That was another milestone

22,399 was the total of signatures we achieved last year on an e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting – I thought that was pretty good in the ten months that were allowed for it. That was over 2000 signatures a month – c75 a day – not bad at all, I thought.

Today, our similar e-petition rushed past 32, 399 at a canter.  Thank you to everyone who has signed, shared, liked, tweeted etc  It’s a great team effort – though it’s a pity that the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts aren’t playing a blinder on this one.

But we have achieved more than 5000 signatures a month this time around – c180 a day – that’s even better!

And if I were a betting man, and I am, and a bookmaker, which I’m not, I would price up the surviving runners in the ‘Guess how many signatures the e-petition will achieve by midnight on Thursday’ chase, as follows:

Barry O’Dowd 32500     1000/1
Paul Fisher 32796             100/1
Colin McP 33133                    5/2
Tony McDougal 33473          4/11
Mark Fitzpatrick 38510       33/1
Paul Fielden 45000            250/1

Please sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting – send a message to those playing against us or not on the pitch or going through the motions.

 

 

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Six counties

nire

It is completely understandable, that on the other side of the Irish Sea, and in an area with almost no grouse shooting, participation in this Westminster government e-petition would be low.

However, my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting has been signed and the breakdown of signatures must give more clued-up commentators something to say:

 

Belfast South SDLP 24

North Down  Independent  23

East Antrim DUP 21

North Antrim DUP 19

Strangford DUP 19

East Londonderry DUP 15

South Antrim UUP 15

Belfast North DUP 15

Belfast East DUP 14

Lagan Valley DUP 13

Mid Ulster SF 13

South Down SDLP 12

Upper Bann DUP 11

Foyle SDLP 8

Belfast West SF 6

Fermanagh and South Tyrone UUP 5

Newry and Armagh SF  5

West Tyrone SF  4

 

I think that West Tyrone is the parliamentary constituency with the smallest number of signatures of all, anywhere; just the four. I would have hoped that in a republican area there might be more people who wanted to sign an e-petition which seeks to ban the favoured pastime of the British establishment.

Signatures to ban driven grouse shooting are welcome from all politics, religions and creeds – please sign here to ban driven grouse shooting.

 

 

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32,000!

Wow! That surprised me.

 

Our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which will close at midnight on Thursday (so only three days left to get your friends to sign) raced past 32,000 signatures at 22:32  last night. And it was racing along.

Makes me wonder whether 35,000 might be possible – probably not, I guess, but makes me wonder…

 

Please sign this e-petition to make the British grouse industry take a long look at itself in the mirror, and government engage with reforming this unsustainable land use.

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Running out of names

Thank you all for your support for the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting! There have been c1000 signatures in the last 48 hours.

Please keep tweeting on Twitter and sharing on Facebook.

Just the rest of today, Tuesday, Wednesday and all of Thursday to go! Then we can all have a rest – for a while at least!

The Ban Driven Grouse Shooting Facebook page is clearly helping to boost signatures in these last few days.

If you had a guess at how many signatures our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting will achieve before it closes at 23:59 on Thursday then your name should be on this list.

If your name is in red, then I’m afraid events have already passed you by – but thank you for being a sport and having a go.

If your name is in blue, then you are still in with a chance.

Fraser Cottington 27462
Robert Ince 27727
Jeff 27844
Paul Bray 27856
Chris Batey 27,960
Lisa Mobey 28,001
Northern diver 28,046
Ross Mason 28,057
John Sargent 28,101
Ali C 28132
Graham Sorrie 28208
Adam Jasper 28217
David McGrath 28258
Tom Willis 28321
Richard Wayre 28478
Caroline Colingwoood 28659
Nick Bee 28681
John Conlin 28,756
Jo 28771
Chris Wing 28850
Paul Arestides 29002
Robert Locock 29010
John Armitage 29218
Jeff NE London RSPB Group 29292
Jo 29310
M Parry 29401
Michael May 29410
Ben Iddon 29456
Neil McKenn 29456
Martin Bailey-Wood 29501
John Beal 29504
John Harrison 29639
Richard Ebbs 29692
Dytiscus 29925
Alan Warford 30002
Ian Sutton 30045
John Turton 30102
Susan Cross 30103
James Marsden 30105
Owen 30200
Roger Crofts 31126
Nigel Jennings 31498
Carole 31654
Gerard Hobley 31742
Les Wallace 31876
Barry O’Dowd 32500
Paul Fisher 32796
Colin McP 33133
Tony McDougal 33473
Mark Fitzpatrick 38510
Paul Fielden 45000

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Looking forward to talking!

I should have taken some photos but someone took this one of me I have a few gigs on over the next couple of weeks;

On Wednesday (20 Jan) I am talking to what will probably be mostly a bunch of undergraduates in Cambridge – the Cambridge Nature Society  – in the new David Attenborough Building, Room 1.25 A+B at 7pm (about life in general and driven grouse shooting in particular).

