The RSPB on driven grouse shooting

Martin Harper has penned (or keyboarded) an interesting BB eye in this month’s British Birds magazine.  It is entitled ‘Why it is in the driven grouse industry’s interest to clean up its own act’ and it rehearses the long list of ills with intensive management of driven grouse moors with which so many of us agree.  The whole article is well worth a read (and there is plenty more in this issue of BB, and all the others, to repay the cost of your subscription).

I’d be interested in your views of it (but you’d have to read it first!) as it is probably the longest written account of the RSPB position (apart from their written evidence to the session in the Westminster parliament) for some time.

There are two significant weaknesses in the article; the first is a weakness of passion and the second is a weakness of analysis.

 

A weakness of passion

Although the RSPB is much more than ‘just’ a bird conservation organisation, and has been for a long time, it is still a bird conservation organisation and one that is, and for many years will always be, at the forefront of combatting illegal persecution of birds of prey, especially where those impacts affect the population levels of protected raptors. And yet Martin writes very calmly of birds of prey being ‘under renewed pressure’ but that we are, thanks to the RSPB, learning much more about the lives of our most threatened birds of prey. True, but how much will it take before the RSPB actually looks angry about 60-year old bird protection laws being systematically broken and the current government not addressing the issue.

Although Martin was shocked by the land management he saw at Walshaw Moor, there seems to be very little corporate outrage at wildlife crime. This might be the RSPB Council’s position on raptor persecution but if so then it is probably the first time in the RSPB’s history that unsustainable land management has been more shocking to the organisation than deliberate wildlife crime.

It’s worth thinking about this a little bit as it relates to the second weakness in the RSPB position onto which I will come shortly.

There are lots of things wrong with driven grouse shooting and they include the impacts of burning on protected habitats and flood risk, and the use of lead ammunition, and potentially the use of medicated grit and the carelessness (to say the least) with which legal traps for ‘vermin’ control are set and the proliferation of tracks etc in the uplands and a host of other things too, but wildlife crime is wildlife crime and is in a different category altogether. When you are dealing with an industry that is underpinned by, and depends on, criminal activity then it is right to get a bit angry and that’s where the RSPB is showing weakness. It appears to be so keen to be nice to everyone that it cannot see that it is demonstrating to government, the flawed industry and to its membership and the public, that it is still not really too exercised about criminals taking the mickey out of wildlife laws or the Westminster government sitting idly by and letting it happen.

Notably, there is no mention of vicarious liabiluity as a partial English solution to this problem. The RSPB blows hot and cold on what it wants but mostly blows luke warm on what it feels.

 

A weakness of analysis

The very title of the RSPB piece indicates that it is still trying, in a friendly and yet rather condescending way, to appeal to the better nature of the driven grouse shooting industry despite there being no evidence that such a nature exists.  One wonders what the grouse shooting industry has to do to persuade the RSPB that intensive grouse shooters are not for changing.  If the RSPB is not convinced by the negotiating process over the Hen Harrier Inaction Plan, the campaign funded by the grouse shooting industry against the RSPB, the lack of amelioration of bird of prey persecution or the smug intransigence of grouse shooters in their public pronouncements then what will persuade them? No, really, what will?

Martin cites the RSPB’s relationship with the water, ports and aggregate industries as examples of where the RSPB often started from a position of conflict but developed productive and worthwhile partnerships. He writes that ‘Modern industry should aspire to minimise its impact on the natural world, advocate change to others and, if their business model results in unacceptable harm, be prepared to change that model’. Hmmm.  I would love to see a bunch of photographs of the faces of grouse moor owners as they read those words.

