Plenty of life in e-petition 65627

1408 p001 cover_with comp v2.inddI just happened to make a note a couple of weeks ago of the number of signatures attached to our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and the e-petition for the non-joint non-plan. Ours stood at 17,608 signatures whereas the GWCT effort was at 10,414.

Now, we were off the mark a while before the GWCT, in fact, it looked very much as though their e-petition was a badly-judged response to ours, so we shouldn’t make too much of the manifest large gap in public support to date.  And we shouldn’t make too much of the fact that the GWCT e-petition has been ‘supported’ by the Countryside Alliance, BASC and the Moorland Association too – with their large memberships – whereas no large conservation organisation has yet supported the e-petition for a ban on driven grouse shooting. But I wouldn’t bet against at least one of them seeing the light eventually.

However, in the last two weeks the non-joint, non-plan, e-petition has remained in the shallows, becalmed, picking up a mere 64 more signatures – fewer than five a day.  Whereas our e-petition has the wind in its sails and is skimming along having picked up 707 extra signatures – more than 50 a day. So, a tenfold difference in signing rate at the moment.

There’s a long way to go, but our e-petition still has plenty of momentum and there are plenty of plays to come before it closes on 30 March.

Anybody like to hazard a guess at the number of signatures by Bonfire Night? Christmas? New Year’s Day? Valentine’s Day? The Cheltenham Festival? 30 March 2015?  When will it get to 20,000? Will it get to 30,000?

Oooh! There’s another signature just now. How lovely!

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16 Replies to “Plenty of life in e-petition 65627”

  1. Don't assume everyone who signed the G(W)CT petition supports them. I signed it just because I thought it was a pro-harrier petition.

  2. This petition has the potential to be massive if enough people get to hear about it. I have a feeling something good is going to happen soon and when it does this petition will take off like a raptor trying to escape a gamekeeper!

    1. Then all we need is one to fly over the Westminster village and wake them all up because I really do dispair at the expense of 650 + 850 is it now?

      1% payrise for nurses not, 9% for MPs. Who do we need most?

      Did I dream that MPs are trying to keep expense claims quiet again, this sytem really has to change from a two and a half donkey derby masquerading as democracy?

  3. But the more signatures you get, the more people will start to ask the question:

    'How can you justify banning grouse shooting in England when there is absolutely no evidence of hen harrier persecution on grouse moors in England?'

    1. Monro - you don't have a command of the literature do you?

      Question: Who said this, and how long ago, and where?: In the U.K., a full recovery of Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers who fear the species threatens the future of grouse moors.

      Answer: Dick Potts, boss of GWCT (GCT at the time) in the journal Ibis in 1998.

      and take a look at

      and then listen to this from the GWCT's Andrew Gilruth

      If your argument is that Hen Harriers aren't killed on grouse moors by grouse shooting interests (in England and Scotland) then you are both wrong and about 20 years out of date.

      1. Bless!


        Hello? Are you an American? Spot the difference:

        UK England

        Your (2011) jncc reference is all about Scotland and amounts to about one confirmed, not necessarily fatal, incident a year, pretty much the same year on year, whilst during 2007-12 in Scotland over 50 hen harriers were ripped to pieces by foxes, just on Skye alone.

        It also contains the important caveat that ''for the ‘probable’ cases of persecution it is possible that some of the nests may in fact have failed for natural reasons, such as desertion due to prey shortage or predation'

        Andrew Gilruth makes a powerful case in favour of the DEFRA hen harrier joint recovery plan. The only organization standing out against that is the RSPB.

        Your petition is about England, where there is zero evidence of hen harrier persecution but recent CCTV evidence of a hen harrier being driven from its nest by another raptor, never to be seen again.

        My point is that you have no evidence for your assertion that hen harriers are killed on grouse moors in England by grouse shooting interests and precious little evidence of it in Scotland either, for that matter.

        The threat to the reintroduction of hen harriers in England is exactly why they are on the decline elsewhere, along with other threatened ground nesting birds - natural predators.

        But that opens up a whole Pandora's box that won't butter your parsnips - inconvenient, so simply ignored.

        A poor show.

