The biggest HHDay so far

Early news of attendances at Hen Harrier Day rallies is as follows:

  • Rainham Marshes 450
  • Arne 500
  • Sheffield 350
  • Boat of Garten 200
  • Loch Leven 200
  • Glenarriff 75
  • Mull 75
  • Bowland tbc
  • Rhum tbc
  • Eigg tbc

Many thanks to all who attended and made this the biggest ever, and to all the individual event organisers who made it possible, and to BAWC for coordinating and publicising events, and to the speakers for being so inspirational.

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22 Comments

  1. jbc says:

    Very good speeches at Rainham - Chris Packham was particularly inspiring, and pointed, as ever. He set out much better than I can why its simply so bizarre that the rest of the shooting world is still allowing the tiny Grouse industry to smother them in such bad PR.

    Maybe the symbolic electoral debacle of the attempt to resurrect the fox hunting issue will concentrate their minds - maybe not. We'll see.

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    • Border says:

      I think I might be able to help with some context there for you (and him) jbc. Do you own a car? As a car owner why are you still allowing people to drink and drive? Do you own a dog? Why are you still allowing fellow dog owners to use them for fighting and badger digging? Chris Packham's inference was nothing more than a general anti-shooting narrative, it's as transparent as is possible to concieve of if you take a few minutes to think about it. There are criminals in all walks of life. Just because I'm a shooter doesn't make me a criminal nor am I responsible for those who are.

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      • Mark says:

        Border - driven grouse shooting depends on illegal activity. If there were no wildlife crime, grouse bags would plummet and the game would be up.

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        • Border says:

          Then both Chris Packham and yourself would achieve greater credibility if you directed your critisism at that sector, specifically the criminals within that sector, as opposed to broad-brush, wholly in accurate, and lazy generalisations.

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          • Mark says:

            Border - read my book, read this blog, hear me talk and you'll find that is exactly what I do. You are guilty of a lazy generalisation but no worries, I am used to it.

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      • jbc says:

        Border, were you actually there to hear him, and the other speakers? Because it was anything but a general anti shooting narrative.

        Chris used the example of a conversation he’d had recently with a gun totin’ Texas Trump supporting hunter – a person with whom, as Chris euphemistically put it, he probably had many political differences. Yet this US hunter was astonished that UK shooting still uses lead ammunition for shotguns and rifles, whereas most American hunters stopped using lead some time ago. They didn’t need some “bloody environmentalist” to tell them it was a really bad idea, they saw it as in their own interests to put their own house in order.

        As a car owner not only do I not drink and drive, but I would report anyone I knew who did do so. If a high proportion of drivers were drinking and driving, as was once the case, I wouldn’t pretend that it was only a few rotten apples – I’d expect driving organisations to work with the police to nail the culprits, and to make it as socially unacceptable as it now is. This is in fact exactly what the AA etc did as I recall. I certainly wouldn’t expect motoring organisations to actively obstruct changes in the law designed to make it easier to catch drink drivers. I wouldn’t expect them to be so keen to protect their drink driving chums that they would justify that obstruction by pretending that catching drink drivers was really the first step in a secret conspiracy to ban all car ownership.

        I don’t own a dog –much as a would like one I don’t think you should keep a dog if you’re out at work all day. But if I knew that someone was abusing a dog, or using it for badger baiting, I’d certainly report it. I certainly wouldn’t say “don’t tell anyone about the badger baiting, the antis will use it as an excuse to ban all dog ownership”.

        Chris Packham used the example of picking up dog poo. 30 years ago the idea that everyone would pick up their dog’s poo would absurd. Now it’s socially unacceptable not to do so. When having raptor free moorlands is as socially unacceptable amongst moorland owners as dog fouling or drink driving it, then any residual problem really will be “a few rotten apples”. But right now, virtually all driven grouse moors are raptor free, and that’s a problem for law abiding shooters as much as it is for the rest of us. It’s bringing the whole of sport shooting into disrepute.

        Some people want to ban all shooting – it’s a free country, they’re entitled to their opinions. But if they ever win, it won’t be because driven grouse shooting got banned and all other shooting was then inevitably and magically banned in turn. It’ll be because sport shooting continues to be so keen to deny the criminality in its ranks that the other 99% of law abiding people who don’t shoot will just get fed up with the whole arrogant shebang.

