End Grotesque Chick-Eating Contest


Target: Vice Chairman of the Ness Football Club, Donald Macsween

Goal: End Scotland’s cruel chick-eating contest

Last winter, the first annual world gannet chick-eating contest was held in Scotland’s Western Isles. This grotesque event involves the slaughter of baby gannets, an iconic seabird held in high esteem by locals. Also known as “guga,” these baby seabirds are hunted, clubbed with a stick, decapitated, roasted over a fire and then pickled.

Although hunting seabirds has been banned throughout Great Britain for nearly sixty years, residents of the Western Isles are still permitted to murder up to 2,000 gannets each year in the name of “tradition.”

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been championing for years to ban the barbaric annual hunt, saying that many of the baby chicks are not killed by a single blow and therefore must be beaten repeatedly before they are decapitated. Naturally, the event’s organizer, Ness Football Club, and local hunters refute these claims and say that the killings are quick and humane. Regardless, seabirds have been protected in the UK since 1956, making this cruel hunt illegal were it to be held in any other district in Scotland. The residents of Ness should not be granted a free license to murder simply because of a cruel, outdated tradition.

By signing this petition, you will be telling organizers of this brutal event that no animal deserves to be murdered and eaten for sport. Let them know that this barbaric treatment has no place in modern society and help stop the unnecessary suffering of gannet chicks.


Dear Mr. Macsween,

I was incredibly disappointed to learn that the Ness Football Club was responsible for organizing the first world championship gannet chick-eating contest. As a country that enforces stricter animal welfare laws than the rest of the UK, Scotland should be ashamed to host an event that features the murder and consumption of an iconic creature in the name of tradition.

As you know, gannet chicks are clubbed to death prior to being decapitated, roasted and pickled. Although your organization claims that these deaths are quick and humane, local animal welfare groups believe that it may take several blows to kill these gentle creatures, making their final hours incredibly horrific and painful.

Any event that involves the gruesome murder of an animal has no place in modern society. Please reconsider your position on the gannet chick-eating contest and put an end to the unnecessary suffering of this iconic seabird.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Andreas Trepte via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Oh Yeah! It takes a real many to murder a baby, innocent, helpless, defenseless. How much lower is man going to sink before he realizes how disgusting, pathetic he’s becoming.

    It takes a real man to say this is sadistic, cruel, immoral, no justification nor need for it…..It stops now!

    So……..coward or champion.

  2. Oh Yeah! It takes a real many to murder a baby, innocent, helpless, defenseless. How much lower is man going to sink before he realizes how disgusting, pathetic he’s becoming.

    It takes a real man to say this is sadistic, cruel, immoral, no justification nor need for it…..It stops now!

    So……..coward or champion.

  3. The complete stupidity of some people is just simply astonishing. Possibly there is too much inbreeding going on in this community.

  4. Jacqueline Hollis says:

    Be real men!
    Stop clubbing brutally killing baby sea birds.

  5. KatWrangler says:

    Some traditions – mostly all violent – need to go away forever. I think these people have permanent brain-freeze.

  6. Helene Beck Helene Beck says:

    I wrote to Scottish Government about this matter as I believe that Scotland in most other matters concerning protection of their unique nature and wildlife are doing very well, and therefore I was surprised that this atrocity has been allowed to continue. I just received a reply from Scotthish Government, and it reads as follows:

    “Environment and Forestry Directorate
    Natural Resources Division

    T: 0131-244-2671 F: 0131-244-0211
    E: jonathan.xxx@scotland.gsLgov.uk

    Your ref: End Scotland’s cruel chick-eating contest
    Our ref: 2014/0014478
    14 May 2014

    Dear Ms Beck

    Thank you for your email of 14 April 2014 to Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, and Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, regarding the annual guga hunt on the island of Sula Sgeir. I have been asked to respond.

    We understand your concern over the protection of this important species. This traditional activity goes back hundreds of years and is of considerable cultural significance to the people of Ness on the isle of Lewis. Section 16(2)(a) of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, makes provision for the hunt to take place by the granting of a licence for the tradition of killing of gannets on the Island of Sula Sgeir to provide food for human consumption on the isle of Lewis. It is not uncommon for guga to be served at public events on Lewis as part of their cultural heritage.

    As mentioned above, the hunt is specifically provided for in section 16(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The clear implication being that Parliament has considered this matter and is content for the tradition to continue, provided it is done according to the terms of a licence issued by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), who have now taken over responsibility for licensing functions from the Scottish Government as part of the implementation of the Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

    In issuing a licence for this activity, SNH focuses on two main issues. The first question is whether the hunt is sustainable in that it is not having an adverse effect on the conservation status of the species concerned, namely gannets. The second issue is whether the practices of the hunt are consistent with animal welfare legislation.

    On the issue of sustainability, we have seen no evidence to suggest any adverse impact on conservation status. Scottish Natural Heritage undertook a count of the Sula Sgeir population last summer which showed a final count of 11,230 sites apparently in occupation. This represents a 2.2% per annum increase on the last count of 9,225 in 2004. The UK and Scottish gannet population is also increasing and this leads us to conclude that the hunt in its current form is sustainable. SNH takes the conservation of the species very seriously and each year they consider the effect of the annual hunt on the conservation objectives of North Rona and Sula Sgeir, which is a Special Protection Area.

    Turning to the issue of animal welfare; it is the Scottish Government’s understanding that most of the gugas will be killed by a single blow to the head. Where a second blow is required, it is very likely that the first will have rendered the bird unconscious. In our view therefore the method used to kill the gugas does not involve unnecessary suffering.

    Given the above and that the guga hunt is carried out in accordance with a licence issued by SNH, we are confident that the guga hunt is compatible with the requirements of section 19 the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which allows the killing of an animal in an appropriate and humane manner.

    I would like to reassure you, however, that SNH do keep these matters under continual review and if there was any change in the circumstances of this traditional activity, SNH would be prepared to reconsider the issue of a licence under section 16(2) or the terms of any such licence.

    I hope you find this information helpful.

    Yours sincerely

    xxxx xxxx
    Policy Officer”

    Maybe a single blow (or a second one if considered necessary by me) would clear his mind and make him realize that this is blatant (and unnecessary) cruelty to baby-birds, – and nothing else!!!

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