        Let me be quite clear. I have spent a great deal of time admiring wild raptors all over the world. I fully support the legal sanctions in this country, 6 years in jail and loss of livelihood, that protect these birds, but that law is strong enough, demonstrated by your paucity of evidence of 'persecution'

        1. Monro - you are very funny. Skye is in England, since when?

          Andrew Gilruth of the GWCT makes a terribly poor case for anything really, but he does admit that illegal persecution is the problem for Hen Harriers.

          1. Well spotted.

            The Skye evidence (over 50 harriers ripped to pieces in 5 years) shows that large, population threatening, numbers of hen harriers and other ground nesting birds are killed each year by the mass of meso predators increasing and multiplying, uncontrolled by top predators, through man's activities.

            'We conclude that top down interference as well as bottom up ecosystem productivity must be taken into account to understand patterns of trophic control'


            This is well understood in the rest of Europe, but largely ignored in this country since it doesn't tie in with the 'persecution' myth.

            Confirmed persecution in Scotland relating to hen harriers amount to about one incident a year.

            So the major problem for hen harriers in Scotland is not 'persecution' but predation. Why would England be any different?

            One incident of persecution per year is one too many and, quite rightly, stiff and effective deterrent penalties are handed out by the courts.

            But hen harriers will not increase and multiply even if there is zero persecution. Langholm, also in Scotland, demonstrates that quite clearly.

            You produced the reference using evidence from Scotland: JNCC 441.

            I am simply pointing out that it doesn't amount to a row of beans.

            With regard to England, there is CCTV evidence of predation of hen harriers but no evidence whatsoever of persecution of hen harriers in England by English grouse shooting interests.

            Your petition is based on an entirely unevidenced premise.

          2. Monro - you've said all that before - and it's still nonsense.

            The JNCC report is about the UK as a whole - you may not actually have read it if you don't realise that.

  4. I am afraid I have a pessimistic interpretation of the lack of votes for the GWCT petition. The number of breeding hen harriers in England has been hovering just above extinction level for the last few years. As far as the grouse shooting community is concerned the healthiest population level of hen harriers on the moors is zero. That figure has been almost achieved, so why bother with the petition at all? Just keep the population at or below its current level of four. Basically why enter a battle you have already won? I am not saying this as a reason to give up, far from it. I am saying we should be prepared to be in for the long haul. Perhaps the number of breeding pairs will not be allowed to reach double figures within the next decade.

    1. Go for a walk with a keeper on a moor and listen to his views on these and other wonderful birds of prey.

      Keepers love their way of life. There are precious few upland jobs available. It defies commonsense that they would put all that at risk with the prospect of six years in jail!

      There is a huge amount of common ground here at the grassroots level but the debate has become poisoned by politics.

      1. Monro - that's not what GWCT says is it? Or what the science says, is it? It appears only to be what you say.

  5. I was expecting a nice autumn with many Hen Harrier sightings from my house due to the success of Langholm [I can see the Langholm Monument from my house]. Past years have given me several sightings of harriers with even a wing tagged bird from Langholm. With many hours scanning the moor there has been none despite the voles and Red legs all laid out for them. Next door the RSPB have had only 2 sightings. So where have the 47 young from Langholm gone! 1 we know is dead out of the only 2 that Natural England satellite tagged but the rest have disappeared!! So due to lack of tagging can we only guess that the majority have been destroyed!!

    1. Hen harriers are on the decline everywhere they occur in the developed world.

      It has nothing to do with grouse moors and everything to do with the proliferation of meso predators (mainly foxes: sustained by road kill.

      Many tagged harriers disappear overseas:

      'Some of the dispersal movements have been remarkable. One male chick, (now known as 'McPedro') overwintered as far away as the north coast of Spain in 2010-11'

      'This male bird and two satellite tagged chicks from the two 2011 nests at Langholm have been followed through 2011. Signals from all three birds have now ceased, one in the Scottish Borders and two in northern France.'

      Survival rates for hen harriers in Wales, where grouse shooting, once a major provider of upland jobs, has all but disappeared is 0.362 for the first year and 0.774 for older birds.

  6. 'Stop Killing our Harriers' is Birdwatch's no nonsense headline. How soon can we expect 'Stop harrying our Killers' on the cover of one of the shooting lobby's magazines?


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