What did Shania sing?

By David Swales (Originally uploaded to Flickr as Hello Shania) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By David Swales (Originally uploaded to Flickr as Hello Shania) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The RSPB really is in a pickle over its line on bird of prey persecution.

Having welcomed the Hen Harrier inaction plan, welcomed the pathetic statement by the Moorland Association and disappointed many (except the Chief Exec of Songbird Survival) with its line on the Hen Harrier breeding season update, more and more people are voicing their concerns. Whilst the RSPB is used to being robust about criticisms from the ‘other side’ it is now facing an ever-increasing amount of disquiet from many long-standing members. It’s not a disaster, it’s not an earthquake, but it is unusual and it should be making RSPB Council think again.

I mentioned last week the criticisms of the RSPB line from the North of England Raptor Forum and from Birders Against Wildlife Crime and now comments on the BAWC blog are uniformly backing up the unease about whether the RSPB is being tough enough on the matter of illegal persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors.  Here are some quotes:

John Wilde ‘I feel that the RSPB is letting down Hen Harriers (and other wildlife) on shooting estates, it needs to change – they know my feelings. I think a little more public visibility in this area is a great idea, Picnics and Hen Harrier Days are good. Organisations such as M&S need a bit of discouragement from selling Red Grouse. Hats off to the National Trust – let’s hope they keep it up.’
Mark McManus ‘I totally agree with you. I’ve been an RSPB member and volunteer for 10 years and cannot believe how they don’t take the fight to these people presumably fearing all sorts of bad things, loss of membership or upsetting a certain element of the membership…. It’s simply the right thing to do and fundamental to the existence of the charity.
Alex Milne ‘Your feelings are rather similar to mine. It is no longer possible I feel for RSPB members accept what we are reading in the blog from Martin Harper.  Surely there are council members or those in the executive who feel as you do.
Rosie Whitfield  ‘Fully support BAWC and also share your disappointment in the lacklustre statements made.
Tom Mckinnon  ‘I find the whole subject perplexing, we know what is causing the demise of the Hen Harrier in this country but seem willing to sit back and complain without actually doing anything. Have a ban on all hunting and shooting in areas where Harriers are likely to nest, and monitor them 24 hours a day.‘.

And the ex-RSPB Regional Director, John Armitage has shown his frustration with his, and my, former employer by writing in his blog first ‘Yesterday was an absolute low spot in the ever downward spiral in the litany of weak responses and explanations being put forward against what is nothing short of a national disgrace.  The posting by Martin Harper ( Director of Conservation, RSPB )  yesterday on the current situation in England with regard to Hen Harriers bordered on the apologetic, lacked substance, still smacked of the “we know best, but will reveal details in due course ” approach , but above all lacked any sign of real commitment to securing change.  I was disappointed, viscerally and uncomfortably !and then, after praising the National Trust for their actions,  ‘the fact that widely read Blogs ( Raptor Persecution UK, Mark Avery, North England Raptor Forum ) are all raising concerns and calling for better defined action is surely a clarion call the RSPB needs to pay heed to. If such is ignored I fear the RSPB will be side lined and lose not only support from individuals, but recognition as the body who, hitherto, has been seen as that being primarily responsible for change.  Sadly it certainly doesn’t appear to be earning its keep at present‘.

The RSPB Council, is putting its staff and the Society in an uncomfortable position by not taking a long look at this matter.  Already it is clear that the RSPB welcoming the Defra Hen Harrier inaction plan does not mean that RSPB members, and certainly those closest to the subject, feel any warmth to it whatsoever. Next time there is a Hen Harrier group can the RSPB really claim a seat at the table?  Probably not without winning back these members and supporters.

The RSPB is in danger of positioning itself, completely unnecessarily, as part of the problem rather than the main organisation likely to deliver a solution.  When our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting gets to, say, 60,000 signatures without RSPB support it will be obvious that with RSPB support the whole subject of driven grouse shooting would be debated in the Westminster parliament.  Surely that is what the RSPB wants? Isn’t it?

