RSPB will come out fighting

Whoever is behind the ill-conceived attack on the RSPB fronted by a silent and absent ex-cricketer, a silent baronet and a silent ex-nature conservationist, and carried into the pages of the Mail on Sunday (did you know that the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, owns a grouse moor?), I believe they have miscalculated.

They have misconstrued the more conciliatory tone and approach of the current RSPB leadership as a sign of weakness and an invitation to bullying. This is a serious error. First, neither Mike Clarke nor Martin Harper is weak, and neither is likely to take well to being bullied by the likes of an absent Beefy and the Mail on Sunday on behalf of the shooting community as a whole.   This attack will bring out their inner steel.  Second, the personal nature of the attack on the RSPB, timed to bridge the gap between the RSPB AGM and yesterday’s Hen Harrier meeting, is bound to wake up those remaining RSPB Council members who are still under the misapprehension that nature conservation and shooting are like two peas in a pod they are so alike. Third, it is a sign of panic which will merely encourage those who believe that the RSPB should take a tougher line (as they should) on driven grouse shooting now that its wildlife and wider environmental damaging impacts are so well known. Fourth, it has demonstrated (as has the Lead Ammunition Group (don’t forget that)) that shooting’s self interest is blind to science and immune to reason. Fifth, as I understand it, the RSPB membership has remained unconcerned by a bunch of shooters having a tantrum except they await the RSPB’s robust and strategic response.

I could go on, and on, but the upshot is that the RSPB will harden its stance on driven grouse shooting.

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26 Replies to “RSPB will come out fighting”

  1. Yay! As a member, that's what I'm paying them for! I found Beefy's website even more patronising than 'Nature's Home'. I'd like to see them'Fighting for birds' a bit more.

  2. Mark, I would suggest that neither that website or the Mail is 'speaking for
    the shooting community as a whole'. I'm reading many dissenting voices concerned
    that is a massive PR own goal and that it will ultimately be very damaging
    to any progress (via Facebook etc). The sad thing is that to the best of my knowledge
    none of the shooting organisations have had the balls or common sense to
    publicly criticise it.

    1. Alan - you may be right but it is just the type of ill-thought out nonsense that has been appearing in the shooting press for well over a decade. If shooters don't support this then they should say so. And they should say so publicly and make their organisations speak out.

      I guess these three, one an ex-chair of BASC, another a baronet, are just misguided folk led astray by an ex-cricketer with an incisive brain and a great knowledge of the subject - or am I getting confused?

  3. Heather, What a good name for a new magazine.

    Mark, I think you are absolutely spot on as normal (well not always but most times!).
    My impression from the few I have spoken to is that this attack is regarded as a bit of a nonsense, although quite rightly it has raised a few questions about specific points. I was initially worried especially when I saw the attack reissued in the MoS but if they want to make it serious then they should put their heads above the parapet and be prepared to respond to any incoming fire. There is no sign of them doing that so my gut feeling is now one of 'what was that all about'.

  4. "shooting’s self interest is blind to science and immune to reason"

    Plus, the YFTB website is woefully deficient when it comes to supportive links or facts.

  5. Silent? I am aware of the ex-cricketer, but who are the 'silent baronet and ex-nature conservationist'?

        1. ed - that might be why beefy was roped in (and then disappeared off to the other side of the world and won't talk about his beef with the RSPB).

  6. It must be really dispiriting for anyone working on projects relating UK raptor conservation.

    Imagine you've just spent a few years working towards some resolutions, you think you're making progress, there is still a feeling that some are paying lip service to the project and that they can't really deliver what they say they can deliver anyway, and then you start to see that the people who are actually going to be required to make the changes, the people you are supposedly representing aren't really interested, they prefer to attack the science, the conversation bodies or to completely deny that there is any problem.

    It must make it very difficult to move forwards, it would I expect harden the resolve of those people involved in the process, harden their stance and probably leads more people to take a similar stance.

  7. If the RSPB are so concerned with protecting birds, can you tell me why when I rang them to report a swan being killed by local yobs (I gave them names, addresses, and a witness's details) all they could say was "we can't do anything really, we have to catch them doing it", and they were even less interested when I told them it was ringed!
    I got the same response from the RSPCA, and an even more lethargic reaction from the police.
    The RSPB & the RSPCA should have their royal statuses revoked and be investigated, they stopped caring about actual animal cruelty when they became the animal welfare branch of the Labour Party.
    The RSPB & RSPCA care about convictions - 'shooters', as you so eloquently put it show more care for conservation than any of the two aforementioned filthy charities.
    Don't bother replying, as far as I'm concerned you all need to be investigated.

    1. I entirely understand that instances of animal cruelty like the one you describe are very distressing, especially in the face of perceived 'official' inaction. However, I'm not sure that petulant foot-stamping is the right way to deal with it, especially on a blog that isn't really connected. I don't think the RSPB has animal cruelty within it's remit (see for example, though I am sure someone will correct me on that if I'm wrong.

      You may find it is rather more productive to make a complaint to the organisations concerned, at which point you should receive a proper explanation of why action wasn't taken.

  8. Plenty of people run their shoots in an impressive and legal manner, and some of them also do a fine job for wildlife conservation.

    1. Pete, I am sure they do and I am sure you are right. The problem you will have in convincing people of this is that there are very few who go public and condemn those who aren't.

      As an ex police officer the one thing that always annoyed me was when someone would say 'Yes I know who did it but that's for you to find out not for me to tell you' and that is what is going on here to some degree.

