RSPB begins to lose patience with grouse shooters

The RSPB held a ‘debate’ on the future of grouse shooting in Westminster last week. You can listen, though it is difficult to hear everything, and it is quite long, to the ‘debate’ here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrG6z9n8c9U&feature=youtu.be

It’s a pity there isn’t a video because then we could all check on the accuracy of the reports that the RSPB’s Conservation Director was pinned up against a wall by a finger-wagging Nicholas Soames. It can’t be true surely, but I can’t imagine they would ‘click‘.

The panel was; the Hen Harrier Champion in Westminster, Angela Smith MP; former Defra minister who turned down the idea of vicarious liability for wildlife crimes, and grouse moor owner, Richard Benyon MP; former gamekeeper of the Holkham Estate and Langholm Estate, Simon Lester; former gamekeeper and current conservation manager of the Holkham Estate, Jake Fiennes; and chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, Superintendent Nick Lyall.

All said interesting things, up to a point, though if I had a very strong feeling of deja entendu in hearing Angela Smith say ‘the killing has to stop, the killing has to stop’ then she must herself be tiring of hearing herself say it. If you want the freshest contribution then listen to Jake Fienees after 20:33 where he says that the shooting industry has to address the issue of bad apples and stop turning a blind eye.

It sounded as though the room was full of grouse shooters. There was no representative from Extinction Rebellion asking about carbon stores, no advocate of rewilding asking about reforestation and Lynx, and no animal rights ectivist saying that killing things for any reason was wrong. Indeed the only really challenging question, which was left unanswered by the panel, was posed by Mark Thomas (of the RSPB) asking why grouse shooting didn’t admit the scale of the problem of illegal killing of protected raptors.

And Martin Harper’s blog shows increasing signs of much-overdue feistiness on the issue, for example:

And, for the avoidance of doubt, the RSPB’s view is that the UK Government needs to get tougher on driven grouse shooting, to put an end to damaging environmental practices such as burning of legally protected blanket bog and illegal killing of birds of prey. We believe that the status quo is not an option.

In Scotland, the forthcoming ’Werritty Review’ of grouse moor management is a major opportunity to build a sustainable – and entirely legal – future for Scotland’s moorlands. The RSPB now wants to see a similar review extended to England.

… the grouse-shooting industry has to date failed to self-regulate. Laws protecting birds of prey are being continually flouted on grouse moors and important habitats destroyed…

… the longer governments or the industry take to address the conservation and environmental problem associated with intensive driven grouse shooting, the stronger the calls for a ban will become …

Clearly the current system does not work, and driven grouse shooting as currently practiced (sic) is unsustainable

https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/martinharper/posts/views-for-a-friday-about-proposed-environment-bill-and-the-future-of-grouse-shooting

Maybe it takes a close encounter with the member for Mid Sussex, which can’t possibly have happened, to get the RSPB to realise that the ‘let’s all sit down and chat things through’ method of operation, which the RSPB has employed now for getting on 25 years or more, isn’t bearing fruit, then so be it. Maybe Nick Soames has made an impact that was uniquely effective in pushing the RSPB forward.

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32 Replies to “RSPB begins to lose patience with grouse shooters”

  1. ‘Many are calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting but the RSPB isn’t. We believe the next step is for driven grouse moors to be licensed, whereby this license to operate could be removed for a time if illegal activity is identified. We believe this would serve as a better deterrent than current legislation.’

    Would it not make a good guest blog for somebody from the RSPB to explain just how they envisage licensing working and how it will be enforced?
    In the quoted paragraph above, Martin tells us that a license could be removed for a time if illegal activity is identified.
    Is this not the crux of the problem?
    If the powers that be can’t get the criminals to court now, how will licensing change that? How does Martin expect to be able to identify illegal activity under licensing if it can’t be done now?
    Martin, what changes?
    I am an ardent supporter of much of RSPB’s work, but I believe they have got this wrong and can find no one at Sandy to explain it to me.

    My fear of licensing is simply this. Once it is introduced, it will ‘need time to work’ and will allow the vested interests a further 20 years to prevaricate whilst slaughtering all our wildlife.
    Licensing is surely playing into their hands.

    Lastly, Martin seems to have inside info on the Werritty Review. He calls it ‘forthcoming’. Is it? Is it really ever going to be released, illness not withstanding? How does he know that it talks of a ‘sustainable future’ if its not yet out?
    I am sure that our own government would welcome a similar review. A further chance of prevarication that they could spin out until the end of the century.