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      • Lesleyjane Clifford says:

        If you think that the majority of shooters are responsible people why do most of them still use lead shot?

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      • Martin WW says:

        Border....your initial comment is a fair analogy but with one major flaw. Most drivers know about and condemn drink driving. One can carry on car driving in the absence of drink drivers. Most dog owners condemn dog fighting and badger baiting. But should fighting/baiting not exist then we could still have dogs.

        However in DGS it is plain to see that without criminal activity (=drink driving/badger baiting/dog fighting in the above examples) it could not continue in anything like its present form. Also when I'm out and about on shoots and chatting to friends (who know my position on this) there is clear hostility to Packam/Avery/RSPB et al who after all (like me) just want the law to be upheld.

        As for 'anti-shooting rhetoric' I can't blame Packham or anyone for holding an anti-shooting agenda anymore. The way the 'industry' has closed ranks, come out with faux-science (lies) as well as being nasty and offensive, is enough to put any 'fence-sitter' off shooting nowadays. If DGS had cleaned up its act years ago it would have not have attracted anything like as much attention to shooting in general.

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  2. Les Wallace says:

    Got to HH Day at Loch Leven thanks to the extreme generosity of Logan, Anne and George! Was brilliant and while there we saw a pair of buzzards, what was probably a sparrowhawk, there were rumours that a peregrine was sighted and it now transpires someone got a pic of an osprey on the reserve from the visitor centre where we were. Certainly not a grouse moor then. No less than three MSPs were present. Superb event all due to the organizers and inspirational speakers, many thanks to them, HH Day can only grow and succeed.

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  3. Al Woodcock says:

    Was at Arne, Dorset yesterday, brilliant speeches by Chris Packham and the RSPB's Chris Corrigan. A great day out and a superb reserve.

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  4. Richard Ebbs says:

    We were at Rainham on Saturday for our fourth HH Day. It was excellent with inspiring presentations as usual. It was good to see the other venues were successful too, a few hundred people but mostly converted to the cause.

    On Sunday we were helping on the RSPB stand at Countryfile Live, very busy with many thousands of visitors mostly knowing nothing of the Hen harrier and It's plight. There were many Conservation Charities there and we were close to a huge stand labelled "Gamekeeping and Conservation".

    I'm beginning to wonder whether BAWC and Raptor Persecution might be better to concentrate their activities on this larger demographic and get broader coverage. May need crowd funding to cover the costs!

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  5. David Beattie says:

    Excellent day at Sheffield on Saturday. Good to see some young people there, especially Finlay Wilde

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  6. Border says:

    Take your pick Mark - "No-one will trust the shooting COMMUNITY to allow scores of Hen Harriers to survive when Hen Harriers are pushed ever closer to extinction". That's just one of many I could have chosen from, which, rather conveniently takes us back to my original post before you felt the need to interject, protesting innocence. It's criminals who are committing these acts - not the "shouting community".

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    • Mark says:

      Border - and your problem is?

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    • Messi says:

      The trouble (in my view) Border is that the shooting community is failing to call out and criticise the criminal elements. With regard to driven grouse shooting, as Mark I think has pointed out I think, the very density of red grouse demanded by participants cannot be achieved without illegal killing of birds of prey and (where the land in question is an SPA, SAC and SSSI) illegal land management practices (yes, illegal, that's why the UK government has been warned of infraction proceedings following complaints by the RSPB and Ban the Burn). We also know that instances of illegal killing of birds of prey are so widespread that there must be shooting folks willing to break the law across the length and breadth of the country. I'm afraid widespread illegal killing instances combined with silence from the shooting 'community' justifies Chris Packham's widely cast net. Having worked with shooting estates to secure better game crops for seed eating farmland birds, I'm aware of some game managers who appear not to engage in the illegal killing of birds of prey, by they never condemn such illegal killing.

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  7. Nimby says:

    I traveled to Sheffield, where I heard Mark Avery (as I have many times at a variety of venues) & others speak and I'd have to say there was nothing but facts offered. There was emotion but not without facts underpinning the statements, Mark (& others) would rapidly lose credibility if they couldn't cite facts/references etc.

