Raptors

1.  The Bowland Betty story from the BBC – well worth a look.

Nice to see Tim Melling, Jude Lane, Stephen Murphy, Paul Irving, Des Thompson and others being so sensible.

Martin Gillibrand, on the other hand, speaking for the Moorland Association, just looks foolish – have a look.  It is difficult to see why we should have much sympathy for  an industry – the grouse shooting industry – whose representatives talk such nonsense.  In the past I can remember grouse moor managers being much more honest about the scale of illegal persecution but those days are long gone.  When we see their representatives saying in public words that they would be embarrassed to say in private we should recognise that the time for talking is gone.  They have missed their chance to command our respect or our sympathy.

 

2. Eagles

Meanwhile, north of the border, the SGA took the brave step of reminding us all that there are practically no golden eagles or hen  harriers on grouse moors in the east and south of Scotland by issuing a report on the eagle that died on Deeside last spring.

The SGA, representing their ‘profession’ issued a report which the RSPB didn’t seem to find very convincing.

It is difficult to see why we should have much sympathy for  an industry – the grouse shooting industry – whose representatives talk such nonsense.  In the past I can remember grouse moor managers being much more honest about the scale of illegal persecution but those days are long gone.  When we see their representatives saying in public words that they would be embarrassed to say in private we should recognise that the time for talking is gone.  They have missed their chance to command our respect or our sympathy. Or did I say that before?

3. …and so…

…if you don’t have much respect for the nonsense spoken by the grouse shooting industry, and if you have lost your patience with them, then you should think about signing this petition which calls for grouse shooting to be licensed, in England at least.

Is that a step too far? Or is it a step too late? Is it a step in slippers which should be taken in hob-nailed boots? What do you think?

It is a step which the RSPB could choose to support as  it cannot be said to be anti-shooting, just pro-regulation.  Good estates and good gamekeepers would have nothing to fear.

What do you think?

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15 Replies to “Raptors”

  1. Just loved the “what about murder , rape and pillage” argument. It was meant to be comedy wasn’t it ?

  2. A point missed by most in the interviews by the BBC was that it is not just the birds at the breeding season that can upset the shooting but the birds at the actual shooting season. This has more than effect on raptors but the now rare Black Grouse as they are also seen as vermin for taking the Red Grouse away from the butts and spoiling a ‘drive’. The whole management of a Red Grouse moor is now in question following the disaster unfolding at Langholm where habitats for other species of birds like Whinchat, Black Grouse, Reed Bunting and Grasshopper Warblers are being destroyed all in the name of Red Grouse. Even new ‘bird table’ species like Raven and Lesser Black backed Gulls who have learnt to take rats off the bird tables only meant for Hen Harrier are being killed. We are back to what management should take place on a Red Grouse moor but sadly we have no one standing up for the right management!

    1. I was under the impression a lot of sporting estates and their owners were supportive of the idea of black grouse, rather than seeing them as “vermin”?

  3. Licencing would be a good start, but ultimately the Shoots have in the most part shown that they have their heads in the sand, & have refused chance after chance to work with conservation groups to do something about Raptor persecution. Long Term the only answer I can see is to ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

  4. Thank you for the kind words Mark, the real credit should go to Simon Warwick, who after several conversations on the subject then went to friend and ex BBC man Richard Wells with the germ of an idea for a local news item. The rest as they say is history, everyone played their part and we must not forget producer Andrew Hartley who asked endless questions to get the background to the story right or Danny Savage who did a great job in front of camera, even Martin Gillibrand did what we had expected and even quietly hoped for!
    One of the great difficulties is separating the good guys and bad guys in the grouse industry. Gillibrand was interviewed on the estate of one of the good guys yet is essentially an apologist for the bad guys! We could equalling of course have made a programme called “Pouring Peregrines down the plughole” as without peregrines from elsewhere grouse moor Peregrines would be in as dire a state as Harriers. Yet a properly managed grouse moor, managed to best practice in all things ( no blanket bog burning, no burning of steep slopes or to water courses, only legal predator control, allowing narrow gills to tree up etc) is or could be, as there are currently precious few of them, a biodiversity asset. Also remember that medicated grit has tripled average bags, at least here in Yorkshire so they can afford to do these things.
    With that in mind I would support the petition but keep in hand the idea of going for a ban of driven grouse shooting. All the persecution problems are solveable and must be consigned to history very very soon or driven shooting must be gone.

