Parliament is dissolved in 11 days’ time and that is all the time that remains for Defra to do something this year!
It could be about to release a report suggesting a lead-free future, but I somehow doubt it.
It could be about to throw lots of money in the direction of the Hawk and Owl Trust to do brood meddling but I very much doubt it (although, now I think about it, have you ever seen Jilly Cooper and Liz Truss in the same place at the same time? Interesting…).
But the H&OT has published a couple of articles on their much-disliked and contentious way backward.
One is labelled science – though that quite clearly is not what it is about (read it here). Although dropping the names of Ian Newton and Des Thompson into the article, it is written by Steve Redpath. Perhaps for the first time under a H&OT banner, the brood meddling scheme is revealed as a cap on Hen Harrier numbers. This is compared with a conservation measure of rescuing harriers in France threatened with death from agricultural machinery as though they were similar. Eh?
Whereas in France harriers are rescued, and are the beneficiaries of the scheme, in England it is grouse moor owners who are rescued and are the beneficiaries of the scheme (at the taxpayers’ expense Philip Merricks once told us here in a comment on a blog). Grouse moor managers are rescued from having ‘too many’ Hen Harriers on their moors (a fully protected species) and are rescued from having to risk the possibility of prosecution if caught killing these protected birds.
Steve says that there are two ways of resolving conflicts: compromise and trying to win. He actually suggests that dialogue and enforcement might be the two options. Well, we have tried dialogue for decades and Hen Harrier numbers have declined so that isn’t going to work unless the grouse moor managers change – and, if anything, they are changing for the worse. And enforcement? No that is unlikely to work either (which is why the RSPB option of licensing is also not much good). And enforcement on the Hen Harrier issue still leaves the blanket-bog burning issue, the greenhouse gas emissions issue, the water pollution issue and the increased flood risk issue unresolved. And the Mountain Hares. And the Golden Eagles. Oh yes, and the Peregrines.
No, you were right the first time Steve. Trying to win is the best option, and that means sweeping away driven grouse shooting as an unsustainable activity which has no place in our future. Let’s do that. Sign here to ban driven grouse shooting.
And while you’re at it, why not vote for the Hen Harrier as our national bird – it’s the only vote that will actually help the species for which you vote. Raising the profile of the Hen Harrier will help to protect it in future.
And to learn more about the case to ban driven grouse shooting then you could wait for the publication of 100,000 words on the subject – coming to a bookshop near you in time for Hen Harrier Day and the Inglorious 12th.