The reason that the RSPB has a good relationship with the ports industry is that the RSPB was very tough with them in the past – and won. For some reason, many industries think that environmental legislation is in some way soft legislation that they can get around. I don’t know why they think this  – it must be a fault in business schools – but they do.  When they find, as Associated British Ports did (as an example), that a few birds and the European Directives can stop you building a port and knock £40m off your share value that day, then they tend to come to heel.  And industries such as aggregates, water and ports do their work under the public gaze – their actions can be seen written large on the landscape, there is no hiding.  When shown that there is a quicker way to get much of what they want, as opposed to a slow and uncertain way to get everything they would like, then they are pragmatic enough to recognise the best way forward. It also helps if they are being criticised for every misdemeanour by NGOs in the media which brings home the message. If you need a new port then you have to work with the possible and learn from your mistakes or your competitiors will get all the good spots. It’s rather different if you own the moorlands on which your business is based.

It’s also a bit different if you have sunk large amounts of money into a business from which you have been promised large reliable profits over a period of years.  If you have to bend or break the rules in order to get those profits, but there is little chance of being caught, then the temptation is to keep on going.  That seems to me to be the position in which some grouse moor managers find themselves – they aren’t going to be talked out of their business model which is working very nicely for them at the moment thank you.

The fact is that you cannot have driven grouse shooting of any real profitability if you protect birds of prey. The business model depends on someone, not necessarily you on your land (but someone), committing large amounts of wildlife crime. If there were complete protection of birds of prey for five years then very few English grouse moors would be shooting sufficient grouse to maintain driven grouse shooting. Driven grouse shooting is backed into a wildlife crime corner (of its own making and choosing) and no amount of appealing to the industry’s better nature is going to work. And yet that is what the RSPB does.

It’s time that the RSPB Council got real.

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45 Replies to “The RSPB on driven grouse shooting”

  1. As you say Mark one needs to read the article in British Birds, but one must always keep in mind that the real "villain" in this case apart from those grouse moor owners themselves that flout the law, is this Westminster Government that refuses in any way to strengthen the law against wildlife crime and to ignore these continuing flagrant breaches of it. This of course is no doubt in part because of their own vested interests in the grouse shooting industry.
    One must also remember that the RSPB carries out a huge amount of vital conservation work every day that involves working directly or indirectly with Government. For example no doubt they will be much engaged in trying to ensure that the EU Birds and Habitats Directives remain fully integrated into UK law when the UK leaves the EU.
    These are tough asks but for the overall good of wildlife conservation I do not think that the RSPB should become involved in a "shouting match" on this one issue when there are so many others at stake just now. With the current total lack of interest this Government has in wildlife conservation, I think to find ones self in a shouting match position with then would be counter productive overall.
    At present there are no quick and easy solutions on the issue of the killing of birds of prey (although there should be with any reasonable Government). We can only continue to campaign on the issue and those outside of the RSPB can and should expect be more outspoken and vocal as you are Mark,

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      1. Anand, spot on again.

        What the RSPB should do, is to ask their 1.1 million members what they think on the subject.
        Of course, that would mean informing their membership of the issues involved, along with the blatant criminality of DGS.

        Alan, the RSPB don't need to 'shout', but surely they should inform, whether their friends in government like it or not. Yes they walk a tightrope, but asking the membership how they feel on the subject would give them the safety net they require.
        I don't buy the implication that they should be afraid of the government. What is the point of having a large membership if you refuse to use the power that it gives.

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  2. I can imagine that the ladies who started the RSPB as the Plumage League in 1889 showed a bit more passion, even allowing for the 'demureness' of women at the time. The banner photo on the 'Our History' page on the RSPB website shows a group of chaps who appear to be demonstrating ( though I can't find what it's about) and they look as though they have a clear message!

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  3. Completely agree with everything Alan has said - this government (leadsom et al) have come up with statements (eg "the hill farmers can have the butterflies" (while lowland farming is intensified)) which suggests that they are not fit for purpose and are already showing signs of seeing the Countryside Alliance as the people to do business with as custodians of the rural environment. Now is not the time to pick a fight on single issues - it is a time to try and get through to as many people as possible why the habitats directive and associated EU environmental laws are so important.

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    1. Pete - every issue is a single issue. The RSPB has a complaint to the EU Commission about grouse moor management. Everything is joined up to some extent.