    Guest blog Martin? Anyone?

    1. Well said Paul. I was very pleased to hear Martin in the ‘debate’ make a reference to Ben MacDonald’s work that has utterly savaged the claims driven grouse shooting is vital for local jobs and rural economies. The issue for me though is that these are the points the RSPB needs to be making directly to their members and general public itself. The RSPB may be obliged to do whatever it can with whoever it must to make any conservation gains, but not if it compromises better conservation options which in the case of grouse moors also means far better economic opportunities for rural communities. If trying to work with landowners to resolve hen harrier persecution, or do a bit of peat bog restoration means the RSPB has to keep on their good side by not publicly countering the utter guff that rotationally incinerated heather is a priceless natural habitat then it’s not worth it. From the beginning to the end there was nothing but claim after claim of how precious grouse moors are for biodiversity, not one person asked how it managed before DGS came along or what of the great swathe of species displaced by muirburn? Jake Fiennes came closest when he said that more scrub on grouse moors would benefit blackcock. If the RSPB isn’t going give the general public an objective assessment of the conservation value of grouse moors then who is? Doing so would hardly be campaigning against DGS, merely giving the public information to help them reach well informed decisions about something that receives their money and impacts on their lives in more ways than they might think. If the estates took offence at that it would only underline that they have a problem with democracy in the same way they have a problem with science. You expressed it beautifully when you said how licencing will be a fudge, they’ll wangle round it. I think clear, objective information communicated to the public is the real threat to driven grouse shooting because at the moment they’re getting little more than rose tinted pap, all be it occasionally punctured with a raptor persecution story. Grouse moors – crap for wildlife, crap for jobs, crap to visit.

    2. ‘whereby this license to operate could be removed for a time if illegal activity is identified
      That is something. The last time i heard the RSPB mention the type of penalty it was for a ridiculously short period.
      A lifetime ban would wipe out the value of the estate. That should really scare them.

      1. But how are you to prove illegal activity?
        If we can’t prove it now, how will we prove it after licensing?
        I’m sure that cleverer minds than mine have thought this through at the RSBP, I simply want them to explain it to me.

        1. Withdrawal of licence would demand a civil burden of proof which is less onerous than criminal burden of proof and it would be a more punitive measure in terms of an estate’s viability than simply convicting a gamekeeper (and his employer if you have vicarious liability ) All of that still needs a commitment to enforcement however in the face of the expensive legal help which landowners bring to bear.

  2. I will probably listen in stages over the next few days. That RSPB is apparently loosing patience with the grouse shooting cabal and its supporters is hardly surprising given the intransigence displayed by said cabal over the last twenty years at least. There are those who might say not before time or that RSPB have shown the patience of Jobe. Interesting to note that the raptor workers ( NERF?), nor protected landscapes were there either, key elements in all of this. The whole problem should have been tackled years ago, firstly by vicarious liability, a proscribed list of poisons, possession of which was/is severely punished and licensing although the latter will only work if vigorously applied and policed ( something personally I’ve always doubted would happen) hence my preference for a ban on DGS. The hobby/pastime/ business of pleasure killing Red Grouse is rife with bad apples top to bottom, so much so they are almost certainly the majority. Compromise has always looked difficult but grouse shootings intransigence not only makes that near impossible but has hardened attitudes on the conservation side as they have realised there will be no compromise, trouble is that government has always offered the carrot ( hen harrier plan+ subsidies) and never the big stick that is clearly needed. I reserve judgement on the Werrity report ntil of course it is published but will and can it recommend a final solution in Scotland, past indications suggest not.

  3. The big question, is how come the RSPB ever thought it could work with shooting interests, who are deeply disingenuous and manipulative – without being used and being a puppet of the shooting industry?

    I have very much had the impression for a long time, that shooting interests i.e. those involved with managing big estates, have only put on a faux conservation front and involved themselves in collaboration with conservationists to get inside information on conservationists, to find out what conservationists really knew about shooting interests and their practise, and to manipulate conservationists to their own ends. In blunt language they were spying, and their role was like that of malign intelligence operatives, which is not merely an analogy, because there’s no doubt that a few engaged in shooting and shoot management, actually have that sort of background.

    It was always obvious to me that this relationship was never going to bear fruit for conservation. I’m not claiming to have been deeply embedded in the shooting world but I have known enough individuals at the periphery to know enough to know, that many involved in shooting are very clever and devious Machiavellian types who are very clever at being everything to everyone. I have seen first hand how they can switch from being all apparently genuine and full of concern, to outright contempt once they think the “bunny hugger” is out of earshot.

