Three petitions

Hardly anybody wants grouse shooting to continue – or if they do then they can’t be bothered to exert themselves so much as to sign a petition to protect their interests, and hardly anybody wants it to be licensed (even though the RSPB has promoted this idea in its magazine). In contrast, a raggle taggle group of campaigners got almost 50,000 signatures to support a ban of this allegedly economically important and allegedly traditional, alleged sport.

Three times as many people want driven grouse shooting banned as either licensed or maintained.

Of course, all this might change if, in the next week, Jane Griggs’s e-petition gains a shed load of signatures. But that would be a comeback akin to that of the Terror Skink or Banggai Crow.


Three e-petitions - how do they compare?

 PositionSignaturesClosing date
Gavin GambleBan48,174closed
Jane GriggsPro15,20224 May
Ed HutchingsLicense16,59415 June


There is more chance, but I’d rate it a slim one, that the RSPB might drum up significant support for licensing in the next month.  How many, or how few, signatures do you think that licensing will attract by 15 June?

I’d be surprised if the ‘pro’ and ‘ban’ e-petitions together, what an unholy alliance!, will reach the signature total of Gavin Gamble’s e-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting.

If I had access to the RSPB (many) Twitter accounts and Facebook page and mailing list I know I could get Ed Hutchings’s e-petition well over 100,000 signatures in a month’s time.  If the RSPB doesn’t, then it is a sign of indifference, nothing else.

Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive

Get email notifications of new blog posts

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

17 Replies to “Three petitions”

  1. So pleased you feel willing to criticise your former employee Mark, and be so outspoken in the process. I admire many people who work for the RSPB, including an unknown number who wish they had the freedom to express themselves without jeopardising their career prospects. Some of the recent decisions made by SNH, notably the Perthshire Raven cull, reminded me of the RSPB's cow-towing approach to the upper classes in their own policies regarding control of so-called 'pest' species. Surely this approach is now out of date, and raptor (and Raven) persecution has now become so serious as to merit proper, credible opposition to grouse shooting. Does the RSPB really believe it has something to lose if they were to adopt a more radical approach to such a serious issue? The times they are a changin (but not at Sandy)!

    1. “A million voices for nature’ yet barely a whisper! The public face of the RSPB are far too quiet on this matter and have been for years. There is a clue in the organisation’s name as to their raison d’etre, but seemingly this only applies to some species?
      Your comment regarding employees ‘ jeopardising their career prospects’ is sadly telling. I hope there aren’t too many career conservationists but experience of the larger conservation organisations suggest otherwise.

      Regarding Mark’s comments on lack of signatures on the licensing petition, I wonder if the Government’s appalling treatment of the Parliamentary debate arising from his original petition and its pointless statements at the 10000 mark to them all, have made people think there is no point in signing? Hopefully this has angered/annoyed/empowered those same people to find other ways of exposing the truth?

  2. I wish there could be an analysis of how much DGS actually contributes to local rural economies, at present, vs the subsidies the estates receive, and other benefits, so as to be able to determine, factually, whether DGS actually is a positive economic generator in these communities. I recall in George Monbiot's 'Feral' he stated, (in reference to Scotland, mind you, but very probably applicable in English context in similar situations) 'A study of wildlife tourism from the Isle of Mull,...discovered that colonization by white-tailed sea eagles has brought 5 million GBP a year into its economy and supports 110 full-time jobs....Rewilding, and the reintroduction of other missing species could greatly enhance this number, generating many more jobs than deer-stalking does today...' Then further on, 'By damaging the potential for wildlife tourism in Scotland, the deer and grouse industries could be destroying more employment than they generate. This is not to dismiss the gamekeepers' right and need to work. But it does suggest that more people could make a living if the land were put to another use. The skills and local knowledge of the gamekeepers would be in high demand as wildlife-watching became a more important industry.'
    There is also, of course, the hugely successful Red Kite project in Galway:
    I'm sure there are similar initiatives in the UK or globally, where the switch was made from a countryside dominated by socalled 'sports' that kill wildlife and/or persecute any OTHER wildlife that threatens maximum profits, making vast profits for a very few vs with a meager living eked out by the other local people, to a conservation/education-based community, focusing on a celebration of the wild creatures and habitat, native plant communities, etc. in the countryside. The employment potentials are possibly huge, as well as, of course, the environmental benefits. As some DGS operates on public lands, how are they permitted to continue in a way that has such negative impacts on public landscapes, ie flood risk increases, water and air pollution, lead ammunition contamination and poisoning of wildlife annually on a MASS scale, raptor persecution, increased CO2 emissions????? Wish some studies could be done. Time to ban DGS and/or provide incentives for alternative, truly sustainable enterprises that genuinely honour the countryside.