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      1. Mark - the RSPB does indeed have a complaint being considered by the EU, and, pre-BREXIT, that approach to tackling intensifying driven grouse moor management (of which hen harrier killing is one small part) had great merit. Via that route, the government could have been forced to tackle damaging practices across designated English grouse moors. But BREXIT appears to have pulled the rug from beneath the RSPB's feet. Presumably, in two years or so, organisations such as the RSPB will be unable to resort to the EU when the UK government gets things wrong - they'll have to fall-back to complaining to, erm, that big political beast, Defra........
        So the RSPB's tactic won't work. Aside from continually reporting a sample of illegal killing every year, through their wildlife crime reports, what exactly is the RSPB doing? What's their big idea? I fear that, in a decade, we'll look back and see another stack of RSPB wildlife crime reports and little else from them. We'll also have seen hen harriers removed from intensive driven grouse moors by the Jemima Parry-Jones and the Hawk and Owl Trust, released onto other moorlands, and a good proportion shot or 'disappeared' some time later. And we may see one or two pairs of hen harriers breeding on Salisbury Plain, with individuals wandering from there shot or 'vanished' as they cross nearby lowland game shoots. In other words, in a decade or so, we'll have achieved absolutely nothing. The case for banning driven red grouse moor management will look all the more compelling to fair minded people.

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  4. There was a meeting last week to look at bringing back shooting on the Langholm estate owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. Given that Mark Oddy recently gave the idea that there would be no shooting until all birds of prey were removed it would have been a funny thing to discuss! The same Mark Oddy is the chairman of the new South of Scotland Golden Eagle project!! https://www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk/
    Given that Red Grouse shooting was carried out on the old Geltsdale RSPB reserve with an increasing raptor population there seems no doubt that shooting in some form can occur on land with high raptor numbers. The big question being do they want to shoot as an enjoyable day out or destroy the very hart of the moor with the modern idea that only 1000s of Red Grouse need to be shot?

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  5. I agree with much of what has been said about the RSPB having to maintain a slightly moderated approach. However, phrases like "under renewed pressure" may indicate to the wider public that a species is being squeezed at the margin rather than totally annihilated, which is a more accurate description of the situation.

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  6. It isn't just Westminster. The Holyrood government has been no less supine, although our environment minister Roseanna Cunningham has recently made encouraging noises about zero tolerance of wildlife crime. We shall see. She called an investigation into the recent disappearances of several eagles with their satellite tags around grouse moors in the Monadhliath region. That investigation is due to report any day now.

    This winter, while that investigation was going on, we have seen once again the annual slaughter of terrified mountain hares driven towards lines of guns, and we have heard once again from organisations like SNH and the Cairngorms National Park Authority how it's a "managed cull" although no matter how many times I ask no one will tell me how many were killed, or how many might be left. Nor will they admit they haven't a clue.

    The National Trust likewise has responded to my recent questions on its attitude to the continuation of driven grouse shooting on its land in the Peak District, first by referring me to a document which spoke reassuringly of the need for gun "sports" to follow a code of practice ~ there is no code of practice for driven grouse shooting, or at least they haven't shown me one ~ then by telling me how "cool" burning doesn't disturb hibernating animals, and how they're keen to know more about the possible impact of lead on wildlife. As things stand I've sent them a link to a study co-funded by Nstural England which attributed sickness and death in red kites to ingestion of lead ; and a photo of the incinerated reptiles someone collected after a moor burn. I've settled in for another good long wait before their next soothing response.

    In short, Mark is absolutely right. These organisations are providing a smokescreen of waffle while in the grouse moors it's business as usual. As a single issue, the health of the uplands of the British isles is a pretty big one. The reality is they are run for the gun, and the entire aesthetic and conservation dogma of the wide open spaces, the bonny purple heather etc is tuned to conservation of the status quo.

    I for one will not stop banging on until the membership of the RSPB among others clocks on, or I die.