    In short, I could never understand why conservationists like the RSPB where so blind as to how they were being taken for a ride. Yes, the shooters that RSPB figures engaged with must have seemed very charming and genuine, but that is what a public school education buys. In blunt and simple language, with an analogy people will understand, they’re a bunch of Boris Johnson’s – affable charmers – who are underneath, very devious and unprincipled.

    I think the big mistake conservationists made is falling for the ethical shooter/shoot type projection i.e. the shooter or shoot that sticks to the rules and is genuine. Please don’t get me wrong, I fell for that one. As time has worn on I’ve started to seriously question whether this ethical or enlightened shooter/shoot thing ever really existed.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying all shooters are evil incarnate. However, there is some sort of odd brotherhood, omerta type thing about the shooting world which is deeply troubling. How they always close ranks, none are allowed to say what they know, and they all turn a blind eye to things they shouldn’t turn a blind eye to. Just think about this. Does anyone really have an idea what is involved in the day to day activity of gamekeeping? The very strong circumstantial evidence is that illegal raptor persecution is very widespread throughout the whole driven shooting industry, yet we haven’t got a clue as to how this actually operates in practise. That is just how strong this omerta thing is in the shooting industry. It’s a complete closed book. All we know for certain is that it’s there, not how it operates.

    1. I think you’re absolutely spot on. There isn’t just a fair number of particularly nasty pro shooting trolls on social media, there’s another category of ultra polite ‘butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth’ types who go on the relevant sites and pages claiming they just want to have a debate, reach an understanding etc. Of course they’re not they’re there to sow discord, misinformation and generally mislead. It’s highly amusing to watch the initial politeness turn into abuse as they realise their ruse isn’t working. I’m positive a lot of these people aren’t working on their own, they’re sharing dirty tactics, snippets of misinformation behind the scenes, it’s orchestrated. I suspect that some individuals and conservation organisations might feel they’ve got their foot in the door with an estate and therefore shy away from necessary public criticism of the whole system – and that’s a ploy of theirs too.

  4. Paul, I share the fear expressed in your ‘need time to work’ para, and favour a ban. But to try to answer your earlier question, licensing could in principle change the equation by bringing the management of the estate into scope through use of civil rather than criminal law, changing the burden of proof. Thus, for example, finding an illegally set trap on an estate rarely leads to a criminal prosecution (though of course occasionally it has). By contrast if, as one might expect, a licence condition was that no traps should be set illegally on an estate, a history of such traps being found on an estate could lead to the suspension of the licence. Since that would close down commercial shooting on the estate, there would be a strong economic incentive for the estate to comply with the licence.
    Well, that’s the theory. The practice, and it’s not just current dogma on ‘light touch regulation’, is that the courts seem reluctant to impose economic penalties in relation to breach of licence conditions. How many pubs do you know that have been closed because of out of hours drinking, or night clubs because of drug use? A few, for sure, but the deterrence effect does not appear great.

    I’m sure Martin could explain it much better. I think he may have done a blog here on the subject a while back, but given the perceptible toughening of the RSPB’s line, perhaps it’s time for a new one.

    1. Yes Alan.
      That is the theory and i also doubt the practice. We can see that vicarious liability in Scotland isn’t really happening and in the UK the withdrawal of subsidies is not happening either. If the establishment’s entrenched defence of the estates continues as it does now, nothing will change.
      The only way licensing could even have a chance is if the threshold for losing it was very low, with numerous checks as a requirement for the licence (including cameras and surveillance etc.) and the loss was permanent for that estate (or at the very least for more than 10 years).
      But the most obvious thing to me would be to have a 5 year limit on a licensing trial. If it doesn’t work then ban it.
      I find it very revealing that even in Scotland no one has come up a goal to eradicate the grouse moor mafia. Even in Scotland they have never mentioned how long this is going to be allowed to continue. This to me shows that for all their words, they just aren’t serious about it. It would be very easy to say to grouse moors. You have 5 years to sort this out. If you can’t we will ban it.
      It is really is so effing simple. In Scotland successive ministers have all failed. When i point that out to one of them, my MSP, he ignores all the recent raptor killings. not mentioning the subject once, and focuses solely on me being ‘rude. If politicians were people paid to do a normal job, all those ministers would sit down together and learn from their mistakes. They should be saying ‘OK we got this wrong, we have tinkered around with this but nothing has worked, the criminals have just gone more underground and the killing is unchanged, possibly worse. Let’s take this really seriously. How can we stamp this out in 5 years?’
      But politicians are somehow allowed to continue with their incompetence in ways that would never be tolerated elsewhere and they wonder why we have such a low trust in them. In England and Wales it is even worse.

