Presumably as a result of the RSPB’s strong criticism of Natural England’s decision to license a trial of brood meddling and the RSPB’s support for Ed Hutchings’s e-petition in favour of licensing of driven grouse shooting (other e-petitions are available) YFTB has dusted off its attacks on the RSPB.
In a press release issued by Ian Gregory of Abzed Communications Ian Botham is quoted as saying ‘Given that that the RSPB constantly criticises gamekeepers over hen harriers the public would expect the charity to be doing better than everyone else. Yet it consistently does less well. I hope that the RSPB will reflect on whether its confrontational approach is distracting it from looking after birds.‘ and ‘Gamekeepers are proud that they create some of Britain’s best bird reserves. The RSPB’s publicity suggests that hen harriers are its highest priority species. If it really wants to help these birds I recommend that it experiments with putting gamekeepers in charge of its reserves.‘.
The RSPB replied ‘This is a very tired and hollow argument from the same old apologists for the damaging driven grouse shooting industry. The low breeding numbers of this spectacular bird show precisely the threats it faces from the continuation of this intensive land use; there should be 300 breeding pairs in England alone. That there are in fact more hen harriers breeding on a single RSPB nature reserve (Loch Gruinart, Islay) than in the whole of England shows exactly how baseless this attack is.
If this industry focussed on eradicating illegal killing of birds of prey within its ranks it would do a lot more to help ensure more people can enjoy seeing these magnificent birds right across the UK.‘.
According to the press release ‘Sir Ian Botham runs the You Forgot The Birds campaign which represents the views of grouse moors.’. The Times refers to YFTB as Ian Botham’s charity but it doesn’t seem very charitable to me and appears not to be listed by the Charity Commission.
Ian Gregory once called for grouse moors to be subsidised by you, the taxpayer.
Ian Gregory’s Abzed admits on its website that its approach to criticism of grouse shooting was ‘to turn the spotlight on RSPB’ – this is another example of that approach.
Back in August 2016 in a revealing and interesting article by John Vidal in the Guardian, YFTB was described as appearing to be ‘a classic “astroturfing” PR operation that gives the impression of a grassroots operation, suggesting the public and landowners all hate the RSPB, but which actually represents the views of very few anonymous landowners.‘.
It’s always encouraging when the grouse moor industry, represented by Ian Botham, gets nasty – it usually means they are worried. Worry them some more by signing this e-petition to put them out of business completely.