It was kind of the Chair of the RSPB Council, Prof Steve Ormerod to make a rapid, initial, response to my blog of yesterday (and it is clear that he has read your comments there too). In case you missed it as a comment (posted this morning) here it is in full.
Mark, I want to recognise the extent to which your current petition, your wider activities, and the comments of your contributors here do to highlight the depth of concern and anger that many feel around the management of the UK’s uplands. I’ll respond to the specifics of the request above in due course.
The need for reform in the way our hills are managed is a real and serious challenge to the land use practices that support the grouse-shooting industry. The RSPB’s approach has been to engage and seek that reform where intensive management for grouse shooting takes place. In that context, you and the readers of your blog should be in absolutely no doubt about the RSPB’s commitment to improving the environmental condition of the hills. As you know, my own research work takes me there often – and not just in Wales.
On Hen Harriers specifically, the RSPB wants and needs the Defra plan to drive real change, including the cessation of illegal killing of raptors and a more positive outcome for those harriers that settle on England’s uplands this year. For this plan is to work, everyone – including the grouse shooting community – must play their part to deliver its key objective: more hen harriers.
Thanks Steve. In the meantime – let’s all continue to promote the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting which passed 32,000 signatures this morning. Last time around it took six months, less a couple of days to get to this total (c26 weeks), this time it has taken five weeks and a day. It is clear where the momentum is in this friendly disagreement between friends on how to improve the state of the uplands and secure a better future for Hen Harriers and other raptors.