Findhorn Bay Wildlife Watch Representative on the Findhorn Bay LNR Management Committee
Findhorn Bay Wildlife Watch represents local community interests on the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve (FBLNR) Management Committee. Minutes of recent FBLNR Management Committee meetings can be found here.
As a local citizen, if you have any concerns or ideas relating to Findhorn Bay that you would like to bring up at the next FBLNR Management Committee meeting, please write to our FBLNR Rep, via the Friends of Findhorn Bay Contact Us page.
Petition to Stop Shooting in Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve
In December 2015, Findhorn Bay Wildlife Watch (then known as Friends of Findhorn Bay) petitioned Moray Council to call for a ban on shooting in the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve. This was on behalf of the many hundreds of people who wish to enjoy the Reserve peacefully and for the benefit of the many Amber-Listed and several Red-listed bird species that dwell on or visit Findhorn Bay.
The petition, which was signed by over 800 local people living around or near Findhorn Bay, was heard at an initial hearing of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee on 8th March 2016. The Council subsequently received a separate petition from a shooting interest group, which was invalid in terms of Moray Council’s petition rules, however the Council’s ED&IS Committee decided to take note of the shooters’ petition and to hold talks between interested parties aimed at finding a compromise. Between 2016-2019 there were various rounds of mediated and facilitated talks, which every time ended up with one or other of the four shooting groups walking away unhappy at the proposed restrictions on their activities, and thereby sabotaging any potential progress that was being made.
Findhorn Bay Wildlife Watch (under its former name ‘Friends of Findhorn Bay’) engaged constructively in each round of the talks and was willing to entertain big compromises from its original call for a ban, purely in order to find a way forward that would improve the situation for local residents and for the wildlife on Findhorn Bay. These compromises would have allowed for some shooting to continue on Findhorn Bay in some locations and at certain times of day. Unfortunately, as of November 2020 (almost 5 years after the petition was submitted), the various shooting groups have yet to agree amongst themselves what they are willing to accept in terms of limits on their freedom to walk with shotguns in the southern half of the Bay whenever they feel like it.
The situation as it stands is anti-democratic, to say the least, with local people’s interests in Findhorn Bay as a peaceful Nature Reserve for all citizens to enjoy safely and without disturbance, clearly being subordinated to the demands of local and national shooting groups.
If you live near Findhorn Bay and wish to make your views about shooting in the Findhorn Bay LNR known, please email or call your Ward 8 (Forres) Councillors. They are Lorna Creswell, Aaron Mclean, George Alexander and Claire Feaver (correct to 6th May 2022, when local Council elections will be held). Cllr Aaron Mclean and Cllr George Alexander both sat on the Committee that considered the petition, together with 12 other Moray Councillors from different Moray Wards, and Cllr Claire Feaver represents Moray Council on the Findhorn Bay LNR Management Committee. Richard Lochhead MSP (MSP for Moray) has also been involved in this issue, so please send him your views also.
Background Information to the Call to Stop Shooting on Findhorn Bay
Shooting on Findhorn Bay has caused early morning noise disturbance to local residents for many decades. Over the last 15 or more years, shooting activities have increased, particularly in the south eastern area of the Bay and this led to even more noise disturbance for both people and wildlife. A growing number of injured, dying and dead geese were being encountered by members of the public, both during walks on the Bay and in the local area, with dead or dying geese sometimes landing in local streets, in children’s play parks and in people’s gardens. Many people actively avoided the Nature Reserve during the 6 months of the shooting season, which runs from 1st September to 20th February each year. The increased number of camouflaged people with guns was intimidating to many and the fact that armed individuals were seemingly being given priority over the general public, angered many local people.
A shooting permit system had been called for a number of times, but since 2005 had always been declined by Moray Council on grounds of cost. Finally, in 2018, a carefully brokered pilot shooting permit system was sadly scuppered by the shooting groups, even though they had been carefully consulted during its creation.
Findhorn Bay, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Natura 2000 Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation and RAMSAR wetland of international importance for wildlife, could and should be protecting the large number of birds that are on the IUCN’s ‘Near-Threatened list’ and which reside on Findhorn Bay.
If there was no shooting in the Nature Reserve, Findhorn Bay could become a prime site of local educational value, bring in year-round wildlife tourism, including goose-watching in the autumn, winter and spring. In doing so the Bay would be fulfilling the aims of its many designations.