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  7. So long as the RSPB fails to make meaningful progress on illegal wildlife crime - an issue that goes to the heart of what the organisation stands for - this Government is hardly going to be quaking in its boots when the RSPB attempts to address bigger policy issues.

    The RSPB should be using the hen harrier campaign as an opportunity to demonstrate its strength, rather than confirming its weakness. Worthy statements, living in hope and repeatedly banging into brick walls do not constitute a strategy.

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  8. I can understand that the RSPB may need to be a little more "polite" in its approach than an independent activist such as Mark but there is really no reason to why it should not be making clear to the world that it is utterly outraged by the continuing persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors. It should be ensuring that every single RSPB member is also outraged but that message does not really seem to be being communicated in the magazine or other bumpf sent out. As things stand the grouse moor managers do not feel threatened and the government does not feel under sufficient public pressure to be roused out of its complacency and seriously address the problem. The RSPB should do more to raise public awareness of and anger about the issue so that the pressure starts to be felt rather more.

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  9. Why does the RSPB tolerate the domestic cat which relentlessly kills songbirds?
    Until it campaigns as enthusiastically about the damage caused by cats as it does about grouse shooting it will be seen as hypocritical. Cat owning donors to the RSPB should search their consciences.

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    1. The evidence shows that persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors has serious impacts on their populations and in the case of the hen harrier has driven it to virtual extinction in England. There is no such evidence for a significant effect of domestic cats on song bird populations. There is no hypocrisy involved.

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    2. Classic "whataboutery". Domestic cats have never removed a breeding species almost entirely from England or been responsible for protecting and encouraging criminal activity.

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      1. Thanks. My broadband is slow so wasn't sure they would show.
        It strikes me that my topic touches on the reason that i can't agree with Alan Parfitt and Pete on this. They seem to base their argument that the government is either so vindictive or stupid or incompetent (or all) that they can't deal with all these issues separately. Perhaps the RSPB also buys into this argument. 'We mustn't bite the hand that feeds us' so mustn't moan too much about raptors if our lords will save some Lapwings.
        It seems to be a very week, approaching cowardly (no matter how much Martin Harper hates that word) stand point.

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  10. It's the 'Royal' affix that knackers them as their charter doesn't allow them to get other than outraged about events on grouse moors - "The Society shall take no part in the question of the killing of game birds and legitimate sport of that character except when such practices have an impact on the Objects." And as soon as they do they are jumped on by the shooters in the same way as the shooters are having a go at Chris Packham here https://www.facebook.com/thewoodlandtrust/videos/10155229706505159/?comment_id=10155241094260159&notif_t=comment_mention&notif_id=1491131256914399
    The Alliance doesn't hesitate to stir against conservation organisations whilst these organisations try to work with the potential opposition presumably to avoid legal actions and costs and, of course, officials, staff and members of some of the wildlife trusts engage in 'field' sports. But maybe the time has come for the RSPB et al need to grow balls.

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  11. We are used to the RSPB leading from the front on most issues yet when it comes to raptor persecution and the habitat management issues surrounding driven grouse shooting they clearly do not lead why? This is the biggest issue in the uplands, the biggest issue for birds of prey in the uplands for gods sake the bastards have all but made Hen Harrier extinct in England when there should be 300+ pairs. The time for being polite when long ago what we need to see is RSPB leading from the front with passion, commitment and an unassailable body of fact. As it is the dark side are comfortably cosy with this piss poor government who don't care a damn about anything other than making money. We need them to be shaken out of complacency not by the facts they know and ignore them but by a gale of passion in support of those facts. There may be (i know there are) decent folk involved in the grouse shooting cabal but as a body they are in denial and or complicit in the crimes, they need to be treated as they behave forcefully and when needed with contempt. I like Martin Harper but its time somebody engendered him with a huge dose of both urgency, anger and above all passion about this national scandal. Loathsome Leadsom and co will ignore all else.

