Henry is, by chance, very topical this week, seeing as how he is in the Forest of Bowland.
Yesterday, Henry reminded us of how many Hen Harriers used to nest in that area in the recent past. The number of nests has often been in double figures – several times higher than the current whole English breeding population.
Today, Henry pines over an image of a ringtail Hen Harrier in Bowland and points to the Natural England report that documented how much better the Hen Harriers in Bowland do when they nest on United Utilities land than on the adjacent grouse moors. That Natural England report is well worth another read to learn about where, and under what circumstances, Hen Harriers disappear. They really don’t do very well on grouse moors compared with those areas not managed for driven grouse shooting.
And so it comes as no surprise that the feeble You Forgot the Birds campaign is funded by the British grouse industry. This is the ‘campaign’ that made an unsuccessful complaint to the Charity Commission (the fact that the complaint failed is not mentioned on their website). It’s the campaign that criticises the RSPB for standing up for the wrong type of birds – including the Hen Harrier. Well the grouse industry wouldn’t want anyone standing up for the Hen Harrier would they? And this is the campaign that invited farmers to sign up in their droves to an anti-RSPB letter and promised to publish the farmers supporting the letter once their number reached 100 – we’re still waiting.
But what is clear, because bizarrely they have told us so, is that this smear campaign against the RSPB is funded by the British grouse industry. This industry is funding a campaign to make complaints to the Charity Commission, exhort farmers to complain about the RSPB and criticise the RSPB’s conservation work and priorities. What has any of that to do with the grouse industry? If this tawdry campaign were funded by the British roads industry then there would be questions asked. If it were funded by the British farming industry then questions would be asked.
Let’s ask some questions in the expectation that YFtB won’t answer them:
Is the Duke of Westminster one of the funders of this campaign? He is, after all, a grouse moor owner, a past president of the Game Conservancy Trust (as it was at the time I think), and the owner of the Abbeystead grouse moor in the Forest of Bowland. Is His Grace a supporter of YFtB?
Is Lord Peel, another past President of the GCT (now GWCT) and another grouse moor owner, and Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, a supporter of YFtB?
Despite all being part of the British grouse industry it is hoped that such eminent memebers of society have not sunk to the depths of supporting YFtB but it’s so difficult to tell. Unless they’d like to distance themselves from it.
On the other hand, the GWCT itself, in the blog of its Fundraising and Communications Director Andrew Gilruth is very happy to promote the nonsense from Sir Ian Botham and YFtB.
The crocodile tears over the fate of Hen Harriers from the grouse industry is all a bit sick-making. How about they get their act together and address the wildlife crimes on their own side of the fence, the driven grouse moor side of the fence, before throwing criticism at those doing their utmost to protect these fantastic birds.
PS the RSPB’s Martin Harper was great in despatching the no-balls from YFtB’s Ian Gregory to the boundary on Farming Today this morning (link).
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