    I'd encourage you to take up Mark's suggestion, hear him talk, read his blog and in conjunction read the book (I'm sure he'll explain any bits you don't understand). As for veracity, if anything was inaccurate then don't you think he'd have received a solicitors letter or court summons?

    Sheffield's speakers offered facts and the underlying one is that there is illegal raptor persecution FULL STOP. The industry has failed to address this, why is that (& please don't repeat the 'bad apple' argument)? Until it stops then we will continue to demand things like Vicarious Liability (parity with Scotland) a review of payments to wealthy landowners where illegal persecution has occurred or there is no demonstrable public benefit, licensing of grouse moors and independent monitoring of their activity etc. and a ban on driven grouse shooting for starters.

    Well done to all involved with the HHD weekend, wear your "I was there in 2017" badges with pride.

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  8. Jim Clarke says:

    A few of us in Sheffield are currently giving consideration to whether we can make the next Sheffield/Peak District event into more a 'Hen Harrier Festival' next year with a full day of activities. It's always good to get the committed to turn out but i'm sure there is a lot of scope for more of an 'outreach'approach that has a wider engagement with other conservation groups and the general public. I'm convinced we can treble up (or more) the numbers attending.

    I have to say, though, and not deriding any of the other speakers in anyway, that Iolo Williams made the standout speech of the day. I've never seen him 'live' before but left with the impression that if he'd raised a flag and pointed the way half the crowd would have immediately set off to occupy the nearest grouse moor!

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    • Les Wallace says:

      That's really good news about Iolo Jim, I commented a wee while back that some in the Scottish game keeping community were placing him on a pedestal as one of their own - I always thought that was wishful thinking (i.e bollocks) of the first order - principally I suspect because he had previously delivered a withering speech about wader numbers in the Berwyn. Well, well that'll be a few red faces then (eh Bert?), they've even fewer friends than they thought. Would be great if the talk was recorded, if not he can always repeat it somewhere else which would be rather good.

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      • Jeff P says:

        Oh look, it was recorded. One for Bert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2xb8XhJov0

        Well worth a watch!

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      • Jim Clarke says:

        It was all filmed, Les, so i'm sure some footage of Iolo will appear somewhere or other; if I come across it I'll post a link on here. I really don't think there is any doubt where his sympathies lie; genuine, visceral, from the heart anger at Hen Harrier persecution and those responsible.

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  9. Nimby says:

    Yes we need to reach out to other sectors of the wider public by all means. Another WT / RSPB type outdoor conference / garden party will attract some new interest and that's good.

    Yes Iolo was brilliant - he really was on form at 2016s Birdfair and again over this weekend - recall also his 2013 #stateofnature address to the whole NGO gamut - but what's really changed? It's people like Mark & Chris who have put their heads above the metaphoric parapet & pushed the boundaries and given hope where others failed abysmally.

    We need a whole movement, and IMHO we all have a part to play and similarly I believe we need iconic people to front it, the media like their sound bytes etc. But as Natalie Bennett (I think) said the H.I.T. had done some excellent work, fell runners, badger groups, ARGs et.al. we need a whole range of stakeholders if we are to take back 'our' moors?

    Bottom line is that statute has pushed a lot of usually very considered prefer to compromise people towards anger, illegal wildlife crime cannot be allowed to continue to be supported by public money for the few at the expense of the many. It has been demonstrated that illegal activity underpins driven grouse shooting so should this be allowed to continue? The turn out over this last weekend, with respect, suggests folk are tired of the criminality linked to DGS.

    We should always act within the law otherwise we reduce ourselves to that of those "few bad apples". We might even consider a picnic on open access land at various points in the grouse shooting season?

    We might all write to our MPs & Ministers demanding Vicarious Liability we could do likewise about review and reform of landowner welfare payments etc.?

    As for crowd funding, look what was raised for the raptor tagging and support for Andy Wightman. We may not always be an attractive story to the mainstream media but we have social media and I for one was delighted when Natalie Bennett announced we'd got #stopkillinghenharriers trending on Saturday, young Findlay Wilde has the potential to achieve a social reacj of nearly 8 million - come on, we will win! Long haul it may be but tenacity and grit ....

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