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    1. Loathsome Leadsom and co - Land agents and solicitors - We look after the countryside and make it work for the investor. We don't believe in 'Wildlife Tourism' as it does not match with our believes. We would rather trash the countryside and redevelop it for our customers who pay no tax.

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  12. In June 2013 Mike Clarke wrote:
    "The RSPB has a knack of capturing the spirit of the age and challenging the status quo. The combination of our sound science and a passionate movement of people is a potent force to fight for nature."
    Fine words.

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  13. Having been on the wrong end of the RSPB's attack over forestry in the Flow country I'd agree that their current approach to the grouse shooting issue lacks the bite of that campaign - which also took place under a conservative Government. One key and crucial feature was the naming of the high profile people who were benefitting from the tax relief that drove private forestry at the time. I have wondered for some time why even this blog and raptor persecution aren't naming the owners of the estates that keep cropping up - no doubt one could quite easily find them, but RSPB didn't suggest you had to establish whether Terry Wogan was benefitting from tax relief by yourself. The big difference is that many of the celebrities caught out over the Flow Country almost certainly were unaware their money was causing environmental damage. It is hard to believe the same of most Grouse Moor owners.

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  14. Accusing Martin Harper of a lack of passion is a cheap shot.

    There is plenty of passion at the RSPB - a passion for getting things done.

    We have the government we have and no effective opposition, the fault of those misguided enough to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Even if banning driven grouse shooting were a good idea - and for land use and wider conservation reasons I don't think it is - it is not going to happen for a very long time. The RSPB is making major efforts to have our land use and wildlife laws enforced properly. You should be praising them, not picking holes in Martin's well reasoned piece. Talk is cheap; the RSPB has to operate in the real world.

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  15. Easy to criticise RSPB in this BB article, no mention of vicarious liability which could potentially really worry grouse interests, and possibly misplaced optimism in a Scottish government which may soon have to prioritise much bigger matters (new Indy ref). Also Martin Harper at least in public doesn't pursue the full logic of the case made in Inglorious. Maybe the RSPB could usefully also work on credible economic land use policies for grouse moor areas after an eventual ban - this seems a weakness in the banning argument, currently exploited by the grouse interests. However it seems obvious that Brexit and Great Repeal Act fallout are likely to immerse all RSPB capabilities, and all its remaining political capital, for years, against a potential background of continuing small state, deregulating, right wing rule. Also these issues will leave zero parliamentary time for anything else in the foreseeable future. The independent anti driven grouse shooting campaign, moving public opinion, together with innovative use of satellite tag evidence etc, can of course continue to make progress. We don't know how agricultural and land subsidies, and thus economic pressures, or any nature conservation framework, will develop in any part of the countryside, or whether NGOs will have to deal with some degree of UK disintegration. Unforeseen new opportunities and possible alliances may however emerge from these many issues which confront us. The RSPB's wildlife crime work, albeit within a weak legal enforcement framework, will surely continue as a major strength. I don't however think this is the best moment for the RSPB to take unnecessary risks with their potential influence and political capital, which it seems could soon face challenges unprecedented since 1945.

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    1. Maybe you're right about greater priorities for conservation bodies. So let's focus on getting the conservation charities which own land in the uplands to ban driven grouse shooting on their land first. Starting with the National Trust and the first area to be Hope Woodlands and Park Hall Estate in the Peak District. This was where the decoy HH was used. If you are a NT member please contact the Trust and ask them to do this. Mind you, my letter was passed to the regional office several weeks ago and I have had no response. If enough members contact them it may have an effect.
      As an aside, I had the depressing experience today of searching through the magazines in W.H.Smith for British Birds. Couldn't find it. There were 2 other bird magazines and BBC Wildlife. But there were 22 different gun magazines! That's Yorkshire for you - wildlife crime and animal cruelty hotspot - God's own country (I don't think so!).

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      1. Northern Diver, I think British Birds is a subscriber only publication. It can be accessed online as well by subscribers. Well worth the outlay.

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      2. "That's Yorkshire for you - wildlife crime and animal cruelty hotspot - God's own country (I don't think so!)."