On Thursday (21 Jan) I will be talking to my local RSPB group in the Saxon Hall, Raunds, about Passenger Pigeons and, yes, driven grouse shooting, at 7.30pm. And this is the evening the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting closes, at midnight, so I will be attempting to wring the last few signatures out of a local audience.

Then next week it’s another mostly undergraduate audience in Cornwall on Wednesday and Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve on Friday. But I’ll remind you nearer the time.

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You Forgot the Birds

Do you remember You Forgot the Birds? I bet some of you do – they spent quite a lot of time, and I expect money too, attacking the RSPB for its … well, actually it was difficult to tell exactly what it was getting at. The YFTB campaign looked to many of us like an attempt to fling as much mud around as possible and see whether any of it stuck. But surely no-one would behave like that?
We discovered that YFTB was funded by the ‘British grouse industry’ – because they said so. So all that fuss about the RSPB over the months was caused by the men in tweed.
And it was YFTB which produced a press release on the Hen Harrier nesting success that was more or less reproduced by the Daily Telegraph until many of us complained to first the Telegraph itself and then to the Independent Press Standards Organisation and got the Telegraph website changed and an apology and changes printed in the newspaper.
The spokesperson for YFTB is often Ian Gregory at the PR firm Abzed which prides itself in being ‘high impact’. The RSPB is a case study on the Abzed website. This is what Abzed say (annotated by me in red).
Discussion on grouse shooting in Britain is very polarised with critics caricaturing grouse shooting as ‘rich people shooting birds for fun’ [I think that was me, wasn’t it? Has the RSPB ever said it or anything similar? I missed it if they did. In fact, I’d send them a fiver straight away if they have.  But on the facts of the case; driven grouse shooting is shooting birds for fun – what else could you call it? And given that a day’s driven grouse shooting is likely to set you back several thousand pounds, unless you are rich enough to own the grouse moor yourself, then it does look like it might be beyond the financial means of most people]

For Europe’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, the added [Hang on! Added? Are you really saying that the RSPB did say that thing? If so, I bet they pinched it from me! Rotters!  But seriously, just using that word ‘added’ has the effect of wrapping the preceding phrase around the RSPB – sneaky or poor use of English?] attraction of attacking the grouse industry [When has the RSPB attacked the grouse industry as a whole? Maybe it has; I guess it has. But surely not for being rich people shooting birds for fun (which they are and they do) but for damaging protected habitats and wildlife crime against protected birds – kind of what a conservation charity might be expected to do. And some of us wish the RSPB did it with greater enthusiasm] was that every time it did, it saw a surge of donations [Did it really? Things must have changed then. How does Abzed know this? And if true, it presumably shows that aspect of the RSPB’s conservation work is popular – a good thing for any charity working for public benefit. Only if the RSPB were misrepresenting the seriousness of the conservation issue could it be criticised here] .  It portrayed itself as the protector of endangered birds [I rather hope it still does. Why the past tense? Not suggesting, are you Abzed, that you changed this in any way through your intervention? Bit rich if you are – sorry, mustn’t say ‘rich’; bit ‘poor’ if you are]  against villainous gamekeepers [What percentage of all convictions for persecuting birds of prey are gamekeepers. Abzed? Look it up – most of them].

Sorry – this textual analysis is taking a while. Fun though isn’t it?

The RSPB claimed [Claimed? Why ‘claimed’ rather than ‘had’?  But why past tense anyway? Why not ‘has’ because the RSPB does have over one million members, doesn’t it Abzed?] one million [More, I think – isn’t it now closer to 1.2 million?] members and this was giving it a remarkable power [Yes,  isn’t it remarkable, in a democracy, that popular organisations have some influence with politicians because they can be seen to be representing a large constituency of views. It’s a long time since a bunch of Dukes from the British grouse industry ran the country – or maybe not. And again, why the past tense? Is Abzed claiming some impact here?  It was all like this until Abzed intervened?] over the UK environment department [There isn’t a UK environment department – devolution happened a long time ago but your clients live somewhat comfortably in the past so I guess you, Abzed, must do so too]  as well as over the police and wildlife crime prosecutors. For decades the RSPB was able to shape or block government policy without facing any scrutiny itself [Blimey! And I worked there for decades and never saw that happen. I must have been so blind. Of course the RSPB has some influence, but it has to fight for it against vested interests, well-funded lobbyists and high impact government and media relations agencies].

So a besieged grouse moor community [Poor old Dukes!] turned to Abzed. Our approach was to turn the spotlight onto the RSPB [not on to its arguments, but onto it?].  Our investigation of its shortcomings led to a flurry of hard-hitting media articles.  The RSPB had been used to the media accepting its narrative in an uncritical fashion so our “You Forgot The Birds” website led to a panicked response from the charity. [!]

We also started bringing the RSPB to the attention of regulators. Following a series of letters the Charity Commission decided that the RSPB had made false marketing claims while the Advertising Standards Authority described its website as being “misleading”.  This is leading to further legal and media initiatives with the former England cricket captain, Sir Ian Botham, acting as our chief spokesman.