You have to dance with the one who brought you RSPB.  Shania Twain would tell you that.



46 Replies to “What did Shania sing?”

  1. Unfortunately the “opposition” are quite clever enough to make use of criticism of the RSPB for not being sufficiently forceful in opposing persecution of raptors. This is a dangerous route to follow unless criticism is very carefully qualified to make it clear that it’s intended to support the RSPB in taking a more vigorous approach.

    1. Rosemary – thank you. Fair point and one about which I thought before writing this post.

      The ‘opposition’ have pretty much got what they wanted over the last few years.

      This post merely points out criticism that is in the public domain (and it is a selection, and a fairly moderate selection too) of which RSPB Council must (or should) be aware, and draws its own conclusion from that position. No-one would claim that the RSPB is gaining supporters by its current position – the best that could be said is that only a few care much about this issue and their support is expendable. I’m a dissatisfied customer.

    2. Rosemary, I think remaining silent when you believe RSPB is making a massive strategic error is a much more dangerous path. My position is that I will not be renewing my membership, as I am not prepared to pay anything towards Martin Harper doing nothing, but I will be making a donation a part of the RSPB that I know to be still effective, namely the Investigations Team. If the RSPB changes its stance then I will rejoin straight away. Clearly I don’t think my actions on their own will have any effect on the RSPB leadership, but I only have one voice and I’m going to shout with it as loud as I can.

  2. A more direct and perhaps accurate description Mark, would be the old gamekeeper’s saying..”If you fly wi the craws, youll get shot with them”.

  3. Jim,all sounds good but all money just has to go in the same pot,that is the only way it can work in my opinion whatever they say.
    Think you are supporting that Martin Harpers big pension pot,I do hope he is grateful.

    1. Dennis – of course all the money goes in the same pot, unless lots of people do what Jim is doing. I wouldn’t suggest they should.

      Nobody ever sends money to a charity saying that it must be spent on cleaning the loos – but the loos do need cleaning and that costs money.

      If, to take a very extreme suggestion, 10% of RSPB members hypothecated their membership money to Investigations work then the RSPB would have to spend millions a year on that. It wouldn’t be very sensible, I agree.

      But people like Jim are sending a message as to what they like and don’t like about RSPB activity, and that is fair enough.

      Actually, being much closer to taking it than Martin is – Jim would be supporting my pension pot!

    2. Apparently not Dennis. I think Martin Harper is being evasive on a number of issues but I’m not going to call him dishonest and I trust he is being truthful when he replied to me on his blog;

      ‘If you want to support the investigations team directly (which would be much appreciated), you can send a cheque to Supporter Services at The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL with a note saying YOU wish it to be restricted to our Investigations appeal (REF 12-0-073) or call on 01767 693680 (Mon – Fri 9am – 5.15pm) and say the same making payment by credit or debit card. The team can then code it to this appeal. All appeals are restricted and audited as such. If you are a UK tax payer then you would ideally indicate that you wish the donation to be gift aided and we’ll confirm the decision in writing. If you have any problems, let me know’.

      1. Jim – Martin is being perfectly straight with you. It’s just that unless the shift of money is massive it doesn’t make any difference to anything except, importantly, by sending a message – and you have done that.

      2. In other words, if you make a donation to Investigations we can divert the equivalent in budget to elsewhere, like working together with criminal apologists on the Defra Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. Or am I being too sceptical?

  4. Wow John Armitage’s blog especially ‘RSPB……..a Legion of Nero’s ?’ is a beautifully argued piece. Of course i am 100% biased because i have exactly the same opinion and i don’t think there is one phrase which i haven’t thought myself.
    Apart from the fact that i wish i could write like that it raises the question which i don’t think the decision makers in the RSPB realise is that we are all thinking the same thoughts and they aren’t anywhere near the same as theirs (except in our goals to end HH persecution).
    It is extremely frustrating. Since the HH Inaction Plan was released i clung onto the hope that the RSPB had one card up their sleeve. This last fortnight and after Martin Harper’s blog it has become glaringly obvious that my last hope has gone. The RSPB executive or whatever they are called has completely lost the plot. It is really like universes have separated and i haven’t a clue where they have gone. Maybe Red Dwarf creators know the answer. Meanwhile the raptors keep on being killed and as John says the grouse lobby keeps toasting.

