I recently received this email from an RSPB member and keen member of a local RSPB group.
‘I have just finished reading your book ‘Inglorious’, which I found very informative. I had no idea that driven grouse shooting had such a deleterious effect on wild life, especially on birds of prey, and I now would like to do anything possible to get it banned. My husband and I and many of our friends are keen walkers, and regularly visit the uplands. We would love to see Hen Harriers, Peregrines and Eagles soaring above the moors as we walk!
It strikes me that now is a good time to act, because so many people in the north of England and in Scotland have suffered from flooding this winter. I’m sure not many people realise that managing moors for grouse shooting results in damaging the blanket bogs which would otherwise soak up much of the rain, and is therefore partly to blame for such disastrous floods. Unfortunately there has been no mention of this fact in recent news bulletins.‘
Now, every RSPB member is unique – after all I am one of them, and I hope you are too – but this email shows what a gap there is between the RSPB and some of their members. In fact, there are two gaps.
The first gap is in understanding of the issue. How many RSPB members are there who do not know that driven grouse shooting has a major impact on bird of prey populations? Hundreds of thousands I would guess. And that is partly because it’s very difficult to get a message across (tell me about it!) because people have busy lives and aren’t paying attention and aren’t receptive to every message that comes their way, but also because the RSPB is very, very quiet about these issues. It’s actually pretty quiet about most issues these days. The RSPB membership is not sufficiently energised or mobilised about the impacts of grouse shooting on wildlife crime, flooding, carbon storage etc. I give lots of talks on this subject and I am often asked ‘Why hasn’t the RSPB made a fuss about this?’ to which I reply ‘Well they have, but you can’t have noticed, but I agree they could and should be making more of a fuss’.
And then the second gap is one of response. I’m not saying that every RSPB member, if informed about wildlife crime, flooding, greenhouse gas emissions etc, would necessarily support a ban on driven grouse shooting – they wouldn’t. Some would be swayed by the counter arguments that there is a better way to deal with the problems such as the RSPB’s proposed solution of licensing, although note that the correspondent above wasn’t, even though this matter is discussed in Inglorious. But the RSPB is not offering its members an outlet for action on this subject. Not since the Game Fair back in July have I noticed the RSPB making a statement on grouse moors. At that time the RSPB said something must change otherwise they could see the calls for bans on grouse shooting would increase. Well, they have increased and the RSPB still remains strangely quiet in public. Six months after the Game Fair, and after flooding where the RSPB knows that grouse moor mis-management will have played a part, the RSPB is not using its membership to bring any pressure on decision-makers or the grouse moor industry itself.
As the keen RSPB member above says, now would be a good time to act! RSPB – mind the gap!
Please sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting – it’s the only game in town.