I was beginning to wonder whether my ‘A magazine formerly known as BIRDS‘ had gone astray. My mum had received hers, my daughter had hers, the lady in the Post Office mentioned that she had had hers too. I know the RSPB was founded by a group of women but I don’t remember the magazine being sent out ‘ladies-first’.
Inside there are pages and pages on Hen Harriers: there is a long, excellent article by Stuart Winter, a mention of them by Martin Harper, another mention in Mike Clarke’s opening piece and also mention of satellite tagging of Montagu’s Harriers and the excellent Simon Barnes railing at raptor persecution – didn’t he use to do that in The Times (he’s amongst friends here)?
The RSPB gives a few words on page 53 to three options for making things better. One, on the far right of the article, is the Moorland Association’s ‘There, there, it’s alright really. Don’t you worry your pretty little heads about it’ approach (although maybe you’d better read it for yourself), and in the centre is the RSPB’s pitch for licensing of grouse shooting and on the far left is my ‘Ban it!‘ suggestion.
The RSPB and I are in complete agreement about the problem and the cause of the problem, but we have a difference of opinion, a friendly difference of opinion, about the solution.
The RSPB states that self-regulation has failed and that sites are being destroyed and damaged by poor grouse moor management, and that birds of prey are persecuted. Yes, self regulation has failed, but so has actual regulation in this case. It isn’t legal to damage important wildlife sites or to kill birds of prey – and yet it happens. It happens because it is difficult to catch the miscreants and the grouse moor owners are rich and powerful. Neither of those reasons is removed by a ‘stronger’ form of regulation. Regulation will fail in future as it has failed in the past because it is very difficult to bring the guilty to court.
That’s why the only workable solution on the table, and on page 53 of Nature’s Home magazine, is to ban driven grouse shooting. I’m grateful to the RSPB for the space they have given to this matter and I’ll be even more grateful to RSPB members who read the articles, think about it and then sign up for a ban to driven grouse shooting.