  5. I thought it extraordinary that a few days ago you used the excellent news from the National Trust as a stick to beat the RSPB with. The RSPB’s crime: not dancing to the Mark Avery tune. I’m sure YFTB are loving this.
    It was a surprise (to me at least) that you chose to re-launch your petition at a time when the RSPB were fighting to preserve the Nature Directives and in the run up to the EU referendum and when the UK has a government that will not ban driven grouse shooting.
    You set great store by the numbers signing your petition but there are many different agendas at work here – as is clear from your own blogs and the comments on them. Conservation is the only concern which is relevant to the RSPB’s charitable objectives.
    My guess is that more than half the people who have signed your petition are opposed to shooting for sport full stop. It is a very dangerous road that you are trying to push the RSPB down.
    Is there any organisation doing more to combat the illegal persecution of raptors in the UK than the RSPB?
    Conservation, like much else in life, is the art of the possible. The RSPB has a very difficult job to do here. You are not making their task any easier.

        1. Bob W – you mean is there another organisation doing more to combat the illegal killing of birds of prey? Not a very crowded field is it, so not very difficult to come first, is it? So let’s say that there isn’t – I can’t think of one.

          But does that mean the RSPB is doing the right things and doing its very best? Let me answer that for you – no it doesn’t necessarily mean that. And it’s fair enough to ask for more – as a conservationist and as an RSPB member.

          As I have written here before, the Investigations team is doing a good job but the aim of advocacy is to put them out of their jobs by solving the problem. Are you suggesting that the RSPB is getting there?

          There are always different agendas at work in achieving change in the world. If everyone thought the same then there wouldn’t be the need for change – or if there was, then there would be no possibility o getting it. Getting change in the world depends on forging alliances with others of slightly or very different views. Have you noticed that Labour and Conservative politicians are working together on weither side of the EU referendum? that;’s a topical example.

          My aim isn’t to make the RSPB’s job any easier if I think they are doing the wrong thing. I’d like them to do more of the right things. Is that OK with you?

          Any more questions?

    1. ‘My guess is that more than half the people who have signed your petition are opposed to shooting for sport full stop. It is a very dangerous road that you are trying to push the RSPB down’.

      I have no interest in anyone’s guesswork, how could you possibly know what the opinion on all shooting for sport is of half the people who have signed? Care to spell out your reasoning? Simple question, Bob. And care to spell out what this ‘dangerous road is’. Another simple question, Bob.

      1. I don’t know Jim – it’s a guess, as I said. The dangerous road is the one that leads to calls for the RSPB to oppose legitimate sport.

        1. BoB W – thank you but that is such a poor argument. We mustn’t oppose [choose your own subject from: grouse shooting, slavery, sex discrimination] because it’s legal? It rather makes it difficult to make anything illegal doesn’t it?

          1. Thanks Mark. Obviously I didn’t make my point very well. You have often asked will the RSPB change its policy when the petition reaches whatever number. I was just pointing out that the RSPB (and you)should bear in mind that many people who have signed your petition will not share the RSPB’s values.

          2. Bob W – and I’m pointing out, obviously I didn’t make my point very well, that is entirely normal and also irrelevant. The RSPB should want a debate in parliament about driven grouse shooting which is what happens if the e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures. Whether others have signed for exactly the same reasons as the RSPB isn’t relevant.

