POLICE WERE CALLED to the Findhorn Bay Nature reserve when shots from wildfowlers got a little too close for the comfort and safety of a local birdwatcher.
Claudia Matheson was watching migrating geese in the reserve and taking photographs when pellets from a gun discharged by wildfowlers “rained down” around her.
While unhurt, Ms Matheson said she believed the incident was a clear case of intimidation – despite her having taken care in where she was positioned and having already been present in the area before the wildfowlers had arrived.
Those wishing to shoot in the area have been at loggerheads with local environmentalist and walkers, with a petition seeking a ban on shooting in the Bay having been presented to Moray Council – as was another backing the sport in the area.
Talks are still going on to find a new compromise following the collapse of a previously agreed local arrangement after a national shooting group refused to recognise its validity.
The latest incident is one of several claims of intimidation – but by far the most serious. Ms Matheson told insideMoray: “When I returned from my birdwatching outing I called police to report the what happened.
“While I was watching geese and taking photos and doing rough counts, one or more of the shooters discharged their shotgun in such a way that the pellets rained down around me.
“I took that as a clear sign of intimidation – although we had nothing to do with them and had in fact avoided standing in front of other [wildfowlers] we had seen.”
Ms Matheson said that they had been on the Bay for some time before they heard any shots being fired – and following the incident she challenge some shooters over the dangers their activity was posing.
“All the time I was there watching geese and taking pictures I was wearing a high-visibility vest – there was no chance that they could not have seen me,” she said, adding that she had previous conversations with wildfowlers when visiting the Bay and felt that these had been productive.
She said: “I have submitted a report to police on the incident and understand that the incident report can be handed over the Findhorn Bay Nature Reserve’s management committee for information.
“I personally believe it is time this bullying by visiting and some local shooters should stop – and have to add that I am also shocked at the lack of regulation in the area, that is surely down to Moray Council’s inability to become as directly involved as they should.”
This situation has now gone too far – way, way too far.
No matter the arguments on either side of the fence, firearms of any description have to be kept and used under very strict controls – but, as is the case here, when you have a common area of land that is, when all is said and done, a Nature Reserve for the enjoyment of all, do they have a place there?
I hear the anguished calls from Wildfowlers that ‘it has always been their right’ – but regardless of the circumstances of this incident, be it accidental or deliberate, does that ‘right’ overtake common sense?
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