This is a press release from the Yorkshire Dales NP in response (a slightly slow response) to the pole trap incident of last week. A bit late thought it may be, it is well worth reading.
Birds of prey traps condemned by National Park Authority
Grassington, June 7, 2016.
Illegal persecution of birds of prey was today (June 7) condemned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority following news that a man had been caught setting banned traps.
North Yorkshire Police gave a caution to a 23-year-old junior gamekeeper on the Mossdale grouse-shooting estate near Hawes after he was secretly filmed by the RSPB resetting three spring-loaded pole traps, which are designed to catch birds by the legs.
National Park Authority Chairman Peter Charlesworth said:
‘We abhor the illegal persecution of birds of prey and we will continue to support the police and Natural England in any way we can to help bring the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes to justice.
The pole trap incident happened on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This land – like the vast majority of the National Park – is in private ownership.
At a time when the Yorkshire Dales is receiving such widespread recognition as a wonderful place to visit, it’s incredibly disappointing that the criminal persecution of birds of prey continues to damage the reputation of the area.
We know that birds of prey are a big attraction to the millions of visitors that come here, so these acts are causing economic damage as well as appalling harm to wildlife.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently published a national plan to increase the English hen harrier population, which was developed in conjunction with Natural England, the RSPB, the Moorland Association and others, including National Park Authorities. We stand ready to assist those organisations, and work with our partners right along the Pennines to help deliver locally on the intent in that national plan.
In the meantime, we will continue to support the police in any way we can to identify those responsible for any illegal killings and to bring them to justice.’.
There are two things that I think are well worth highlighting in this statement.
The first is the recognition that wildlife crime damages the reputation of the area – and this is the National Park speaking of course. Good for them to mention that. The Yorkshire Dales is a wildlife crime hotspot and the Park authorities must realise that the chances of further embarrassing incidents are high as long as driven grouse shooting continues in the National Park boundaries. This is the strongest statement to this effect I can recall seeing from a NP – good for them! Let’s hope that the North York Moors, Northumberland and Peak District NPs and Forest of Bowland and North Pennines AONBs follow suit.
Second, the Yorkshire Dales statement highlights the economic aspect of the damage to reputation. They are bigging themselves up a bit to say that many people go to their NP to see birds of prey but we would – if they had many! A Hen Harrier nest viewing scheme would bring the visitors rolling in, as would a Red Kite viewing scheme and a Short-eared Owl viewing scheme. The Malham Cove Peregrine site, one of rather few regularly successful sites in this National Park, does show the way forward.
As I said, worth waiting for!