Dr Therese Coffey is the junior minister at Defra. Now that Gavin Gamble’s e-petition in favour of banning driven grouse shooting has passed 10,000 signatures Dr Coffey will need to sign off a government response.
In order that she does not make Defra look even more foolish than they do already I am providing a reading list for the minister to inform her response.
Please sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and put Dr Coffey on the spot.
This was the blog that Jude Lane wrote for the RSPB about the shooting of Bowland Betty – a young female Hen Harrier that captured the imagination of many before she was gunned down on a grouse moor in Yorkshire. Bowland Betty exemplifies the issues that Dr Coffey must address – crime against a protected species in remote parts of the country where evidence collection is very difficult.
Bowland Betty shows what happens to many Hen Harriers that are not tagged and into whose fates we have no window. She has been followed by the losses of tagged birds on grouse moors where the tags have ceased transmitting suddenly and without trace. Many of these will have been killed just like Bowland Betty was.
Dr Coffey knows this and she knows that she needs to act.
That blog was written very nearly five years ago and at its head, Martin Harper, the RSPB Conservation Director wrote ‘Enough is enough. We need action now’ – we’re still waiting but Dr Coffey has the opportunity to act when she responds to Gavin Gamble’s e-petition.
Please sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and put Dr Coffey on the spot – the more signatures, the harder it is for Defra to do nothing.
The government response should:
- be published within 2 weeks of Gavin Gamble’s e-petition reaching 10,000 signatures
- announce that vicarious liability for wildlife crimes will be introduced in England because of the unacceptably high levels of wildlife crime
- announce that Defra will ask the RSPB to come forward with proposals for licensing of shooting estates within a month and that Defra will respond to them by Christmas
- acknowledge the level of concern about driven grouse shooting which led to 123,077 signatures being gained last year for an absolute ban on this hobby (I’m not expecting Dr Coffey to say anything nicer than that about a ban)
- confirm that Defra is looking at removal of farming subsidies from grouse moors in its post-Brexit agricultural strategy
- confirm that the evidence for wider environmental damage of heather burning has increased recently and that this is an issue that government will address and that this will require widespread changes to grouse moor management (burning and draining)
- mention where the government is with dealing with the RSPB complaint to the EU over unsustainable moorland management due to grouse shooting practices
- acknowledge that the plight of the Hen Harrier has not improved in two breeding seasons since the Defra Hen Harrier plan was launched and that the grouse shooting industry has not cleaned up its act and is on a last warning
- announce that the details of the 15-year Natural England Hen Harrier study will be published by Christmas 2017 in a government report with further recommendations for Hen Harrier conservation
- acknowledge that wildlife crime applies to many other protected species other than the Hen Harrier
- announce that the National Capital Committee has been asked to compile a report on ecosystem services and grouse moor management
- announce a review of the economic costs and benefits of intensive grouse moor management will be carried out by independent academics and published by Christmas 2018.
The government response should not:
- say that funding of the NWCU is a sufficient response to combatting bird of prey persecution in the uplands (because nobody who knows has ever suggested such a thing)
- say or suggest that grouse shooting provides a nett economic benefit to the nation (because there are no such figures)
- suggest that the current Hen Harrier Action Plan is remotely fit for purpose
- praise gamekeepers
- conflate benefits of all shooting (economic or environmental) with benefits of grouse shooting (because it makes the government department and/or its ministers look either stupid or biased)