      Of course i just want an outright ban. I want to die with this stopped.

      1. Well the thing is, in Scotland, we are hindered by the limited powers allowed under devolution (now, full independence that is a different story) but also because Labour don’t care because it isn’t a central belt issue, the Tories want to turn the clock back to 1746 in terms of land use, and the SNP are hamstrung in that their heartlands are in Walter Scott and Crofting country and it is the work of ages getting people to change their minds there.

        It would help if tourism jobs were better paid, less seasonal, and had less “jokes” made about them to make them seem less low status. For all that Gamekeepers jobs are as insecure and low paid as tourism and service sector jobs, they get a disproportionate amount of social status; and that is something that needs to be tackled if change has to happen in Shortbread Tin country.

        Also Diageo needs to be hammered a lot. That won’t do much on grouse shooting, but as a Kilmarnock lass it is always my No.1 priority. The bastards!

    2. Alan, as you rightly state, the theory is fine. We know what COULD be done and how it COULD work. But what is it that the RSBP are actually asking for? Do they even know?
      Ok, so say the government see a large amount of wriggle room in licensing, and as a bonus, it would shut the detractors up. They introduce licensing, say it will be monitored by NE and will review the situation in five years time.
      Would that satisfy the RSPB? Of course not, but then they are stuck with a government who will say that they have done as asked, it must be given time to work and the RSPB find themselves boxed into a corner.
      Ideally, I guess that the RSPB want to be involved, want their excellent detection officers to be allowed onto the moors and be able to use covert equipment. But will that actually happen?
      Dream time.

  5. If the RSPB are so fed up with shooting interests why are they holding debates with “a room full of grouse shooters”? The RSPB have been impotent over these matters for years and nothing much is going to change. One might even suggest that Wild Justice are fighting the battles they should have fought.

  6. I ended my membership of the RSPB after being a member since 1969. It is in my opinion more concerned with keeping the ” Royal ” in its name than fighting for conservation. Trying to change how we use land and conserve nature will never advance when we have a Tory government with all their vested interests.

  7. The bio damage inflicted by Grouse Moor management and associated persecution of raptors is the reason we need to ban this pointless, elitist ‘sport’ but …. these are not reasons that will build wide public and political support. As with fox hunting we should relentlessly highlight the inherent cruelty of breeding ‘wild’ birds so that they can be driven onto guns and shot only for the pleasure of the shooters and the profit of the owners. if we could get the public to see this ‘sport’ as the equivalent of breeding kittens to be thrown in the air and shot it would soon be banned,

  8. It saddens me that I recently had to end my membership of the RSPB, after many, many years. Amongst other concerns (eg shifting focus from birds to ‘nature’), I was particularly disappointed with their position on driven grouse shooting, fudging the issue by seeking licensing instead of an outright ban. Finding our about their use of Larsen traps to control corvids was the last straw. I understand the necessity to cull some species, in the last resort, but Larsen traps are cruel; banned now in Denmark, where they were invented by a gamekeeper, their use by the RSPB is unconscionable. They no longer do what it says on the tin.

  9. This “bad apple gamekeeper” trope needs to be addressed, because it is so profoundly misleading and such a disingenuous red herring.

    Firstly this is not a gamekeeper problem. In nearly all cases gamekeepers are lowly employees, and I am absolutely certain that if grouse moor owners or lease holders, estate managers etc, took a firm position against the illegal persecution of raptors, then there would be very few instances of illegal raptor persecution. Sure, you’d always get a few individuals who’d cut corners, do things estate managers, grouse moor owners etc, didn’t approve off. However, if gamekeepers thought they’d get sacked or become unemployable if their employers, immediate line managers, even suspected they might be illegally persecuting raptors, then there would be very little of it.

    I’m sure that employers of gamekeepers and their managers are not stupid enough to directly order them to commit crimes, but the methods of “plausible deniability” are well known. The aim of “plausible deniability” methods are so if the lowly employee is caught committing illegal actions, those higher up can “plausibly deny” any knowledge of this illegal action, and deny they ordered it, or wanted it. It operates by hints, patting the person committing the illegal acts on the back, protecting and rewarding them, along with turning a knowing blind eye to what is happening. Therefore the real culpability lies with the grouse moor owners and managers, and not the lowly minions they pay to do their dirty work for them.