            I haven’t asked the RSPB to change its policy – it’s against wildlife crime and damage to protected habits and unsustainable land use too – just to change its tactics. And I haven’t asked it to do this at a particular level of signatures, I met the RSPB to ask them to agree a joint e-petition before this one was launched and the RSPB rejected that offer. That’s fine, but that leaves the RSPB floundering in its present position whilst a non-perfect (from the RSPB point of view) e-petition sprints ahead.

        2. My interest in all this is a conservation one, pure and simple, Bob; I want to see the end of raptor persecution in the UK. If that required the banning of all shooting for sport then I’d like to see all shooting for sport banned. If it only requires the banning of driven grouse shooting then I want to see the banning of driven grouse shooting only. The need for the former position is debatable, I’m certain that the latter isn’t; from a conservation only perspective driven grouse shooting is entirely illegitimate, from a conservation only perspective other forms of shooting may not be illegitimate. Undoubtedly some changes would need to be made (e.g. the use of alternatives to lead shot) but I’m open to persuasion that such activities can be pursued without serious detrimental effects on the environment.
          I fully understand that the RSPB leadership (or parts of it at least) may not want a ban. What I feel is unforgiveable is that they will not consult their membership on their views on a ban, nor will they consult their membership on an alternative e.g. licensing. I find such paternalistic behaviour not only distastefully undemocratic, but strategically inept.
          If the ‘conservation lobby’, most notably the RSPB, harnessed its latent power, I firmly believe that we could end systematic raptor persecution in relatively short order, and by ‘our’ own devices. As key players. such as the RSPB, aren’t even attempting to do this, then I’m extremely grateful for the support of those who’s more primary interest is animal welfare. Setting the two groups up as separate entities, however, is a false dichotomy; it really doesn’t take much effort to find people (including a lot of RSPB members) that share both interests.

          1. Thanks for setting out your thoughts Jim; I respect your views.
            My own faith in democracy is under some strain at the moment. If the UK votes to leave the EU next Thursday, the whole future of conservation in Britain will be in the melting pot and I’m not very keen on the people who are then likely to be in charge!

  6. Thanks Mark for setting out your thoughts. I suppose my main point is that I think you are raising expectations that cannot be delivered – at least in the short/medium term – and that your targeting of the RSPB is counterproductive. If you want to enlist the support of people whose concern is not conservation, that’s fine, but you should expect the RSPB to stick to it’s charitable objectives and not be influenced by such people.
    We all know what is going on in the uplands. Change will come. I just don’t think the RSPB walking away from positive engagement with government and landowners will achieve anything.

    1. Bob W – thank you. But we know that opposing driven grouse shooting would not conflict with the RSPB’s charitable objects. We know this because we can read those charitable objects but also, though it is a long time ago so people may not remember, the RSPB Chair of Council confirmed this in a Guest Blog here on 18 August 2014 where he wrote ‘we do not consider a call for a ban on grouse shooting to be the right step. This is not because we are constrained by our Charter or our charitable objects, but rather because we think the next rational step from self-regulation is regulation. We also think that the introduction of a licensing system is a proportionate measure in the absence of self-regulation by the shooting industry.’.

      By raising the profile of wildlife crime it is inevitable that the issue will attract interest from people with a wide variety of views and that some will oppose driven grouse shooting for widely different reasons. There’s nothing wrong with that. People voted Conservative in the last general election for widely different reasons but all those votes count – even the ones who ticked that box by mistake or through complete ignorance.

      At the moment the RSPB does not send out the signal to the grouse shooting industry or to government that it will ever walk away from its present rather limp position of waiting and seeing whether things will get better. And illegal killing of raptors is hardly a side issue for the RSPB – it is an issue very much at the core of what the RSPB is about and so it is a litmus test of the RSPB approach. Wildlife crime that reduces the population levels of bird species and is the dominant factor in determining their UK range is not something to be tolerated and it is completely within the RSPB’s charitable objects to oppose that sport because it is not legitimate.