  9. A large part of the problem here is a celebrity obsessed press and media who quote anything a "celeb" like Botham says - no matter how nonsensical or bigoted.The fact that they are all owned by right wing supporting media moguls doesnt help either. Storm in a tea cup I would suggest...although it wont do the RSPB any harm to show that they are robust in their support of anti-bop persecution matters. The membership always wanted more of that..but sadly didnt always get it, in the era of ridiculous "partnerships". Time to draw some lines in the sand.

  10. I'm afraid that the 'progressive', 'Conservation minded' element of the huntin, fishin, shootin set (and I'm an ex angler) is rather small, mainly fictional and certainly hasn't had much influence on what is certainly the mainstream, reactionary majority. Take a closer look at their official H,F,S publications. I've seen beavers listed as a 'non native invasive', and as for birds of prey when a poisoning gets media attention it's held up as conservation organisations slandering shooting estates. NO that's the pillocks who do the poisoning who are bringing it into disrepute, so I assume that this fact being swept under the carpet indicates this activity is condoned on a large scale. The Shooting lobby especially has proved that it cannot be trusted and is more interested in PR than real change, partnership takes at least two to work and it's not the conservation movement that's letting it down. YFTB represents more than a ridiculous minority I'm afraid.

  11. i think it is time the RSPB hardened its stance on grouse shooting and this attack may well help with that. Well done Botham, Dacre and all the other apologists for criminals. I think you might have banged another nail into the coffin of your so-called sport.

  12. Worked with well one or two brief meets with Martyn Howat on the NE hen harrier recovery project cannot believe his was managing the project to be honest. Some strong restrictions and efforts to discredit the project from other NE staff.

  13. The hunting and shooting lobby care only about inflicting cruelty on other sentient beings because they get a kick out of it. All the rest is just spin and lies designed to make them look like they care about nature. That so called conservationists give these thugs and bullies any support at all is appalling.

  14. I long suspected that Martyn Howat had loitered in the shooting closet during his time at NE, this was confirmed to me when a chap I know in the North Pennines told me had been out shooting with him at the weekend. There is of course nothing wrong with this in principal but he has clearly gone feral of late and it may have been a conflict of interest with his hen harrier role at NE.

    What I find utterly frustrating about Martyn, is that at a farmland bird conference I organized a few years ago, he waxed lyrically about the causes of declines of farmland bird species (alongside some bloke called Mark Avery?), never mentioning foxes once, and was selling the virtues of land mangers and NE working with the RSPB. Now why does he feel he has to come out with this utter crap at this point? NE are long shot of the idiot and I think he can no longer dine out on being an ex-NE staff member to give him any form of credibility. After his involvement with YFTB, he has no credibility.

    Given his clear interest in the declines of native species, Id be interested to get his take on the environmental effects of the release of millions of non-native game birds into the UK every year, the effects that has on generalist predators in the wider countryside (thus the impact on native species), the cost of pheasants to the insurance industry and why he feels this doesn’t require any form of peer-reviewed research or environmental impact assessment. Maybe he could outline this in a guest blog here?

  15. These attacks by the blood thirsty, trying to use their idea of conservation as proof that they are right, is a sad indictment to those that think they are human.

    The grouse shooting industry is an archaic and cruel, killing machine. The pheasant farming for death by high speed lead is no better. They must be stopped. They serve no useful purpose within civilisation. Google "grouse shoots" and "pheasant shoots" look at the images, you will see hideous piles of corpses. Many of these dead birds are not eaten but wasted, buried or burned. The shooters look so pleased with themselves.

    Wasted animals also include huge numbers of mountain hare, allegedly killed because they carry ticks that are harmful to grouse. But golden eagles eat the hares? Oh! I get it, killing the hares is legal and the eagles die of starvation or move on naturally. They are clever boys aren't they?

    Captive pigeon shooting was banned, because of its cruelty, in the 1920's in the UK and was changed to clay pigeon shooting. How is driven game shooting any different.

    I have a solution that will work well for the pheasant shoots:
    1. Keep the birds in their cages (no predator nonsense, for the gamekeepers to remove) 2. Gamekeepers on the day of the shoot, kill the birds humanely.
    3. Catapult the corpses over the guns.
    4. Let the shooters fire blanks (most would not know the difference). Also on the H&S front, few shooters can be killed by blanks. Mmm! Perhaps let them shoot real shot then.

    The results are 100% kill (no wounded birds to find and despatch). Happy customers with stories of how many they downed. All birds edible with no lead particles within them. No lead shot scattered over the countryside. No need to kill all the natural predators including our Birds of Prey.

    Angling, is no better there are calls to kill fish eating birds and more quietly, otters. Even beavers, as mentioned by Les above, are open for requests of culling and eradication for damage to fish stocks???

    Do these people know nothing or are they blinded by money and power?

  16. I see no attempt here to address the substance of the questions for the rspb posed by the 'you forgot the birds' website; fair questions, given the responses of rspb members to the poll cited by 'you forgot the birds':

    TNS online poll of 1,018 people. Fieldwork, September 2014

    The idea that asking fair questions of a charity that gets relief from the inland revenue and so, effectively, some funding enhancement from the treasury is some kind of maliciously motivated attack is sheer paranoia; talk of such questions 'hardening' the rspb's stance on grouse shooting just plain silly.

    Every charity has to justify their accounts to the Charities Commission on a regular basis and quite right too.


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