    Let’s get this clear, we are not talking about the odd keeper, occasionally shooting a raptor when they think no one is looking. It doesn’t work like that. A shotgun has got a maximum effective range of about 50m, and I know from photographing raptors that it is difficult to get within about 150m of a raptor, even by design. Yet tagged HHs often get killed within weeks of being tagged. To achieve this level of efficiency in killing them, means devoting a lot of time just to this task. No employer or manager is going to let an employee spend much of the time they are being paid for, engage in unknown tasks that are not being monitored. If keepers are spending long hours on this task, to kill raptors with this level of efficiency, then their employers are not merely aware of this, but they must approve, and want them to do this.

  10. It has been interesting reading a couple of reasons for people leaving the RSPB above . After YOC and RSPB membership for a large part of my life the RSPB seemed to lose its way and I also left . The final straw was the attitude about and the lies told about predation of lambs on Mull . As a result the RSPB lost a lot of goodwill and trust on the island . We have had some very good RSPB workers on the island with the late Mike Madders being one of the best in my opinion but the problem seemed to come from higher up the food chain . Mull is also a strange case as RSPB for all they talk about the island they do not own anything on it with no reserves or holdings . The award winning Mull Eagle Watch depends on the goodwill of various public and private land owners . RSPB are in a bit of a cleft stick as they have to walk a tightrope between the extreme animal rights types and large land owners who own the lands a large part of the wildlife Scotland is famous for lives and breeds on . One way to streamline wildlife legislation would be for Scotland to get out of the UK and then we have a more accessible group politicians to hold their feet to a fire and it also gets us clear of DEFRA completely .

    1. A really interesting comment from someone I assume is a Mull resident.
      Photos taken now prove that WTEs take live lambs and of course prove that RSPB and others have hidden this for years.
      It must have been known by people who found remains in nests as I think today’s science would be able to say remains came from live animal.
      Of course they obviously had other evidence anyway.
      These are the people sending Mull surplus WTE s to Isle Of Wight saying the same thing that they do not take lambs.
      Probably anywhere will do now Mull has more WTE s than the island can manage and they are causing big problems in Argyle.

      1. Bollocks I’m afraid Dennis – considering you’re accusing the RSPB of covering up lamb deaths that’s not being harsh. When an eagle brings a lamb back to its nest did it kill or scavenge it? This has been a big question for years, and in fact in a film Gordon Buchanan made about golden and sea eagles on Mull he filmed a sea eagle bringing back a lamb carcass and raised this issue himself. Let’s face it plenty of lamb carrion thanks to exposure and malnutrition, does that imply bad husbandry? Have crofters smelt another financial opportunity, use the sea eagle as a pawn to get compensation? Incidentally there are no fox or badger on Mull, but sheep mortality is no lower than on the mainland, which rather undermines the idea of predation being an issue anywhere – but bad husbandry illicits no sympathy. At least they’ve got sea eagles on Mull they can point the finger at as they did at Gairloch https://www.google.com/search?q=gairloch+sea+eagles+not+eating+lambs&oq=gairloch+sea&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j69i59j0l2.7774j0j4&client=tablet-android-lenovo&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8

  11. I am still a member of RSPB although I have been critical of their attitude to grouse shooting and a seeming lack of vigour in comments by some in the organisation about moorland management and persecution. Without them many of those taken to court for wildlife crime would escape undetected, RSPB Investigations are at the forefront of the campaign against raptor persecution, whatever else is happening in the organisation, they deserve both our support and admiration. Also without RSPB long term involvement ( thanks John!) since 1981 there would be no Hen Harriers in Bowland, yes its not always been as successful as we would like but the combination of RSPB and United Utilities has been crucial to the harrier in England. It is in part RSPB upland experts and ecologists who have shown us how poor grouse moor management is for our uplands and its wildlife. It is RSPB through the Hen Harrier life project that has continued to satellite tag as many young harriers as possible, working closely with raptor workers. Yes we want RSPB to be tough with what many of us refer to as ” the dark side.” In the past that not all conservationists and raptor enthusiasts have spoken with one voice has been seen as a weakness by that dark side, if RSPB is really going to get tougher and more realistic about both goals and speaking with DGS representatives that can only be good. In the end we may all have slightly different opinions of how to get what we want– an end to lousy upland management and routine raptor persecution but surely together we will get there, possibly all the quicker with a sterner more campaigning RSPB.
    THE ONLY ONES WHO GAIN BY US NOT ALL BEING RSPB MEMBERS AND ENSURING THEY KNOW HOW PASSIONATE WE FEEL ABOUT PERSECUTION IS THE “DARK SIDE.”

