Poll results – brood meddling even more unpopular


A poll organised by Rare Bird Alert (click here) which is essentially a repeat of a similar poll of over 6 months ago, suggests that birders (and others – for the poll was open to anyone) have set their faces more firmly against brood management as they have learned more about it. This is a triumph for the power of shining a light into a dark corner and a vote of no confidence in the Chair of the Hawk and Owl Trust from the birding community.

Four out of five people who responded to the poll opposed the Hawk and Owl Trust’s position.  The % of respondents who felt they needed to know more shrank and recruited to the ‘No’ position, as apparently did a few folk who might have voted ‘Yes’ last time around. And the poll had over a 1000 respondents this time, compared with over 750 last time around.

There is not a shred of comfort to be gleaned from this poll for the adherents to, and proponents of, the ‘brood management’ approach to Hen Harrier conservation.

Defra should simply kick this idea into the long, long, long grass, but if they have any thought at all of adopting brood management as a trial then they should certainly consult on it in detail before any action on the ground takes place.  Although this poll was conducted by a bunch of birders there was no prior expectation that birders would necessarily reject the H&OT proposition – it’s just that they weren’t convinced having listened to the arguments. And, in fact, I am wrong to describe the respondents as birders, the poll was open to all – open to the members of BASC, the Moorland Association, the TGWC, the Countryside Alliance and any one who cared to vote.  Enthusiasm for brood management of Hen Harriers is weak amongst those communities who care about it at all.  The H&OT and shooting organisation coalition couldn’t even get their act together to make a decent showing in this open vote.

Nuff said, let’s move on.

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7 Replies to “Poll results – brood meddling even more unpopular”

  1. Thanks for highlighting this. I just made this comment on the Guardian, with regards to the article in BBC Wildlife by Chris Packham, about how the NGOs are too silent about the problems were face, such as the persecution of Hen Harriers. I tend to write stream of consciousness i.e. I am thinking as I’m writing. Sometimes it works better than others. Here I tackle why it is mistaken to work with landowners, beyond a certain point, especially when it becomes clear that the landowners are being disingenuous. When the landowners are ignoring the law, whilst pretending not to, working with them, just creates PR for grouse more owners, and justifies them. I thought it encapsulated the problem quite well.

    I think the danger of ideas like this Hen Harrier brood management scheme, is that it plays to the meme that on grouse moors, Hen Harriers are a problem, and that something needs to be done about it.

  2. Even it was birders only it wouldn’t necessarily be a bias. I have had the most unlikely responses from birders on this issue, including a raptor ringer. You just have to look at the comments in British Birds and their website when the topic of raptor control was brought up. Many times at a hide i’ve heard birders cursing raptors and it is not all in fun.
    I think birders are often very individualistic and unpredictable so great this poll has shown some decisive results.

  3. I am not in favour of brood management but lets face it the poll result is no surprise as the bias of publicity against B.M.made the result predictable and meaningless in my opinion.As in all things there will always be well meaning people with different ideas and not too much should ever be read into one persons defection.
    We need at least 50%of the population to be against killing H.Hs before there is any chance of stopping it in my opinion and we are miles away from that at the moment.

    1. A Hawk and Owl Trust led poll would be far more interesting. I think it’s more than likely that 50% of the UK population would be against illegal killing of hen harriers, if asked (and, if presented with an accurate account, brood removal too).

      Let’s face it, though, some 90+% of the population appears to be against a badger cull, but that hasn’t stopped this government from pursuing it. In my opinion, this is largely to appease the Conservative rural electorate.

      Whatever the science or morals of it, I have little doubt that this government would pursue hen harrier brood removal to appease a) large rural estate owners (likely Tory voters?), b) rural folk engaged in countryside sports (often Tory voters?) and c) city folk who pay to partake in driven grouse shooting (some more Tory donors and voters?) If they’ve found a way to get badger culling going, they’ll find a way to cull (sorry, remove) hen harriers.

  4. Messi,what you say is probably correct but the problem is with your interpretation that more than 50%would be against H H killing very few of that 50% would feel strong enough to demonstrate.Maybe as little as .002% and at that level no government is getting worried.

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