      1. Thanks Mark. I’m not sure I put quite the same interpretation on the chairman’s words as you do but lets not split hairs.
        We all want the same thing surely: a diverse healthy uplands rich in wildlife where people obey the law. The debate is about how to get there.
        People own and occupy land for two main reasons: business and pleasure, often combining the two. There is no reason why driven grouse shooting should not be an important part of the upland mix and deliver substantial conservation benefits. I do not buy the argument that it needs huge bags to be viable – it is greed, and the intensive management it has brought, that is the problem. Sportsmen would be very happy with modest bags if that was all that was available. Licencing and the proper targeting/withholding of subsidies could achieve that. Of course that will not happen in England under the present government and nor will a ban. I would have thought licencing is a possibility in Scotland. If people cannot shoot on their land they will do something else with it – possibly not to the benefit of conservation.
        It has never occurred to me that the RSPB has ever been soft on raptor persecution. Of course it’s not a side issue for them. It’s a battle they’re fighting but they’re not marching in step with you – something I’m very pleased about because you are fighting a battle which, at the moment, can’t be won.

        1. Bob W – thanks Bob.

          The Chair of RSPB’s comments are pretty clear – it’s not a charter issue.

          You seem to think that grouse shooters would be happy with modest bags (if that was all that was available) – I don’t see any evidence for that. The grouse industry has intensified over recent years in its desire for larger and larger bags. there is no voice that I have seen in shooting supporting your position. And bird of prey persecution has intensified too. If you are right then these people are completely silent and invisible – therefore they don’t really count in the debate unless they stand up and make their views known.

          No battle (your word) is won or lost when the first shots are fired. The campaign to ban driven grouse shooting will certainly win in the end. And the end is not that far away (but isn’t imminent either).

          1. Mark, thanks very much for engaging in the debate and letting me have my two-penny worth. I know one or two shooters and the bag is not everything to them – what they’re looking for is a great day out in the countryside with friends and some challenging sport. They may be in the minority, I don’t know. What we probably can agree on is that the change required is not going to come voluntarily.
            I must admit that I had not read your current petition until today. I’d be amazed if the RSPB would touch anything worded like that with a barge pole, but then, as you know, it doesn’t take much to surprise or amaze me.

          2. Bob W – you’re welcome. And I say again then, the RSPB should perhaps have engaged with the offer of a differently worded e-petition that they could fully support. There is actually no reason why they can’t support this one but it isn’t entirely to their liking, I admit.

            You are very welcome here!

        2. If the landowners are so irresponsible and threaten to harm valuable wildlife habitat if they don’t get their way, that seems to me a pretty solid case for taking it off them. Land of national importance for nature conservation (SSSIs etc) should be taken into public ownership if the owner does not comply with the law of the land regarding responsibility for its care and management. Simple and effective.

  7. My main problem in criticising the RSPB is where to start. My thoughts began to develop in my teens, as a member of the Junior Bird Recorders’ Club (which became the YOC and now who knows what – Young Explorers or something like that). At first I was concerned to hear that they killed Carrion Crows and Black-headed Gulls on some of their reserves, but as the years went by and I became less naïve, all sorts of aspects of their policies began to dismay me. As a young ringer I was shocked when RSPB took over ownership of our seabird colony island (Horse Isle), and immediately began to poison the large gulls! This was allegedly to “save the terns” which had declined during the previous decade. By this I was disillusioned to say the least. I then came to realise that the RSPB would do next to nothing for local conservation, and it took almost twenty years of me and a handful of others lobbying before they agreed to employ local conservation officers. In the meantime, many adverse changes had taken place and many bird-rich local sites had been lost to developments and agricultural improvement. We had to fight on our own with no assistance, not even encouragement, from RSPB. We felt they were a very aloof organisation, and we were not at all impressed that their only local reserve warden was a keen grouse shooter! In fact we came to regard RSPB as glorified, albeit selective gamekeepers.