    1. Paul – yes indeed! And if anyone who takes the trouble to read the RSPB’s full trustees report each year setting out what the society is doing still thinks it’s not worth being a member, good luck to them.

    2. Each to their own but I find the limited cash I have available does more good going to a local wildlife trust where I can see what it is used for rather than into the black hole that the RSPB has become . There are now so many environmental groups out there chasing what is likely to become a diminished pot of funding if Brexit goes ahead clever use of funds will be a must . I am unconvinced RSPB makes the best use of my subscription so I have left .

      1. Just imagine nature conservation over the last ten, twenty or more years without RSPB. It would be nowhere near as good as it is, inadequate though that is even compared to our near neighbours in Europe.
        I am a member of RSPB, BTO (and a licensed ringer, that costs too), local wildlife trust ( Montgomery), thinking about joining Plantlife, money may be tight but its not that tight ( am retired).

  12. The RSPB is in a bind, it seems to me, because of its Charter that keeps it neutral on the issue of shooting. However does it have to be neutral on all forms?

    Walked up shoots, as practised by the hardy souls who go after Ptarmigan, seems to be far less harmful. It surely needs fewer keepers and less “management”. I am not a vegetarian, and if folk want to hunt non-endangered birds in a sustainable manner whilst respecting other predators I have no problem with them.

    Two other points. The police don’t have the resources (let’s be kind!!) to enforce licensing, so with respect an outright ban would be a great deal easier to administer.

    And secondly, the RSPB may not be perfect but without it our wildlife would soon be in a sorry state. Whether the British state has ever been truly concerned about wildlife conservation is a moot point, but this present administration gives every sign of not giving a famn. This is emphatically not the time to walk away from it.

    1. Ian – my recollection of the Charter, which I used to j=know qquite well, was that it prevented the RSPB taking a view on legitinmate fieldsports. You might take ‘legitimate’ to mean ‘legal’ but now the RSPB is saying ‘driven grouse shooting as currently practiced (sic) is unsustainable’ that suggests that the RSPB does not think the sport is legitimate.

  13. Doubtful there will be any (positive) changes under Boris’s grand Neo-Victorian (Georgian?) fantasy though. We truly live in the darkest timeline.

  14. Yes, it is clear that gamekeepers are encouraged by moor owners to kill raptors, it is obviously widespread practice. After the disappearance of the 2 eagles on the Auchnafree Estate the management stated that it was dismayed by the loss and we’re doing all they could to find out what had happened. I politely emailed them and asked for an explanation of how this disappearance, pointing to illegal killing, could happen on their land without them knowing how and who did it? I suggested it must be their gamekeepers. You would think they would reply with some evidence of their innocence. But no reply. Their silence speaks volumes.

  15. Interesting to hear Lord Randall, erstwhile RSPB trustee and the subject of one of your “Trusted trustees” series* – and certainly no grouse shooter, as far as I am aware – express disappointment with RSPB’s policy on brood management and hen harrier introduction.

    Incidentally, I would be very surprised if Messrs Soames and Harper had had a genuine contretemps. I saw them sitting together harmoniously on a panel a few years ago discussing the plight of curlew. I honestly can’t imagine how two such benign and engaging characters could not “click”.

    *https://markavery.info/2017/08/29/trusted-trustees-3-sir-john-randall

  16. I feel its too little too late. I’ve just moved to North Yorkshireand have been here now for 5 weeks. I’m yet to venture into the moors and surrounding countryside as I’ve got a coastal nature reserve circa 900 yards from the front door and RSPB Salthome about two miles away.
    I’ve never been so depressed & worried at the lack of birds of prey. In the 5 weeks I’ve seen two kestrels both using nest boxes on nature reserves, one peregrine & 2 separate Buzzards, zero Red Kites. Being an hgv driver I’ve seen plenty of the region too, in Northants I’d even see Buzzards & Kites over my very urban home.
    I’ve heard much talk by keepers saying Kites & Buzzards need culling in this region, from my observation there’s nothing left to cull!! I fear illegal persecution doesn’t stop at Hen Harriers in this region from the first impressions I’ve had.

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