    Keep the pressure ON write to your MP about harriers, peregrines, eagles or poisoning or persecution in general or the failure of the Bowland and North Pennine SPAs to meet targets for Harriers (both) or Peregrines (North Pennines)or just general enforcement of the law within the game industry or moorland management best practice(Walshaw!)

  5. Just returned from a visit to North York Moors where there was heather burning a plenty. Although we saw many Red Grouse (some even by the road) there was a real lack of small birds, is this coincidental?

    1. Pete – to be fair, and I do try to be, it’s not a great place to be as a small bird in winter. Things will be different in April.

  6. Think we need you to keep things like this in mind.Signed but we really need much more,oh for a politician with the will to sort it out.

  7. A familiar story, worse luck. I think that some gamekeepers, not all, are still stuck in the past. The need to kill wildlife should be questioned. Landowners of large estates could charge for their employees to lead small parties to look at the wildlife on their estates instead of killing wildlife. That way wildlife would be encouraged to take up residence. Shoot with the camera, not the gun. As for burning heather, if heather is left it will grow tall and woody. This results in the stems being unable to support the plants weight. It then falls over and dies. Seed fall to the ground and germinate. The new heather plants provide food for birds. I know, this takes longer but it is a cost efficient system. It is the natural way. I suppose some of the landowners are absent most of the year and do not care what happens on their land as long as the money comes in? Some estate owners, such as pension schemes etc. probably know nothing about the environment and the wildlife.

  8. I think well done to the team at Inside Out, ok it has regional variations, but it does seem to pick up on some interesting issues, perhaps the BBC should do a national version once a week, doing a round up for whats been covered in the local versions. Sadly my broadband isn’t up to speed here on Jersey so will catch up with the story at a later time-if it’s still on the i-Player of course. Any chance of a brief summarisation?

  9. Mark – sorry didn’t have time to post this yesterday. Thanks for publicising the Inside Out programme and the e-petition, very gladly signed the latter. I particularly liked the ‘two strikes and you’re out’ principle for gamekeeper licences. Could the same principle be applied for the estate’s licences for commercial shooting (or the estate owner’s licence)?

    It sounds like a good step. Like vicarious liability, not a silver bullet – a licencing system would need to be resourced and enforced. The difficulties around bringing successful prosecutions and deterrent sentences would remain. And would licencing need to be linked to funding for environmental stewardship – how could an estate claim ELS or HLS money if it’s gamekeeper had lost it’s licence for persecuting protected species (hardly bringing land into ‘favourable’ condition)? The consequences for the estate need to be at least – if not more – serious than the consequences for individual keepers. And why stop at upland grouse shoots – shouldn’t pheasant shoots be licenced and subject to the same conditions?

    However, none of that makes the idea of licencing or the petition wrong – quite the opposite.

    I enjoyed the further coverage on Raptor Persecution Scotland:

    http://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

    Particularly the statement from the Northern England Raptor Forum on the ‘hen harrier dialogue’.

    Apologies to those readers at the coal face, for whom some of my questions above might seem a bit niave …

  10. Good to see this story getting some publicity, well done to those concerned. I loved Paul Irving’s comment…”Martin Gillibrand did what we had expected and even quietly hoped for!”
    I think those concerned with raptor conservation on our moorlands should try and ensure that Martin Gillibrand gets as much publicity as possible. Give em enough rope, as the old saying goes.
    I thought his remark re rape, murder and pillage was easily the most facile argument I have ever heard against VL, he did very well to maintain a straight face. It was so spoof like it reminded me of Mike Leigh and Jim Broadbent’s brilliant social satire, ‘A Sense Of History’.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9G2y7KEVSk

  11. I’ve been around shooting for decades and never heard anything but positive comments about the idea of having black cock; I’ve never ever heard them referred to in negative terms.

    Regarding heather burning – at least gamekeepers burn in strips. What about shepherds, who will take a whole hillside out?

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