I’ll be talking to what I am told is a sell-out crowd of around 100 people in Glossop on Tuesday evening. My message will be that we should ban driven grouse shooting.
In the last couple of weeks I have spoken to a crowd of Cambridge undergraduates (c50 folk), my local RSPB group (c100 people), a group of Exeter University students in Falmouth (c150 crowd), the Friends of Rainham Marshes (c50 people) and the Nottingham RSPB group (c50 people).
Everywhere I go, I meet some people who are already fired up about grouse shooting, and often its impact on bird of prey populations, but I also meet people for whom the story is a new one; at least some of those people come thinking that they might be about to have a dull evening but the group is part of their normal schedule and some of them go away fired up on the issue. Many people ask why they haven’t been told about this issue before and some ask me why the RSPB has been completely silent on this issue.
It’s left to me to defend the RSPB, which I do because I am used to doing it, and it reminds me of when I was Conservation Director of the RSPB when I was often told that we (as it was then) had been silent on an issue when we had been talking about it loads and loads (it seemed to us and to me). That’s one of the things about communication – it’s better to measure its success by who has heard you than by how often you sent out the message. That’s one of the reasons why an e-petition is a useful part of our campaign; provided support for it grows, it shows us, and it shows them (choose whichever ‘them’ you like) that more and more people are getting the message.
I often tell people that hardly anybody knows about Hen Harriers. I use the entirely fictional suggestions that 1% of people love Hen Harriers (and some of them are usually in the audience in front of me) and about 1% of the public loathe Hen Harriers (they sometimes turn up to my talks too) but that most people are unaware. The more we spread the word about Hen Harriers, Peregrines, greenhouse gas emissions, damaged peat bogs, increased flood risk etc the more people will recruit to the view that driven grouse shooting should be banned and the more difficult it is for politicians to sit idly by issuing Hen Harrier non-plans and doing nothing to make upland management for the many rather than for the few.
If five or six people leave my talk at Glossop fired up and with their minds changed it will have been a good evening. Maybe a few will buy Inglorious and become even more sure that things must change. they may lend the book to their friends who might become energised too. Watch this space for another e-petition that will show us all how much the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting is growing.