It seems we may have developed a problem with illegal poaching on the reserve, besides that of the illegal fishing, which is already well documented both on this blog and elsewhere.
When on the reserve on Christmas Eve, there was a visit from the local Police. It appears that they had been called out by someone (Not myself) who had reported poaching on the reserve. I had been on the reserve for an hour at that point, and had neither heard or seen any sign of problems at that time, so it was deemed as a false alarm, i believe. Unfortunately, it seems there may have been some truth in the matter.
Janie called me this morning, advising that she had seen someone on the reserve with two black labrador dogs. From the noise and commands being issued to the dogs, she suspects that these were gun dogs. She said the man had something in his hand, but due to the shade, she couldn't clearly identify it. She does think it may have been a dead pheasant.
I went on the reserve myself this afternoon, and there was no sign of any activity on the reserve. There was, however clearly some shooting going on nearby and voices could be heard commanding dogs, so i have little doubt that Janie was correct and that people were poaching on the reserve.
I suspect the main targets would be the relatively large Pheasant population on the reserve, although Woodcock and Snipe are also known for shooting. With both of these species in decline in the UK, it is definitely a cause for concern that these species could be targetted.
I will be contacting Fife Constabulary regarding this, although there is little that can be done unless the culprits are caught in the act.
I would ask that if anyone is visiting the reserve they are vigilant of anyone behaving suspiciously. If you do see someone or something, whether it is shooting or fishing, please contact Fife Police on 0845 600 5702. Please DO NOT approach these people and leave the matter in the hands of the Police, who are trained to deal with these situations.