It is very noticeable, isn’t it, that these two paragraphs don’t actually address anything that the RSPB had done wrong with regard to grouse moors. Rarely will a PR agency have tried to market itself on its own website by bigging up the fact that its approach was to attack the organisation for anything it could find rather than the merits of the case against its clients. Or have I misunderstood this as boasting about an ad hominem attack on the RSPB which had nothing to do with the merits of what the RSPB was saying about grouse shooting (although this case study doesn’t explain what the RSPB was saying)?

 

It’s quite an interesting way to sell your PR work, but obviously one which has appealed to the British grouse industry (sorry, the ‘besieged and impoverished’ British grouse industry).  Go on, read the case study again and try  to discern what the RSPB did wrong and what the approach of the Abzed campaign was.

And when you have, you might just want to teach the British grouse industry a lesson by asking government to ban driven grouse shooting by signing this e-petition which closes on Thursday and has already amassed over 31,000 signatures. Although, of course, the fact that driven grouse shooting increases flood risk, increases water treatment costs, increases greenhouse gas emissions, reduces aquatic biodiversity, damages protected habitats and is the source of much wildlife crime directed against protected birds of prey is a far better set of reasons.

 

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Oscar Dewhurst – Little Egret

OD_xx0315-81
Oscar writes: Early April last year saw me in Suffolk hoping to photograph Bitterns. Unfortunately I had no luck with them and they stayed very elusive for the duration of my stay. Luckily this Little Egret was a lot more cooperative, spending a lot of time feeding in the new green reeds in front of the hide and giving plenty of photographic opportunities. Despite its beak being slightly deformed at the top, this seemed to have no adverse affect on its hunting.
Nikon D800, Nikon 600mm f/4 AF-S II lens
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31,000 signatures!

Thank you!

Please keep tweeting on Twitter and sharing on Facebook.

The Ban Driven Grouse Shooting Facebook page is clearly helping to boost signatures in these last few days.

Just today, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and at least part of Thursday to go!

If you had a guess at how many signatures our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting will achieve before it closes on Thursday then your name should be on this list.

If your name is in red, then I’m afraid events have already passed you by – but thank you for being a sport and having a go.

If your name is in blue, then you are still in with a chance.

Fraser Cottington 27462
Robert Ince 27727
Jeff 27844
Paul Bray 27856
Chris Batey 27,960
Lisa Mobey 28,001
Northern diver 28,046
Ross Mason 28,057
John Sargent 28,101
Ali C 28132
Graham Sorrie 28208
Adam Jasper 28217
David McGrath 28258
Tom Willis 28321
Richard Wayre 28478
Caroline Colingwoood 28659
Nick Bee 28681
John Conlin 28,756
Jo 28771
Chris Wing 28850
Paul Arestides 29002
Robert Locock 29010
John Armitage 29218
Jeff NE London RSPB Group 29292
Jo 29310
M Parry 29401
Michael May 29410
Ben Iddon 29456
Neil McKenn 29456
Martin Bailey-Wood 29501
John Beal 29504
John Harrison 29639
Richard Ebbs 29692
Dytiscus 29925
Alan Warford 30002
Ian Sutton 30045
John Turton 30102
Susan Cross 30103
James Marsden 30105
Owen 30200
Roger Crofts 31126
Nigel Jennings 31498
Carole 31654
Gerard Hobley 31742
Les Wallace 31876
Barry O’Dowd 32500
Paul Fisher 32796
Colin McP 33133
Tony McDougal 33473
Mark Fitzpatrick 38510
Paul Fielden 45000

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Hen Harriers need your help

toon
Hen Harriers can’t fight back! They need your help.
 
In 2015 there were only six successful Hen Harrier nests in England – and that was a better year than many recent ones. There should be c330 pairs of Hen Harrier nesting in England in upland areas such as the Peak District, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales.
 
Despite being National Parks, these are areas where grouse shooting dominates large areas. Hen Harriers aren’t very sporting – they eat Red Grouse before rich shooters can blast away at them on and after the ‘Inglorious 12th’ of August.
 
We can’t arm the Hen Harriers but you can fight on their behalf – sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441
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Natalie Bennett calls again for ban on grouse shooting

Attractive drainage ditch near a grouse butt.

‘Attractive’ drainage ditch near a grouse butt on Walshaw Moor.

After visiting Walshaw Moor and the flood-hit town of Hebden Bridge, Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, reiterated her  party’s call for a ban on grouse shooting.

Bennett was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying that intensive grouse moor management is  ‘incompatible with 21st-century needs of flood prevention‘ and called it a ‘conservation disaster‘.

She described Walshaw Moor as ‘being managed in the interests of one species, and one species alone, red grouse. And they’re here for one reason, to be shot by visitors paying massive sums.’.

Natalie knows what she is talking about and if you agree with her then signing this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting is an obvious way to send a message to grouse moor managers and Defra.

 

 

 

PS notice that in the same piece the Telegraph slightly irrelevantly mention the Defra Hen Harrier Plan – and point out the RSPB’s support for it.

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