        To be fair, they don't say which god. It could be the god is Cthulhu, and if it is his own country then I'd say it was probably spot on. Definitely one of the Lovecraftian ones.

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  16. Why have I been suspicious for some time that the RSPB is being infiltrated by the 'anti raptor' brigade? i.e. Blue tits lovely, sparrow hawks nasty! I was shocked to discover that the CEO of Song Bird Survival is supposedly an active RSPB volunteer. (Preparing the way for a place on council, perhaps?). I would have thought that a massive conflict of interest exists in this situation and I am, to say the least, very surprised that the RSPB tolerates it.

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  17. Mark, sorry to be negative on this one but it's about time those idiots in power accepted the reality of the negative side of shooting red grouse, but disappointingly that will not happen.

    Along with other members of the North West Raptor Protection Group, we have almost completed our annual spring examination of historic Peregrine nesting territories in Lancashire's Forest of Bowland. We were not surprised at what we have discovered so far; only two territories occupied with one additional site where a single male Peregrine has been observed. Just as disappointing we have recorded only a single male and a single female Hen Harrier on one estate, not necessarily a nesting pair.

    Rachel Carson wrote about the reality of a Silent Spring, from a moorland raptors perspective the Silent Spring has already arrived. Throughout the Forest of Bowland the silence of Peregrines and Hen Harriers at nest sites remains just a memory of how things once were.

    Mark you lost the battle to ban Driven Grouse Shooting because of a unsupportive and dismissive Tory government, whose attitude towards Hen Harrier and Peregrine on grouse moors is unlikely to change. There is no doubt now this has resulted in a bad situation becoming much worse.

    In my opinion the war we all fought on behalf of 'protected raptors' on red grouse moors is now also utterly lost. Returning the Peregrine and Hen Harrier back onto moorland where red grouse are shot will be impossible in the foreseeable future. The political will is simply not there to stop the ongoing killing of protected raptors, nor is this form of affective control likely to stop.

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    1. Well, there wasn't the will to repeal the Poll Tax either at one point. We know what changed minds there, don't we?

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  18. Well,it seems a long time since I seemed almost a lone voice criticising the RSPB on Hen Harriers.
    One thing M H has not got for sure except for him and others kicking me off their forum because of my criticism about their attitude of H Hs is passion,he lacks any at all.
    I cannot really feel justified to criticise the RSPB having not renewed a long term membership over the H H issue but as a individual as conservation director or whatever M H is a disaster.
    I just cannot see them saving Raptors from persecution.
    Sadly God only knows what can save them.

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  19. Mark, I wonder how many of your respondents actually subscribe to British Birds and have read Martin Harper's contribution. I received my copy on Saturday and read Martin, the letter from David Tomlinson with it's editorial comment, and the editorial introduction by Roger Riddington. I also dug out my copy of the February edition and read again your own BB eye submission. All fascinating stuff.

    As you know, I am a proud member of the sodden 570, have attended all the Hen Harrier days, heard your talk several times and various discussions at Buxton and Bird Fair etc., have marched with you to parliament and lobbied our MPs over various issues, Inglorious has a permanent place at my bedside for quick reference! I would like to see DGS banned.

    However I first joined the RSPB over 60 years ago and I am a great supporter of all the brilliant work they do and not just in the UK. I greatly admire the dedication, fortitude and all the risks run by the crime prevention section. It seems an almost hopeless task to try and get support from Police wildlife crime units and prosecution services to bring to court what to us seem to be cut and dried cases. I also greatly value the information that RPUK puts out keeping us informed of current crimes.

    I think that Alan Parfitt's analysis first thing this morning was well reasoned and sensible (Alan is also a member of the S570!). Richard Fuller also made excellent points in his contribution. The chances of getting this Government to give any priority to this issue is, I'm afraid, highly unlikely. A prime minister who imposes a referendum for purely selfish reasons, loses, then walks away having promised to see it through, then to boast that he will have more time to pursue his hobby of game shooting. A new PM who appoints a minister in charge of the environment who wishes to re-introduce fox hunting. I think it will take long after my lifetime to see any sympathetic legislation for the environment and wildlife.

