NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

More talks over Findhorn Bay wildfowl shooting

Findhorn Bay Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Protesters have called for a complete ban on wildfowl shooting on the reserve

No ruling has been made on wildfowl shooting in a Moray nature reserve after councillors voted to defer the decision.

Moray Council said the Findhorn Bay management committee should take a lead role in finding an agreement between protestors and wildfowlers.

Conservationists have called for an outright ban on shooting.

A previous compromise broke down after it was rejected by a national shooting body.

It stated there would be no shooting at certain times, and signposts would be put up to warn wildfowlers of the new rule.

The compromise was brokered by Moray Council after the Friends of Findhorn organisation and conservationists said shooting should be completely banned on the nature reserve.

However, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation said it could not support the voluntary agreement because it had not been part of the final discussions.

The association has now written to the council to say it is willing to seek an agreement. The shooting season began on 1 September.

Image copyright JASPERIMAGE
Image caption The Friends of Findhorn organised a protest against shooting on the reserve

Members of the Friends of Findhorn, who held a protest on the reserve earlier in the month, said they were "angry and incredulous" at the council's decision to defer a decision.

Lisa Mead, lead petitioner for a shooting ban said: "We are aghast at the council's refusal to take responsibility for this matter and their failure to make a sensible decision for the benefit of the majority of nature reserve users.

"A sensible decision would clearly be to ban shooting altogether, or at least to restrict it significantly. We do not understand how the unfunded, voluntary and unelected Nature Reserve Management Committee is supposed to broker a deal between all interested parties."

The chairman of the council's economic development and infrastructure services committee, councillor John Crowe, said it was "unfortunate" an agreement had not been reached before the start of the current season.

"It is clear to me that the status quo, where unregulated shooting takes place, or a complete ban on shooting, would not be in the interests of all stakeholders and as such it is in everyone's interests to reach a compromise that all stakeholders can support," he said.

"It is important that we re-energise the process by handing over and empowering those that have the greatest interest, knowledge and long-term stake in the management of the nature reserve to find a solution."

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