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Findhorn wildfowling update and 2019 restrictions

FOR ANYONE WHO WILDFOWLS AT FINDHORN: Update on the Findhorn wildfowling negotiation and 2019-2020 season voluntary shooting restrictions. Links at bottom, but please read the following briefing first.

Findhorn wildfowling update and 2019 restrictions

As many of you will be aware, the current and prolonged negotiation in relation to Findhorn wildfowling has come to a standstill. However, we still have meaningful and positive communication with Friends of Findhorn Bay (FFB), who were the principal group opposed to some of the extremes of wildfowling on Findhorn Bay. Please bear in mind that not all of them are opposed to shooting in entirety.

Moray Council has pulled out of discussions for now. They say it is because parties could not come to an agreement, though we are led to believe that it is largely because they do not have necessary resource or money, which is quite understandable given public sector cuts and the apparently perilous nature of the Council's finances. We fully respect their decision and are mindful of other more pressing local needs.

Last year, the Council appointed a professional negotiator to forge a way forward between the various parties, including wildfowlers. This followed a previous attempt at negotiation when wildfowlers were circumvented and a 'voluntary' shooting restriction scheme was developed and launched without the engagement and support of the very people whose backing was necessary to make it work i.e. wildfowlers.

The more recent negotiation took place over many meetings and months. Whilst no detailed progress was made and the appointed negotiator was ineffectual, we now have better communication between FFB and wildfowlers. Whilst trust remains tenuous, there is a desire from all to find a way forward together. A quiet season ahead will help us to deliver that. There is common ground and there is an understanding that both groups have to work together to find some compromise and peace.

To be clear, this Findhorn difficulty is not just shooters versus 'anti-shooters'; there are many on 'the other side' who support 'one or a couple for the pot' type hunting, but have been appalled by some of the extreme behaviour of a small minority of wildfowlers. Examples of this are out of range shooting, far too many fowlers in the SE corner, too many shots near to houses, breasted carcasses left on the Bay, dog poo not picked up, spent cartridges and plastic wads (we will come to that later) left lying about and, sometimes, wounded birds not prioritised for retrieval and dispatch.

The two main wildfowling clubs in the area are Forres, Nairn and District Wildfowling Association (FNDWA) and Findhorn Wildfowling and Conservation Association (FWCA), though there are probably a number of visiting wildfowlers who are not members of either. FWCA was set up not in competition with any other group or body, but simply to protect wildfowling at Findhorn for locals and visitors alike.

After many meetings and arduous negotiation, both clubs have endorsed a simple and non-contentious set of voluntary shooting restrictions to be followed by all wildfowlers using Findhorn Bay. Some will say that without some form of penalty why bother? The answer is simple: if you do not follow these really basic rules then wildfowling at Findhorn will likely come to an end.

We are not asking the world, we are just asking that all wildfowlers work together as a community to ensure that best practice is maintained, the simple rules are followed, any impact on local persons is minimised and that the Bay is left clean and tidy.

SPENT CASES

We are aware that one of the FFB persons has been promoting a photo of a sack load of spent cases and wads allegedly found on the Bay. Whilst he has already been challenged that many of those cases are from clay cartridges, that does not excuse us from picking up after ourselves and others.

We know it can be difficult to find spent cases thrown 12 feet away by a semi-auto, but do your level best to try. If you can and have one available, then consider using a double-barrelled gun. That's a purely personal choice. In any case, if you come across cases or wads, whether yours or someone else's, then please pocket them and bin them responsibly.

2019-2020 SEASON VOLUNTARY RULES

On behalf of all of us who have put so much time and effort into these years of negotiations, please enjoy your fowling on the Bay, but act with care and consideration and within the basic rules. The reality is that if you don't, it is game over.

Links to 2019-2020 season voluntary restrictions and anti-shooter harassment guidance (not just Findhorn, but for all shooting activity) below:

Many thanks and have a good season ahead. Keep it sensible and keep it safe.