 6 month shooting season.
The presence of men with shotguns, and their often antisocial and disrespectful behaviour so close to residential areas acts as a strong deterrent for anyone else who might wish to enjoy the natural beauty of Findhorn Bay. What Friends of Findhorn Bay would dearly love to see throughout the year is Findhorn Bay as a place where people can experience the wonders of nature, in a peaceful, enjoyable and “leave no trace” way.