NE will reply individually to comments on the ‘man guarding his model Hen Harrier ‘ incident

NATURALENGLAND2The Natural England Press Office say that their Chief Executive will respond individually to emails he receives on the subject of armed men with model Hen Harriers in the Peak District.

That’s James Cross, Chief Executive, Natural England: james.cross@naturalengland.org.uk

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20 Replies to “NE will reply individually to comments on the ‘man guarding his model Hen Harrier ‘ incident”

    1. Nevertheless, I have emailed. I hope he gets loads of emails to give him a sense of the outrage that this kind of thing causes.

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  1. Perhaps people should send Mr Cross specific questions that a stock answer cannot cover. I look forward to my individual response to the following, sent today:

    Dear Mr Cross,

    I am writing to you following the recent filming of a man apparently using a decoy with the apparently clear intention of shooting hen harriers in the Peak District National Park. Of course, similar scenes have long played out across the UK's uplands as you must surely be aware. I am a conservation biologist and I am English, but I am lucky enough to work in Botswana and the contrast between the National Parks in the two countries is stark.

    I work in the field, quite close to Moremi Game Reserve, not actually even in a National Park or even a reserve, but in a wildlife management area. However I am surrounded by wildlife. If you will forgive me, the following list helps make my point: making up the predator guild here there are large carnivores (lions, leopards, cheetah, spotted hyena and African wild dogs), there are medium-sized carnivores (black-baked and side-striped jackals, caracal, serval, wild cat, honey badgers, genets) and there are smaller carnivores (selous, yellow, banded and dwarf mongoose species, zorillas, weasels, black-footed cats) to name a few. There are eagles, goshawks, falcons, buzzards, vultures, kites, kestrels, sparrow hawks and more.

    What I don't understand is why our (UK) National Parks are so devoid of wildlife. Even allowing for the difference between tropical and temperate climes, we seem remarkably impoverished in England. I have travelled in Spain, a country home to hundreds of brown bears and wolves, across countryside supporting pine and stone martens, genets, Iberian lynx and wild cats, as well as the same stoats, weasels, foxes and badgers that cling on in the UK. The skies there are full of vultures, kites and eagles in far greater numbers than I have ever seen anywhere in the UK. France, Italy and Switzerland also have wolves and the odd bear. France estimates it is home to one million wild boar. Even Holland has had wolves show up recently.

    By contrast I used to live on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and on a good day there you might see a buzzard and perhaps a sparrow hawk on the fringes of the moor. Other than that, there were just the absurd densities of disease embattled red grouse, legions of introduced, omnivorous pheasants collectively outweighing all our native avifauna combined and yes, a few waders. Perhaps you can tell me why we in Britain must tolerate such an impoverished and unnatural fauna?

    I am a professional wildlife biologist so please, I'd really like a considered answer. You seem to be one of the people responsible so I'd like to know, really, why? It's not because we don't have space - we certainly do have space for lynx, pine marten, even wolves in much of the UK and the skies could fit a few more hen harriers without getting over-crowded I think you'd agree. Why are our rivers not rippled by beavers? Why are our woods not rooted by wild boar? Come to that, why do we have so little woodland?! It's not because any of these animals are dangerous - they aren't, not to any significant degree. Cows kill more people than the very occasional wolf attack. Plus the general public seem to want these animals in every poll I have seen.

    Perhaps it's because we are an island nation and the natural rewilding occurring in continental Europe requires a little help in the UK. But shouldn't that be your job, to help restore a natural England? Instead could it be that the UK National Parks have been hi-jacked by farmers and shooting groups to the significant detriment of the wider public and their natural wants/needs for somewhere wild and inspiring within the UK?

    It is now the case that England's sorry network of so-called National Parks cannot support between them one single, solitary eagle! Does that not embarrass you? Better, does it not impassion you to a righteous anger? Much wildlife (bees, peregrines, foxes to name a few) now does better in our cities than in our brutalised countryside. Natural England? Some hope.

    Kind regards,

    Dr Hugh Webster

    Research Coordinator, Botswana Predator Conservation Trust
    http://www.bpctrust.org
    @BPCTcamp

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  2. Can you answer a simple question I have been unable to get answered previously ?

    How much lead is being deposited annually by grouse shooters on the Peak District moors ?

    And if you can answer that question, which seems to me a reasonable one to ask about a National Park and an SSSI, maybe you could also answer the following ~

    How much analysis is beng performed by the responsible agencies into the impact of that lead on wildlife ?

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  3. I am merely an unimportant person with 1 "O"-level so please, I'd really like a considered answer as to how you propose to introduce Alps and stuff into the UK and reduce the population density from around 255 to the squilometre to about 90-ish which I'm sure you would agree would be more comfortable for everyone - even us proles.

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    1. Filbert - you have only one O-Level? I'm sure it would have been an E-Level - Extraordinary-Level.

      PS and you are important to me.

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    2. Filbert,that must be a complete opposite of what you are.
      You are very entertaining but mostly I struggle with your comments but maybe I will just copy your comment and send it.

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    3. Ouch. I have been neatly Cobb'd. If there's an excuse for the self-aggrandising that I believe Filbert is gently skewering, it is because I have too often felt fobbed off with weak, ill thought out and poorly justified responses from those in power (DEFRA's response to the grouse shooting petition being one recent example) and sought (clumsily I admit) to be taken seriously, rather than suffer the dreaded patronising generic response.

      Anyway I don't think the Alps make the difference - Botswana is as flat as Holland.

      As for population densities, of course that is a factor, although Germany is similar to the UK in its population density and supports wolves and for a while recently a bear, plus abundant wild boar and beaver, not to mention martens galore.

      Scotland has a population density that is as low as anywhere in Europe, lower than many countries that support large carnivores, and although Scotland is not Mr Cross's concern the point stands that we have sufficient space within the UK. In England population densities vary widely from London's crowded streets to the relatively empty expanses of Northumberland. We could undoubtedly support a lynx population, probably even in the crowded south, since Switzerland manages several populations, one of which exists within spitting distance of the major city of Basel.

      Many other mostly absent species could thrive in England, largely independent of human density (wild boar and beaver being examples) if we refrained somewhat from shooting or trapping them. Eagles aren't absent from the Lake District because of the human population density there. Hen harriers aren't missing from the Yorkshire moors because of the number of people there. It's what people do, not how many there are of us, that is just as often the problem.

      If the rest of the world adopted the same approach to their National Parks as we do in England (converted them into farmland and shooting estates) then ours would be a hugely impoverished planet. But if it's alright for us, how can we expect a farmer in Bangladesh (population density 4x greater than the UK) to tolerate tigers, or a family in Tanzania to live alongside lions? It's epic Nimbyism and shouldn't go unchallenged.

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      1. That makes two simply outstanding comments from HW in one day!
        Brilliant - and more of the same, please!

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  4. Email sent but nowhere near as eloquent or well thought through as the one by Dr Hugh Webster above. Still it will give him something else on this subject to deal with and answer, another brick in the wall.

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  5. I have already exhausted my quota of indignant/angry/incandescent emails to Defra for the month - this will have to wait until Tuesday.

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