Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill

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Mark writes: I haven’t seen much Springwatch this year – I’ve been dashing about too much.

There’s been a bit of Twitter discussion, though, about the fantastic footage of Hen Harriers from Orkney (with Iolo Williams). I thought that was just wonderful – and exactly the type of exposure that Hen Harriers need. The mention by Martin Hughes-Games about how few there were in England, might, surely, have mentioned that this is because of illegal persecution rather than because Hen Harriers are simply rare birds.  But we can’t expect Springwatch to be the main route to the public for hard-hitting conservation messages – that’s just being unrealistic.

Chris Packham, and a very good Wildlife Crime Officer from Suffolk, did a very good job on wildlife crime on Springwatch Unsprung on Thursday evening; hare coursing and raptor persecution.

Look out for David Lindo on Springwatch Unsprung on Wednesday 10 June for the result of the National Bird Vote. I’d think it will be Robin or Blackbird – and I’m just pleased that Hen Harrier made the final 10. Maybe it will be 9th – that would be quite a victory!

 

 

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7 Replies to “Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill”

  1. "Chris Packham, and a very good Wildlife Crime Officer from Suffolk, did a very good job on wildlife crime on Springwatch Unsprung on Thursday evening; hare coursing and raptor persecution."
    I agree with you about the good job, and in particular illegal use of Fenn traps in raptor persecution was excellent, and whether wildlife crime should be notifiable.
    This is what Chris Packham had to say about the elephant in the room:
    "I think there’s one important thing to say: There may well be some topics which some viewers may think we should have spoken about. Can I just say one thing; the BBC is a lot of things; it is not a campaigning organisation. And the one thing that is central to it’s core values is impartiality. There are 2 sides to lots of stories, and we are necessarily charged with representing both sides of those stories. On this programme we were not able to do that, and that’s why we have been talking about things which are solely illegal, not matters of controversy or opinion."
    From this I assume the following possibilities:
    They had tried without success to get a representative of the "Grouse shooting industry" to appear.
    Chris did not wish to leave totally unsaid that there was a huge amount of allegedly illegal persecution on grouse moors.
    The BBC wants to keep the licence fee, at the cost of government censorship.

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  2. I don't think the comment about the BBC is fair. Springwatch is not a campaigning or investigative format, and it's entirely legitimate for it not to cover allegations (however well substantiated we might believe them to be) against an organisation, industry or individual. So I don't think your # 1 or 3 apply.

    It would be great if the BBC did give the grouse moor/HH issue more coverage, but Springwatch is not the place and Chris cannot be seen as an impartial presenter on this topic. I think your # 2 is the whole truth and it was about as much as he could possible have said.

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    1. I can see your points, and your comment on point 1 may be correct, but the BBC does cover grouse moor/HH quite regularly. I am not aware that they have said anything on any of these occasions which pressed any representative of the grouse industry in any meaningful way. This prevents the public finding out what a lot of people, including the ex chair of N.E. believe to be the case.
      Springwatch unsprung would have, I believe been a suitable platform for a discussion on HH persecution.
      There has been no Panorama or other investigation by the BBC. Why? Is it not important enough?
      It does seem to me we are in a state of Government censorship.

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      1. I think the suggestion that Panorama or other similar programme streams have not covered the Hen Harrier/grouse moor issue because of government censorship is not justified. Panorama often broadcasts programmes about subjects that we can assume the powers-that-be would rather not have exposed to an investigative spotlight so - sadly - I think it is rather more likely that they don't cover it because they don't think it is sufficiently interesting.
        It would, of course, be naive to believe that the government doesn't interfere with the free flow of information at all but I think that the BBC does have a fairly honourable record of editorial independence. That's one reason why the government bears so much antipathy towards the BBC.

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  3. As Chris says, There are not two sides to illegality in the way that there are to policy. There is the law and then there is breaking the law. Law, not policy.

    Can BBC managers not see this distinction?

    It seems to me that the plight of the Hen Harrier would be an ideal subject for Panorama or similar.

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  4. I'm quite confident, or perhaps more truthfully, hopeful, that Hen Harrier will be much higher than 9th.

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