Charles Moore shoots grouse

By Lord Mountbatten (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Lord Mountbatten (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s funny, isn’t it, how many journalists who criticise the RSPB are shooters. And it’s funny how they somehow forget to mention the fact that they are shooters or involved in shooting when they write their criticisms of the RSPB’s opposition to people associated with shooting breaking wildlife law.

We’ve had the case of Magnus Linklater a few years ago (see here and here).

Then there was the William Langley piece in the Sunday Telegraph lumping in on the #weforgotthefacts campaign (fronted by three shooting folk).

Then yesterday there was Charles Moore who seems to have forgotten to tell his readers that he is a grouse shooter too, ‘We were shooting grouse on the Duke of Northumberland’s moor in the Lammermuirs.’

Given that the RSPB is not against shooting (and nor am I), and isn’t even asking for a ban on driven grouse shooting (that’s me! I am, click here) I find it difficult to see why the shooting industry is so anti-RSPB. But it has been for so, so long that we all seem to have become accustomed to it.

I suppose it is just possible that continued attacks on the RSPB might get it to be even more timid but it is more likely to work in the other direction, as we have already seen this year.

I’m not so confident about the Wildlife Trusts holding their nerve. They are less accustomed than the RSPB to being attacked, for they rarely say anything very controversial.  I have warmed to the Wildlife Trusts over the last few years, and made some good friends amongst their staff, and am doing some work for them at the moment (completely unrelated to shooting, hen harriers or anything similar, by the way), but they are incredibly timid. The county trusts will undoubtedly be receiving lots of pressure not to speak out on wildlife crime. The way this usually works is along the lines of ‘It would be so sad if it became more difficult to work with you’ and ‘We have been disappointed to see you becoming a campaigning organisation  – leave that to the RSPB’.  We’ll have to see how the Wildlife Trusts react to bullying of this sort.

It may be, or maybe it wasn’t, that Simon Barnes lost his job at The Times because of the line he took on illegal raptor persecution. But the journalists to whom I have spoken are just about equally divided on whether the shooting industry might have been or could not have been involved in his departure.

Who next? I’d be pretty sure that Chris Packham gets quite a lot of grief from the shooting industry and their representatives.  What are the chances that the BBC has had plenty of letters from the ‘good and not so great’ questioning Chris’s right to speak his mind on wildlife issues: Malta, Hen Harrier persecution, the badger cull etc?

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win‘ We will win!

Just a thought, if there are so many law-abiding, moderate, wildlife-friendly grouse-shooters out there – why do we never hear them criticising attacks on wildlife charities?  Why do we not hear from them criticising the excesses of their fellows in the grouse shooting industry? Who are they? Where are they? Maybe they don’t really exist.



10 Replies to “Charles Moore shoots grouse”

  1. Mark,sincerely hope this fight is winnable but let no one think it will be any time soon.
    With almost all our politicians uninterested in wildlife and probably most have interests in shooting or friends who are and have considerable influence then it could be a very long time before wildlife crime gets stopped.
    Well done as I believe you have contributed greatly to the “Beginning Of The End”
    You deserve to see the End.

  2. I’m interested in Charles Moore’s comment that “…the annual spending on grouse moors to conserve this wild bird, unique to the British Isles – with consequent benefit to other upland birds like curlew and golden plover – is double the entire annual conservation spend of the RSPB”. Haven’t they spotted that if they didn’t keep shooting the grouse, they could spend a lot less?

    1. I’ve no idea how annual spending by the RSPB compares with the spending on grouse moor management but if Moore’s assertion is even remotely true then the RSPB is clearly getting much more bang for its buck!

  3. Mark, as you know I shoot and you’ve been kind enough to allow me two guest blogs on your site to try and set out some balance within this polarised debate.
    We must be careful not to dismiss everyone that carries a gun as being ‘anti-nature’ or a raptor-killer.
    Yes, I know that you state this whole matter would end if gamekeepers just stopped persecuting raptors but as I’m sure you are aware, the complex nature of the matter is rarely examined in any more detail than even most – especially the media – might want to explore. Rarely do we hear from gamekeepers at the front line (they tend to shun twitter and the Radio 4 8.10am interview slot).
    Divisionary feeding is one such item that is much promoted but is no way a silver bullet solution. Having visited Langholm Demostration Moor, as I know you have, hope that the RSPB/GWCT/NE/SNH partnership 6 year review can help move the debate on in England – esp when it comes to exploring some form of Brood Management that would enable the Action Plan for harrier to move to pilot stage. I’ve posted a comment on Martin Harper’s blog. It seems that RSPB’s ‘Head Start’ translocation of spoon billed sandpipers is working well.
    In the meantime, enjoy my Times Nature Notebook that I’m sure Simon Barnes would approve of (nature thrives off diversity!)

    For let’s not take our eye of the larger picture within Biodiversity 2020 targets – especially the threat from invasives to our native wildlife – especially those coming for BobforNature….

    1. Rob – thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that you are a completely ‘middle ground’ commentator though.

      The odd thing about Langholm II (and indeed the diversionary feeding study carried out there years ago) is that when HH aren’t eating EG there still, allegedly, aren’t enough RG to shoot. Can’t be the HH can it?

      And despite the constant drip drip of anti-buzzard comments from Langholm, there is little evidence, as I understand it, that buzzards are to blame. So what is? That’s the odd thing.

      1. Fascinating stuff Mark this ‘likes and dislikes’ – do get more of the latter due to your comment ‘I wouldn’t necessarily agree that you are a completely ‘middle ground’ commentator though?’

        Is that purely because I carry a gun or because I’m too grey by aiming to engage with all parties i.e. not trusted by anyone who demands black or white. In Fighting for Birds, you said that ‘the truth lay in between…as often in the real world’; anyway, enjoy my comment on Simon Barnes’s blog

        My eye is firmly fixed on the big one – the test of if we’ve done anything for wider nature by Biodiversity 2020 deadline date and by the way, Langholm 6 year Rev – nothing black and white there!

        I almost feel another blog coming on to widen the eyes of some of your loyal disciples…

        1. rob – how can you know why you get more dislikes than likes?

          I like your comments but I think you are kidding yourself if you think that you come across as completely neautral. And in any case, i’ve never seen neutrality as such a good thing.

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