Robin Page clearly is special. He has issues. When you read his own words it is difficult not to think that he has a lot of pent up anger that needs to spill out now and again (see here and here).
And so it comes as no surprise that he is angry about birds of prey – slagging off raptors is almost the badge of honour for ‘real country people’.
Robin was particularly irate about the plans to reintroduce white-tailed eagles into East Anglia but he isn’t keen on any predators (except of course blue tits and blackbirds are predators too). His latest offering in the Daily Telegraph is a rant about predators and nature conservationists – it’s difficult to know which he loathes more, and previous articles do just the same thing (all of these seem at least as anti-conservation organisation as they are anti-predator: here, here, here, here).
Robin has chosen to be a bit of a caricature of the grumpy old countryman. Witty and entertaining when having a rant (including when calling me the Oliver Hardy of nature conservation), Robin plays the countryman who loves nature so much that he has a longer list of species that need to be killed than anyone else. There’s an awful lot of anger that seems to get its release from lashing out in many directions at once. Marsh harriers, the National Trust, badgers, the RSPB, people who live in towns, the EU and sparrowhawks are all subjects of Robin’s ire.
In fairness, the title of his article ‘Time to prey on the predators‘, and its sub-title ‘ We must cull the killing machines now if we are to preserve the balance of nature in this country‘, appear nowhere in the article. So we are left not knowing whether Robin himself wrote these words or whether they are another indication of the Telegraph’s raptor-hating policy.
Robin Page’s view of the countryside is highly sentimental. The answer to most of Robin’s complaints is ‘yes, they are predators, they eat things, get over it! Don’t look if you can’t stand the sight of blood ‘. The ‘havoc’ allegedly caused by pine martens is the same havoc that they have caused for thousands of years – pine martens have sharp teeth and do eat capercaillies and cuddly red squirrels. The bitterns that ‘suffer’ when killed by foxes are the latest in a long line of bitterns that have gone the same way over thousands of years but their population is booming. The stone curlews whose ‘wellbeing’ depends on predator control are also doing very well these days. That’s life (and death) and nature conservationists know that it happens and can live with it.
Robin collects anecdotes rather than sees the big picture. If you deal in anecdotes it’s easy to be selective. And if you have an agenda it’s easy to select the anecdotes in such a way as to promote your agenda.
I don’t know a nature conservation organisation that opposes the sensible use of legal predator control, and I don’t know one that supports the illegal killing of birds of prey. That seems a position about which it would be difficult to be angry.
Why does the Daily Telegraph promote an agenda that appears to be anti-predator, particularly anti-raptor?
A last word on Robin – I do wish his parents had called him Falcon or Peregrine.