    Another of your books that I refer back to occasionally Mark, is Blogging for Nature (currently out of print). I was interested in your blog no.20 from 2009 Focus on birds of prey - hen harrier, when you were Martin Harper's predecessor. We've come a long way since then!

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  20. For me, this has been a particularly interesting blog and set of comments. I've been an enthusiastic RSPB member and supporter for nearly 40 years, and I have no intention of resigning my membership now. However, that does not mean that I agree with their stance on every single issue.
    I think the RSPB have been too timid (or too cosy) in their dealings with the shooting lobby for many years, not just over hen harriers, but also goshawk, eagles, sparrowhawks, lead shot, release of millions of pheasants, attitudes to 'vermin' and predators in general, use of snares/traps/poisons (legal or otherwise), land management, access, transparency, 'fake news' and so on.
    I don't know how much analysis and soul-searching has gone on concerning the BDGS campaign of the last couple of years and the strategy for the future. One thing seems clear - an all-out frontal assault on the present government is not likely to get very far. To take R22's example, an e-petition and debate during the early part of the poll tax saga would have met with the dismissal and derision from Tory MPs similar to what greeted Mark's petition. But of course, the strength of public feeling eventually prevailed with that issue, and numerous others over the years.
    The RSPB is in a unique and powerful position to influence public opinion, and in my view they should make full use of their 'soft' power, on this and other issues. They should be polite and measured but leave no-one, especially their membership, in any doubt where their heart lies.
    My biggest disappointment of last year was that Jeff Knott could not bring himself to say something at the evidence session along the lines of "At this moment, the RSPB does not support Mark's call for an outright ban. However, it is clear that many years of engagement and partnership working with the shooters have not led to a significant improvement of the shocking situation on the ground, and so we might have to change our position on this in the near future." But he didn't.
    The most concerning comment above is the one from Terry Pickford suggesting that an already bad situation has been made much worse. If this is the case (and I fear it might be), then we all have to up our game, including the RSPB.

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  21. I believe the only way that has any chance of success is nothing to do with political party in power.Labour had plenty of chance of addressing this problem which is decades old.
    Probably the only way seriously going to help is if the RSPB got really serious and asked their members to sign a petition against Raptor persecution on Grouse moors.
    there is a possible one million signatures there and just suppose each of those got four more family,friends or whatever then five million might make whoever is in power take notice.
    No I know it will never happen because for some reason they do not care.

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    1. I've crossed swords with you over badgers, Dennis, but I'm with you on this. One of the few things that might get some serious movement on this at the moment would be a really massive, million-plus petition and the most obvious way towards that is via the RSPB. We should apply pressure on them by whatever means we can.
      I also agree that the social class/political party issue is not helpful here. We need allies from wherever we can find them, irrespective of background or voting habit.

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  22. So, it's easy to bring a prosecution against a lady for having a discrete pee, out of sight, near a Trump golfcourse but not for killing, poisoning or trapping birds of prey on another type of 'sporting' estate!!

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  23. Personally I am desperate to see the RSPB develop some critical items - a spine, some teeth, and some balls.

    I find it extraordinarily difficult to justify membership of an organisation that, while inherently a 'good thing', steadfastly refuses to stand up and be counted, passionately, about the single most obvious, widespread and repeated insult to our native bird fauna. I know all the well-rehearsed apologist rhetoric about my subscription paying for maintenance of their network of reserves, public education and outreach, etc, but this single issue overshadows the lot. It's a disgrace.

    Martin Harper, I am sure, is a well-intentioned and good man. However, at the moment he is increasingly Neville Chamberlainish - I for one am tired of the peevish appeasement, and want to see some fire and brimstone back in his belly, and that of the organisation he represents. Grow a pair, Martin/RSPB, and I'll start supporting you again...

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