The raptor haters – Simon Jenkins

The raptor haters is an occasional series of articles on people who slag off birds of prey.

Sir Simon Jenkins is an amazingly gifted writer and obviously a very clever man.  I love the way he writes and I read his articles for pleasure as well as for education.

Back in May 2008, when the RSPB launched its bird of prey campaign, Jenkins took the opportunity to unload his views about birds of prey on the Guardian readership.

Birds of prey are ‘cannibals’ and ‘avian terrorists’ according to Jenkins and he bought the unecological arguments of the anti-nature lobby that birds of prey are wiping out songbirds and red grouse.  The article was cleverly written but ecologically ignorant and the great thing was the comments it attracted.  Here are some of my favourites:

‘Muscleguy‘ – ‘Stay out of commenting on science Simon, you can’t hack it

‘Sluijser‘ – ‘long on rollicking style, a bit short on substance

‘freepoland‘ – ‘I am joining the Raptor Party for three reasons…3. fed up with columnists who adopt the slack contrarian line when they are short of ideas

‘dialaview‘ –  ‘I’m no naturalist, but even I can see this article is poorly thought out

And there are many more wise and/or amusing comments from the great British public.

Since November 2008 Simon Jenkins has been the Chair of the National Trust.



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6 Replies to “The raptor haters – Simon Jenkins”

  1. Hi Mark - Holding NT family membership I chose to write very recently to Mr Jenkins asing him to explain the recent situation in the Peak District where illegal raptor persecustion has been allowed to take place on NT owned land. Simon Jenkins was naturally too important and busy to reply personally but his regional director Rebecca Speight has done, giving a really bland and straight-bat response. I will write back confirming cancellation of my NT membership suggesting that Rebecca's chairman is on record as being a raptor-hater and therefore presents a conflict of interest for the NT.

  2. Hello!

    i love this part of the blog, as i have a great passion for raptors and am particularly interested in the persecution of them, and the bad press they get from the media and anti-raptor groups.

    one thing i read repeatedly is that red kites are responsible for the demise of various species, and are often criticised for being murderous brutes etc etc. in this article by mr jenkins, he cites them as "reportedly devastating the Chiltern small mammal population", just one example of this.

    what i want to know is, are any of these accusations true. I have always read that red kites are scavengers, rarely actively hunting prey themselves. I even did a project on them while at university, looking into their reintroduction, and everything i researched suggested this too. Is there any scientific basis for the accusations that these birds could devastate songbird and small mammal populations, or are they just relatively harmless scavengers as i've always beleived?

    1. Tom - welcome! Red kites aren't just scavengers but they do scavenge a lot. Their scavenging habits make them very vulnerable to poisoning - which still, unfortunately, goes on. But they do eat small birds, small mammals, large insects and things like earthworms too. Do they wipe anything out? No.

  3. Is it time to get this man out of his Job? Many areas of the National Trust are mis managed especially in Cumbria where sheep are more important than the land itself. Cumbrian MPs are meeting to discus my proposals for planting up large areas of the National park with trees. This will act as a carbon sink, prevent erosion and flooding. Already £3/4 Billion has been the cost of flooding damage in recent years. Species like Vendace no longer can breed due to too much silt coming down the hill sides with soil creep a major problem due to over grazing. The main point has to be remembered - The National Trust own 1/3 of the National Park and who are they looking after it for -us!! But if their management is wrong we then should run it ourselves as we bought the land.

  4. I was very interested in Robin's comment because Mark will remmber not long ago how he & I asked the Forestry Commission Forest Research dixvision to use thei tree sap DNA technology for a very unusual purpose - analysing the tree DNA on the climbing irons of a keeper accused of destroying a Goshawk nest in the Peak District - a wolrd first, for which Forest research waived their normal fee for this work, and I believe - remind me Mark ? - that the prosecution was succesful. The Peak District remains a black spot for persecution and RSPB is the orgnaisation that has been brave enough to stand up and say it - despite criticism by some and silence from others who should have spoken out.


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