    1. Jo - please have a look at this petition, now closed, to try and get the Scottish Government to commission a comprehensive and independent economic analysis of the true value/costs of DGS. It was on the cards anyway, but hopefully the petition will have helped ensure a wider scope than originally planned (or wanted in some quarters) and the wider the scope - taking in things like naturalistic flood alleviation projects, effects on game fishing, woodlot forestry for people in rural areas without mains gas etc - then the greater the likelihood the current set up will be found seriously wanting. I know I've raised this again and again, but it's good to know, despite all their flannel about how vital DGS is to the rural economy not one of the orgs or spokesnimmies representing it had the bottle to promote the petition - what were they afraid of? Fingers crossed there'll be a similar petition for south of the border shortly.

  3. I am actually genuinely puzzled how the RSPB has managed to get such a low response to their petition. That is just simply odd. If they were going to do a petition,surely they needed to promote it? Was it just a token offer out of guilt?

      1. Whilst I have not, and cannot, sign in support of licensing, this is what concerned me greatly Bob ....... no compulsion or direction from the RSPB .... Very, very little promotion for the petition with a few mentions on social media after the licensing petition itself was launched.
        Shouldn't *they* have been doing something after their stance over licensing at the #BanDGS evidence hearing in October 2016?

  4. A petition to ban is signed by people motivated by animal rights as well as people whose main interest is conservation. The point about licensing (potentially of all sporting estates) is that it could be a win/win for conservationists and shooters. It is, however, more difficult to drum up support for licensing since it's not such a black and white issue.

    That very rich people own large areas of the UK is a fact. Many of them shoot. If their sport is banned they will do something else with the land or sell it. We can already see how, post Brexit (if it sadly happens), economic development will trump everything else. Large scale inappropriate forestry beckons.

    1. At the risk of repeating myself - and Mark - the RSPB could easily have drummed up a six figure response in support of the licensing petition, had it been motivated to do so. The excellent - albeit under resourced - work of the Investigations team aside, birds of prey appear to have fallen down its pecking order

      1. And what would a six figure response achieve? Another meaningless debate in Westminster Hall.

        I just don't agree with your comment about the RSPB and birds of prey - they are doing lots of stuff including nest protection, tagging, habitat management, showing people the birds, education etc. etc. And they are being badly let down by the justice system in England and Scotland.

        1. "And what would a six figure response achieve? Another meaningless debate in Westminster Hall."

          I think that you have to look at this as a process that will take time. The fact that the last petition was disappointingly one sided (not the government's fault by the way - why were Labour not able or prepared to send more MPs to the debate?) does not mean that it was pointless or that it did not help achieve the petition's goal. Think of it as being like a trickle of water dripping onto limestone rock - with each drip there is no perceptible change but over time the continued dripping erodes away huge chunks of rock. In the same way each signature, letter or e-mail helps to wear away the resistance to change. The more signatures or letters there are the more likely and the faster the change will occur and the RSPB has the potential to persuade very large numbers of people to add their voice to calls to either ban or (as it prefers) licence driven grouse shooting but for whatever reason it seems not to wish to do so.

        2. The RSPB is doing lots of admirable, practical work for birds of prey. However, without maintaining political pressure for change that only addresses part of the challenge. Of course a six figure response is not a panacea - I don't think any of us are under any illusions about that. But the scale of the response sends an important signal that helps frame the terms of the debate and prepares the ground for future action. Right now that signal is looking decidedly weak.

        3. The RSPB is doing lots of excellent, practical work to help birds of prey. However, without strong political pressure that only addresses part of the problem. I doubt any of us is under the illusion that a six figure response to a petition would be some kind of panacea. But the scale of response does send a signal that can help frame the terms of the debate and prepare the ground for future action. At the moment that signal is looking decidedly weak.

        4. The RSPB is doing lots of admirable, practical work to help birds of prey. However, without adding political pressure it si only tackling part of the problem. I don't think anyone thinks a six figure response to a petition would be a panacea. However, the response sends a signal that can help frame the terms of the debate and influence the chances of future success. Currently, that signal is looking decidedly weak.

        5. The RSPB does lots of admirable, practical work to help birds of prey. However, if it doesn't combine this with political pressure, it is only tackling part of the problem. Of course a six figure petition response is not a panacea. But whatever the size of the response, it sends a signal that helps to frame the terms of the debate and influences the chances of future success. Currently, that signal is looking decidedly weak.

  5. RSPB members were recently asked to 'opt in' to communications from the organisation and I wrote to Mike Clarke to try to persuade him to use the permission we had explicitly given the RSPB to contact those of us who did to ask us to sign the petition. I received a letter in response from the communications dept and found it disappointingly complacent. It pointed out that the RSPB had 'promoted' Ed's petition in the magazine and in a couple of other places and suggested that 15,000 or so signatures on the petition was a rather good result.
    I am happy to acknowledge that the petition is not the be all and end all of the conservation of birds of prey and that the RSPB does lots of other good work for raptors and other birds but I am saddened that it seems to view its vast membership not as a potentially resounding voice for nature but simply as a source of cash.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.