    Nevertheless I continued to support them for most of my life, and still do because I recognise they do good work, although my subscription did lapse many years ago. As a keen member of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) I encouraged fellow members to join RSPB, as I did with students in extra-mural ornithology classes which I ran. This was on the basis of RSPB’s good works, the fact I respected many of their ground toops, and to be honest because I felt, as I still do, that they hold the potential to transform into a truly effective conservation organisation. We’d be far worse off without them, and I don’t doubt their successes to date, but feel they have now lost the direction and drive to make significant advances any more. I won’t even start to offer my opinions on their educational work. Sure, they’ve got a million members and apparently lots of money, but they don’t exercise the clout this gives them. It’s as if they are ruled by their Marketing department rather than their own members.

    I don’t think you’ll like me saying this Mark, but the low point for me (before now)was the RSPB support for the Ruddy Duck cull. I believe that some day in the future conservationists will look back and consider that this drastic action was taken on the flimsiest of scientific evidence. To me it opened my eyes to a cynical aspect of the organisation which made me sick to the pit of my stomach, and I’m by no means alone with these feelings. However that episode has been and gone, and we’re now faced with the puzzling situation whereby RSPB actually gives the distinct impression of being on the side of the grouse shooting fraternity. It’s as if they’re way behind as far as contemporary thinking is concerned.

    Someone like Mark, having been there, must have better insight than most of us as to what it is about internal politics that drives current policy, which sometimes appears influenced by the Countryside Alliance. I greatly respect the fact that he was able to change his mind regarding the make believe benefits of grouse shooting to moorland ecology. The e-petition and the rise of social media groups to debate the issues and promote the need for change are providing an excellent impetus for progress in UK nature conservation. However to succeed in the medium term, the RSPB must change its philosophy and approach towards the grouse shooting issue. Conservation needs a new age of enlightenment, which recognises killing wildlife for pleasure an anachronism in the modern age. We demand our Hen Harriers back!

    1. I find myself agreeing again, Jack Snipe – especially with your penultimate paragraph.

      Going back to the point made about supporting policies/campaigns for different reasons: the other hen harrier petition, with the partly incorrect text, now has 57,603 signatures – they say 31,646 from the UK.
      I hazard a guess it will have been signed by many whose first concern is not conservation, but the welfare of animals.

      Which means, yes, many of us do want to see an end to shooting for ‘sport’.

      1. Mark, I totally support what you’re doing, but let me be blunt – in the knowledge that this may offend some people. I think that any campaign to change any aspect of game shooting in a significant way will only succeed if it can demonstrate a degree of support from a really large number of people – more like a million or two or ten rather than 50 or even 100 thousand. These people don’t have to be fully conversant with all the arguments and all the science, but they do have to have a positive emotional response to the campaign. I think it is entirely feasible that this level of support could be achieved in a reasonable period of time, but it will not be brought about by technical, scientific argument alone. However, I think it could be achieved by harnessing the revulsion that many (most?) people share in relation to the abuse and needless killing of animals, if the wider public could be made aware of all that goes on in the name of game shooting.
        I also think that every really big campaign must have an ethical dimension in order to appeal to right-minded people from all walks of life, most of whom will not be committed conservationists. So on a purely practical level, I would like to see a wider campaign against all killing of animals for fun. Failure to harness the huge potential for support from people concerned about animal welfare is simply fighting with one arm tied behind your back.
        Beyond the practical, I would personally just love to see a countryside with fewer guns, less thuggery and fewer people whose attitudes have been shaped by a lifetime spent killing animals for pleasure or profit.
        Thirdly, I think there could be huge opportunities for conservation if some of the vast tracts of land currently dominated by deer stalking, grouse shooting and canned pheasant shooting could be made available for more worthwhile activities.
        Finally, many well-educated urban dwellers I have met during my working life have no interest whatsoever in the countryside, regarding it as a hangover from less enlightened times and an embarrassing irrelevance to modern civilised living. Blood sports are a major contributor to this town-country divide; both sides would be better off without them.
        For me, it is about more than Hen Harriers!

