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.
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?
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.