LETTER: Wildfowling dispute

On December 14, 2011, the Wigtown Area Committee (Community) held a public consultation in Wigtown County Buildings to discuss the proposed integration of Crook of Baldoon into Wigtown Bay Local Nature reserve.

At the meeting a report into future management options for the LNR was presented by council officials together with a recommended compromise between wildfowling interests who wish to maintain the status quo and RSPB interests who wish to curtail shooting on the foreshore adjacent to the Crook.

I was unable to attend but a brief report in your newspaper indicated that a compromise acceptable to all parties had been reached.

I recently attended Wigtown Bay Wildfowlers Club AGM and it became very clear that this is not, in fact, the case. No consensus has been reached. Wigtown Bay Wildfowlers members and BASC officials who attended the meeting described it as “farcical and a sham”.

Council officials recommended that approx 75 per cent of the Crook foreshore should remain open for wildfowling, but be restricted to a 10m-wide strip of the foreshore at the point where the green merse meets the bay. Shooting on the green merse and decoying south of the Bladnoch were to be banned. The reasons behind this recommendation are clearly explained in the report and can be summarised by: “We can quantify the economic benefit of wildfowling to the local economy, the possible benefits of wildlife tourism arising from the RSPB are an unknown.”

Councillors present – one of whom declared herself to be a present RSPB member and another a former RSPB member – ignored the advice of their officials and the clearly expressed views of both local wildfowlers and those with an economic interest, e.g. accommodation providers, and chose to recommend that only the southern 25% of the Crook should remain open for wildfowling. This section is of little value to wildfowlers since it is flat, featureless and offers little cover.

Other clauses in this agreed recommendation are similarly of little practical value, and the entire proposal can be described in the words of John Nance Garner as “not worth a pitcher of warm spit”.

Local wildfowlers and other interested parties should be aware that this recommendation – which essentially closes the Crook of Baldoon to wildfowling – will be presented at a meeting of the Planning, Housing and Environment Services Committee on March 13. They may wish to discuss both the outcome and the conduct of this meeting with their local councillors. I would certainly urge them to do so.

They should also be aware that after years of WBWC pushing for a warden to be provided and being assured that no funding was available from public sources, the RSPB has been able to appoint a warden for the Crook of Baldoon with the assistance of £32,000 from D&G LEADER programme and further assistance from both SNH and the National Lottery.

B McAllister,

11 Main Street, Elrig.