    2. There was nothing cynical about the RSPB’s decision to cull Ruddy Ducks, it must of been a very tough decision to have made. Whether you agree with the cull or not, at very worst it was a bad decision made for the very best of reasons.

      1. Ernest and Jack Snipe – Ruddy Duck was a difficult one but, I still believe, the right one. I’ve just re-read what I wrote about it in Fighting for Birds (pp72-74) and I’d stand by that (except maybe 90% rather than 80%).

        1. I strongly disagree. The science was frankly crap, and I’d go as far as to say the whole murky and politicised affair introduced too much cynicism into UK conservation. At a deeper level, it sparked off much of the disillusionment that still exists today. I know a fair number of birdwatchers who say they will never forgive the RSPB for what they regard as an atrocity, and quite a few who resigned their membership. There was simply no need to cull Ruddy Ducks to save the White-headed Duck. Many of them died very distressing and cruel deaths, which in itself I don’t believe can be justified. RSPB seemed to do little to curb the “enthusiasm” of some of the killing squads. In my view those who say it was “a difficult decision, but the right one” are being sanctimonious. However I suppose I’ve just gone off topic! At least most of us are as one regarding the plight of the Hen Harrier and the end of grouse shooting, unlike the lacklustre RSPB. If only they could show the same enthusiasm as they did for slaughtering Ruddy Ducks.

  8. For those who think criticising the RSPB on this issue is playing into YFTB hands; what’s the logic of that? I might be missing something but how does ‘RSPB faces criticism for not standing up to grouse shooting interests’ spin into the standard YFTB subtext ‘RSPB has radical political agenda against (grouse) shooting interests’? Over to you, Bully.

    1. Mainly because the CA has “form” for this kind of thing. The RSPB is probably less vulnerable than the RSPCA because it’s not so dependent on volunteers and because its leaders took the (IMHO correct) decision in the 1970s to go for increased membership numbers rather than revenue from supporters. But there’s no intrinsic reason why the CA can’t simultaneously say, “Look, look even their ex-director of Conservation thinks they’re useless!” and “They’re all a bunch of swivel-eyed AR fanatics who want to ban all use of animals!” and “Anyway that Martin Harper’s only in it for the money!”.

      It is REALLY annoying being taken down by a kind of Hitler-Stalin pact of shooters and militant vegans and I can fully understand why RSPB want to avoid anything that might send them down that route.

      1. Sorry, Rosemary, but I’m banking ‘Hitler-Stalin pact of shooters and militant vegans’ for rainy day parody. Thanks for that snippet for my collection!

  9. How many people on here have been inside parliament to fight FOR Hen Harriers?

    We did it in 1993 with the help of Labour MP Dale Campbell Savoirs but we were fighting against the RSPB who were backed by The Rt. Hon. Elliott Morley [later sent to prison for fraud] and John Armitage in his role for the Bowland area.

    If we had been supported all those years ago would we still be in this same mess!!!

    From that date on, Birds of Prey were systematically removed from Red Grouse Moors.

    1. john – maybe time to move on from 23 years ago?

      But in answer to your question, I have!

      1. I was there with John Miles and the rest of the North West Raptor Group in Parliament discussing the plight of Hen Harriers on grouse moors. By the end of the meeting I felt the RSPB were the opposition taking the part of the Gamekeepers Association instead of the other way round. Yes I agree we have moved on, but the issues of persecution on grouse moors have moved backwards 100 years, and in my view the position is much worse now that at any time in the past. Sometimes talking to the RSPB about raptors and their plight at the hands of gamekeepers is like talking to a deaf sheep.

      2. Time to move on from NOW! I’ve yet to hear a plausible explanation as to why conservation and animal welfare need be conflicting. If the RSPB were really honest they’d change their name to the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature, or Royal Society for the Protection of Some Birds. I can think of more explicit titles but I’ll keep them to myself!

  10. Mark,I feel sure you have taken precautions to avoid any problems with your picnic but it would be awful if the Grouse people turned it round to where you had disturbed nesting birds.

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