Intensive grouse shooting is in the news like never before:
- Natural England Chair, Tony Juniper, calls for vicarious liability for wildlife crimes (as did his predecessor of course – but this time it is at the beginning of his tenure and not at the end)(see Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times)
- Labour calls for review of grouse shooting (Daily Telegraph, Independent, ITV). Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary, said:
The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties.
For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it’s our environment and our people who pay the price.
There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice.https://labour.org.uk/press/labour-demands-review-driven-grouse-shooting/
- Best bad year for Hen Harriers in England for several years but still a bad year (Independent). The Natural England announcement (by Defra, of course, because NE doesn’t have a press office any more) is shockingly biased. The organisation representing grouse moor managers, the Moorland Association, was given more words in the NE announcement than all others (other than NE) put together which is a bit odd considering it is established from NE data that Hen Harriers are at a very high risk of being killed, illegally, on grouse moors in England. To suggest that grouse moors have hosted lots of Hen Harrier nests and lots of successful ones, depends on including the guarded, diversionary fed nests on United Utilities plc land as being on grouse moors, which is as accurate as describing my garden as a fruit farm because there is one twig of a raspberry bush there (14 raspberries this year! – it’s a record!). Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England (yes, him again) said:
I’d like to thank all of the organisations, staff and volunteers who’ve helped to make this a better breeding season for one of England’s most iconic birds.https://www.gov.uk/government/news/record-breaking-year-for-hen-harrier-breeding
While it is very welcome to see this improvement, we must remember that the hen harrier is still very far from where it should be as a breeding species in England, not least due to illegal persecution.
I will be working with Natural England colleagues to pursue all options for the recovery of this wonderful bird, a creature that inspires and brings joy to so many people. It would be a tragic loss for our country, children and grandchildren if this majestic bird was to remain so scarce, or even disappear, in the future.
- muirburn banned at Mar Lodge and BASC switch their support more towards walked-up shooting in Scotland (perhaps)(see Guardian). That statement by BASC, if repeated and if meant, is significant. But, do they mean it? We’ll see whether it was an interesting thing to say to deflect criticism on the Inglorious 12th or whether it was a turning point.
Overall, the tone of media coverage today is totally different from five years ago – the first Hen Harrier Day. See how many times the word Inglorious is used nowadays – I wonder where they got that from?