Shared Planet is a stimulating programme and many people were stimulated to express their irritation over the latest programme about conflict resolution in nature conservation. The Hen Harrier/grouse shooting conflict was used as an example and was discussed by a variety of people – not a very wide variety of people however.
It’s well worth a listen and Raptor Persecution Scotland’s take on it is worth reading too..
There were a few things that came up that were quite interesting. Dr Juliette Young of CEH seemed to think that gamekeepers are protecting Hen Harriers, which rather devalued how much notice some would take of the rest of what she said.
Simon Lester regards Hen Harriers as a problem even though diversionary feeding means they don’t take many grouse during the breeding season on ‘his’ grouse moor at Langholm. He still thinks that a Hen Harrier brood management scheme is essential despite the evidence of the efficacy of diversionary feeding. It’s a pity that he wasn’t strongly promoting diversionary feeding considering its great success. Where is the conflict between hen harrier and grouse shooting at Langholm – all gone? He was given a lot of air time with nobody putting the other side nor questioning whether his remarks were true or not.
But Mr Lester was clear that he wasn’t necessarily going to believe the science anyway. ‘There is a scientific arrogance that dismisses anecdotal evidence‘ and ‘A lot of the science that is done here doesn’t always reflect what happens in reality‘. Simon Lester is a gamekeeper.
Monty Don seemed to think that avoiding the moral aspects of conservation conflicts was a good idea. And Dr Young thought that avoiding arguments over values was a good idea too – it seemed to me. Well, that might be true if all you want to do is have a bit of peace and quiet in the world, and compromise, and put up with a bit less bad than you had before. But that is hardly the way that has led to improvements in the world. It should absolutely be the moral values and what type of world we want to live in that should guide our action.
One of the arguments over grouse shooting is one between the grouse shooters who want to carry out their profit-making businesses at the expense of protected wildlife and those who would rather that the law was upheld, the wildlife protected and the money spent in other ways. That is, I’m really glad to say, an argument about values.
Another aspect of the argument over grouse shooting is between those who find the killing of any semi-wild creature abhorrent and those who feel they ought to be able to shoot grouse for fun. That’s an argument about values too.
To say, as seemed to be said, that you can, or should, set those values aside and resolve the conflict is what is normally called a fudge.
The Hen Harrier/grouse shooting conflict is a real one. And for decades the law has been on the side of the Hen Harrier. This isn’t a little tiff between two equally worthy and deserving sides – it’s a conflict between a money-making business that depends on criminality and protected wildlife. It’s like a conflict between the very few people in the country who are pickpockets and the rest of us. the pickpockets are criminals who are making money from breaking
the law. The conflict is that we don’t want them to carry on nicking our money and they want to. Some conflict, eh? The criminals are suggesting that the resolution is that they carry on nicking our money, because they want to, but they’ll leave us a bit more than they used to leave. Let’s not bring values into this, say some, let’s just sign up to being less exploited than we were.
That’s not what I say – I say we should ban driven grouse shooting and you can say that too by signing here.